Why People Transition Careers and How to Do It Right
Take Risks, Embrace Mistakes, and Aim Higher to Make Career Changes a Meaningful and Rewarding Experience
Thinking about changing your career? It's not easy, and it can feel really scary.
But why do people decide to change their careers, and how can you do it without losing your way? Whether you're just changing jobs or stepping into a whole new field, you'll need patience, bravery and the ability to adapt.
In this article, we'll explore the insights of Natalia Vargas, a Senior Director of Product Design at Cariloop and Mentor at ADPList. Natalia has walked this path herself, successfully transitioning her own career, and we'll share her wisdom and experience to help guide you if you're thinking about making a similar move. Her story offers valuable lessons for anyone contemplating a career change.
Understanding Career Transitions
Career transitions differ from job changes within the same field, as they involve adopting new skills, mindsets, and often, different industry norms.
Over time, this has evolved, leading to an important question: Why is the nature of careers changing?
The Changing Nature of Careers
In the past, career paths were often linear with individuals typically sticking to one profession throughout their working life.
The traditional career model is based on the notion of employment from the industrial society, heritage of the School of Scientific Administration, in which the employees make an exchange with the company: they offer loyalty and dedication and receive rewards, stability and security. In this sense, being out of work means, in the traditional career, being without a job, without reward, unstable and insecure.
Today, however, careers are more dynamic and flexible, influenced by:
Technological Advances: Such as the rise of AI
Workforce Demographics: Millennials and Generation Z's values
The Gig Economy: The rise of freelance work
Lifelong Learning: Continuous updating of skills
This shift has led to a new model known as the 'boundaryless career,' where professionals manage their paths, reflecting an ongoing trend in the professional landscape.
The boundaryless career refers to the notion that today's professionals manage their own career paths, as they seize new and often different job opportunities to obtain training, enhance their human capital, and remain marketable.
Why People Transition Careers
So why exactly do people decide to transition careers? Various factors influence this decision:
Personal Fulfillment: Aligning with values or interests
Compensation and Rank: Economic factors
Work-Life Balance and Security: Balance and stability
A senior marketing manager might transition to a creative agency for innovative projects.
A director of engineering might seek faster progression and better compensation.
A mid-level manager might transition to a more stable industry to ensure job security.
These examples underscore the multifaceted reasons behind career transitions.
Natalia began her career journey in traditional graphic design and advertising, but she quickly found herself gravitating toward the digital aspects of the campaigns she worked on. An opportunity to intern at a mobile app development company presented itself, and even though the initial role was in marketing rather than in the design role she wanted, she took the chance. She shares:
"I just needed that in. I wanted to be surrounded by that culture. I understood the value of what I would learn, even though it was perceived as a step back."
This proved to be a risk worth taking.
Whatever is driving the desire to change, it’s important we can identify that ourselves.
Preparing for a Career Transition
Though daunting, a career transition is an exciting opportunity to tell your story.
Changing careers isn't just about finding a new job; it's about starting a new chapter in your life. Natalia offers some wise steps to make this big change less scary and more successful:
Think about your future story:
What do you want your career legacy to be?
How does your desired job fit into this larger picture, and what can you learn here to propel you forward?
Know what you care about and check-in with yourself:
What are your strengths, or what do people tend to know you for?
What inspires you, and how do you align those with what the business needs?
Find out what you need to learn:
What skills are essential for your new career?
Who can you network with to gain industry insights?
Make a plan:
What are the key milestones in your transition plan?
What does success look like for you?
Tell your story:
When your time at that work place comes to an end, what story do you want to tell about that time?
How is the next chapter going to add to your story?
Natalia's guidance on preparing for a career transition emphasizes knowing oneself, planning, learning, networking and storytelling. It's a holistic approach that goes beyond merely finding a new job to crafting a fulfilling future.
It's a big move but made easier with a clear guide.
What To Do In The New Job
So you've landed the new job. That's great, but now the real work begins.
Upon entering a new job after a career transition, success doesn't always follow a straightforward path. According to Natalia, the focus should be on becoming an excellent professional rather than solely on mastering specific hard skills.
Key strategies for success in the new role include:
Emphasize Soft Skills: It's not just about what you know; it's about how you interact, how you communicate, how you work with others. Natalia tells us to zero in on communication and collaboration.
Learn Your Team's Goals: Understand what your team and stakeholders are aiming for. Get to know their objectives, their targets, their 'North Star.' Natalia's advice here is all about alignment. If you're not aligned with your team and stakeholders, you're just spinning your wheels.
Under Promise, Over Deliver: This might sound like a cliché, but there's wisdom here. Natalia's urging us to be humble in our promises but bold in our delivery. It's about building trust and gaining a great reputation.
The new job is just the beginning. The real journey is in how you grow, how you connect and how you contribute.
Transitioning careers often involves a continuous journey of learning, growth, and sometimes, taking risks that may seem unconventional. Natalia's story serves as an inspiring example for those in a similar situation:
Take a Chance, Even if It Seems Risky: From afar Natalia's early career pivot might have looked and felt like a step back but it allowed her to get a foot in the digital design world. Sometimes, the best opportunities might not seem perfect at first.
Learn Everywhere You Can: Even though Natalia was in the right company and but ideal role she took any free time to learn from those in the role she aspired to.She wasn't afraid to be a beginner and ask for help. You can learn from anyone and anywhere if you're open to it.
Mistakes Can Help You Grow: Natalia worked on many projects and made lots of mistakes. But those mistakes helped her learn quickly. If you mess up that’s okay, don't dwell—just learn from it and move on.
Keep Growing and Aiming Higher: Natalia doesn't stop learning new skills. These days she embraces her love of people and channels it into a leadership and mentorship role. Over time your career will evolve and change - embrace that.
Natalia's story tells us that changing careers isn't just about getting a new job. It's about being brave, being ready to learn and not being afraid to make mistakes. And most importantly, it's about embracing continuous growth and change.
Whether you're thinking about a new career or just want to get better at what you do, her story has something for everyone.
Move Forward Boldy
Changing careers is a common part of today's working world. It's about growing, learning and adapting to new things. It shows how people's dreams and goals change, how industries evolve, and how we all need to be flexible in our jobs today.
Making a career change is a big task that needs a well-rounded approach. It's important to be patient, find mentors, build confidence, connect with others and tell your own unique career story. But it's not just about these strategies. Being kind to yourself, understanding what really matters to you, and fitting your career into your larger life goals can turn a career change into something that not only helps you grow professionally but also makes your life richer and more fulfilling.
In today's world, careers aren't just straight lines; they move and change with us and what's happening around us. Understanding this helps us approach our work with more wisdom, honesty and flexibility.