I want a new career

While your grandpa may tell you stories about his lifelong career in Insurance, that was a different time. Nowadays most young people don’t aim to stay at the same job for 50 years. They enjoy challenging themselves and developing new skills. But that doesn’t mean switching career paths is easy. If you’re thinking ‘I want a new career' The Mix talks you through how to do it.

A young man is sitting and thinking. He is considering changing careers. This is a wide-angle image.

It’s so easy to get sucked down a career wormhole without realising. You nab a job when you’re 16 and desperate for cash and then BAM, you’ve been promoted and you’re earning decent money and have the same career in your 30s, 40s and and… suddenly you’re yelling ‘I want a new career!’.

How to decide on switching careers

If you really hate your day to day job, ANY other career may seem like the answer, but it’s important not to rush into something. This is a big decision; give it the time it deserves. Ask yourself some questions to narrow down what you want from a job. Even if it’s a midlife career change, you still deserve to have job satisfaction. Ask yourself the following:

  • What sort of career would make me happy?  Do I have specific things it should include? What would suit my personality and skills? Do I have any transferable skills I can take with me from this job? What do I like about my existing career?
  • But then also – what don’t I want my new career to include? What do I hate about my existing job that I’d rather not have to suffer through again?

Once you’ve answered these questions, check out our article ‘I hate my job’ here, for some more tips. Alternatively, read our article ‘what job should I do’ if you’re struggling with where to start with a new career.

Research your new career options

Thinking about a new career and actually getting one are worlds apart. Whether you’re going through a career change at 30 or 25, reshaping your professional trajectory is a big step. So you wanna make sure it’s the right one. Here are some things to consider:

  • What qualifications will you need? Will you have to get some training?
  • What’s the market like for that particular career? Are you confident you’ll be able to find a job in it?
  • What does it pay? If it’s significantly less than your current career, will you be able to manage on a lower budget?
  • Talk to people in the industry. Exploit the fact that making contacts is much easier with the internet; follow people whose job you want on social media like Twitter or LinkedIn and politely message them to ask about the reality of that field. Maybe try setting up some informal interviews with a few of them.

If you’re a woman and looking to change careers, Young Women’s Trust offers a free telephone and online coaching service for women aged 18-30. This can help with anything from work and building confidence to life advice in general. You can also get free support on your CV, cover letter or job application. Just call 0808 808 8099. For more help with this, check our article on how to write a CV.

However, it’s not limited to specific demographics; individuals from diverse backgrounds, including opportunities for Africans, can benefit from similar resources to navigate career transitions and advancement. Platforms like After School Africa serve as beacons of empowerment, dedicated to guiding and inspiring young Africans to actively explore avenues for capacity development. With a mission to facilitate individual and communal success, After School Africa endeavors to equip young Africans with the tools and knowledge needed to thrive in today’s competitive global landscape.

Start getting work experience to help your new career goal

To be completely certain that you’re jumping onto the right (attainable) stepping stone, it’s worth getting work experience in your chosen field. Not only will this look good on your new CV, but it’ll also give you a view into your new career – the good, the bad and the ugly. But how do you get experience? Especially if you’re still working a full-time job or trying to break into a competitive industry?

  • If you’re really serious about this, take a week’s annual leave to do a placement. You should mentally and physically prepare in advance though. In competitive fields like media, you usually have to book work experience slots months in advance. So start getting that laptop out and writing applications because the clock is ticking.
  • You don’t have to give up your job and work for free. Why not volunteer for a charity that’s involved with your chosen field? Want to be a DJ? You could try the local hospital radio. Fancy social work? Volunteer to mentor a young person in your area. Think outside the box and we’re sure you’ll find a way to make it work (pun intended).
  • Look to see if any qualifications you’ll need include work experience as part of the course. This is a great way of making contacts without cutting into your study time.

How to financially support yourself during a career change

If you’ve started to climb the ladder, it can be quite a hit financially to voluntarily jump off. Planning how you’re going to budget on your new salary is important. Here are a few options that you can take: 

  • Spend an extra year or six months in your current job and save like mad. That way you’ll have money to live off in your transition phase.
  • Banks usually offer a career development loan to cover the costs of courses and training. You can borrow up to £10,000 and they’re given at a reduced interest rate.
  • You could even cut your current job down to part-time, and get work experience/study on your other spare two days a week. As Hannah Montana wisely sang, you got the best of both worlds.

Have you ever changed career? How did it go? We would love to hear from you, share your story on our discussion boards.

Next Steps

  • Young Women's Trust offer a free telephone and online coaching service for women aged 18-30 to help with anything from work, life or building confidence. You can also get free advice on your CV or job application. Call 0808 808 8099.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.



By Holly Bourne

Updated on 06-Feb-2022