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5 Ways to Prepare for a Career Change

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:26pm | by Guest Contributor

If there's one thing in life that we're not always prepared for, but will inevitably happen, it is change. And while there are some rare people that you may meet that have stayed in the same position with the same company for many years, chances are that at some point in your life, you may not just change positions within a business, but you may decide that it's time for a whole new career altogether.

Of course, in order for the transition to go smoothly, you must be willing to take the advice of Benjamin Franklin when he said that by failing to prepare, you prepare to fail. So with that said, if you're looking for five ways to prepare for a career change, check these "rules for professional transitioning" out.

Get clarity on the benefits of the career shift. When you're at a point in your life when you want to change over into an entirely different profession, that decision will affect everything about your life and so it's definitely not one that you should make in an emotional state (like because one day you're sick of your boss or mad about your workload). If you're really serious about such a drastic change, go the traditional processing route and get out a legal pad, draw a line down the middle and list all of the pros and cons of both leaving the career that you're in and moving over to the one that you're considering. If the pros on the right side win out, you're on your way.

Do your research. Once you're committed to the decision to go into another career path, it's then time to do your research on things like what positions are available locally in that field (unless, of course, you're open to relocating), how much the position pays (including the starting salary) and what additional education may be required. There's nothing worse than going into a job interview and being totally unprepared for half of what you're being asked about all because you weren't knowledgeable enough, beforehand, about the position that you applied for.

Get a mentor. This one can't be stressed enough. If you were a nurse and you want to become a teacher, find someone who made a similar transition. If you were working in a non-profit and left your job to pursue your education and you now have a masters and want to know the ROI (Return On Investment) as it relates to your degree, try and find someone who has a masters in a similar field. Even with all of the books and online articles in the world, there is nothing like an actual person to guide you through something that they've already experienced so that they can give you the firsthand insight on what to do and what not to do.

Do a couple of internships. For whatever the reason, people seem to think that internships are just for people of traditional college age, but that's simply not the case. Remember that more than anything an internship is to help people gain tangible experience in a field that they are interested in. If you are thinking about being a fashion designer, why not intern at a fashion school? If you want to be a music engineer, there usually lots of studios that will allow you to come and sit in for a few weeks. If you need the college credit, that's cool, but if you are out of school and simply want some experience to put on your resume, if you state that upfront, there are lots of jobs that will be willing to work something out with you.

Be patient. Initially, when people decide to do something new, they're all excited. But after a few months of job searching, if nothing pans out, they're tempted to worry about if they made the best decision. If it's something that you're passionate about and committed to, you made the right choice. You've come this far, so don't let your present circumstances cause you to totally reroute from the future that's right before you. Just be patient as you continue to prepare for what's awaiting you.

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