Is it Time for a Career Change?

I couldn’t wait to go to work when I graduated from college. My own apartment…getting to dress like a real adult…no homework…and (let me say that again) …no homework. I started my career and experienced all NYC had to offer. But after a few years I realized I wanted to change careers. Not that I knew what career I wanted to change into. I tried to be introspective and rational but all I could come up with was that I wanted a change. And the change in my mind started to look more like me in sweats on a campus again. Perhaps it was my effort to delay reality but I decided to go to business school for a fresh start. Business school is where you can switch out of investment banking and into brand management of Jello pudding. And that’s just what I did during the summer between my first and second years.

Ok, check that career off the list, no brand management for me. Maybe I needed something a little closer to investment banking but not investment banking. I decided real estate finance was the answer. When I graduated from business school, I moved to Washington DC, and started working for an institutional mortgage lender.

My new career lasted six months. I decided I missed investment banking. It occurred to me that it must not have been the industry that I didn’t like, it was being on the bottom rung of seniority. Any first job would have affected me the same way. To give my old career another chance, I contacted a former boss who hired me to join him back in New York. From then on, I loved my job.

When you launch your career, it’s important to assess your choice every few years to determine if it is right for you. Your analysis may move you to make a change, or ultimately cause you to appreciate the job you have. But you should consider your future options early on. Companies are more likely to hire young industry-jumping graduates than middle-aged professionals changing their focus. It’s ok if you want to turn 180 degrees; just try to make that realization in the first third of your career.

Graduate school is an easy inflection point where you can try a new career between years and then make a choice. Or, if you’re like me and don’t catch on too quickly, maybe it takes a few trial and error jobs to find the perfect fit. Just remember to keep up your contacts everywhere you land. They are the most useful resources you will have.