by Jordan Koletic, Program Assistant, PCDNetwork

The question here today is how does someone successfully make a career switch. The key word in this sentence is the word successfully! I am still working on the successful part as I am getting closer and closer to graduation from my graduate program this November (that was a not so subtle shout out to anyone hiring). Bottom line is this: you will NOT love every job you will have nor will you love the industry you’re initially hired in.

Similar to my previous blog post (which you can find here), all the information here is subjective to my own experiences and should be by no means taken as professional career advice. Rather, readers should take the experiences and thoughts I have put into words on paper (not really… this is 2017 and I type everything on my computer) and see if they resonate and if so, then maybe it is time for you to consider a career switch. So how does someone go about making a 180-degree career shift? I think the answer to this question starts long before you’re embedded in the process.  

Well, for me I completed undergrad with a double major in International Relations and Journalism and knew that I wanted to dedicate my career to helping others whether that be in the private or public sector. Tying back into my previous blog post on PCDN where I discussed the importance of not only interviewing for the job but also interviewing the job. In this post, I discussed an ill-taken job that ended in my crying, eating a tub of Ben & Jerry’s and then quitting because the job was not a good fit for me. I am not a quitter and it took a great deal of strength to be able to talk to my manager and explain why I would no longer be working at the organization. I did apply and was hired for another job where I was extremely successful for over four years before turning to the next chapter, which was and is currently my enrollment in graduate school.

You’re probably reading this right now and probably wondering when the heck is this girl going to answer the question. The answer, right now, but first we need to rewind back roughly five years. I had begun to plot out my career into two bullet points: 1) I knew what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to do something that was fulfilling and helped others; 2) I knew where my gaps were… in this case, it was hard analytical skills. I went to a liberal arts school and majored in the social sciences… needless to say I was not taking advanced calculus or any similar courses. In order to be my best self and be a value-add employee I knew I needed to do something that filled those gaps in my acumen. So, I begin to soul search and questioned where are excel sheets born (ha ha no, I realized I needed to figure out where I could develop the analytical skills I lacked)? I came to the conclusion that the financial services industry was the best place to start. Boom! Part of my career vision and goals became linking the key professional skills that one develops in a global Fortune 500 company with needs that exist in the nonprofit and public sectors.

Fast forward two and half-ish years of working at a Fortune 500 company. This organization provided me with the training to expand my analytical skills, testing my business acumen and developing my knowledge of organizational management. My pay was excellent, benefits were great, the projects I supported were fascinating and the team I was a part of challenged me on a daily basis. I could have easily stayed. These are excellent jobs and many people do stay.

It was absolutely terrifying thinking about leaving something so sturdy and jumping back into the uncertain. I begin to ask myself if I had accomplished what I joined this industry to accomplish? I started asking myself after 2 and half years and continued to ask myself for another year before I could confidently say that I had developed my skillset enough that I could consider changing my career path. I finally was able to say yes! Meaning, it was time to take the next step, a leap rather, and move into a position where I was making a lasting impact through helping others. I knew it would be a difficult move and thought that one of the easiest ways to make a drastic career switch (in my opinion) would be to supplement it with further education (i.e. what I am doing now… ta-da)!

Here are a few questions to help get you on your way to making a successful career switch.

1.What do you want to do? Are you making a direct and positive impact through your job?

  • These questions should NOT be to thought from a “I like making excel sheets’ standpoint but from a what do I want the objective of my job to accomplish. For me, is knowing that I am making a direct and positive impact through helping others.

2. Does your current role meet your needs?

  • Or in other words, does your job challenge you, are you in the industry or sector you’re interested in and most importantly, perhaps, is does the objectives in your current role align with the objectives you personally want to accomplish during your work day.

If you have answered no to the questions above it might be time to explore a change in career!

3. What do you need to do to make that career switch?

  • For me, I knew I needed to further my academic career first prior to making the switch. There are other ways such as skills training course or even good old fashioned networking!

I realize that making such a drastic career move is not for everyone as each person’s circumstance is very different. As someone considering this type of move it is important to make sure the move is strategic and will be a value-add to your overall career path. Also, for those with partners and significant others, sharing your life with someone can make this decision easier and more difficult. For me, my then fiancé, and now husband had to sit down and make very difficult choices. Luckily, I had his full support and even though we have spent the first year of marriage living on separate continents his encouragement has never wavered. Bottom line here is don’t make switches just to switch, make sure every move is thoughtful and strategic and will ultimately get you where you want to go! 

For those out there who have been successful in switching careers, I would love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Bio:

Jordan Koletic is responsible for posting, generating content as well as supporting PCDN´s senior team in various administrative tasks. Jordan is currently pursuing her Masters degree in Human Rights and International Politics at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom. Her research interests are focused on the mediation of humanitarian activism through social media platforms. Previously, Jordan worked for four years as a Strategy/Analytics Consultant on Wells Fargo’s Wealth and Investment Management Strategy team based out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Prior to joining the financial services industry, Jordan interned as an investigative reporter at KosovaLive 360, a major news agency located in the capital city of Pristina, Kosovo. While there she researched, interviewed and reported on a variety of key issues for this freshly minted country, including its push for United Nations recognized sovereignty and efforts to field a 2012 Olympic team. Jordan holds dual BA degrees in Journalism and International Relations from Miami University. While at Miami, Jordan was a member of the Varsity Swim and Dive team and spent five months studying in Eastern Africa.

 

Craig Zelizer

Craig Zelizer

Dr. Craig Zelizer is the Founder of PCDN.global, which connects a global community of changemakers to the tools, community and opportunities to build careers of impact and scale change. He has strong experience in the development sector, academia and social entrepreneurship. From 2005 to 2016 he served as a professor in the Conflict Resolution program at Georgetown University (where he still teaches). He has led trainings, workshops and consultancies in over 20 countries organizations including with USIP, USAID, CRS, Rotary International and others. Craig is a recognized leader in the social sector field. He has received several awards including George Mason’s School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution’s alumni of the year award and an alumni career achievement award from Central European University. Dr. Zelizer spent two years in Hungary as Fulbright Scholar and was a Boren Fellow in Bosnia. He has published widely on peacebuilding, entrepreneurship, and innovation in higher education.
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