Tips For Changing Careers

By Sarah Strumeier

You are probably here because you are considering changing careers. Maybe experiencing increased levels of stress, loss of passion in your field, or not having a work/life balance has brought you to this decision. Maybe you are the parent who is considering going back into the workforce after having kids or the paralegal who after years of working at a law firm wants to be an attorney themselves. Wherever you may be in your life or career journey, changing careers is always a huge life transition to navigate. Oftentimes our emotions can get the best of us while making this transition, such as the fear of failure, but know it is never too late or early to make a career change. Taking the first step when changing careers is always the hardest, so that is why I wrote below the most common tips I give to my clients when they are considering making this change:
Tip #1: Make a list of your passions, hobbies, and potential career paths you are considering
Including your passions and hobbies on your list is crucial because sometimes the answer of the next career change can be right in front of you. Maybe volunteering as an EMT is at the top of your list, but you work in IT and don’t get the same kind of passion as you do when volunteering as an EMT in the community. This may be a huge revelation to you after drafting your list. Maybe you enjoy being out in nature, but you work in finance where you are inside the office all day. This may help you come to the revelation of considering a completely different career path, such as working for your local parks department. It is also okay if you can’t think of any passions or hobbies, but have an idea of what career paths you may enjoy. This will be helpful in the next step, but something your therapist such as myself can explore deeper with you.
Tip #2: Weighing the pros and cons
Refer back to your list that you created. What are the top few things on your list that jump at you? That is what you want to break down in the pros and cons. Maybe you are an accountant who works 80+ hours a week and want to consider a career in investment banking. It is possible when weighing the pros and cons here that potential long hours in investment banking may be your biggest con and sway you from picking that as your next career. This is why the pros and cons list is so important. After doing some pros and cons lists, focus maybe on the one or two that had the most pros for the next step.
Tip #3: Do your research
Doing your research before making a career change is a must! Lets just say you decided that you may want to pursue a career in teaching or nursing. You may want to take a mental note of the skills you can bring to those different roles, as well as what will be required to become a teacher or a nurse. Sometimes depending on the career, you may have to go back to school, get another degree, and take exams to be certified or licensed in that field. If you are someone who does not want to go back to school or take an exam to become licensed or certified in a specific field, that career change you may be considering may not be for you. If you come to this conclusion after doing your research, go back to the drawing board! If you find that you are interested in whatever next steps may be entailed with that specific career choice, that speaks volumes and the next step is probably for you.
Tip #4: Consider volunteering, speaking to a mentor, or working a side job
Oftentimes before committing to a career change, some may want some exposure with that specific job or field before making the decision to leave their current position. Depending on what career change you want to make, volunteering, finding a mentor, or working a side job may be good for you. For example, maybe you are currently working in hospital administration, but want to be a nurse. You may want to find a volunteer program at your hospital or another local hospital where you can provide support to patients or speak to a nurse who you work very closely with. Another example can be that maybe you want to pursue comedy, but you are currently working as a teacher. You may want to speak to another comedian in the community or take some classes at a local comedy club. Maybe after taking some classes in improv for example, the comedy club may give you a job that you can work in the evenings. That way, it won’t conflict with the teaching job! Getting exposure like this can help you know for certain if this is the career for you.
Tip #5: Make a plan and hold yourself accountable
Mapping out your career path for this upcoming career change may be helpful in holding yourself accountable. Just know that it is okay if things come up that may get in the way of making this career change immediately. A few examples of things that may get in the way of making a career change right away include burnout, unexpected illness, increased hours at your current job due to their being a busy season, etc. That is why I say to hold yourself accountable and just because a few things come up doesn’t mean that you will never make this career change! If the career change you want to make doesn’t require schooling or getting certified, your plan may look like applying to different jobs in that field in the meantime while you are navigating through unexpected situations that have gotten in your way.
Changing careers is the farthest thing from easy and you do not have to go through making a career change alone. Therapy can be insightful in helping you realize to change your career path or it can help reduce any burnout, depression, stress, or anxiety when going through a career change. Evidence based therapies such as solution focused therapy and interpersonal therapy can be helpful in guiding you when changing careers. Making a change like this can be overwhelming, but it can be very rewarding and exciting too! I would love to be a part of your career journey to empower you to be the best version of yourself.