How I Landed My Dream Career at Holden Safaris

People kept telling me, “Sonia, you need to create your own career, your background doesn’t fit the jobs listed on career sites.” I knew that, but I continued taking classes in Excel, grant writing, and attending workshops, so that I could fit the traditional job slots. As the days turned into weeks, and then into three months, I put a ton of pressure on myself to “fit the mold.” As my friend Sylvia said, “Sonia, I cannot see you sitting at a desk filling out Excel sheets, that’s just not you.” She was right, yet I didn’t want to feel like a failure, nor did I want to use my age as an excuse for not getting hired.

So when my British friend connected me with Jim Holden, a man who was born in Zambia, and who has traveled, worked and lived all over the world, it took me a while to realize that maybe I no longer needed to look at job offers, and that I should focus on my contacts who may find value in my background and experience.

I stopped searching for jobs online, and started listening to those who told me to create my own career. As a result, I’m now embarking on the career of a lifetime as an independent affiliate of Holden Safaris. This is a dream come true as it combines everything I love: travel, adventure, networking, making presentations, motivating and inspiring people to discover the wonders of an African Safari, social media, writing, helping with fundraising for wildlife conservation and the education of children in Africa. I am fortunate that everything I’ve done has come together in this 3rd chapter of my life, and is bringing me back to Africa, where I was ‘almost’ born, and lived for the first six years of my life.

So why would you want to go on a Safari, and what exactly is it?

“A Safari is like no other vacation! A safari is on everyone’s bucket list. At some point in your life you have to visit the place from which all mankind originates. It is not uncommon for visitors to Africa to be overcome with emotion, observing the wildlife of Africa, living as it did at the time of our ancestors. There is a feeling of coming home.”

Holden Safaris  is a boutique and exclusive safari operator offering East African Safaris in Kenya, Tanzania, gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda, and Southern African Safaris in Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. The furthest north of Southern Africa is Zambia, bordering Tanzania. The furthest South is South Africa at the tip of the Africa continent where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. Don’t forget the Indian Ocean Islands of Seychelles and Madagascar.

On May 12th, I’m attending a travel conference called Indaba, in Durban, South Africa. After that I’m going on a one-week trip to discover lodges, Safaris, and meeting the wonderful people who give back to their communities helping with animal conservation. What I love about working with Holden Safaris is that they make it possible to fund animal conservation, children’s schools and local communities when clients book one of their custom boutique Safaris. Don’t forget I served in Lesotho as a Peace Corps Volunteer, where many of you donated supplies to my rural school, and now I feel like I can continue this in many other locations, thanks to all the lodge owners we use, who make a difference.

To follow my new adventures, please sign up here (by adding your e-mail on the right side of the front landing page) to receive automatic e-mail updates about my new travel adventures in Eastern and Southern Africa. I have added Step off the Beaten Path with Holden Safaris, as my next Gutsy Living mission in life. I’ll describe each lodge with my personal touch, sharing lots of exciting photos and videos from all the countries I visit, as well as the wildlife I encounter, and of course, fascinating stories about the people and children I meet.

Please ask as many questions as you like regarding my blog posts or anything else you would like to find out about African Safaris.

Comments (21)

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  1. Jackie Stevens says:

    Sounds wonderful Sonia. Wishing you a fabulous and rewarding career. Look forward to your updates. X

  2. It sounds like this career is made for you, Sonia. There’s no continent like Africa; the dust gets into your blood, LOL. Besides, knowing you, this will be more like a mission than a job, and there’s a lot of good to be done in Africa … such a shame the widespread ruination caused by African dictators.

    Maybe, not too long into the future, we’ll see the resolution of third world plights caused by post-colonial dictators and the collapse of first world privileges caused by modern-day dictators (an idea for a book?).

    Good luck, and have fun!

  3. Susan Jackson says:

    Congratulations, sounds like an exciting new chapter.

  4. Wow, Sonia. I’m so pleased you’ve found your dream job. Best of luck with this new adventure.

    Perhaps one day Alan and I will join in on a Holden Safaris. You’re right, it is on my bucket list!
    Linda Kovic-Skow recently posted..Farmers’ Markets in FranceMy Profile

  5. What a gutsy lady you are! May you find fulfillment in a career that seems tailor-made for you, Sonia.
    Marian Beaman recently posted..Grandma was a PreacherMy Profile

  6. Jennifer Graham says:

    Fantastic Sonia!
    You are an inspiration. Much better experience than teaching Lesotho! Have fun!

  7. Ian Mathie says:

    This really looks good, Sonia and I hope you have really found your niche at last. It’s far more u your street than some of the other things you’ve been looking at and I’m sure, knowing the amount of effort you put into whatever you tackle, that it will be a success. Well done. We’ll all look forward to reading how this develops. 🙂

    • Sonia Marsh says:

      Ian, Love how you know me well. I am excited, and have started working. Lots of variety, learning about the different wildlife areas of East and Southern Africa, and already preparing another trip in August to Zambia and Zimbabwe with Holden Safaris. Meeting clients and listening to the questions they ask. It seems that their fear of Africa, is one of the main topics. Jim Holden knows how to address that, and so do I in my own way.
      Sonia Marsh recently posted..How I Landed My Dream Career at Holden SafarisMy Profile

      • Ian Mathie says:

        You’ll do a great job, Sonia. I wish I was free and fit enough to come with you. I loved living in the bush but seldom had the luxury of smart safari lodges. Have a great time! 🙂

        • Sonia Marsh says:

          I will share all the photos and my experiences. I am super excited about this new phase of my life, and feel like a teenager again, despite turning 60 in August. Maybe you can enjoy a Safari Ian.
          Sonia Marsh recently posted..How I Landed My Dream Career at Holden SafarisMy Profile

          • Ian Mathie says:

            Although I lived almost thirty years in the bush I never actually went ‘on safari’ in the way you’re going to do because we lived there the animals and tribal people were considered a normal part of our environment, friends and neighbours, and not any sort of tourist attraction to be visited and stared at. Safari to us just meant bush travel.

            The modern, touristy version of safari is great because it ploughs money back into the rural economy and has taught many indigenous people to value the treasures they share their lives with in a new way and, hopefully, ensure their future. So you’re doing good work there, Sonia. Enjoy it to the full and we’ll look forward to some great pictures. 🙂

  8. Joan Hepburn says:

    Go girl go ! We said that one day you would be back, did we not ! I am sure you will enjoy your new venture & I wish you all the Blessings in the new job. If you ever pass through Ladybrand, call in & have a cuppa !
    Loads of love
    Joan xxx

  9. Barbara says:

    I’m really excited for you, Sonia. You have gone through a lot to find your perfect fit and I know you will excel in it. Enjoy every minute!

  10. mani says:

    I wish you all the Blessings in the new job. If you ever pass through Ladybrand, call in & have a cuppa !

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