Ready to take the next step in your career? Visit the career center closest to you. Learn more.

October 5, 2023


Life threw a curveball at long-time small business owner Teresa Koecher who managed a salon in Downtown San Diego and Encinitas for three decades. In 2014, she faced a life-altering accident, leaving her physically incapable of working in the same capacity as before and had to start her life anew. With the help of her friends and her church community, she was able to pick herself up and change course. She enrolled in community college and connected with the San Diego Workforce Partnership to find a new career. Below, Teresa tells us about her journey of resiliency and perseverance.

I had an accident where I lost vision in my right eye, an experience that challenged me in ways I could never have anticipated. Countless surgeries were needed to restore my vision, including a corneal transplant. The doctors told me that my vision would never be the same again. Amidst these health challenges, I had to shut down my salons, which meant relocating my workers, dissolving leases and moving my items into storage, all while caring for a son at home. Luckily, I have a supportive group that I could lean on through the transition.

Discovering a New Career Path

As I went through the recovery process, I knew that I would not be able to return to the life I had before and would have to retrain myself for a future that had become uncertain due to my visual impairment. I embarked on a journey of educational discovery, enrolling in classes at a community college. In 2019, I achieved a significant milestone by earning a Bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University (SDSU). Shortly after that, I found myself connected with the Workforce Partnership, a turning point in my career transition.

I initially met with Crystal Hernandez, who introduced me to a series of self-exploration modules to find out what career suited me. One of the results was project management. Because of my previous experience as a business owner, I was already adept at managing teams, schedules and resources, so choosing to pursue it professionally felt natural. I quickly immersed myself in the intricacies of the field. I learned about the various phases of project execution, the importance of milestones and the critical nature of planning.

Currently, I am working toward becoming a certified project management professional from Cal State San Marcos. The certification process includes passing a rigorous exam through the Project Management Institute and acquiring work experience.  The Workforce Partnership made my  journey smoother by covering the cost of my classes and additional job search assistance where I gained the work experience I needed. Thanks to Bridgette Coleman—a Workforce Partnerships business team member—I participated in on the-job training at Modulart, a local construction company.

Exploring the Field

On-the-job training allowed me to gain invaluable real-world experience and see how different the work is from the classroom, especially navigating the complexities of working with diverse personalities and stakeholders. Working at Modulart, I had the opportunity to assist with different aspects of the company and collaborate with developers on various projects. The opportunity to practice what I had learned brought me immense validation, especially as I received praise for my abilities and work ethic. I discovered that I excelled as a student, quickly absorbing new information and applying it effectively in the workplace.

During this entire experience, I can’t help but marvel at the twists and turns life threw my way. I learned the importance of resilience and gratitude. It’s been an extraordinary transformation, full of growth and invaluable support and guidance I received along the way. I want to encourage anyone facing career transitions or challenges to recognize available resources and support. Take full advantage of workshops at the career centers, and, most importantly, build a strong relationship with your career navigator—they will invest in your success. My story proves that with determination, the right support system, and an openness to learning, you can transform your career and embrace new opportunities even when life takes unexpected turns.

Connect With Us
Stay in the know

The Workforce Partnership is dedicated to providing San Diego Residents with the most up-to-date resources for finding a career.

Subscribe to our newsletter.