Do you recall the furore, a few months ago, when the Government implicitly suggested that ballerinas should ditch their pointe shoes for a career in Cyber Security, or that hotel receptionists should trade their concierge desks for checkouts? The marketing campaign was intrusive and insensitive. However, after ten years in the classroom, I considered whether it would be wise to change my own career.
I have worked with some wonderful people, achieved marvellous things and I continue to teach one day a week at a lovely school. But I grew to realise I wanted a change.
So, I kept my eyes open for an opportune career move, and when the time was right, I decided to take the plunge - I am now studying a degree in Web & Mobile Development at the University of Suffolk with a view to moving into this area full-time when I complete my studies in a few years.
It is still early days for me, but I’d like to share the stages of my journey, which may guide you, or anyone else considering a career change.
Change your Employer/Contract
Unless forced (through redundancy), the driving force for career change is usually situational unhappiness, or an aspiration for something better. But be warned, these feelings can have multiple causes. Your first step should be to confirm that your feelings stem from your work, rather than some other cause. It is easy to scapegoat employment: the source of our income, our greatest investment of time, and often the foundation of our social relationships.
I would advise changing your employer (rather than career), or your contract (from full to part-time) as a change of pace may suit you better and is far easier than a total career change. Indeed, going part-time gave me the space to consider my options, try new avenues, and continues to financially support me as I study.
Use your Existing Skills in an Allied Area
If a change within your career area does not provide a solution, there is much advice around transitioning your skills into a new sector, such as https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/. I used the website www.didteach.com to help me find part-time work in areas allied to education.
However, I soon realised that the jobs I most desired required me to learn new skills, which led me to consider my educational options.
Learn New Skills
Improving your skills takes time, investment, and considerable effort, but can open doors and unlock your full potential. For me, this began with meeting course leaders at my local university to discuss how their course might improve my future employability. Next, I attended an open event to get to know the whole university. The next event for the University of Suffolk is Careers Week, 26-30 April 2021. Or you could take a virtual tour right now by clicking on this link: www.uos.ac.uk/virtualtour. Or attend one of our Open Days. The next one is Saturday 24 April 2021 (9.30am-2.30pm).
I am sure you can find a course to improve your existing skills, nurture new ones and build your passion for a whole new career.
Get Destination Information from Insiders
Once you have found a new direction, and an educational path which can lead you there, do not forget to investigate your new destination.
Find a source of genuine information about the working environment you can expect when you qualify. I approached several Web Development agencies and questioned them about life for their staff. I found their responses to be incredibly open and informative. Their reassurances spurred me to apply for my current degree and continue to hearten me to persevere.
Build a New Network
My final advice is to build a new social network. University provides a wonderful opportunity to connect with academics and professionals from across your chosen area. You should make good use of social-media, open events, industry days and business contacts as you grow into your new career.
I look forward to my new career, perhaps as a Web Developer, or some combination of my educational skills and my newfound developer abilities – that remains to be seen. The only way for me to discover my destination is to continue with my journey. I wish you every success with your own, whichever path you choose to take.
Richard Williams, Student Blogger