How to engineer a career change in four easy steps

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Most of us have jobs, but few are fortunate enough to have one that provides joy and a sense of fulfillment.

Many succumb to learned helplessness early in their working lives, viewing work as an unpleasant means to an end. However, just because others in your peer group think like this doesn’t mean you have to as well.

John Kleinheinz used to be a hedge fund manager, a position that made him financially rich. However, his heart just wasn’t in it, leading to his decision to dissolve his firm in the early 2010s.

These days, he is a passionate photographer who makes as much money now as he used to make in his former business, proving that even artistic careers can be profitable.

If you are thinking of transitioning out of your current dead-end career into one that brings you to life, we hope this article helps you make your first step towards a job you genuinely love.

1) Investigate what interests you

You might be tired of your field, but it is never a good idea to simply quit your job. Instead, spend your lunch hours, evenings, and weekends researching careers that make your heart skip a beat.

If a specific path consumes your attention to the point that you get excited just thinking about it, you are on the right track.

Make a list of potentials, list their strengths and weaknesses, and investigate the top three contenders deeper. After a while, you’ll find the one worth pursuing.

2) Build up skills

Once you have identified the field you want to chase, you’ll need to identify skills you need but don’t currently possess.

Some of these can be learned and honed using online courses through sites like Codeacademy, Udemy, or Skillshare. Others will require you to take classes in real life to gain a certificate from an accredited body.

This will consume your evenings and weekends for the next several months, so be sure to streamline your personal life beforehand so you can focus intently on skill acquisition activities.

3) Network with people in your targeted field

The toughest part of changing careers is overcoming the fact that you lack contacts within companies and professional organizations in the field you wish to join.

There are several ways you can address this problem. You can volunteer for events relevant to the industry you want to work in one day. You can attend conferences with business cards in hand, a congenial manner, and the attitude of a learner. You can cold e-mail/call relevant people in your area and invite them out for coffee/lunch.

Each of these interactions will expose you to people who might be able to help you in your quest, so don’t be shy.

4) Acquire a mentor

Eventually, you’ll meet someone willing to help you get your foot in the door. This mentor should be able to answer any questions you have, be willing to offer constructive criticism rather than just cheerlead, and they should be relatively well-connected.

Just be sure to add some form of value in return – it doesn’t have to be proportional, but it’s important to not come off as a parasite, lest you lose one of your most valuable allies in your quest to change careers.

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