They were four women who finally found their niche. Three had spent years in unfulfilling work before changing careers and finding their "dream jobs." One re-entered the work force after rearing eight children and rose from a GS-4 to a GS-12 in less than five years.

Their success stories highlighted a recent discusstion on "The Process of Changing Careers" sponsored by Montgomery County's New Phase Career Readiness Center for Women

Nearly 100 women -- and two men -- who were considering a career change crowded the county auditorium, listening intently and taking notes. It was, as one prospective career changer said, "An evening of inspiration for anyone who wants to go from a job they hate to one they love ."

Vicky Tyler, 32, from teacher to lawyer:

"Becoming a teacher was drummed into me. What little girl doesn't want to be a teacher? And my parents said "Teaching is something you can always fall back on."

"In my senior year of college, I had to student teach and discovered I didn't like it. But at that point I had too much invested not to like it.

"I got a job teaching high school English and became even more disillusioned. I admire those who can teach, but I couldn't. I had envisioned getting respect from the students, but didn't get it and became more and more emotionally drained.

"By the beginning of my fifth year I knew I had to get out. I considered becoming a lawyer because it looked interesting and fun. I was tired of not enjoying my job, plus there was prestige and respect you don't have in teaching.

"I got into law school and quit teaching. It was very frightening because I'm very security conscious. My parents disapproved. They said 'How can you give up a good job where you don't have to work Christmas and get the whole summer off?

"During law school I worked part time collecting bills. It was a miserable job, but I knew it was temporary and would help me get something I wanted. I had a summer job as a police officer in Ocean City and later worked as a law clerk.

"Graduating law school was a huge contrast to graduating as a teacher. This time I felt excited and hopeful, with the world before me. I got a job in a law firm and then joined the office of the public defender in Montgomery County.

"I've also opened an office on my own doing domestic law. Now I feel I have a purpose. It's fascinating work."

Pat Brady, 50, from homemaker to employee-development speacialist:

I'll start my story six years ago when I became Pat Brady. Before that I was always someone's daughter or someone's wife or many people's (8) mother. My biggest distinction was being a member of five P-TA's at once.

"In 1974 I took the federal service exam. I had started and finished an undergraduate degree in history while I was raising my kids, so I was put on a list for prospective professional employes.

"I waited two months and no one called. I saw an ad for a clerk typist so I applied on the strength of a high-school typing course and typing my kids' papers. I got the job as a GS-4 with Naval Telecommunications Command.

"After 8 months there was a vacancy for a GS-5-7 training coordinator. I applied but wasn't chosen. I was too dumb to know any better so I wrote a letter to the admiral -- not aggressive, but polite -- asking why I wasn't chosen.

"He sent back a beautiful letter saying that the person they offered it to declined, I was second choice and the job was mine. After awhile I applied for a management intern program, not listening to someone who said my age was against me.

"In this age of equal employment opportunity, I think being a middle-aged woman head of a household can be more of an asset than a liability. I started as a management intern in 1976 . . . and in 1979 moved to employe development at NIH as a GS-12."

Ghislaine Fredrick, 47, scientist to stockbroker:

"After three children I went back to finish college. My marriage was deteriorating and it became obvious that it would become necessary for me to work.

"I liked theoretical psychology so I finished my bachelor's in what was then the new science of neuropsychology. I got my masters and was working on a Ph.D. when it became imperative that I work. So I got a job at NIH as a research assistant.

"But I felt a growing, gnawing dissatisfaction. The subject matter was fascinating, but I had hoped to be allowed to explore what I wanted and publicly supported research has restrictions. And it didn't pay well.

"By becoming so highly speacialized I felt I had painted myself in a corner. The thing I knew next best was stocks. My father had been a broker and had guided me in investing. That's how I supported myself through graduate school.

"Armed with the fact that I knew and understood investments I went to brokerage houses. I was accepted in a training program of five -- the others were men. For one year, on a miserly salary, I worked toward licensing, studying corporate financing, accounting, tax law -- things I knew nothing about.

"After passing a barrage of exams and being put through every department of the brokerage house, I now sit at my desk with a new telephone. By teaching seminars and making contacts, little by little you build up accounts. You are your own master. And I get great satisfaction from that."

Nancy Davis, 38, college recruiter to catering manager:

"I majored in history and English in college -- personally enriching courses, but a silly way to be prepared for life. I got married and was supporting my professional graduate student husband with lots of jobs -- like selling furniture.

"A friend mentioned an opening at the admissions office of a small college, and I got the job. The college needed students, and there were lots of opportunities to use new ideas. But too much of the job was traveling to high schools to talk to recruit students.

"My husband disappeared from the picture, I had two kids I was away from too much, the pay wasn't real good and there was practically no chance of advancement.

"I wanted to change jobs, but I didn't know what I wanted to do. And I had a fear of not being able to support my children.

"Since I'm always counseling students to go to the college placement center, I went there myself. I learned that I liked people and office politics, so I took some continuing education business courses.

"After a year of fumbling around, telling everyone -- uncles, aunts, mother's friends -- that I wanted to change jobs to business or sales, some friends who were starting a catering business invited me to join them.

"It was a small business and I was afraid we'd fail and be out on the street. But it involved lots of things I liked -- selling, creating ideas, talking with people.

"It's been terrific fun and a lot of hard work. There's so much variety in what I do, my schedules's always different -- which I like -- and we're expanding."