The future is the furthest thing from clear-cut. The person who knows what they want and continues to want that future for themselves throughout their life is a lucky one indeed. For most of us, we go with what options we have and pick and choose from what we have right in front of us.
For many, that is the best case scenario.
It can be very hard and stressful to move away from that general path you end up on, but if you are not happy in your current career trajectory, you can make a significant change. You can switch tracks. You can forge forward on your own path.
The only mistake you can actually make is not trying, but with the tips outlined in this guide, you will be able to explore your options, learn more about yourself, and make significant progress towards a career that makes you feel fulfilled and valued, such as undertaking a business analytics degree or taking a well-earned break from your current role.
How to Know if You Are Ready for a Career Change
First things first, there is actually a very fine line between wanting a career change and wanting a new employer. You may be happy working or doing what you do, but the company culture or the employer themselves makes you hate the work that you do.
Understanding where you sit can help you make the right decision for your future. Going through the effort of gaining experience and skills for a new career path is a waste of time if you would be happier at a new company doing what you already specialize in.
You are Bored or Feel Burnt Out
One of the key signs that you are ready for a change is that you feel bored at work or completely burnt out. They may be at the opposite end of the spectrum, but they both mean the same thing – you are not happy at your job. This doesn’t automatically mean that you are ready for a whole career change, but it does mean that you should start looking more deeper into yourself to determine what you can do to improve your outlook.
You Don’t See Any Future That You Like
If all your ways forward – promotions, new employers, etc. – don’t seem all that exciting to you, then the chances are that you want something entirely different. If none of your options in your current career path excite you, then you need a different line of work. You may still find interest in your current role, however, just in a different industry. For example, if you are a marketer, you may find renewed interest moving from the corporate sector to a non-profit sector. On the other hand, if the job role you already have is very specific to your industry, then you will be looking at a full-blown career change in the future.
You Feel Like You Have Hit a Proverbial Ceiling
If you feel like you have hit the ceiling in your current company, you have two options. You can try to move up with a different company, or you can try to branch out into a new but similar role. In this instance, going back and earning a business analytics degree, for example, can open up your options can give you something far more exciting and relevant to do in your career.
You Have a Clear Career Idea You Want to Pursue
Of course, if you have a dream, then you should work towards it. It doesn’t matter if you are happy enough in your job. Thanks to the online world, there are so many reasons why and how you can pursue your ambition, even on a part-time basis.
How to Make Small Changes that Matter
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your future! If you know you are ready for a significant change but are hesitant to get caught in something else you aren’t thrilled with, use these tips to expand your options and help you learn where your interests lie:
Learn a Little Every Day
If you aren’t sure what you want to do or what you are interested in for a career, start by learning. Read books, magazines, take online courses, or simply attend events and workshops in your city. For those events, try starting by subscribing to local universities and colleges. Many host events and lectures that are open to the public that you can take advantage of to learn more and just expand your understanding of topics that you are interested in.
Work Horizontally Across Your Company
Another great way to learn more about yourself and your passions is by shadowing others in your company. Most employers allow for this – after all, if you continue with them all the way to management level, that in-depth knowledge of other departments is definitely going to come in handy.
You can learn from the source, not just different topics, but see for yourself their workflows and what they get up to in a day. The best part about this method is that if you find something that really sparks your interest, you will automatically know the best people to get in touch with when a position opens up, and they too will know and trust that you can do the job.
This tip is best used when you first start out, as it allows you to adjust where you work and then build your career up.
The Big Guns: Getting a Degree
When you finally know what you want to do, there may still be a few bumps along the way. Some jobs are relatively easy to get into if you know the right people, while others will expect you to have formal qualifications and an understanding of very specific skills that you may not currently have.
If you want to be a data analyst, for example, you cannot just go from the marketing department to the research department. You will need to build up your background and your skillset, but thankfully there are many career-focused degrees available that you can earn.
For some, you may need to take a foundational course; for others, you can use your existing undergraduate degree. A business analytics degree, for example, will allow you to earn a master’s in data with any undergraduate degree and works to build your foundation in everything you need to know to get started as a business data analyst.
The process is very similar regardless of what career path you choose for yourself, so we will use the business analytics degree as an example you can follow.
Finding the Right Degree
Finding the right degree is so much more than just searching for the job title and adding a degree next to it. The best degree for you may not be what you expect it to be. For example, if you already work in business analytics, you will want to either expand outwards – perhaps in supply chain management or business development. If you want to move from that supply chain management or business management into data analytics, then that will require a different business analytics degree.
The point is that you need a degree that doesn’t just cover what you already know and one that was designed for you. These two qualities are essential. Otherwise, you could end up taking a business analytics degree that goes over what you already know, or worse, goes into specific depth that you don’t have a foundation in.
Thankfully you often don’t have to worry about accidentally taking a degree too advanced for you, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to be careful.
A good way to find the right degree is to look at job listings. Find job roles that you would want for yourself, and then go backward from there. Look at the qualifications of several job listings and make a note. Some requirements are just ‘wants,’ rather than must-haves. Take note of the must-haves and find a degree that will teach you everything you need to know.
In business analytics, for example, you will need a business analytics degree that, at the very least, teaches you things like data collection and mining, how to use Tableau, SQL, Python, and SPSS, as well as how to communicate what you have found and to extract insight from the data you have processed. You don’t need to know Python inside and out, but you do need to know how to use it specifically for data analysis.
The right business analytics degree will provide you with that foundation that will get you in the door. Continue after completing it to earn certifications and to expand your understanding and experience in the tools and languages you use on a regular basis.
Online or On Campus?
Today there is an additional consideration to make. There are benefits to earning your degree online and on campus. For most working professionals, the answer will always be online. It can be very damaging to your career to take time off – even if it’s for a degree – and today, it isn’t even necessary.
You can take that business analytics degree online and not just benefit from remote learning but also have the power to log on and learn on your schedule. This makes it easy to continue to progress your career and to start building up the necessary network to secure yourself that data analyst job by the time you graduate.
Study Tips to Help You
Even with the ability to learn on your own time, taking on both a degree and your career is demanding. If you aren’t careful, you could be rushing right into burnout and ruin a lot of progress along the way.
Some study tips that will help you succeed include:
- Practice what you learn on personal projects
- Use what you learn at work
- Rewrite information in your own words
- Take advantage of waiting and commute times to revise
- Start a study group with those in your course
How to Use Past Experience on Your New Career Path
Don’t ever think that just because you want a new career means that all your effort thus far is wasted. There are many, many transferable skills that you will naturally develop along any career. Use these skills, and these suggestions, to make your work experience work for your future career:
Use Your Existing Connections and Network
One, networking. You already know a lot of people and have connections that are unique to you. Use this network! It doesn’t have to be done directly; instead, you can ask around to see if anyone you know knows someone in the industry you want to work in. There is no harm in using your own network, especially if that network is the company that you currently work for.
Use Your Experience in Your Industry
Use the existing skills you have to really stand out as a candidate. Complete a business analytics degree, yes, but also use your background in marketing or in financing to really make a killing. There are so many ways that you can combine your career thus far with a degree to really stand out as a candidate.
Build Your Own Unique Role
Sometimes you may even need to build your own unique role. In this case, it may actually be better to take your work freelance or on a consultation basis. These options make it very, very easy to start your own business later on. After all, you have started a new niche!
Stay Committed, and You’ll Succeed
Whether you change industries or go back for a business analytics degree to make a significant change to your career, you have to stay committed. You won’t see results tomorrow, but if you take little steps, you will slowly build a career that you love and are passionate about. They say that if you do what you love, you won’t ever work a day in your life. Though this is a bit exaggerated, finding your passion and working at it every day does wonders for your satisfaction and outlook on life. It is worth every hard day, every step you took, just be prepared to be in it for the long-haul because a better future is just around the corner.