By Leischen Stelter
Editor, In Public Safety
Transitioning to a new career is not an easy process. In September, American Military University (AMU) faculty members wrote about their own career transitions and offered advice to others about how to pursue a new career.
Don’t know what you want to be when you grow up? Not many people truly do. That’s why it’s so important to keep your options open, writes Dr. Chuck Russo.
“My transition process was not what I would call common,” he says. “There are many ways to go from point A to point B and it seems that I took the scenic route. However, I did it and so can you. Keep your options open and take advantage of opportunities that present themselves.”
The first thing you must do is determine what drives you and what you’re passionate about so you can figure out what an ideal job looks like, writes Brian Meek. It can be difficult to objectively assess your skills and interests, so don’t be afraid to turn to a career professional, advises Russo.
Career coaching services can give you fresh perspective on your strengths and weakness and can help direct you toward relevant careers. Many of these services provide assessment tests that can help determine your unique knowledge, skills, abilities, and passions.
Spend time researching careers that pique your interest, but don’t reject a career because of your unfamiliarity with it, advises Valerie Davis. Focused research and motivated career planning will help prepare for a smooth transition with minimum stress. Stay determined in your quest to find the job that matches your passion, she says.
Once you have defined what you want to be, spend time figuring out how to make yourself the best candidate possible. Do not underestimate how much time this takes.
Dr. Allan Conkey says career seekers to be proactive with their job search, “going from any profession to another is challenging and requires a great deal of research and follow-up,” he writes.
The key to successfully starting a new career is to start the process as early as possible, writes Chris Davis. “Several years before your anticipated [transition] date, start thinking about what you want to do next. It takes a considerable amount of time to gain the right educational background, work experience, and professional network to align with your desired career,” he says.
You will have to demonstrate to a potential employer that you have the necessary skills. This sounds like a relatively simple task, but it’s where a lot of job seekers fall short. Kristen Carter offers candidates advice about how to effectively communicate their skills on a resume (Hint: be very specific and focus on accomplishments, not duties!). She also reminds applicants to be sure to include all of their skills and not to assume that everyone is as proficient as you are – they’re not. Don’t sell yourself short.
Expand Your Networks
Keep your networks robust and updated, advise all faculty members. Social media can make it easier than ever to connect with others, but don’t let it be your only source of networking. Join alumni and professional associations and meet others in your field of interest, advises Russo. Start talking to people about your passions. Ask others about the field, what companies are hiring, and ways to make yourself a more qualified candidate. Also consider subscribing to academic and professional journals to keep you updated on the subject matter, but also aware of job openings, writes Beth Subero.
If you want to be successful in transitioning to a new career, you must spend time gathering information and talking to people who work in that field. Every step you take in learning more about your second career will lead you one more step closer to landing that desired position.
Several faculty members faced difficult times, whether it was a downturn in the economy or a lack of available positions in their desired field. To elevate them to the next level and refine their passion, many turned to education. After a downturn in the economy, Dr. Ron Wallace went back to school and got his master’s degree; he also went on to get a Ph.D. and discovered he loved teaching.
Russo quit school to become a police officer, only to realize how important education was for his career. So he went back and got his degrees and now head’s AMU’s criminal justice program.
And don’t forget that it is never too late to earn a college degree, writes Michael Beshears. Earning a degree will take time and determination. Give yourself the time you need to earn your degree.
Be a Lifelong Learner
Beth Subero writes about the value of seeking ways to keep learning. “Opportunities are waiting around every corner. If you are currently serving in the military and do not think opportunity awaits you, I urge you to think again,” she writes.
Starting a new career can be difficult, time-consuming, and complicated. However, if you spend time determining your passions and making yourself a highly qualified candidate, you are well on your way to pursuing the career of your dreams.