Empowering yourself for a Career Change

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Now in his thirties, Olympian Ato Boldon has been a world-class sprinter, a broadcaster, a politician, a coach, and a pilot – who has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Not many people can boast of such varied experiences.

The majority of us are conditioned to believe that we must choose one career path, and stick with it for the rest of our lives. This leads many people to internalise their meaning and purpose in life, and to question themselves when they realise that they are no longer interested in the discipline they studied, or the job they’ve been holding.

Recently, a good friend of mine came to the realisation that the “esteemed”, prestigious profession she had chosen was no longer fulfilling her. Actually, it is now the source of her distress.

“But I’ve sacrificed so much to attend university, and now after a few years of working, I realise I don’t like it anymore,” she says despondently, as if handed a life sentence. “It’s not just the work politics and the people, I just don’t like the job itself. But I can’t give it up now, or else I’ve just wasted all those years.”

Empowering yourself for change

Does this sound like you? The reality is that you can choose different paths, as you forge through your career. I don’t mean to sound clichéd, but the fact is that life is an adventure, and adventurous experiences are not limited to our personal lives. They have a place in our professional lives as well.

Perhaps you’re an accountant. Now, you’ve developed a passion for social activism. What do you do? Refuse to switch to a career in social welfare, because you’ve reached the highest ACCA qualification? Not necessarily. You can switch to being a social activist or simply transfer your accounting skills to that industry.

The point I’m making is that you don’t have to have one career for your entire life. You can change paths. From as early as our teen years, we’re trained to decide on a career path. People find themselves unsure of what they really want to do in life. It becomes a source of stress, because they figure, “I’m 21 and I don’t know what I want to be”.

It’s okay to not know early on. If you’re currently working, continue to perform well in your job, regardless of your position and where you eventually end up; the fact is that you will learn something invaluable there, and you can transfer skills learnt and lessons to future jobs. Save your money, and enjoy the present.

As Ato Boldon shows us, you don’t have to park in one spot and stay there. Another apt example is managing director of Toute Bagai Publishing Limited and editor-in-chief of MACO Caribbean Living Magazine, Neysha Soodeen. She studied criminology at university and modelled in Italy, but today runs what is arguably one of the Caribbean’s most internationally successful publishing houses. What enabled Boldon and Soodeen to make their switches was careful planning and determination.

Making the switch

You may be an individual with multifaceted skills and talents. If you’ve decided to make that switch in careers, don’t feel you’re starting from scratch completely. Apart from getting the necessary training and qualifications for your new field, you can also use your past experience to your benefit. Show recruiters how you can transfer skills from your past work experience to the new position. Most people who switch careers are sure about their move, so convince employers of your commitment.

Remember that your transition between careers may not necessarily be a seamless process. You’ve got to be patient and strategic in your move. Be prepared for conditions like downgrading your job status by taking an entry-level position, accepting a measurably decreased salary, and devoting time to study for that new course you may be pursuing. Regardless of what the naysayers may tell you, remember that there is absolutely nothing wrong with switching careers.


Karel Mc Intosh is the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Outlish Magazine. She is also a Marketing and Public Relations Consultant, who dabbles in career fulfillment.


Karel Mc Intosh

Karel Mc Intosh is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Outlish Magazine. She's also the Lead Communications Trainer at Livewired Group, where she conducts workshops in business writing, social media, and other communications areas. A real online junkie, when she isn't surfing the Internet, she's thinking about surfing the Internet. Find out more about her here or tweet her @outlishmagazine.

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