From Engineering to Exploring the World: Meet Imani Murray, a Digital Nomad Pioneering Strategy Development and Intentional Travel.
In this week’s digital entrepreneur spotlight, we dive deep with Imani Murray, an alumnus with degrees in Engineering and Chinese language who chose to deviate from the traditional path to embrace her love for travel and the allure of entrepreneurship. Despite the challenges that come with brand-building, battling self-doubt, and navigating the financial intricacies of solo entrepreneurship, Imani exudes an unparalleled spirit of perseverance and passion.
Read more as we uncover the riveting story of Imani’s shift from academic excellence to life as a digital nomad. Discover how she integrates strategy development with intentional travel, and how her unique experiences give her a fresh perspective on the world of business and adventure. Prepare to be inspired and gain insights that could redefine your perspective on balancing profession with passion, all through Imani’s transformative journey.
1. Can you share your remote work experience and hobbies that give you incredible joy?
Although I don’t have the traditional “remote work” experience, because I work for a startup up, where I am not yet paid, I have an appreciation for the autonomy of getting to choose my own hours, my own projects, and the nontraditional experience. This type of experience really allows me to pursue my passion, traveling, but it’s a little more difficult right now because I don’t exactly have the funds to keep up with it. I’m hoping that’ll change in the next month or so.
2. How have your degrees in Engineering and Chinese language influenced or supported your current career path?
When I graduated school last year, I did not want to go into the traditional 9 to 5 corporate engineering job, because the prospective opportunities did not interest me. I wanted to use more of my Chinese language degree, and the creativity and uniqueness that came along with it, but I didn’t know where to look so I pivoted. Instead, I had applied for a grant to jumpstart my small business, and after receiving that grant and $15,000, I dug deeper into my business and put the corporate career on hold (hopefully permanently). But what I didn’t do well was planned for when that $15,000 ran out and that is what led me to this point. Although I gained a lot of confidence in myself and the ability to make my own decisions as to what I could accomplish successfully that wasn’t on par with the “normal“ path, I wish I had planned farther out. I thought having the degrees behind me would make it easy for me to get a remote corporate job in the event of the entrepreneurial path not exactly working out. But five months of unemployment later, I still feel confused as to what my next step is, especially when I don’t have the funds to dig into my business as much as I want to.
3. How do you think travel broadens the perspective of a digital nomad?
Although I am in this position now, I know it’s not permanent because I do have other options and travel has made that abundantly clear. While living as a digital nomad in Thailand last year, I came across so many people whose stories were testimonies to how successful nontraditional paths can be. I met one Black woman who was being paid to go to school to become a masseuse. I made another who came to Thailand, with less than $100, no place to stay, and little direction on their path, but a year and some change later they are thriving, working at a local hospital, and on their way to becoming a content creator full-time. A part of what keeps me going is the fact that I know that my nontraditional path is uncharted, although failure is likely, unthinkable success is highly likely as well. You have the opportunity to come across so many different people, all with such unique stories. Each story is bound to teach you something about the world, and yourself.
4. Can you share a memorable experience from one of your travels that had a significant impact on your business or personal growth?
I went viral on Instagram last year for posting a very real reflection that I had in a Thai restaurant one day. I was sitting alone, about a month and a half into my living in Bangkok when I was thinking about how audacious it was for me to be Living the life I was in Thailand. Thinking about how a year ago I was so confused, so depressed, and so concerned with what my next steps would be and now, I am sitting living my best life in Thailand. I was thinking about all this while watching the metro train pass me by in front of this large window on a beautiful rooftop restaurant. That was a point in which I realized I was not just exploring the new country I was in, I was also exploring myself. This is how my brand of “Intentional Travel” came about. Not only was I discovering so much about this new place, I was learning about this “new me”.
5. Given the industries you are involved in, what remote trends or technologies are you currently excited about?
Because of my engineering background, I have been so interested in generative AI. In fact, as I look for a steady income, I am looking primarily into working with AI. Ultimately, I want to start a travel business that uses AI to help people explore the world more intentionally, but I don’t have too much info on that yet.
6. How do you balance the freedom and flexibility of being a digital nomad with the responsibilities of running a brand or business?
It’s an every day struggle, especially because I don’t exactly know what I want to do with the business. I experienced a pivotal point when I hosted my first trip in May of this year. It did not turn out the way I had hoped. In fact, it completely change the way I thought about my business, and how I wanted to approach my business. I am lucky though, because I have the freedom and flexibility to change how my business runs, what my brand is, and more, all at my own will. As I am looking for steady income, I am also trying to build a physical product and digital products, and revamp my business, ImaniK Travels. I find it hard to prioritize based on what I think will bring me money the fastest, but also, it will bring me joy in the long run.
7. What advice would you give to someone looking to follow a similar path, combining travel, entrepreneurship, and remote work?
Give yourself grace. This is an uncharted journey. At the end of the day, you might not make the right decision, you might not have planned, as well as you had thought, and you might end up in situations that are frustrating, and may seem like the end of the world. But you know it’s not the end of the world, you know there’s circumstances beyond your control that are meant to guide you to learn, and to grow. Have a savings, and, at least, when you have bills to pay, have something steady (whether that be your TikTok income or a part time freelance role or affiliate income)!