Author Topic: But HOW Does One Go About Making A Radical Career Change?  (Read 4788 times)

purplepants

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But HOW Does One Go About Making A Radical Career Change?
« on: January 27, 2015, 07:15:51 AM »
Subheading 1: When you don't get a lot of advance notice...
Subheading 2: Is it possible to make a living doing lots of side jobs?

About six months ago, I posted a thread here about how my job was killing me, and making me sick and stressed and depressed.  http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/how-long-am-i-obligated-to-work/

I've stuck it out and my husband and I have paid off a ton of debt, with about $40,000 more in student loans to go.  My employer is struggling financially (surprise, surprise) and we have been notified that layoffs will be happening soon.  My understanding is that announcements will be made next week.  I don't know the timeline for actually laying people off, but I have reason to believe I will be included in the cuts. 

I was planning on sucking it up until the end of the year to pay off the rest of the student loans, then transitioning to another career.  It looks like I'm about to get the opportunity a lot sooner than that. 

The thing is, I'm starting to freak out.  From a financial standpoint, we will be OK, but what if I can't find a job doing something I'd actually like?  What if I have to take a job in this same field because that's all I'm qualified for?  I've been through that before (it's a volatile industry) and I have always ended up with same job, different company because when all is said and done, bills need to be paid.

Does anyone have any advice on making major career changes?  Is it even possible?



matchewed

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Re: But HOW Does One Go About Making A Radical Career Change?
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2015, 07:26:01 AM »
Well if you're actually looking to make a distinct career change then you should know what career you want to be in. This is distinctly different from just getting a job in order to keep saving and making ends meet. If you're just getting a job then the normal applying and getting your resume out there is the standard advice. If you're looking to change your career then what career do you want? What education or experience do you need for it? Take actions towards those answers.

As for making a living doing side jobs, yes it is possible. It is just like anything else though, you have to have the necessary skills/time in order to pull it off. There are an infinite number of side jobs that can be done, I would work on being good at something and leveraging that.

sandandsun

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Re: But HOW Does One Go About Making A Radical Career Change?
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2015, 08:34:21 AM »
pros of getting laid off over quitting:
- unemployment benefits
-some states have programs that will pay for your education/re-education in another field... if that is the case for you, I'd seriously look at a short certificate program at a local or online CTC(trades, medical coding etc.) just to broaden your opportunities... and you might even find something you love :)

MetalCap

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Re: But HOW Does One Go About Making A Radical Career Change?
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2015, 10:30:37 AM »
Like S&S said, being unemployed can help retrain yourself.

Biggest thing is to soak up as much about your new career path as possible.  Even if you don't have a sheep skin, if you can talk the talk and show you're willing to learn to walk the walk you'll be fine. Kahn Academy, Youtube, the library, any way you can get knowledge in the field, do it.

In the mean time, use the layoffs to look into tightening another notch, research putting loans into defferment if needed (and if they still collect interest while differed).

Trudie

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Re: But HOW Does One Go About Making A Radical Career Change?
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2015, 02:48:11 PM »
pros of getting laid off over quitting:
- unemployment benefits
-some states have programs that will pay for your education/re-education in another field... if that is the case for you, I'd seriously look at a short certificate program at a local or online CTC(trades, medical coding etc.) just to broaden your opportunities... and you might even find something you love :)

In the short-term, I would happily get your financial house in order as much as you can.  If there are any recurring expenses you can reduce or cut entirely, you might want to attack them.  Also -- and I know this sounds funny -- but if you feel "fuzzy" about what you want to do and are anxious I would try to take control of a few areas you can control right away -- eating, physical activity, relaxation, and simplifying your home environment.  (Yes!  Clean out that closet!)  Focusing on your health and well-being will give you strength and clarity for what lies ahead.  Pick a few small goals for "home projects"  like baking bread, cooking with beans, growing more of your own veg... stuff that's thrifty but also fun.

As for what the future holds I am a big believer in community college and trade programs for mid-life career switchers.  I have my master's degree and CPA certificate.  If I had to start over at this point I'd probably prepare for a "fun" job -- landscape designer, library aide... Yes - these jobs don't pay.  But, I don't need the job that I'm going to build a career at for 30 years.

Instead of focusing on WHAT exactly you want to do, in the short term I would focus on educating yourself on the benefits available to you in your state if you should get laid off.  Figure out how unemployment benefits work and what you're required to do (I was on it once for a few months).  Many states pay unemployment benefits if you are going to school to re-train, and there are specific programs aimed at mid-career switchers.  Often these programs have career counselors who can help you sort through your emotions about the whole thing as well as your skills/aptitudes.  I strongly advise using counselors when we all feel overwhelmed.

And - go online and learn everything you can about tax programs and incentives for re-training.  This is the time you say to yourself, "I've worked all these years, so if there are benefits I'm entitled to I'm going to take them."  Guilt over being on unemployment?  Let it blow over.  It's your employer's problem... they paid into the system and they're paying for you.  Go to irs.gov and learn more about things like the Lifetime Learning Credit and tax deductible job search expenses.  Make sure you get all the tax benefits you're legally entitled to.  Although I've never checked it, I imagine aarp.org has some good resources.

If you think going back to school might be in your future, I highly recommend contributing money to a section 529 account.  You can generally turn the money around quickly, but if you use it to pay for qualified educational expenses.  Any money you funnel through the account reduces your state tax bill.  It's legal money laundering, for a good purpose.

I've been laid off before... it sucked at first, but it gave me a nudge to move to a new place, re-tool for a new career, and get my life together in many ways.  TBT, at times I miss those days.

JLee

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Re: But HOW Does One Go About Making A Radical Career Change?
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2015, 02:58:11 PM »
What do you want to do?

I moved from NH to AZ and didn't have a job lined up before I quit my job. I had a cheap place to stay lined up and enough savings to last for a year or two so I wasn't worried. I ended up finding a job before I moved, then made a major career change about a year later (law enforcement to security to IT). I didn't have a huge passion for IT as a career, but I knew enough to learn fast (and I did).  I was planning on going back to LE until I realized I could make a LOT more money doing this...so here I am.

So...what do you want to do? Or what field are you interested in enough to be willing to work in for a while?

purplepants

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Re: But HOW Does One Go About Making A Radical Career Change?
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2015, 09:51:37 AM »
I'm presently a Quality Engineer in manufacturing. 

My job description involves a lot of getting bitched at (by assembly workers because they don't want to follow the specifications, by management because they don't want to scrap out the product that clearly doesn't meet the print, by auditors because the assembly workers aren't following the specifications, by the customer because management sent the product I tried to scrap).  There's some other dry, boring, engineering stuff like updating documents, but it's mostly getting bitched at and trying to prevent further bitching. 

Engineering bores me.  Everyone else in my family is an engineer (Mom, Dad, two adult brothers) and at holidays they will literally sit around the dinner table and talk about engineering things.  It bores the life out of me, but they talk about that shit like it is the very PURPOSE of their souls.  I can't even keep up with the conversation because my brain is just so bored by the whole thing that it refuses to follow the thread for long.  It's pretty obvious that this is not my calling.

I'm not *exactly* sure what I want to do, but I think it revolves around marketing/entrepreneurship/outreach. 

I like taking nothing and turning it into something.  I volunteer with a local animal rescue, and I volunteered to manage their Facebook page.  Within a year, I'd increased their # of fans from 180-something to nearly 2,000 (it's a rural area).  We desperately needed supplies and monetary donations were at a trickle, so I planned a huge party with food and games and prizes, and spread the world all over town.  I made a gift registry at a few local stores and we had tons of people show up to meet the adoptable animals, eat some snacks, play some games, and drop off "gifts" for the animals. 

My youngest brother wants to open up a craft brewery, and contacted me about how to actually do it (I have an MBA).  I am on FIRE about this idea, and my brain can not stop thinking of how to make it work, how to get the word out to beer enthusiasts, how to plan events that will get people into the tasting room.  I've already got a notebook half full of ideas and things to think about further. 

My brother doesn't really care about all the business stuff.  He just wants to get paid for brewing beer.

I couldn't give a toss about the brewing (I mean yeah, I love beer, but I don't want to make it myself).  I just want to take this thing that is only an idea and make it HAPPEN.

The thing is, I'm not sure how to make a living making something out of nothing. 

galliver

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Re: But HOW Does One Go About Making A Radical Career Change?
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2015, 12:39:59 PM »
I'm presently a Quality Engineer in manufacturing. 

[...]

I'm not *exactly* sure what I want to do, but I think it revolves around marketing/entrepreneurship/outreach. 

[...]

The thing is, I'm not sure how to make a living making something out of nothing.

Dude...assuming "Quality Engineer" requires an engineering degree of some sort, you are one of those people who have the technical know-how and analytical thought processes, but are also (clearly) incredibly good with people. I don't know the answer to your question, but from talks at conferences and talking to friends, I know your breed is rare (and valuable). Use that. And not to get a job where people bitch at you.

Making something out of nothing (and then selling it to someone!) is the only way money is really made. Microbrews are quite hip right now. If your brother's beer is good, it could at least be a good side project!

rocksinmyhead

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Re: But HOW Does One Go About Making A Radical Career Change?
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2015, 03:07:24 PM »
I'm presently a Quality Engineer in manufacturing. 

[...]

I'm not *exactly* sure what I want to do, but I think it revolves around marketing/entrepreneurship/outreach. 

[...]

The thing is, I'm not sure how to make a living making something out of nothing.

Dude...assuming "Quality Engineer" requires an engineering degree of some sort, you are one of those people who have the technical know-how and analytical thought processes, but are also (clearly) incredibly good with people. I don't know the answer to your question, but from talks at conferences and talking to friends, I know your breed is rare (and valuable). Use that. And not to get a job where people bitch at you.

Totally agree. On a side note, my boyfriend has a job related to yours but without the engineering degree (unfortunately he dropped out)... I'm not sure what his title is now, he works with quality engineers and was hired as an inspector but now seems to do more with paperwork than actually looking at the parts. The different varieties of bitching you describe sound very familiar from his rants, LOL.

Starting a brewery would be cool as fuck (it is something BF and I love to daydream about, although now we are leaning more pub/restaurant with a killer draft list), the biggest concern I would have is that the craft beer space is getting pretty crowded, so you would really have to make a niche for yourself I think.

Weedy Acres

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Re: But HOW Does One Go About Making A Radical Career Change?
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2015, 04:24:13 PM »
How to make a career change?  In a nutshell,
Step 1: figure out what you want to be
Step 2: figure out all the potential paths that could get you there
Step 3: pick the path that makes the most sense and DO IT

For step 1, what I'm seeing in the common thread of the two examples is very potentially marketing.  You're likely a D/I on the DISC profile.  You're likely high ideaphoric on the Johnson O'Connor aptitude testing (which I highly recommend btw to help you home in on the aspects of the ideal job/career for you).  Being a quality engineer doesn't require any idea creation, and is best for C types on the DISC profile, which results in boredom and lack of fulfillment.  GET OUT!!! :-)

For step 2, you can either jump into freelancing (hard without a history/track record), start volunteering to do free marketing for small organizations on the side while you're still employed, look at moving into marketing in the manufacturing sphere, since you can speak the language, go back to school to get training in it, but you've already got your MBA.  Think of other paths that could get you there.

Then you've got to lay them all out and pro/con them to pick what makes the most sense.

Yes, it's possible to make a radical career change.  I went from health care contract administration/negotiation to manufacturing operations via an MBA.  NOT worth sticking with boring/unfulfilling. 

purplepants

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Re: But HOW Does One Go About Making A Radical Career Change?
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2015, 06:57:13 AM »

For step 1, what I'm seeing in the common thread of the two examples is very potentially marketing.  You're likely a D/I on the DISC profile.  You're likely high ideaphoric on the Johnson O'Connor aptitude testing (which I highly recommend btw to help you home in on the aspects of the ideal job/career for you).  Being a quality engineer doesn't require any idea creation, and is best for C types on the DISC profile, which results in boredom and lack of fulfillment.  GET OUT!!! :-)


I haven't done the Johnson O'Connor testing, although it seems interesting - not sure if I can swing the $675 to actually take the test but I'll consider it.  Skimming over their "Understanding Your Aptitudes" document is really enlightening, as I identify strongly several of the aptitudes that would not be valued in my career, and I feel almost physically nauseous reading about the aptitudes that would make a good engineer.

The takeaway lesson here is that just because you're capable of graduating with honors from a top engineering school, it doesn't make you an engineer!!!