walking through the woods

#TakeTheNextStep: Three Tips for a Changing Career Path

  • Know what guides you.

Odds are that every company you’re interested in working for has a mission statement or a set of core values posted prominently on their website. Not only should you familiarize yourself with that document for every employer you’re interested in, but you should also write your own similar document for yourself. What do you believe you were put on this Earth to do? Make that the center of your mission statement. What values are you passionate about? Maybe you’ve been a dedicated vegan ever since you learned where sausage came from at age 6. Maybe you’ve helped register voters for every local election since you turned 18 because nothing is more important to you than the democratic process. Whatever the values are that guide how you move through the world, know them and write them down. That way, you can clearly articulate your motivations, and find a workplace that is motivated by similar things.

  • Seek out people who’ve been there.

Trustworthy mentorship is valuable at any time in life, but it’s incredibly important in times of transition, because it can be easy to be clouded by your own anxieties when faced with a big decision. When you get the advice of a mentor, you gain access to a perspective outside of your own that has been shaped by a different set of experiences. They might ask you questions that you would not think to ask yourself about change you are considering making in your life. If your mentor is someone in your field or industry, they can give you insight into how the industry has changed in the past few years, as well as what it might look like in the future. If they’re not, chances are they’ll still give you things to think about that will be relevant to your decision-making process. And whoever you ask for advice, never leave a conversation without asking if there is anyone else they’d recommend you talk to. Keep making connections and expanding your network–you never know what incredible insights or opportunities you’ll gain!

  • But don’t expect your journey to look like someone else’s.

As valuable as mentorship is, don’t compare your own journey to someone else’s to the point that you’re measuring yourself against the wrong success metric. The world of work is changing rapidly. My parents would have never expected their office jobs to happen anytime other than 9-5, perhaps with yearly retreats to update skills and certifications as needed. Today, many members of Gen Z cite schedule flexibility as being a high priority when looking for jobs. Lucky for them, it seems that increased flexibility might be a lasting result of the pandemic for many workers, since Twitter and Square recently announced permanent shifts to a WFH structure. It is likely that there are even more shifts on the horizon as cities, states, and companies seek to navigate what their new normal will look like.

There are lots of things to consider when entering a transitional phase of life, but if you work to understand yourself, seek the advice of people you trust, and are willing to roll with the changes as they come, you can handle any change that’s in front of you.

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