BABE #118: BETH PUPKE, Sr. Coordinator of Workforce Development @ JAX Chamber
Beth has been an engaged and encouraging member of the BWH community since the very beginning. Having visited almost every event, pop-up and spontaneous meet-up we’ve hosted, this gal has become an important member of our girl gang, and we’re constantly inspired by her creativity, work ethic, and on-point sarcasm. It takes a special kind of Babe to run a (super successful) side hustle on top of a corporate 9-5, and we’re excited to share some of her insight about both. Keep hustling, Beth. You’ll always be a Babe in our book!
Babe you admire and why?
Meryl Streep. Kickass actress? Check. Actively speaks out about women’s issues? Check. Spokesperson for the National Women’s History Museum? CHECK. And on top of all that, she’s an incredible philanthropist who has donated millions to organizations like Vital Voices Global Partnership, whose mission is to "identify, invest in and bring visibility to extraordinary women around the world”. Can she just adopt me already?
How do you spend your free time?
I love exploring local parks with my boyfriend, grabbing a cup of coffee, or wandering through antique shops and buying useless trinkets that I don’t need.
Favorite app, website or blog?
OhDearDrea. Drea is a total hustlin’ babe who writes candidly about motherhood, her vegan lifestyle, her struggle with health issues, and her incredible world travels.
Must-have item in your purse?
Chapstick. Ideally two different chapsticks because I know I’ll somehow lose one eventually.
Go-to adult beverage?
A Dirty Shirley. I used to love drinking Shirley Temples as a kid, and now I can have them with alcohol in them. #winning
Biggest pet peeve?
When people don’t use their turn signals. I’m getting annoyed just thinking about it, TBH.
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Taylor Tippett, mega-babe and the visionary behind “words from the window seat”. She always gives super great life advice on her Instagram and I’d love to hang out with her IRL.
If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
Pursuit of Happyness. I cry every time.
What’s something not many people know about you?
I suffer from persistent social anxiety. I am an ambivert (part extrovert, part introvert), so on the surface, my extroverted self may come off as very comfortable in social situations, but I am constantly internally combating anxious feelings.
Tell us about your hustle:
I am the Senior Coordinator of Workforce Development at JAXUSA Partnership, a division of JAX Chamber that supports Northeast Florida’s regional economic development. JAXUSA’s primary mission is to recruit new companies to the area and expand existing ones. In my role, I handle the “people” part of the equation. When companies are looking to move to Jacksonville, they want to know that the talent is there to fill positions. I work with local nonprofits, k-12 schools, regional employers and higher education institutions to ensure that the incoming and current workforce has the skills necessary to satisfy the requirements of the current job market. Better aligned and educated talent means more companies and jobs for the region. When I’m not in the office, my focus shifts to my (seemingly full-time) side hustle: painting custom floral wood rounds for my business, Of Joy and Whimsy. Since opening the Etsy shop in January of 2016, I have painted over 150 floral rounds, signs, and mini-magnets, and the response to my work has been really incredible.
What does your typical workday look like?
I wear a lot of different hats in my JAXUSA role, so no two workdays look the same. One day I could be arranging meetings and filling out departmental expense reports or scheduling posts for social media; the next I could be designing marketing collateral or coordinating a networking forum for hundreds of regional employers and educators. After I get off work, if my schedule allows it, I usually try to squeeze in 4-5 hours of painting time.
What inspired Of Joy and Whimsy?
A lot of my initial inspiration came from my love for florals and all things Rifle Paper Company. The very first round I ever painted was actually inspired by a Rifle print and was a Christmas gift for a friend of mine. When I got around to posting a photo of the finished round on Facebook, a lot of my friends commented “You should sell these” and I thought, “Hey yeah... I should sell these”. And the rest is history. The name, Of Joy and Whimsy, reflects my main purpose for the brand and business: to create bright, whimsical pieces that would bring “a touch of joy and whimsy to any space”.
How do you manage to stay on top of deadlines and handle delegating tasks in your work, etc?
Lots and lots of post-it notes. You can always tell when I’m in the middle of an especially busy period at work because my computer monitor will literally be covered with post-it note reminders of what needs to get done and when.
How would you say being a woman has affected your professional experience?
It’s no secret that being a female in the corporate world can be tough. We're making tremendous strides and breaking barriers every day, but it is still very much a man’s world. Fortunately, I work for a company where my gender does not affect how colleagues perceive me or my work ethic. My opinion matters, my hard work is valued and recognized, and my coworkers (male and female alike) support me and encourage me to step outside of my comfort zone. I am also super fortunate and grateful to be surrounded by strong female colleagues, many of whom hold leadership roles and are seriously kicking ass in the corporate and nonprofit worlds.
What are some common misconceptions about your job(s)?
One of the most common misconceptions about my job is that it is my responsibility to find other people jobs. Somehow, many people think that “workforce development” is synonymous with “employment agency,” and that is incorrect. I work with educators and employers more so than the actual employees themselves.
How do you transition between your 9-5 and your side hustle?
It’s really important for me to create a clear distinction between my 9-5 and my side hustle; I view my 9-5 as “work” and my side hustle more as an “enjoyable hobby that I also make some money from.” If I get into the mindset that going home to work on rounds equals leaving work to go do more work, then I will get burnt out, so that is a big no-no. If you’re going to juggle a 9-5 job AND a side hustle, my main advice is this: make sure the side hustle is something you absolutely LOVE doing, because that way, it never feels like actual work.
What’s your favorite thing about your job? Least favorite?
My favorite thing about my job is the opportunities that it gives me to grow both personally and professionally. In the year+ that I’ve worked here, I’ve developed numerous new skills (like graphic design!) that I can proudly carry on and continue developing throughout my career. My least favorite part of my job is waiting for people to email me back (which I have to do a lot, unfortunately). I’ve learned not to expect immediate answers, but, come on, is it really necessary to wait a whole 3+ days before sending a response?
What would you say is your biggest strength in your current role?
Definitely time management. A lot of my projects/tasks have deadlines that overlap, so I would be really struggling if I wasn’t able to manage my time as well as I do.
What would you say is the skill you most need to improve?
Hah, is “not sounding like an idiot when talking on the phone” considered a skill? I’m pretty outgoing when networking in person, but super shy when it comes to making and taking calls in the office, so I definitely need to work on that.
Do you ever plan to work full time on OJ&W?
I would love to work full time on Of Joy and Whimsy eventually, but until that time, I am more than content to have it as an enjoyable, profitable side hustle. I am really looking forward to reaching 10,000 followers on Instagram (!!!) and eventually having over 200 pieces completed.
How do you find a work-life balance?
My advice for a successful work-life balance? Embrace the off button. When you are out of work for the day or the weekend, (try to) unplug and be present in the moment. The ability to multi-task, in my opinion, is really a myth; if you want to achieve true balance, it’s important to allow yourself time to get away from the pressures of work and focus on relaxing, rejuvenating, and regenerating.
What helps you wind down and manage stress?
Chamomile tea and a hot bath. The more bubbles, the better. Painting helps a lot, too!
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Don’t let your fears plan your future. Find your voice and let it be heard. And never, ever, ever stop fighting for what you want or believe in.
In partnership with: Of Joy and Whimsy (duh!)
Owned and operated by our very own babe, Beth Pupke, Of Joy and Whimsy offers hand-painted floral wood rounds and signs that bring dose of joy and whimsy into any space. Check out the OJ&W collection and use offer code "BWH10" at checkout to enjoy 10% off your purchase. (You're welcome.)
*This is an affiliate partnership. That means when you shop using our links and/or promo codes, a portion of your purchase goes right back to us, so we can then roll out some awesome new things for you. Of course, we only promote brands and products we genuinely stand behind and know you babes will enjoy.