I was once told that the average person will have about three significant careers in one lifetime. I’m not sure whether this is true or not, but what I do know for sure is that it can be a really scary and exciting at the same time.
A career change is something that I never thought I would consider because I love what I do. It aligns perfectly with what I studied at university and I have built up significant experience in the corporate field. However, in saying that, there is only so much that you can learn from where you are on the career ladder. To progress, new skills are required, which sometimes aren’t able to be learned in the current job you are in.
My decision to look beyond the silo of my area of expertise was not taken lightly – I took a good 6 months to really look at the whole picture and figure out where I wanted to be in the future.
In May 2018, short of quitting my job and finding a new one, I was lucky to find secondment within my organisation in a different field of work altogether. It’s actually a pretty awesome way to experience a new profession without the uncertainty of employment. I like to think of secondment as being ‘loaned out’ to another part of the business to help with the workload…
And it’s been an incredible experience so far.
On my first day, I was overwhelmed with the expectations of the job. Everything I knew – all the experience I had accumulated over 10 years – went out the window. I literally felt like I was fresh out of university, learning the fundamentals of business again. On top of that, I had to learn:
- New software and applications in a different way.
- To look at numbers and financials through an alternative lens.
- To talk with important managers (freak out!), and try to understand the messages they wanted conveyed
- To collect information and make it simple to understand.
- To be involved with whole business initiatives – something I have never ever done before.
The list goes on.
It has been a steep learning curve, but I don’t regret taking the first step and diving into the deep end. I have been very lucky to come from an area who was supportive of my decision to learn about another part of the business and actually let me go. I am also very blessed with my current team who have taken the time to explain things to me and encourage me to take training and development opportunities.
There are definitely times and situations where I feel out of my element. Sometimes, I feel like giving up and going back to what I know. But I don’t want to waste this opportunity that I have been given. I want to increase my skillset, influence and business acumen. I have increased my social network and have gotten to know some of the most influential people within my organisation. They know my name now. Before my secondment, barely anyone did.
I hope that in the future I can use what I am learning to help me with my future career ambitions and actually make a difference in the workplace. My secondment is meant to finish in November, but like most contracts, this can change at anytime. I just hope that I’ve made a good enough impression that they will want me to be part of the their team beyond this year.
If you are looking at changing careers, the hardest part is being honest with yourself and asking yourself why. And is that reason good enough? Is it for money? Lifestyle? Health? Fulfillment?
Only you can answer that.
If you’ve already made your mind up and want to take the plunge, here are a few things to consider:
- Have you done your research? This might be a simple google search, or talking to a career adviser or someone who has successfully made the change.
- Is it a realistic career change? Want to be an astronaut? That probably won’t happen if you’re terrible with numbers and can’t handle G-force. Be realistic about it. Going from the corporate world to the blogging world is simple enough, but what about the income? Like all careers, you’ve got to start from the ground up. It’ll take time to build up enough money to live off. Same goes if you want to switch from being a personal trainer to a teacher. You’ll need to be qualified, and that takes time and money.
- Have you planned accordingly? As with the above, if where you want to be is in a completely different field of work, have you considered the financial implications or any further studies or qualifications you’ll need? What about your living situation? If you’ve got a significant other or a family, are they aware of how your current situation will change? Like all things, even planning to plan for a significant change takes time, so make sure you factor this in.
- Will the current skills you have easily transfer across? If you’re seeking a career in the same field (eg: within the business industry), then having the basic fundamentals will make the transition easier. If not, how can you go about filling the skills gap?
- Are there any opportunities within your current workplace to try out a new profession? Think of this as a ‘try before you buy’ way of figuring out if the career change is what you really want to do. If not, you’ll have the option of returning to your substantive career with minimal disruption.
- Can you use your leave entitlements to trial out a new career? If you have copious amounts of leave owed to you, then why not use it to learn on the job in your chosen new career. That way, you won’t actually be out of pocket financially. Two weeks minimum will be more than enough to earn some valuable experience, and determine if you want to transition to a new career.
Have I missed anything? Have you gone through a career change? What was it like? I’d love to hear about it!