Three Ways to Switch Careers Without More School

Last Updated Mar 16, 2010 2:31 PM EDT

New career -- no formal training requiredFinding the right career path is tricky. Though we all hope to choose correctly when we start working after college, many young people find out after a few years of experience in the field they trained for that they really want to do something else entirely. So what to do? Is there another option besides heading back to school to get some new skills?
On blog Untemplater recently Jabari Johnson shared his personal story of career transformation and offered a three-step action plan for anyone looking to shift gears and move into a career for which they have no formal training. What he recommends isn't easy, but it is a solid plan of attack for those who are serious about working in an industry they're passionate about:
  1. Talk to people that are doing what you want to do -- There is no better advice on doing something than from someone who is actually doing it. Take these people out to lunch, get some insight on the mistakes that they made, etc. If you are serious about your goals and what you want to accomplish, people will see that. You might even develop a mentor-mentee type of relationship with someone who is where you want to be.
  2. Research, research, and then do more research -- There is no doubt that every single industry is changing rapidly nowadays. The good thing is we have this thing called the internet that allows us to stay up to the minute on just about anything. To really jump into a new career path you need to know as much as you can about it. Time to start getting that Google reader filled up with industry related RSS feeds.
  3. Intern and work (for free) in the field you want to be in -- This may be the most important thing to do. The easiest way to blast off into that new career path that you didn't go to school for, or didn't previously work in, is to just start doing it! I saw Seth Godin speak a few weeks ago and a young lady asked him for advice on starting her own advertising agency. He told her to do it on the weekends (maybe even Sunday only) for small business clients who could use some free help. No matter how big or how small the work, the sooner you can begin something in your new field, the sooner you can start building your portfolio/resume and moving to the next level.
Of course there are some careers -- certified teacher, architect, aerospace engineer -- where advanced study and a degree are a must, but for the many jobs that are down to hands-on learning, determination and passion, Johnson's plan makes sense.

(Transformer image from ChanChan222, CC 2.0)

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.