I was stuck for a while wondering why I ever chose the career I did… and then continued to work doing anything but that career. (There were no jobs for theater majors, who would’ve thunk?) But I was finally actually able to change careers, and change my path, despite having a not-too-helpful degree.
Here’s how I pulled it off. Maybe it’ll work for you too?
I got a lot of different jobs
I had no idea what career path I wanted to choose. I had no way to go back to school (even part-time was beyond my financial means). So I decided to get jobs that just paid the bills. I signed up for jobs that sounded interesting and gave me a living wage. I took jobs that included room and board and moving far away. I had jobs just because I needed to make ends meet. And I had jobs because I thought I might be good at them. And some of them SUCKED to the nth degree and had me crying before work and after.
I learned from all of them
I learned that I was not going to be my job… that I was not that kind of person. I learned what my skills were, what I liked to do, what I was good at, and what I sucked at doing. And I learned how to avoid being in a situations where I would need to do those things I suck at doing. I also used one theater skill throughout: fake it till you make it.
It turned out that I didn’t much care WHAT I was doing, just HOW
It began as “job that pays the bills.” Then I realized that I also needed to not be miserable while paying bills. I didn’t have to LOVE my job, but at least be able to function without crying. I discovered I’m actually an introvert and suck at office interaction and forced socializing. I found out that even if work was monotonous, if it was for a good cause, I was happy doing it. I learned that I did not want to be my own boss (it is WAY harder than it seems). But I wanted bosses who did not suck and who respect their employees.
Make a list of things you need and things you need to avoid
Through trial and error I came up with my own personal list of things that I want from a job, and things I will avoid like the plague. What helped me find my new career path (which makes me very happy) was to think what my bottom line was. Your list is most likely going to be quite different, and mine was different when I got started with it, I’ve added and modified it as the years have gone by.
My personal list of things to look for in a job looks like this now:
- Makes me feel that I am helping the world be a better place.
- Pays me enough to live well and be able to save up and travel.
- Is not all-consuming (I want time for me, and to not feel tied down or overly stressed).
- Does not require me to conform or be less myself.
Don’t be afraid to branch out and find other stuff you’d like doing. Search for grants, fellowships or training programs that will hire you and train you. Figure out what you ARE looking for in a job and try to search in that direction.
Anyone else pull off changing careers? How did you do it?