Women considering a career change may experience mixed emotions. The excitement elicited by such a decision may be tempered by fear. Such fear is natural when embarking on a new path and leaving behind some security and professional equity, but that fear should not be the deciding factor when women mull whether or not to change careers.
The decision to change careers is something that requires careful thought and ample consideration of a host of factors. Women facing such a decision can consider the following tips to ensure they make the best choice for themselves.
Consider your motivation before pursuing a change
The motivation behind a career change can go a long way toward determining if that change is ultimately successful. Money can be a great motivator, but if money is the only thing driving a change, then women might be better off pursuing new opportunities within their existing field rather than changing careers entirely, as staying within the field will allow women to capitalize on the professional equity they have built over their careers while also providing a new challenge. A genuine interest in another profession or a desire to find a better work-life balance might make for better motivators to change careers than simply switching to make more money.
Do your homework
Career changes require hard work and, if extra schooling is necessary, a potentially sizable financial investment. Women should thoroughly research any fields they might pursue before making a change so they can fully understand the commitment they will need to make. Once they get an idea of what they will need to do make a successful career change, women should speak with their family to discuss the effects that their pursuit may have on family members. Such a discussion can make the transition to a new career easier, and the support a woman’s family provides along the way can serve as something to lean on if or when things start to feel overwhelming.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Many people are dissatisfied with their careers, and those who aren’t might have been at one time. When mulling a career change, don’t be afraid to seek help. Help might come from family or friends, but women shouldn’t limit themselves with regard to whose help they will accept. If a woman wants to become a college professor, she shouldn’t hesitate to contact a professor at a local college, explaining her situation and asking for any advice. Women have nothing to lose by reaching out and such help can prove invaluable. And women might be surprised to learn just how willing even strangers might be to lend a hand.
Give yourself time
Career changes are rarely an overnight process. Successfully switching careers takes time, so don’t give yourself a quick deadline to make a change. Such pressure likely won’t increase your chances of making a successful switch, and you won’t enjoy the process nearly as much if you bury yourself in pressure.
Changing careers can be exciting and nerve-wracking. Affording such a switch the consideration it deserves and doing your homework can help make the switch as successful as you envision it being.
Did you know?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only about one-quarter of those working in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, widely referred to as “STEM,” are women. The percentages of women working in STEM are even lower in Canada, where Statistics Canada notes the percentage of women working in STEM has increased from just 20 per cent in 1987 to 22 per cent in 2015. Perhaps in recognition of those statistics, numerous organizations are working to promote women in STEM. One such organization is the National Girls Collaborative Project (ngcproject.org), which works to bring together organizations throughout the United States that are committed to informing and encouraging girls to pursue careers in STEM. Another organization with similar goals is the Women in Engineering Proactive Network (wepan.org), which works to promote the inclusion of women in the field of engineering. Female students in high school or college who are interested in STEM fields should make their interest known to teachers or advisors; they can even contact certain organizations to learn about the opportunities and resources available to them.