- Caroline Cardamone, 24, works as an innkeeper for a bed and breakfast in Wisconsin.
- She likes interacting with guests and is happy she didn't end up in a corporate job.
- She's part of a wave of people turning away from corporate jobs for a better quality of life.
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Caroline Cardamone's work day typically starts with getting coffee and breakfast ready for guests or preparing to check in new guests at Thorp House Inn & Cottages in Wisconsin.
Cardamone, 24, is a senior innkeeper who oversees the property's rooms and cottages where guests can enjoy fireplaces and a view of the harbor. She has worked there since September 2021 and was promoted to the senior position last June. Before that, she worked at a marina as well as an orchard after graduating in 2021 and moving to Door County, Wisconsin.
But these jobs weren't Cardamone's initial plans. Her career aspiration for after college was impacted by the pandemic. She's also one of the people in the labor market who realized they don't need to pursue a corporate role to be satisfied.
For instance, one person shared with Insider the story of how she left her job, where she felt burned out, and was able to work on teaching part time and launching her business. Some people have decided to leave well-paying jobs, full-time positions, or corporate life altogether as they prefer to prioritize things like caregiving duties, their own business, having work flexibility, or simply having a job or lifestyle that makes them happier.
Cardamone told Insider that she wanted a job where she could develop new skills, and her current position fit the bill.
"I've just learned so much on this job about people and interacting with people and the history of the inn," she said. "Every day is exciting and new, and that's what I wanted when I first applied."
A change of career plans meant leaving behind the pressure to conform to a corporate role
Cardamone studied German in college, with minors in computer science and religion, and hoped to teach English in Germany. But given lockdowns during the pandemic and not getting the chance to study abroad, she said "my whole kind of path with German, it just felt like I was banging on a door that wouldn't open. It just didn't seem like it was going to work out." So, she searched for other work in the US for after college.
"I was looking for a corporate job just because that's what everybody in my life who didn't go to grad school did," she said.
But after a few interviews that were mainly in tech, she realized this isn't the kind of job she wanted.
"I just felt like that was not the lifestyle that was meant for me, so I wanted to reevaluate," she said. "I was like, just, you need to find a job. You need to make money, but what will make you happy? What's something that you'll learn something interesting?" she asked herself.
She started off doing seasonal work after college at a orchard and winery where she gave tours and poured wine for guests. She also worked at a marina, where her duties included putting gas into boats. She decided to remain in the area and look for a full-time gig, ending up as an innkeeper after seeing a job ad in a newspaper.
"I wanted something where I would just still be interacting with people and that all of my days would look a little bit different," she said about her job search for a full-time role.
Cardamone is grateful she moved to a place where some may just vacation at or visit for a short time as a tourist.
"This morning I literally, I went to the beach and I paddle boarded for a few hours and all the people who were walking around were probably tourists who they see this view once a year and I get to live here," she said.
She said while it can be especially busy in the summer, there's still work-life balance in the job as she can rest or travel in the off season.
Innkeeping is long hours, physical work, but 'so worth it'
One typical day as an innkeeper for her includes prepping the kitchen and getting breakfast ready with pastries and items from local businesses before breakfast is served. After talking to the guests, she will restock the guest pantry and do some housekeeping tasks. As senior innkeeper, her duties can also include making sure the other workers have what they need to do their jobs.
"Some days it's long hours and lots of physical work, and I'm cleaning toilets and making beds like left and right," she said. "But, it's so worth it."
Cardamone has a TikTok account, with the account handle @innkeepercaroline, where she shares what it's like to be an innkeeper with her thousands of followers. In addition to day-in-the-life videos that highlight her work duties, she also talks about the personal benefits she's experienced from taking an alternate career path. For example, the text on one of Cardamone's videos reads, "POV: you are only 24 but you chose the peaceful innkeeper at a B&B life over a corporate 9-5 hustle and are happier because of it."
The caption in a separate video states, "On one of my last videos many people said they would like to be an innkeeper like this — except they would want to make more money which is 100% valid."
She told Insider she makes around $58,000 and part of her rent is covered, as she has employee subsidized housing.
"When I chose this path I knew I could still live comfortably with this job, but I did give up opportunities to make more in order to be happy," the caption on one of her video continues. "For me it came down to what lifestyle I valued more."
No matter the kind of job someone works, Cardamone thinks happiness should be the priority
"I am aware that there are some people who they do like a 9 to 5. They do want an office job," she said. "That's what they thrive on and that's what makes them happy."
"But what I'm trying to talk about, on my page is just, you should focus on what makes you happy," she said about her TikTok videos. "You should choose a career that makes you happy. You should value that over just what other people around you are doing or what people have been putting pressure on you to do."
She said for her, "I was trying so hard to force myself into that mold" of a 9-to-5 job or an office role "because that is just what I saw was available to me."
"But I want people to know, especially people who are graduating, that there are so many other things you can do and you can do those things and you can still live a good lifestyle," she said.
Are you a Gen Zer or recent graduate who found a job outside of a 9-to-5 corporate job? Are you a worker that left a corporate job? Reach out to this reporter at email@example.com.