April 18, 2018
Switching careers was a serious no-no in the past. People were expected to stay in their chosen line of work and to stay with the same employer for the lifetime of their career. Out the door to work in your teens and you can finally retire when you’re almost dead. What a wonderful life, but that was the norm. Those days are over. People see know that they have choices and they are not chained to the desk so to speak. Now we are seeing a rise in people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and even 60s beginning new careers.
Look around at your co-workers, how many of them seem burnt out to you? Look at your own self, what is your attitude toward your job? Do you loathe going in, do the hours and days creep by, do you suffer from anxiety at work? These are all things that point towards a future meltdown and what better way to avoid that than to switch careers.
It is difficult to switch careers and you should be mindful of this. Money is probably going to be an issue. Starting out in a new career usually comes with a lower pay and you will be starting over with benefits. You need to take a hard look at your finances and what you can and can’t afford. You should research the average salary for the profession you want to move to and make sure it is a good fit for you. Look at job ads to see what employers are paying and how much experience they are looking for to get that pay.
Getting your foot in the door to a new career can be a huge obstacle. A college degree alone no longer gets you in the door – everyone wants experience, but how do you get experience when you can’t get your foot in the door? Interning is a great way. If you are in college, enroll in an internship class or program – join clubs that cater to your profession. Many professional societies offer reduced student fees. Look for intern positions at large companies in the field you are switching to – you will need to research to find the companies and then go to their websites to see positions they have open. Many intern positions are not posted like regular jobs are. These companies feel you should be scouting them out. Get on LinkedIn and find people in the field – network, network, network. Apply to a job even if you don’t meet the requirements. You need interview experience and going to a job you’re not that interested in is a way to sharpen your interview skills, not to mention builds confidence.
I started out waiting tables and when I turned 21 I started a 17-year long career in casino table games. It paid well, for the first couple of years I really enjoyed it, and then the reality of the same grind and ill-tempered customers took its toll on me. I decided I was going to do something about and took online career placement tests to find was suitable for me. Paralegal was the career I chose after researching the average pay and looking at jobs that were posted in my area. I went back to college and was able to schedule all of my classes on my two days off (Wednesday and Thursday) or online. I did have previous college credits that helped. I researched further and found that having a Bachelor’s Degree was not required to be a Paralegal and did not really increase the pay so I only went for the Associate’s Degree. In my last semester, I took a credit class that was an internship. I had to find my own place to intern because I did not live close to the college I was attending. I chose a Family Law Legal Aid and spent about 4 months there doing part-time, no pay work. It was great on my resume – I had experience!
I graduated and off to work I went. No, it didn’t work that way. I applied to every Paralegal job within a 75-mile radius. I studied for the Certified Paralegal exam and passed – a definite resume builder. I became a notary to build my resume up and offer more to a potential employer. I learned how to type and got up to 60 words per minute – another resume builder. The college I attended gave out a very professional leather-bound notebook. I placed my resume and different legal writing examples in it to show at interviews. I bought cheap plastic notebooks at Walmart for a $1 and put the same material in it – I gave these to everyone I interviewed with and told them to keep it so they could look at it at their leisure. I got several interviews and landed my first job paying $10 per hour, 40 hours per week. This is where the pay can really hurt you if you don’t plan ahead.
After one year I switched jobs to make $13 per hour. My next job paid $17 per hour. I have been a Paralegal for 7 years, I have obtained the Florida Registered Paralegal and am now an Advanced Certified Paralegal in two areas. I keep my notary up to date and I still have that notebook of writing examples. I now make over $60K per year, have great benefits with over 20 paid days off in the first year, cheap and decent insurance, and my skills are a high commodity. All that from starting at $10 per hour.
Switching careers is stressful and will likely cost you money. You are going to have to put a lot of work into landing your first job so be prepared. Know how much you need to live off of, how much salary you will make in your new position, and take the placement tests to make sure it is the right fit for you. If you can set some money aside that would be primo. I look back now at how burnt out I really was, how standing on my feet all day was so painful and I know switching careers was the best thing I could have ever done for myself. I also knew that if things were to go bad in my new career I could always go back to the casinos – not that it has ever come up, but it is a nice safety net.