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What if you want to switch careers after you've already started college? How about if you've already started working in the field?

This is part of our professionals series

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Subject: Career question for you

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Mara’s Answer

Often times your major isn't directly tied to your first job! I was an art major and knew I never wanted to be an artist. Through my art degree I took many classes that built my skillset wide enough that allowed me to indirectly apply them to a different profession. I found that the benefits that I gained from my major (creative thinking, UX skills, group collaboration) were applicable in non traditional art fields. Many employers aren't necessarily interested in your major, rather your goals and skills that you gained through your studies. My guidance is to take classes that will help you build skills you're looking for if you can't change your major and remember that career's do not go in straight lines - they often zig zag!
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Neil’s Answer

It is always a good thing to consider the path you are on and if you want to continue. If you are in school or out of school, it is best to look for opportunities that can leverage the hard work and effort you have already done. Many skill sets are transferable and you can use that to showcase what makes you unique in different roles.
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Misty’s Answer

I think this is the perfect time to be alive to be able to "switch careers" at ANY point in your journey. We are not tied to the learning path in college, internships, or careers we choose. We are in different seasons of our lives when we make each of those decisions. Those decisions were all great at the time at the best for us, however, technology changes, or interests change, the world changes so rapidly that you can morph with that!

We are free to be flexible and learn all new trades, technologies, and find new interests without society repercussions these days. There might be consequences of the learning curve and struggling to make ends meet while you are adjusting, but its available for you.
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Vickie’s Answer

This is not that uncommon. When my friend first got to college, he was determined he wanted a career in IT. During his junior he started to take more IT focused classes. This was when he started to think that it's not the right field for him, and also during the same time he became more interested in finance. But with over two years invested, he didn't want to have to start over in a new program. He continued with his IT degree, but also started to take as many classes as he could in finance. He looked for volunteer opportunities, internships and part-time work in Finance. During his senior was able to get an internship in finance which ended up hiring him. I suggest talking to your advisor to see how you can pivot to the new degree without losing your previous credits.
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William’s Answer

Hi,

You have the choice of switching career in college via advanced entry or direct entry or cause change options. You can also also enrol in dual degree or joint degree or combined option by having a Major and Major or a Major and Minor in your areas of interest.

You may use continuous education option for working and mature adults who has time constraints. You may build you CEUs through CPD point gained by taking modular college causes.

You may use apprenticeship program to grow your career to keep you working while learning.

Success.
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Edison’s Answer

I started my career in my degree in New York, I was making amazing money, living in an exciting city, however I hated being on a desk all day, so I decided to change my career altogether…

My advice to you is follow what you love to do! And your passion! Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life ;)
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Don’s Answer

Switching careers when you are younger is much easier but does take some learning and effort. My suggestion is to take classes / courses related to the field you want to be in for 6 months - 1 year. Once you have completed the courses be sure to leverage them on your resume and start applying to positions that interest you. Be sure to only apply to positions that are relevant to your expertise and experience level. If the company is asking for 5+ years of relevant experience and you only have 1, probably not the best match. But, if you find a company that is looking for 2+ years of relevant work experience and you have 1, plus 6 months of course work that is relevant, by all means go ahead and apply. Bottom line is be realistic about your qualifications when applying or you will become frustrated during the application process. Hope this helps!

Cheers,
Don Bainum
Sage
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Kevin’s Answer

This is a great question. I had a great career as a photographer before I transitioned to accounting. It was a HUGE leap from one industry to another but worth it. A few key things to keep in mind:

1. You may have to "restart" certain elements of your education. Credits you've earned towards one major may not count towards your new major, especially if your new path is drastically different. In this regard, I highly recommend that you meet with an academic advisor at your college to ensure you're on the right path.

2. Update your resume if you have one, or create one if you don't. Be sure to include your current experience. Try to highlight the aspects of your work history that are more important for your intended career path. For example, when I switched from photography to accounting, I changed my photo career descriptions from things like "curated artistic and memorable portraits for wedding clients" to things like "ran a sole proprietorship business in a competitive market." Same job, different frame.

3. Seek out people who do what you want to do and ask them how they got there. You'll be surprised by how many people have changed career paths, majors, and more on their way to where they are today.

Best of luck as you move forward!
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Dave’s Answer

Hi! I'd only add that I think it's great to take the time and give yourself the space to figure out what you might want to do - I have several friends who went all the way through law school and started to practice...and decided it wasn't for them. One is a physical therapist, the other became a manager in the music business and record company exec. Try things, see what sticks, everything you learn adds to who you are and helps you navigate the world, so don't feel you have to stick with anything that doesn't work for you! Good luck!
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Alexander’s Answer

This is common, it's great that you realized the position you are in is not a good fit. As for the college part it is also okay to switch majors, however if you had already started Credits towards that field they may not transfer to your new field, but I would highlight previous experience on the resume it might come in handy.
It's never too late to switch careers, it's always best to be sure of what you want to do because if your work isn't your passion your will be very unhappy and your work and coworkers will be unhappy.
Positive work ethic comes from a content employee.
I would revamp the resume and start attending the classes you need towards your new field and check on linked in what kind of places you can work in that field and pay grades.

Good luck.

Alexander recommends the following next steps:

Linked in check job opportunities
Vamp your resume
Highlight relevant past skills
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Jimil’s Answer

It is ok to switch careers when you have already started college, simply switch majors. The average person switches majors 2-3 times depending on what college and discipline. I would recommend switching to a higher paying field than the one you were previously studying toward. This should give you your best outcome. As soon as you make the switch, look for internships on websites like linkedin and ziprecruiter. Get involved with local clubs and organizations in order to further your career. Make a commitment and stick to it. Be decisive, that way you can put all of your time into your new career path.
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Jessica’s Answer

Meet with a counselor they can alter the classes you have to take. They'll look at the requirements for the change and walk you through the process.
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Brandy’s Answer

I started a career before I actually started college. My employer helped me to obtain two degrees and several technical certifications however, by the time I finished everything, I had a position that paid more than the entry level position for my degrees. I had to consider entry level positions in comparison to my current level of pay and also jobs that may combine the two skill groups. In the end it was best to continue to build both skill sets and apply to my initial career however, if by chance I am faced with a required job change I still have more experience than most.
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Sherry’s Answer

As many have stated, it isn't uncommon to rethink your career. I switched jobs/careers 4 times before I landed on my lifetime career. I started college with one degree, then changed mid-stream. That degree helped me get into a great company. Once there, I was able to gain additional education through their tuition assistance. I was then able to change direction once again and advance my career within that company to where I am today.

Take time to self-reflect and think about what your individual strengths and interests are (what is your brand?...what are you known for, best at?). This will help you match your skills and talents to possible careers. Utilize your college counselors, and ask friends and family. Once you determine your strengths or a direction :

* Determine the skills needed for the next step, and invest and challenge yourself. Talk to your college counselor to enroll in the best classes that match those talents/skills even if you haven't determined an exact major.
* Be visible - Be curious by asking questions (actively listen) and network. Networking can be powerful. Talk to people in the industry you are interested in (even if you know nothing about it). Find a mentor (even if not official, people love to help and give their input). It might get you to the next level or land you an opportunity (even if at entry level, you can grow)
* Be available - Be open to relocating if needed
* Be Accountable - Take ownership, work hard, and self-reflect often
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