Blog 22

How To Make A Successful Career Change?

This is a question we are often asked at LifeVidya. Do you want a career change? Do you sometimes get the feeling that your career is just not for you?

Do you resonate with any of the career change statements below?

I have experienced all the above states at different times in life. I have changed careers a few times too as I have always pivoted towards making work fulfilling.

Let me share snips from my story. I complete 50 years on this planet in 2024, so there may be some things I learnt while I batted a half century. Some of these may be relevant for you to reflect and apply in your context. Am sharing my varied career pursuits, transitions and emotional journey below.

Career Change
Career change

CAREER 1: Writer, Instructional Designer

  • AGE 21 YEARS
  • QUALIFICATION: Graduate in Psychology, Diploma in Computer Applications

At almost 21 years, I started off as a writer, Instructional designer and would storyboard and visualise to help people learn content through e-learning. This was in the early 90’s when most people did not know of e-learning. It was fun, my skills were valued, people were good, but somehow, I did not feel motivated to grow in this role for the rest of my life. Mostly it was because much of the writing I did was technical, and working nights at office was glorified instead of making sure work processes are completed on time to avoid delays. 

However, the rapidly changing and growing technology organisation got me very interested in culture, visioning, organisational change, work stress and people related challenges. While I volunteered for a culture building exercise alongside my regular work load, I realised I was ready to plunge into Organisational Behaviour as a post graduate course. It took me a close to a year to make this transition amidst life changes and challenges. Till date, I have deep gratitude for the learnings and bonds I formed in my first job and the mutual regard we continue to have as colleagues over the decades.

TRANSITION FROM CAREER 1: Some of Life is by Design, Some of Life Happens to you!

The untimely and sudden demise of a loved family member made me stick to India, Delhi for further studies and I enrolled for the post graduate course at University of Delhi.

The course design was very application focussed and in my second year I was interning with a leading consulting organisation 3 to 4 days a week. This journey and course took me to the world of HR consulting. I had made my first career change at 24 years after pursuing a degree in my preferred field of study. My first career change was from Instructional Design to HR Consulting! What helped me was my undergraduate degree in Psychology, a keen interest in the subject with excellent academic records, a researcher’s mind and a thirst to learn from my stint at the technology organisation.

CAREER 2: HR Consultant

  • Age: 24 years
  • Qualification: Post Graduate Degree in Organisational Psychology

My world of HR Consulting was a period of rapid growth. As a consultant, I was talking to business leaders and CEOs from the very beginning and trying to provide solutions to their people problems that affect business. Be it attrition, recruitment, training, culture studies or behavioural interviews as a consultant one always learns a lot.

What hit me hard was the pace of work, and this made me learn a lot in a very short period. This was helpful. What struck me was the difference in mindset between me and my work group.

As a psychology postgraduate, we want to serve and help the world. Most of my colleagues were focussed on gaining visibility and making more revenue for the company and themselves. Making revenue is important, however it needs to be done in sustainable ways with an intention of mutual benefit. Sometimes this profit came at a price of neglecting the employee or people aspects at work. However, no one thought much of it and any talk on the topic was actively discouraged or disregarded.

So, while I loved the work and would have really enjoyed being an OD & Change consultant earning well at a Big five consulting firm, I realised there was a deep value mismatch that would erode my joy every day. So, here again I knew there was a deeper misalignment that I needed to address. I realised I could continue to be the OD and Change consultant, however, I would need to work in a different work culture. So it wasn’t time for a career change, but perhaps time to shift workplaces or cultures.

Career stress
Value mismatch

TRANSITION FROM CAREER 2

At this juncture, I chose to pursue further studies in understanding the people aspects of change. This PhD research was as much about me as it was about the employees and organisations I researched. The labour of love took six years while I worked as a consultant part-time in the organisational development and training cell of an Indian pharmaceutical organisation.

CAREER 3: Educator

  • Age: 31 years onwards
  • Qualification: Pursuing doctoral level studies

During my PhD, I plunged into teaching and mentoring youth at undergraduate, post graduate and school levels. I taught in both India and Singapore and learnt a lot through my adventures and diverse courses in different universities, work cultures and geographies.  The PhD research taught me a lot about independent thinking, researching so you own your perspectives and patience as a research journey with a guide can be very challenging and gainful simultaneously.


Career counsellor coach

We would love to hear your comments and thoughts. And next month we talk of how you could navigate a career change in your late thirties or forties. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

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