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Career Services for Alumni
Changing Careers

Career changes are very common in today’s world, due to economic changes, company layoffs and people just deciding to make a career change. In fact, the Department of Labor statistics show that the average person makes 4 to 6 career changes and 12 to 15 job changes in his/her lifetime. That’s a lot of change!

It’s important to do a good self-assessment and a lot of research before making a change, to make the transition as smooth as possible. Changing jobs can be a very exciting time in your career path! It offers new challenges and an opportunity to develop and build your skills. It can help you move ahead financially and work toward your long-term goals.

Things to Consider About Additional Education

Something to consider when changing jobs is whether you need or want more or additional education or training to advance your career. Your educational goals could range from short training workshops or seminars, to self-study, self-paced certificate programs, online certification programs, or even taking time away from a job to complete an additional degree.

  • Am I committed to my current field? Does this field still excite and interest me? If yes, do I need to pursue advanced education/training in order to position myself better in today's market?
  • Am I ready for a career change? If yes, what kind of education is necessary for the type of career/ job I'd like? Have I spoken to individuals in this field to learn what is expected?
  • What programs would best meet these needs?
  • What is the time commitment necessary to pursue this education? How will this impact my personal life? Am I willing to commit the necessary time, effort and money to obtain the education/training?
  • What are the "costs" of pursuing this kind of education now? Will the long-range benefits be worth it?
  • Is my financial situation secure enough to begin this training/education now?
  • Do I have motivation to follow-through on this new direction? Will my family/spouse/significant others be supportive of such a decision?
  • Should I pursue education on a part-time or full-time basis?

When Changing Job / Careers

  • Try to always leave a job on good terms, if possible.
  • Write up your main responsibilities and the status of all projects to update your manager and assist with the work transition.
  • Reconcile company credit cards/expense accounts that your company has been paying for you.
  • Return any company property that you have in your possession, such as a laptop computer, cell phone, or digital camera. Make sure that the return of the equipment is recorded so that you do not get charged for them after you leave.
  • Consider your healthcare needs, including medical and dental insurance. Make sure you have the coverage that you need for you and your family.
  • Review your life insurance, short-term and long-term disability needs.
  • Think about your retirement plan. Are you on track with meeting your retirement goals? Some experts suggest that you will need 70% to 80% of your pre-retirement income during retirement. Work with a legal professional or a financial planner to make the appropriate plans for your needs.

Some Triggers to Career Change

  • Seeking increased financial rewards.
  • The lack of challenge in your current job.
  • No opportunities for upgrading your skills.
  • High unemployment in your field or limited job opportunities.
  • On-going lack of success at your current job.
  • An intentional plan to change your life and career.
  • Retirement or change due to work/life balance issues and stress concerns.
  • Making a hobby into a career.
  • Not happy with your current career.
  • Dissolving of positions with the increase of technology.

Ready... Set... Go!

  • Are you a risk-taker? Take a look at your internal and external barriers and think about how you will deal with them. (procrastination, fear of success/failure, lack of motivation, need more information).
  • Identify your support systems: friends, family, support groups, etc.
  • Fantasize! If you could pick any career and you knew you would be successful at it, what would that career be? Is it a realistic goal? How would you make it happen in your life?
  • Establish goals and action plans for each to accomplish your career change.
  • Determine what you need and are looking for in an employer, a company and a work environment.
  • Talk with professionals who currently work in the field that you are interested in. These informational interviews will help you assess this career field for the local region and give you a clearer understanding of the pros and cons of the job.
  • Create a timeline and stick to it!!
  • Join professional organizations. Stay on top of your field and current with information through trade journals, professional publications, and websites. Network and make contacts in your field.
  • Make the change happen! Start out with part-time work, volunteer work, job shadowing, work on special projects, contract work, etc. Or if you did enough research and are ready to take the plunge, go for it!
  • Prepare yourself for a time of transition, even after you have made the change. It will be challenging both emotionally and mentally. Give it time and be patient!
  • Good Luck! If you did enough self-assessment and research, you will learn a lot from your new career!