Career Changers 101: 5 Tips to Thrive

Craig Schmidt is the executive director of UC San Diego Career and Professional Development

Considering a career change? You’re not alone. Employees often change professions multiple times during their careers. Whether a result of company downsizing or a choice to follow professional passions, it takes a clear action plan, a strong commitment, and a quality support system to make sure the next step is the right one.

Figure out what you want out of your next career.

In the postgraduation frenzy, too many people apply to online job listings and accept the first job offered. Taking the time to ask “What is it that I value in my work life?” could save time and potential dissatisfaction down the road. Now’s the time to consider what activities and environments really energize you. Self-knowledge goes a long way toward satisfaction.

Do some occupational research.

Front-end research on prospective career fields can help narrow choices and lend confidence that you’re headed in the right direction. Use the many online resources of UC San Diego’s Career Services Center or attend Triton Connect events to meet alumni professionals in fields that interest you. A bonus: you’ll also build a network in your new field.

Use a team approach.

Changing careers may feel like a solitary endeavor, so the most successful career changers build a support team to assist them. A mentor or career coach can help you brainstorm options, articulate your strengths (and weaknesses), review your resume and more. Lean on friends, family members and your fellow UC San Diego alumni—you’ll be amazed at how eager they are to help.

Refresh your skill set and build new competencies.

Once you’ve done your research online and engaged your alumni network, determine what additional skills will make you stand out. You might consider taking a UCSD Extension course or certificate program, doing self-study, or volunteering in your new field to build your resume and get ready for the interview.

Take ownership of your career transition.

Remember, you are in charge of your own career change and its success! Be sure you are making this change for the right reasons and that they are your reasons, not those of your significant other, parents, friends, or anyone else. After all, it is you who’ll be working in this new career, not them.

For more resources, visit UC San Diego’s Career Services Center.