What is certain is that, if you’re thinking your career is not right, it’s likely not.
Let’s face it, change can evoke a myriad of emotions. I know from personal experience I made the switch from the Travel Industry to Tech.
In my previous position, I was unhappy and I realized that I would not be able to advance my career in that industry any further. I took the time to reflect on where I saw myself, even if it wasn't in the industry I initially started in.
When it was time to get serious, I thought of the 4 W's.
Who? What? Where? and Why?
Who- did I want to become
What- were my non-negotiables/ negotiables for the next company
Where- did I wanna see my career going
Why- did I want to make this change
It wasn’t an easy transition but, planning and research are what helped ease the major change.
Here are some tips that helped me and tips I’ve heard from other people:
LinkedIn - Lookup keywords of industries you’re interested into research specific companies as well as the roles and titles that exist within that sector
Interning - Once you’ve identified companies that interest you, see if there are opportunities for part-time internships
Joining professional groups - A simple search on Facebook, MeetUps or LinkedIn helps you connect with these groups in person or virtually
Networking - Plan coffee chats with people whose roles interest you. We even have a post on StudentSpot where we share our best Networking advice.
Last but, not least
If you’re feeling lost, just look around at those you admire.
⏰How did you know it was time to switch careers?
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This is such a great question! I've shared this already with some folks, but my career is rooted in journalism — I did reporting, editing, and page design throughout college and for several years after, but I learned quickly that working in media is not for the faint of heart, and I found myself in a round of layoffs at a publication that was shuttering. I did a lot of self-reflecting, including asking myself if I wanted to continue down this relatively volatile path, or parlay my skills into something more steady.
Ultimately, I decided to pivot and landed a job at a digital agency, where I was able to flex my creativity and dive head-first into an emerging space (social media), as well as dabble in PR and communications. Fast forward to today, where I find myself in the community industry (truly the culmination of all my professional superpowers).
It sounds cliche, but I firmly believe in following your gut, the spidey sense that tells you whether it's time to take that leap or hang back just a little bit longer. There are so many resources these days for career-changers (and countless success stories!) that should help assuage a lot of the fear that comes with taking that chance.
Change is hard, before getting into design and dev, back in college I changed majors twice.
Lucky for me the transition from print to web was a smooth one. I was and am still at the same company i work for today. Being able to change within the same organization definitely made things easier. I can see how it would be more difficult for others when changing career paths entirely and having to deal with challenges.
I don't have any tips specifically about my path but in general regarding career change when you know, you know. I'd say follow your instincts. And at the end of the day it's okay if it turns out it wasn't the right choice. I think that's where people may find hesitation. They are afraid they will make the wrong decision. I say usually it is the right one though.
I've had a pretty varied career. I originally graduated from an English/Spanish degree and then did a Master's in Linguistics because they offered me a scholarship.
Graduating with a "non-vocational" degree in the middle of the last recession was tough, so I ended up working at terrible call centres. I took an interest in tech (web development in particular) and gradually clawed my way out of there and into tech/customer support in tech companies.
There was a bit of "fake it until you make it" there where I presented myself as a lot more technically savvy than I probably was, but I studied Web/Software Development part-time as well and got into increasingly more technical roles.
Then a few years back I was sitting in the office of a start-up, staring at the wall on a beautiful spring day and decided that humans weren't meant to sit in offices 40+ hours a week. So I quit without much of a plan and thought I'd just wing it: a few hours at a coffee shop, some freelance work here and there, maybe work at a brewery?
I like the CMS when I worked at HubSpot so I started doing that and it turns out there's a lot of work out there! So now I've been freelancing as a CMS Developer full time for a few years and I don't plan on quitting anytime soon. I love the flexibility of freelance work: I'm lucky in that I get to pick and choose projects and people that I want to work with and I mostly work when I want - sometimes I have a huge workload (like now, get back to work Stephanie!), other times less.
I love learning, I'm often doing some course or another and I think that really helped bulk up the resume when I worked for companies. Good companies often offer time/money for learning or will let you shadow other departments, try out small side projects in something you like that's beneficial for the company and will help your resume... etc. Try doing what you can where you currently are.
If you go freelance, finding a niche is probably key. I was originally planning on doing all the things: developing for HubSpot, WordPress, Shopify, doing other HubSpot stuff like workflows and whatnot... now I only do HubSpot CMS work and, even then, it's hard to keep up with all there is to know!
Believe it or not, I used to be a park ranger. (go visit Talbot Island State Park in Florida and let them know that I sent you 😉). In many respects, it was the best job I have ever had, but as I started looking at the career path trajectory, it became clear that the aspects that I loved (being outdoors and working in nature) would soon be removed and I would be relegated to an office somewhere in the governmental state beaurocracy. And paid little to boot.
That is when I made a pretty crazy decision.
Well, that was obvious, but hang on.
I quit and I moved to New York City where I knew no one. Fun fact: it wasn't easy, but it changed my life. I met a very diverse group of people who became my friends, I met my future wife and started a new career path in the world of front end development. I have had several jobs since then including being a director of web development at an agency and my present job as a community manager at HubSpot.
Change is hard. It is also inevitable and necessary. Dare I say, it's also exciting?! How you predict and deal with the change is what will make you come out on top. @JenWeiss 's four questions are something we should all be asking ourselves on a regular basis.
I know many of our community members have had a similar experience. @jonchim shifted from print design to web development. @karstenkoehler and @Stephanie-OG shifted from being an employee to being business owners! Imagine how scary that move is!
Again, thanks for starting this conversation, @JenWeiss ! Such an important topic that many are scared of dealing with.