From Cop To Cruise Fran­chisee, Joyce Mariner Turns A Pas­sion Into A Sec­ond Ca­reer


As a ca­reer coach, I hear from a lot of as­pir­ing ca­reer chang­ers, as well as peo­ple look­ing to turn a pas­sion into a ca­reer. Joyce Mariner has done both. Mariner started at the NYPD in 1988 and worked var­i­ous units—Pa­trol, Nar­cotics, Rob­bery, Precinct De­tec­tive Squad—cul­mi­nat­ing with six years in Homi­cide as a 1st Grade De­tec­tive. Her hus­band, Gary Mariner, also worked for the NYPD as part of the pres­ti­gious mounted horse­back unit. When they re­tired from the force in 2013, they didn’t want to re­tire from work al­to­gether, so re­searched dif­fer­ent busi­nesses to start. Hav­ing taken more than 40 cruises to­gether, the Mariners de­cided on an Ex­pe­dia CruiseShipCen­ters travel agency fran­chise and opened their Cen­ter in 2015. They have seen con­tin­u­ous growth in the first two years, with 66% growth last year! I con­nected with Joyce about her and Gary’s im­pres­sive sec­ond act, and here were my fa­vorite take­aways:

Look to your in­ter­ests and pri­or­i­ties:

“I tried be­ing a housewife for a cou­ple of months, but found that this was not one of my great­est strengths! My love for travel and the de­sire to visit all the places on my bucket list were the rea­sons I had to find some­thing in my next ca­reer that al­lowed me to pur­sue my pas­sion.”

Mariner had a bucket list and picked her next ca­reer to suit that life. How can you in­cor­po­rate your life pri­or­i­ties into your ca­reer choices?

Build on your skills:

“Peo­ple say it sounded so dif­fer­ent from my pre­vi­ous ca­reer, but it’s still a ser­vice-

ori­ented field . At first, the thought of be­com­ing a travel agent seemed to be a great ca­reer change—I had train­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence of in­ter­view­ing peo­ple, as long as I re­mem­bered to separate my in­ter­view­ing and in­ter­ro­gat­ing skills.”

That Mariner can tap into years of work­ing nar­cotics and mur­der cases and trans­late that into ful­fill­ing peo­ple’s va­ca­tion dreams is proof pos­i­tive that all ca­reers have trans­lat­able skills, and you can make ex­treme switches in in­dus­try. It could be ser­vice ori­en­ta­tion and in­ter­view­ing skills, as Mariner mentioned. At­ten­tion to de­tail and ex­haus­tive re­search (for­merly look­ing for case clues and now look­ing for travel deals) are other skills I can see that trans­late well. How can you break down your day-to-day skills so they fit an­other, very dif­fer­ent in­dus­try?

Put in the time:

“One of the great op­por­tu­ni­ties of work­ing in the Po­lice Depart­ment was that it af­forded us more than five weeks of va­ca­tion time a year—this is what al­lowed my pas­sion for travel to blos­som. My hus­band and I took two cruises a year dur­ing our time with the NYPD, trav­el­ing to exotic des­ti­na­tions like the South Pa­cific, China, Eu­rope, Baltics, Caribbean and the Panama Canal.”

No­tice that the time the Mariners put in to­wards their sec­ond ca­reer in the cruise in­dus­try in­cluded va­ca­tion time while in their first ca­reer. How can you use your free time—evenings, week­ends, va­ca­tions—to fo­cus on your next ca­reer?

Find sup­port sys­tems:

“The fran­chise in­dus­try al­lowed me to go into busi­ness for my­self but not by my­self—by fol­low­ing Ex­pe­dia CruiseShipCen­ters’ proven sys­tem and lean­ing on my in­ter­view­ing skills to ex­cel in cus­tomer ser­vice, I knew I’d find suc­cess as a travel agency busi­ness owner.”

Fran­chis­ing is how the Mariners got sup­port for their busi­ness. Specif­i­cally, Joyce pointed to the Ex­pe­dia brand name in travel and the train­ing, on­go­ing sup­port, col­lec­tive buy­ing power (along with the other fran­chises), use of an es­tab­lished busi­ness model and mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing sup­port as key ben­e­fits. I have seen ca­reer chang­ers use nu­mer­ous other sup­port struc­tures—for ex­am­ple, a train­ing or cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram as a way to build and test skills; vol­un­teer ex­pe­ri­ence to get first­hand ex­pe­ri­ence; or a side hus­tle in a field they al­ready know as a way to prac­tice en­trepreneur­ship. What sup­port struc­ture can you use to start your ca­reer change jour­ney?

Find sup­port­ive peo­ple:

“It took a lot of self-re­flec­tion, but when I knew I was ready to make the ca­reer change, I found most value in speak­ing with other small busi­ness own­ers within the travel agency sphere. This al­lowed me to dig deeper into the chal­lenges, op­por­tu­ni­ties, day-to-day re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and of course words of wis­dom and ad­vice. Col­lect­ing all this back­ground in­for­ma­tion made me feel con­fi­dent in my de­ci­sion to make the ca­reer change and helped me build a net­work of sup­port to guide me on this jour­ney.”

That Mariner sur­rounded her­self with other busi­ness own­ers and par­tic­u­larly travel agency own­ers shows how chang­ing your net­work can help change your ca­reer. Mariner points to the in­for­ma­tion and sup­port ben­e­fits. I also find that ca­reer chang­ers who im­merse them­selves in a new net­work of peo­ple al­ready do­ing what they want to do get con­stant re­in­force­ment that their new ca­reer goal is doable. How can you ex­pand your re­la­tion­ships to sup­port your ca­reer change?

Put in the work:

“I spend six days a week in my busi­ness, usu­ally up to nine hours a day. Each day, I am man­ag­ing my back-of­fice du­ties—do­ing com­mis­sions and bills and ac­count­ing, and I’m plan­ning events and monthly team meet­ings. I’m train­ing con­sul­tants, and then on top of that I’m re­cruit­ing new con­sul­tants. I en­joy be­ing very hands-on and in­volved in con­stantly up­dat­ing the whole team on any news and check­ing in on their progress with leads and new book­ings. Be­ing so en­grained in the busi­ness and help­ing ev­ery con­sul­tant achieve their full-po­ten­tial has sig­nif­i­cantly con­trib­uted to our Cen­ter’s on­go­ing suc­cess.”

Ev­ery job, even the “fun” ones like travel agent, comes with grunt work. Get­ting in­volved in the nitty gritty is a good way to see if your hobby is in­deed a vi­able busi­ness or bet­ter off as a hobby. How can you take on more in your tar­get ca­reer?

Just do it:

“The most im­por­tant thing I’ve learned dur­ing my ca­reer in law en­force­ment is that life is too short—if you have a vi­sion and see some­thing you want, go for it. I al­ways want to be re­mem­bered as the woman who never said, ‘would have, could have, should have.’ Dis­cover your pas­sion, build your skills, find a sup­port sys­tem, stay de­ter­mined.”

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