Unexpected Lessons You’ll Learn from Changing Careers

Posted August 15, 2012 by Marcy Twete in Career Moves

Sure, you might change jobs a few times here or there. But did you see yourself changing careers entirely? Maybe not. You go to college, you pick a major, and even if you change jobs here and there, chances are you went in thinking you’d do at least something related to your major. But every now and then, as a professional, you stand at a crossroads where you’re staring down the conventional path on one side and….a career change on the other.

What might you experience? What might you learn? If you decide to take the path of changing careers and pursuing something you weren’t sure you’d ever want to do. Well, Brazen Careerist answers that question in “4 Unexpected Lessons You’ll Learn from Changing Careers.” Their four lessons include:

  1. You’re more than you went to school for.
  2. Your imperfect job background is valuable.
  3. You have a lot to learn.
  4. There’s more to life than work.

I recommend reading all of BC’s article, as it outlines and explains these four lessons fabulously. And in the spirit of expansion, as someone who has changed careers twice – from a political science geek who started her career as a lobbyist to a nonprofit marketing and fundraising professional to a tech entrepreneur – I’d like to give you the four lessons I learned from changing careers:

  1. Careers are fundamentally all the same. Whether you’re a lawyer, a teacher, or a fundraiser. There are certain skills universal across the board. Your attention to detail will be evident in any job you have, your communications skills will be necessary, and your ambition will be clear. Sure, you’re learning and exercising different skill sets all the time, but “working” in general has the same principles whether it’s in a factory, an office, or from a coffee shop. Work hard, work smart, and you’ll be fine.
  2. Teams are better. You are not an island. It might take you one career change to learn this, it might take you five. But you’ll learn it. Especially now, as a solopreneur, I value teams more than anything. You realize how much you want to turn to the person next to you to ask a question when there is no person next to you to ask a question. Value teams and build them well.
  3. Jack of all trades will serve you well. What you’ll learn in a career change is that while you’re learning a skill set, what will help you is to be an expert in many things. For me, being the person who knows everything about Excel has served me well, even when it’s clear I’m flailing in other areas. Be ok with being a jack of all trades, it makes you useful even when you feel like you know nothing.
  4. “I don’t know” are the most powerful three words you have. Changing careers is hard. You have to start sometimes from the bottom of the totem pole, you have to learn an entirely new industry and skill set. Be willing to say “I don’t know’ and admit you have to learn something before moving forward. Your willingness to be honest about what you know and what you don’t will show others you are authentic and trustworthy, and they will teach you.

Career changes are never easy. They’re never simple. But they can show you something about yourself you may not have learned by following just one path your entire career. Food for thought.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."