One of the many benefits of enrolling in Portland State University’s graduate business school is the ever-evolving career development efforts of Portland State University’s Career Center and the career development group, provides tools for students embarking on new careers. The month of January is full of opportunities designed specifically for job seekers in the Graduate Business School.
A recent seminar in the growing series focused on strategies for changing one’s career path, perhaps to a new industry, or a new job function within one’s current industry: the Career Changer Seminar. The seminar was a unique opportunity for part-time, mid-career graduate students from all SBA programs to share common experiences and learn about how to advance their careers in the direction they desired.
Most attendees of the seminar were preparing to break into a new industry, and all of them had several years of experience under their belts. The main challenge presented to the group was learning how to transfer one’s skill set into an entirely new job or industry. The facilitators helped the group to explore our skills from a number of angles, including seeing how the skills required for our hobbies and interests are able to transfer into a job.
Here is a quick mental exercise for our readers: What hobby or activity do you enjoy? What skills does it require? How can those skills transfer to a job? How do these interests reflect in your work ethic? Although there are job-specific skills that need to be considered, there are transferrable skills and attitudes, utilized in and out of the office, that can help boost a résumé and lead to a successful job interview or even a job placement. There are certainly very serious considerations required for changing career paths, yet many of them can be easily overcome, especially the fear that one’s skills may not transfer easily. It just requires looking at one’s skills from a different perspective.
The thought of changing careers, after developing specific skills for one’s current job or career, can be overwhelming, and can require a great deal of soul-searching: Is it financially viable? Will I still be able to support my family? Will my unique skills transfer? Will I have to start from the bottom yet again? The seminar facilitators helped the group talk through some of the doubts and potential roadblocks that people face when deciding to change careers. One notable exercise was to identify a pattern in one’s work history: how did you develop your skills, and what kind of patterns does your career path, varied or not, reveal about the tasks or challenges that you seek?
One of the most interesting takeaways from the seminar was the idea of developing a panel of peers, colleagues and industry professionals from one’s network that can help guide an individual through their transition. This group, or “Reinvention Board,” as it was called, should include your highly-connected colleague who knows everyone in town, your colleague who will tell it to you straight, a positive reinforcement, a task master who will keep you focused, and last but not least: a person within your target industry or role. Our seminar leaders discouraged us from involving spouses and close family members, as impartial parties are not as emotionally invested in the decision.