Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 5.46.02 PM copy

We’ve set out to ask 20-somethings about how they’re making a living, fulfilling their goals, or just trying to get by in this crazy quarter-life journey. Needless to say, we’re loving their answers. In the latest installment of our career questionnaire, we talked to a 21-year-old woman with a pretty unique career path. For real.

Name: Monica Ten-Kate

Job Title: Spirit Medium/ star of ABC Family’s Monica the Medium

Age: 21

Well my first question is, how would you describe your job? Like where you are in your career right now and how’d you get there?

I would describe my job as a medium as a gift that I have, but it’s also my job where I connect with those who have crossed over. So I will hear, feel, sense, see and just note things. All of these things are coming from spirit and I then interpret all those things as a message for my clients, but how I got to do this as a job is kind of a long story.

I had suppressed my gift connecting to spirit for many years and it wasn’t until high school that I started to truly recognize that they are deceased people around me, there’s dead people around and really started sensing things, but I still suppressed it.

You know, you’re already going through a lot of other things in high school and struggling to fit in. I was nervous to tell people, “Hey, I’m feeling and hearing things.” I didn’t want people think I was crazy, so I really didn’t come out publicly as a medium until the beginning of college.

While I was going to school, I was still working at Lockheed Martin. I would go to the hub where there’s the restaurants and it’s kind of the main central place on campus where you can go and hang out.

I would be sitting there typing up an essay or doing my homework online and would start to do spontaneous readings for whoever was sitting next to me. They were always so grateful and thankful. They would say, “That was amazing. Can you do this for my roommate? Can you do it for mom? Can you see my brother?” I started doing that, but I was still working another job and I was going to college full-time at the same time. Soon more people started telling me, “You should be doing this for your job. Why aren’t you doing this as a career? You have this gift, but also do it for your work.”

I was like, you know what? I quit that job, but I stayed in school and I started seeing clients. Now I just do a mix of spontaneous readings that are for free, but I also do have my scheduled clients. That’s kind of where I am now.

Oh wow, I’m actually really interested in the fact that you were working at Lockheed Martin and how that compares to your work now. What does your day look like now and how does that compare to a day at Lockheed Martin?

It’s very different, that’s for sure. Yes, so when I started working at Lockheed Martin I started as a summer intern, it was my sophomore year of high school. Then they hired me as a co-op where they gave me a laptop and I would continue to work virtually where ever I was—at school, or home, or what not. I was working with the big data department and cyber security. Also, I started out as a communications intern, but then it turned into also working on more of the technical side. A typical day at Lockheed Martin, for me, I was doing some little bit of coding. I was making some websites for them, I was running a series of virtual webinars for them. I was doing all sorts of communications work, but also I did some of the technical things. You are around technical people, these engineers, you know, it’s very different environment than the one I’m in now.

A typical day, now, is a combination of balancing school, and trying to get through my homework and all that, taking care of my puppy, hanging out with roommates, but then also seeing my clients.

How do you think your work at Lockheed Martin, or even other internships and other jobs have contributed to the job you have now?

I was [at Lockheed Martin] for several years and I would say that I was so meant to have that job, to have that experience. It helps you grow and develop as a person, so I don’t regret it by any means. I gained a lot of really great relationships out of that work.

What I do now is a very different type of work, but it’s still kind of comes down to doing your best, keeping organized. It’s still a business, even though it doesn’t feel like work a lot of the times because I love what I do. But I still have to keep up a schedule, and e-mail clients, and follow-up with them, and have good communication skills—and not just good communication skills to a spirit, but also with my clients.

That’s awesome. My next question is related to how you said that you’re thinking about being a medium for the rest of your life. But I’m wondering is this like your dream job or do you have plans for what you want your future to look like? Maybe trying something new? Or even like doing something outside of work that you want to accomplish?

I feel and trust that I’ll be a medium and connecting to spirits until the day that I die, but I don’t necessarily know what is coming up in my future.

Growing up, my dream job was actually working behind the scenes of a television show. In a way, I have the best of both worlds [with the show, Monica the Medium] because I absolutely love my job. I do feel like it’s a dream job, but I’m now getting to have this platform of the show. I get to go behind the scenes. I get to see how the cameras work. It’s fun because that was a thing that I’d always been interested—producing, production.

Oh cool, maybe you get to do some of that on your show?

Yeah, I do have a producer credit, but maybe one day I’ll be the EP.

My next question was about your money situation. Since you’re working on a TV show, I was wondering if it’s freelance?

Well because it is a docu-series, I’m not an actress. I’m a medium on TV and off, as well as my real life. It’s not considered union, or SAG… You don’t get those benefits with [reality] television. You don’t get, like, health insurance.

Am I right in saying that you’re still in school now?

Yes, I am in college. I’ve been going to Penn State for the last three years and I technically I’m starting my fourth year, but I am a little bit behind in my classes just because it is hard to balance being a medium and being a college student. I was taking the bare minimum credits to be a full-time student, but technically, to graduate on time, you need to take a little bit more. I probably will have to take another semester or so, but I am trying to steadily go through it.

What you do outside of work?

When I’m not doing school, when I’m not doing readings, I’m just really like everybody else—being 21, dating, hanging out with my friends, disagreeing with my sisters, seeing my family, my parents, hanging out with my puppy. I don’t have tons of time for TV, but when I do, I’m obsessed with Grey’s Anatomy and Pretty Little Liars. I also love Orange is the New Black. I like to go hiking. I like to travel a lot. My older sister, Jessica, lives in London, so I’ve been to Europe a couple of times and my mom’s whole family is from Costa Rica, so I visited there several times growing up. I love to travel and explore the world. I’m the one hearing it first hand in every reading, time and time again, when loved ones are saying, “You don’t want to look back and have regrets that all you ever did was work.”

[Image via Instagram]