The Ultimate Switch: Jumping from One Career to Another


This year has come with major ups and downs, most of them stemming from truths I can no longer run from. When I started my current job in mid-2013, it was definitely what I needed. With a degree in Political Science, it felt – and was – a dream come true to be able to find a job that completely aligned with not only my degree and my skill set. Fast forward to the present day, and let’s just say that my need has been fulfilled and I am dreaming new dreams.

Leaving a job is a hard decision to make. With our 40 hour work week, it’s no surprise that our places of work become our second homes. We spend more time with our co-workers than we do our families. So, it came (looking back that is) as no surprise that I became wracked with anxiety when I realized that the time had come for me to change directions with my career. I’ve been hit with pang after pang of guilt thinking about the day when I will turn in my two-weeks notice. It feels as if I am breaking a promise, but of course I must take care of myself before I even consider others. In making and cementing myself within this decision there are a few things that I have learned.

Don’t quit your job before you get a new one. Okay, this is a self-explanatory piece of advice at first, but it’s not always an easy one to follow. When you’re over your current job, you start getting annoyed by every little thing there. Your boss becomes unbearable, your to-do lists feels like a chore, and 5 p.m. just cannot come fast enough. Quitting seems like the only option, but it’s simply not a wise one. Regardless of how sharp your resume may look, and how many jobs you apply to daily, you just never know when your dream job is coming. It’s best to be sure that you have your parachute ready when you get ready to dive out of the plane you’re currently riding in.

Volunteer First. Get a mentor. Tell people what you want. This one is loaded so let me break it down for you. The best way for you to know what you want is by knowing what you don’t want. If you’re seeking to jump from one career stream to another, find places to volunteer in your desired field first. Not only will it help you to gain experience for your resume/portfolio if you need it, but it’ll also let you know if you are truly willing to switch lanes career-wise. I’ve always known I’ve loved writing, but in order to really see whether I could devote my entire day to it I began freelancing. I know freelancing and writing as a sole career will be two different beasts, but freelancing has allowed me to learn from people in the industry, as well as fine-tune my weaknesses when it comes to putting words to paper.

Mentors are sooo important. There is no other way I can put this. Think of it this way – you are the pilot and your mentor is cartographer. They will not map out every step for you as you seek to find your footing in new territory, but they’ll point out the numerous routes you can take to arrive at your destination.

If closed mouths don’t get fed, then those seeking new lives should be the loudest speakers. When I decided I wanted I more communications-based job, I started telling everyone I knew. The not-so-old-and-used saying is true – sometimes it’s more of who you know than what you know. My blabbing soon paid off and a friend tipped me to a mentorship program looking for people like me! Two months later I was at start-up shadowing my new mentor ( 2 birds, 1 stone!) and soaking up advice like a sponge. No way this would have happened to me if I had kept my dreams to myself.

Last but certainly not least – apply, apply, apply! Someone out there is looking to employ a person with the skills you possess. Chances are you’re going to find such opportunities more on job boards and job websites than anywhere else. Don’t be afraid to apply. Sometimes we pass up on jobs because they list one skill which we don’t have. Don’t fret! We’re human. Just as you weren’t born knowing how to insert a signature in an email, you weren’t born evilly deprived of that one skill mentioned in the posting. jobs should be learning opportunities as well as an employment necessity. Highlight the skills they ask for that you do have, and let the human resources director know you’re willing to learn to define and take their job position to new heights. That is, after all, how I garnered my current job. Don’t let anything deter you from taking that leap – and that’s advice I think both you and I should always remember.

Valerie Charles is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She blogs at You can follow her on twitter @Vivaciously_Val

One Comment

  1. thanks for this. i’m contemplating more education and an eventual change of careers.

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