A Community of Professionals Ages 21-45 Brought Together By Events
Changing careers can be a huge commitment in terms of time, money, risk and effort which makes it well worth it to do as much research as possible before taking the plunge. The more thought and preparation you put in ahead of time, the more likely you are to end up a happy situation where you enjoy your job, make the salary you need and otherwise create the work/life that you want. But what are the best ways to find out about a new career without actually jumping in and getting a new job? From my experience as a career counselor in Boston, here are some places to start.
1. Online Career Sites and Books. The easiest place to start is by reading online information about various careers. Websites like Wetfeet.com which gives overall career and industry descriptions and Onet.org which is a government sponsored site which can help you browse related careers can be good jumping off points. You might also simply use a search engine to find information on your prospective career. If you’re someone who likes to read offline, there are also many books written on different careers as well. But don’t stop there as this is really only the tip of the career iceberg!
2. Industry Groups and Events. There are a myriad of professional organizations out there, many of which have local chapters, and they often have good information on their websites. Even better, however, is that these industry groups often run networking events, happy hours or speakers which besides being informational on the surface are likely to be filled with people who have experience working in the career you’re considering. People will be your greatest career research resource which brings me to the next point.
3. Informational Interviews. As your greatest source of information about a new career will be the experience of people who’ve worked in that career, the venue for obtaining that information is the informational interview. Find people at a networking event or on linkedin and invite them for a cup of coffee to pick their brain.
4. Talk to More People. Since people are your greatest career resource, once you’ve done a couple of informational interviews, do a couple more! While one person may hate certain aspects of their career, others may love the same parts. The more perspective you can get, the better!
5. Volunteer, Job Shadow. If you have the time and want even more information, you might try your hand at the career in question. In some cases, you may be able to volunteer to get a taste of what the job is like. Or you could ask your informational interview contacts to see if someone is willing to let you job shadow them for the day.