Maybe you’ve hit a point in your career where you feel like you’re coming up on a dead end, or it’s no longer the right fit (and maybe never was). A career change could be in order. Depending on the scope of the change, going back to school may be in your future. Strayer University South Raleigh Campus Dean, Kimberly Williams, shares some advice about considering going back to school to change a career.

DETERMINE THE DIRECTION

“Before doing anything else, I’d recommend you really consider what your passion is in terms of a new career,” Williams says. “Then take it a step further, and do some deep research into what types of positions are in your chosen industry. Find the job titles and descriptions that will put you in line to make that move. Consider your dream position, and ask yourself, ‘Why do I want to do that job?’”

Once you’ve determined what path you want to take, research what the requirements are to make that happen.

GOING BACK TO SCHOOL

Depending on the results of your research, you might find that a new degree is required or advantageous for your career change. Then it’s time for more research. “You’ll need to determine which schools have those programs,” Williams says.

“Be sure to pay attention to how the program is delivered,” Williams advises. “Choosing a school will depend on where you are in life. If you’re working full-time and have family obligations that make it financially difficult to stop working, taking on a degree program with rigid schedules could be problematic.” Online might be the best answer to balancing all the necessities of a working student’s life.

She notes that one advantage of going back to school is that it can help determine strengths and weaknesses you have relating to the new career path. It also gives you time to evaluate what you can do about the weaknesses, and it gives you a chance to make sure this career path is the right one for you before you end up years down the road in a job you’re not happy with. The reverse is true, too.

“Someone who has worked through a degree will feel more knowledgeable about what they’re stepping out to do,” she says. “They’ll be better prepared overall for the transition.”

OTHER STEPS TOWARD A NEW CAREER

Even though it is a great accomplishment, you’re not finished once you’ve chosen a degree program and enrolled. To successfully change careers, it’s wise to take advantage of additional opportunities, such as:

  • Internships. Just because you’ve already experienced one career path doesn’t mean you should skip the internship track. “You might think everything is a go, but an internship gives you first-hand experience,” says Williams. “It exposes you to the industry itself, and that can be eye-opening.” She notes that with companies that hire internally first, an internship could be a necessary foot in the door.
  • Mentorships. A mentor can give you one-on-one experience with someone in the industry—preferably someone who has the career you’re interested in. “Mentors can provide insight on opportunities, coaching, honest feedback, and constructive criticism,” she explains. “They hold you accountable and help you recognize your potential. They know the industry and understand exactly the skills you’ll need to succeed.”

Changing a career is a momentous decision that takes careful consideration. Planning ahead and knowing what resources are available—and valuable—can make the process smooth. And even exciting.

Learn more about Strayer University’s online degree programs.

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