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Women Who Went for It! is a bi-weekly podcast, hosted by Career Change Agent, Sara McArdle. The show features inspiring chats with successful industry changers who share how they found the clarity, courage and motivation to step into a deeper vocation and a life of meaning and fulfillment. We hope you'll see just how many before you have GONE for it—and they're eternally grateful that they took the risk!

Nov 10, 2019

Women Who Went for It Podcast Guest: Christi Shibata

In this episode, Sara talks with Christi Shibata about her journey from architecture to physical therapy to firefighting. Christi talks about her career plans changing when she sustained repeated concussions from playing college basketball; how she guided herself, thoughtfully and intentionally, through her career changes; and how she worked in a restaurant as a prep and line chef (with little previous experience!) to make ends meet while at the fire academy. Today, Christi serves as firefighter at the Notre Dame Fire Department and at the Clay Fire Department in Indiana.
Want to make your own career change? Download Sara's Seven Cs of Successful Career Change Chart.
Sara and Christi Discuss:
  • How Sara found Christi via the South Bend Tribune
  • Christi attending Kent State University to play basketball and study aeronautics
  • Suffering multiple concussions in basketball
  • Experiencing air sickness, post-concussions, and needing to change her aeronautics plans
  • Beginning a masters in architecture at the University of Notre Dame
  • Taking a medical leave when her studies took a toll
  • Working as a draftsman at an architecture office
  • Experiencing ongoing seizures and spending 4 weeks in the hospital
  • Needing to use a wheelchair, upon her release
  • Seeing the benefits of physical therapy, firsthand, and being inspired to pursue it as a career
  • Getting her associates as a physical therapists assistant
  • Working as a personal trainer and tech in a PT office
  • Graduating and then working in the same clinic as a clinician
  • Noticing the job wasn't a fit
  • Getting her own physical challenges under control
  • Attempting to get into the Coast Guard, but being denied
  • Reexamining the direction she wanted to take her life in, again
  • Landing on firefighting
  • Her sister, Notre Dame police chief, Keri Kei Shibata, helping her connect with the Notre Dame Fire Department
  • Attending the Clay Fire Academy
  • Moving to Indiana from Michigan with no job and no source of income
  • Working as a line & prep chef at the Morris Inn
  • Graduating from the fire academy & applying at the Notre Dame Fire Department
  • Starting her new job in July of 2019
  • What she loves about firefighting, and what the day-to-day is like
  • The support she received along the way
  • What it was like to take a pay cut to pursue her dream
  • The messages she got when she was growing up about "work"
  • How she guided herself through the process of career changes
  • What it was like to be the oldest person in her fire academy
  • A theme in her life of being the only woman participant
  • What it was like going into the service industry while putting herself through the fire academy
  • The importance of having zero expectations
  • How her faith guides her
  • How she's grown and changed through her career change
  • The advice she has for other career changers
  • ...and more!
Christi's Full Bio:
Firefighter Christi Shibata was hired onto the Notre Dame Fire Department full time in July 2019 after joining our part-time staff in 2018. She went through the Clay Fire Recruit Academy 16 and continues to work for Clay Fire Department part time as a firefighter. Christi holds a number of state certifications, including Firefighter I & II, EMT-B, and a Michigan Physical Therapist Assistant License. Prior to joining the fire service, Christi treated patients as a Physical Therapist Assistant in an outpatient orthopedic physical therapy clinic in Petoskey, Michigan.
Christi holds a bachelor of science in aeronautics degree from Kent State University, where she played Division 1 basketball. She also has her associates degree as a physical therapist assistant. In her free time, Christi enjoys mountain biking, running, swimming, paddle boarding, motorcycle riding, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and spending time with family.
Connect with Sara McArdle and Women Who Went for It:
Nominate a Podcast Guest: 
Email (for guest nominations, use link above rather than email): 
Phone: 503.893.2043
Want to make your own career change?
Download Sara's Seven Cs of Successful Career Change Chart.