A Career Change is a Journey
I have a good job at a good company, but I am so ready for a change—and a career that feels like me. But I just don’t know where to begin. Help! —Stuck
Dear Stuck: This is a big (and common) question, and there’s no one right answer. The key thing to remember? It’s a process. Career change is a journey, not an isolated event or a single decision.
When looking for a starting place, try this simple framework: Look inward, look outward, and look for intersections. Looking inward is about self-awareness. What do you enjoy? What do you find energizing—and draining? What do you do well? Taking stock of your interests, values, skills, personality, and lifestyle preferences is an important foundation.
It sounds as though you may have done some of that work, so next start to look outward, to identify and research options. What’s out there? What are the qualifications or credentials expected of roles you are considering? What opportunities exist today that didn’t a decade ago? Exploring options is crucial before foreclosing on a choice.
Think about your research in three stages, as well: Read, talk, and do.
Read career websites, professional association publications, and industry resources like Vault Guides (available to all alums).
Talk to people. Informational interviews with people in roles or organizations of interest make what you are learning three-dimensional—and build your network.
And finally, do! Seek out part-time, temporary, volunteer, “return-ships,” or other experiential ways of trying out options and building experience.
But what do you do with all this information? After initial reflection and research, look for the intersections between the inward and the outward, between your aspirations and the opportunities.
You might see patterns emerging and feel ready to take action. Or you might feel uncertain about what’s right for you. Ongoing dialogue with a mentor and follow-up conversations with networking connections can help. Others have navigated change, and you can learn from their experience. Also, working with a career coach can help build an approach that fits your goals.
Looking for a new job, I feel overwhelmed by advice! Can you recommend any particular websites that offer good career advice? —Searching
Dear Searching: As a matter of fact, I can! We all know there are so many resources available online that at times it can be challenging to decide which sites are useful, credible, and represent a range of perspectives. Here are a few go-to websites that cover a comprehensive range of career topics in a variety of formats:
- themuse.com/advice: Up-to-date articles, guides, and videos address just about everything career-related—writing a resume, making a career transition, navigating difficult issues that might impact your career, and more.
- forbes.com/careers: Contemporary career issues are presented with clear and concise strategies for taking action on a range of topics.
- askamanager.org: Blogger Alison Green offers insight into how managers and interviewers think and advice on how to use those insights to navigate “workplace weirdnesses.”
- ellevatenetwork.com/articles: Ellevate, a network for professional women, maintains a website with an array of articles and resources to tap—even if you don’t formally join the network.
Need help navigating the world of work? Career guru (and Bryn Mawr's senior associate director of Alumnae/i Career Services) Becky Ross takes your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please keep your questions succinct.