Switching Careers: Five Success Stories From People Who’ve Done It

University of Europe Laureate Digital

Lack of progression opportunities and skills development are two of the reasons why UK job satisfaction fell to its lowest level in two years, according to a May 2016 report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). So, if those issues sound familiar then a career change may be in order. Here are five great examples of how changing career can pay off:

1. Emily Wilson: from law to education

During her four years studying for a law degree, Emily Wilson thought her eventual career would be filled with personal interaction. But once she entered the workplace, she found that her job was driven by email communication with clients.

Spending every day at a desk was frustrating for Emily, who grew concerned for her future: “If you’re going to be spending 40 or 50 years of your life working, it’s important that you don’t dread it in the morning.”

After leaving the law behind, she became a teacher and now has the personal interaction she wanted. And she’s also found that teaching offers a better work–life balance.

2. Erica Meloe: from financial services to healthcare

In 1986, Erica Meloe graduated from New York University’s Stern School of Business and realised that she had little interest in a Wall Street career. She persevered regardless and entered a training program with a global bank and advanced through roles in research, trading, and sales.

During her Wall Street career, she harboured a passion for health and fitness, even studying it on the weekends. While attending a class, Erica followed the advice of her instructor and decided to pursue a career in the field. By studying in the evenings, she eventually graduated with a Master’s in exercise physiology.

By 35, she had quit her Wall Street job and accepted a full-time place for an undergraduate physical therapy program. She graduated in 1999 and spent several years working as a physical therapist before starting her own practice with a colleague in 2010.

Erica believes it’s possible to find a more fulfilling career by taking a risk: “Find your passion, apply your strengths and if you need other skills, find a way to obtain them.”

3. David Tinnion: from financial services to sports

David Tinnion was working for an investment firm when he realised he would rather focus his effort on improving society. The feeling had been building in David for some time, but he didn’t pursue a career change until the opportunity arose to claim redundancy.

After leaving investment, David explored options such as the civil service and teaching before encountering the concept of social enterprise. This inspired him to undertake two six-month placements with social organisations and prepare for a career in the field.

Now, he works as the COO of a London-based charity promoting youth sports in the city. For anyone considering their own change, David recommends leaning on others for support: “Make sure family and friends understand why you need to make a change”.

4. Imogen Petit: from PR to healthcare

Imogen Petit once worked in the busy PR world where everyday was an exhausting experience filled with long hours. Although Imogen enjoyed the glamorous parties, she constantly felt unfulfilled in her work.

Eventually, she enrolled in a part-time counselling course in London, which inspired her to continue. So, she applied for a full postgraduate diploma while working in PR during the day.

Imogen now works as a psychotherapist after six years of hard study and tight financial management. The effort has been worth it: “If you’re unhappy doing what you’re doing, do something else.”

5. Peter Stone: from IT to healthcare

Peter Stone initially studied sports science before working as a well-paid IT manager. However, the sudden death of Peter’s father-in-law made him realise he wanted more than money from his career.

Shortly after, Peter spoke with his wife and colleagues about the situation, while considering a future with the London Ambulance Service (LAS). He would later submit an online application following an unpleasant three-day work course in Nottingham.

Peter already had a sports science degree and was a trained first-aider, which helped him become a volunteer community responder alongside his IT work. He eventually left IT behind and now works full-time with LAS while studying part-time for a paramedic sciences degree.

After his career change, Peter can offer the following advice: “Speak to those currently doing the job you’re interested in, as it may not be as you’d imagined.”

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