Yes, you can change careers. Here’s how.
When I announced I was leaving the law to study journalism, most people looked at me like I’d just decided to divorce my husband to audition for Married at First Sight.
“But… you have a secure job with a shiny glass office,” they’d say. “We’re recovering from a recession, and newspapers are dead, and won’t you just end up writing dodgy PR emails as an unpaid intern forever?”
Adding to those less-than-charming prospects were the thought of having to start at entry-level all over again and sadness at coming to grips with having ‘wasted’ six years of study.
But I did it anyway, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I don’t work in a slick city skyscraper anymore — but I get to write about things I care about, I regularly interview fascinating individuals, I’ve found ‘my people’ at work, and I get a little flippy excited feeling whenever I think about my job.
Honestly, I only have one regret: Not abandoning that shiny glass office sooner.
So if you’re considering a career change yourself, I say: Go for it. Just plan for it first by following these basic steps.
1. Work out whether you dislike your career – or just your job.
It’s a whole lot easier to seek a new role within your current industry than change careers altogether – so do not, I repeat, do not change careers before ruling out if that bored, restless, frazzled feeling is all down to your current role.
Have you searched for similar positions at a different company? Have you asked for a promotion, if you think you deserve one, or a role with different or more challenging duties? Try that first.
2. Get over disappointment at your ‘false start’.
It’s a bummer to realise that you’re probably not going to use that accounting/science/fine arts degree you originally completed. But look at it this way: at least you’ve narrowed down your vision of where you’d really like to be – and you’ll now likely have an ‘edge’ to your CV, plus a set of transferable skills that’ll be helpful in your next career.
Better to cut your losses now, right?
3. Identify what, exactly, you want to be doing instead.
This step is key. Don’t just leave your old career because you hate it; find something that you’re confident will engage you, and make that new career your motivation.
Not sure where to start? Ask yourself what you’d do with your life if you had all the money in the world (no, you’re not allowed to answer “swanning around in the South of France.) What motivated or thrilled you when you were younger? What do people often tell you you’re good at?