How to check a career idea in the real world
You are considering a career change. You have an idea – or several ideas – for a new career direction. You have googled and read and thought about it, and observed the whole thing from a safe distance.
Now it’s time to test whether you would really like it!
This article offers a few ideas on how to get in touch with the reality of the new career you have been considering, before you make any serious commitments.
Get your first practical experience in the desired field
Through practical experiences you can find answers to the questions that cannot be answered through Google.
- Expose yourself to the people, things and environments you would be dealing with. Go to any public places that are typically visited either by the type of people you would work with, or by the type of customers and clients you would like to serve. ’Feel the vibes.’
- Write an article or a blog about the topic and get feedback from people who are interested in the same topic, whether professionally or privately. Edit and publish it, and get further feedback from new people.
- Get permission to spend a few hours or days in an interesting organization.
- Identify who in the organization is doing the type of role you would like to be doing, and ask them whether you could do job-shadowing or an internship.
- Check what events are going to take place around the topic(s) of your interest. Go beyond simply attending them, for example: offer to help with organizing an event.
- Find an organization that works in the field and offer your regular voluntary help: e.g. 2 hours a week (or less, or more). Alternatively, offer your help with a particular project or a single activity.
- Contact somebody experienced in the field and ask for advice on further opportunities (read tips on how to do it, here).
- If, during any of these activities, you get to know somebody professionally senior in the desired field who seems to believe in you and encourages you, ask that person to become your mentor.
- Try providing the service or producing the product on a very small scale. Start with offering it free of charge (making it transparent that you are a beginner) to a few individuals, NGOs, charities or start-ups who could benefit from it.
By the time you decide whether you would like get into that ‘pool’ one day, you will already be swimming in it!
As you might have noticed, the ideas include volunteering and doing things free of charge. You might not earn money with them. What you will earn though, is experience, information, knowledge and supportive contacts. In other words, this is how to earn your entrance ticket to the unpublished job market.
Coaching benefits: use coaching if you would like to develop a customized strategy that reflects your personal situation and the career of your choice. It can also help you prepare for moments when you need to introduce yourself and explain your intentions and what you have to offer.