Making a career change, especially from teaching, can be overwhelming and absolutely scary! It is incredibly hard to change direction when you have spent a considerable amount of time, dedication, and money preparing for a career. Despite this, don’t be scared to follow your heart. Just be practical and prepared as you explore new opportunities. Below are a few very basic but essential tips that you should keep in mind if you are considering taking the plunge.
Networking is not about attending events to see how many business cards you can collect or having hundreds of friends on social media sites that you never really interact with. It is about nurturing true friendships and connections that are mutually beneficial. You may be surprised by just how big your network can grow if you spend the time working on it. When making a career change, it is important to seek out friends in your network who can connect you to people in the industries that you are considering. Cultivate new relationships and set up informational interviews to gather a personal perspective about their jobs.
Look at job announcements to see what skills you will need to make the change. If you don’t have these skills, you must get them but before you start spending money on training, think about the skills that you do have and how they might already closely relate to those required. For example, in my case, tourism professionals all want to know if I have sales experience. My immediate answer was “NO” until I had a great conversation with a friend, who reminded me that most of what I had been doing as Program Coordinator and Recruiter was absolutely selling! Educators do not like to think of it in that way but the reality is that if I am passionate about something, I can absolutely sell it!
Learn the lingo
On my own journey to pursue options outside of academia, I met with several Human Resource Directors in the Hotel Industry. I developed what I thought was a resume for them to take a look at. I was so appreciative of their honesty. They told me that they didn’t understand half of what was in my resume and that it needed to be shorter. Take the time to look at job announcements and begin using that lingo to describe your skills. Editing out pages of your academic curriculum vitae to create a resume (no longer than 2 pages) takes time. It can be very hard but keep working on it and continue to seek feedback. Also, don’t forget to go through the same process on your work related social media sites.
Stay true to your heart
Probably the best advice I received this past year was to “Get out of your head and into your heart”. I absolutely love this quote and refer to it all of the time. Make a list of what you are passionate about and set goals for yourself. Don’t be surprised if during this journey, you realize that you don’t in fact want to leave teaching, but simply need to adjust where, what or how you are teaching.
Best of luck on your journey.
By Dr Jan L. Jones