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Can someone pivot to journalism or marketing after choosing a career in another field?

Have you seen successful writers or market coordinators who do not have their formal education in marketing or journalism? If so, do you have any tips on how to get into those fields starting without education/connections?

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Brook’s Answer

The short answer is yes. For journalism, the most common way people make this transition is when they have an existing career that they can in-turn write knowledgably about ie. they worked in finance so they can write about markets or they are trained as a lawyer so they can be a court reporter or they worked in the film and television industry so can write knowledgably about that. This kind of alignment doesn't need to be where that person ends up in terms of the subjects they write about, but it's a foot in the door. The way into writing is always going to be to start writing! Submit pieces to existing publications, try out a Substack, work on your own writing practice via journaling. All of these kinds of experiments will help.

I have friends in marketing who do not have formal marketing training but I don't know much about that worlds. I think what Andrea said is good advice, see if you can find applicable training + subject matter knowledge in a field and apply that to those who do marketing in that space.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for providing another perspective on my inquiry! So helpful Caitlin
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Andrea G’s Answer

Caitlin, it's possible to pivot from a different field into marketing. Journalism might be tricky, as it requires published clippings/a writing portfolio to get in the door. My suggestion, depending on what field you are currently in, is to find a marketing role that allows you to leverage your existing expertise where you can learn (on-the-job education) the ins and outs of marketing in practice.

As an example, say you are a nurse, then you might look for associate marketing roles in healthcare or pharma where you could use your on-the-job knowledge of patient care, administration, etc. You might also be able to apply at a group provider and work in their internal (employee-related) or external marketing (communications with the public).

As for making connections consider attending networking events that target the sector of interest. I've surfaced some resources below. Good luck!

Andrea G recommends the following next steps:

https://www.macslist.org/working-in-portland/portlands-10-best-business-networking-groups
https://www.facebook.com/PING-Portland-Integrated-Networking-Group-701600503313744/
Thank you comment icon So helpful! and with resources, amazing. Thanks for taking a second and answering my question! Caitlin
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Christine’s Answer

It’s very common for people to make career shifts, especially early in your career and even mid-career. Don’t be afraid to take on new responsibilities in a current role to build up your experience in a certain area. Make it a mission to always be learning in your job. If you don’t have a college degree in the new area that interests you, there are lots of professional learning courses that you can take online or at a local campus to gain some experience. Hubspot offers free, excellent online certifications in marketing, content marketing, and so much more. This is a great thing to add to your resume and LinkedIn profile.

To go into journalism or other writing jobs (such as in Content Marketing), you will need writing samples. I recommend starting a blog or offer to guest blog on a subject you are knowledgeable on (perhaps for free for a nonprofit organization) to build up your portfolio. If you wrote for the college paper or magazine, these can be used as samples too. Be sure that your samples are professional—and bonus points if they are relevant to the industry you are trying to get into. For example at HMH (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), if you want to do copywriting or content marketing, we prefer to see writing samples that demonstrate a knowledge of technology, edtech, and/or the education industries. However, sometimes the topic itself isn’t important to the hiring manager, as long as the writing follows best practices—and is clear, compelling, pithy, etc. I’m sure that journalism writing samples can cover any range of topics. Be sure to have a strong headline.

To break into the marketing or journalism industries, I recommend attending networking events or relevant conferences. Look to your broader LinkedIn network, and ask people you are connected with to connect you with people they know for a brief 20-minute “informational interview.” This can be over coffee or Zoom, and it’s a great way to learn about another industry and hear first hand how to break into it. Good luck!
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Maria Jose’s Answer

Hi Caitlin,
The fact that you pursue a degree in College, not necessarily means you have to stick to that as a career. Once you go out there to the workforce, you may realize you like different things.
For Example, I majored in International Journalism, and had couple of internships and entry level roles. I liked it, but was not sold I wanted to do that for the rest of my life.
So I went to job fairs and tried to get into other companies and ended up having a career in Finance-Wealth Management. I studied a lot and got different designations so I could keep improving myself.
Try to get a degree on what you think you like the most and try to network with the companies you want to work for. Doors will start opening and you would know better what you really like.
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Caitriona’s Answer

Hi Caitlin

It seems you have a few answers specific to journalism - I will focus on Marketing.

People do pivot their careers very often, so don't worry that it never happens. It can be difficult without established connections or education, but it’s definitely not impossible!

Some suggestions of where to start:
-An internship (paid in many industries), or even an entry-level graduate program: they might look for skills, rather than specific qualifications. Check what’s ‘essential’ versus ‘prefered’ in the job specification.
-Networking events: you might be able to find some low/free ones in your area, try looking on Eventbrite or LinkedIn, just to start making connections and learning more.
-Free associations and vendors -> free webinars to learn more about the discipline. For example, Hubspot, Score Mentoring Program etc.
As a matter of fact, some of the most successful marketing people came from other industries, with a few years of experience and some fresh ideas. They focused on improving their skills that would translate well into marketing.

Basically, if you don't have formal education or connections, you're trying to build that knowledge and network anyway. Best of luck!
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Hannah’s Answer

I think that career change is always possible! For journalism, I think working on some individual writing pieces could be important - to ultimately show future employers some of the work you have done. For both career paths, it is important to build a network. LinkedIn is a great place to start building connections. You can search for jobs and individuals that have key words based on your interest, and then start reaching out from there. Good luck!
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