How to ACTUALLY Change Industries
Career Growth

How to ACTUALLY Change Industries

by Sarah Berneche
Photos Joe Kathrina | February 04, 2016

AS UNSATISFIED AS WE MAY FEEL IN OUR CURRENT PROFESSIONAL SITUATION, THE THOUGHT OF CHANGING INDUSTRIES IS DAUNTING AT BEST AND PARALYZING AT WORST. 

As a creative writer turned corporate marketer turned holistic nutritionist, it would have been impossible to forsee the professional twists and turns of the last ten years. While rolling with the unexpected might just launch your career, organizing what you can control in the process will keep you sane. I strongly recommend reviewing the following tips to approach the next chapter of your life with a solid plan in place. 

Whether you're changing industries or branching out into self-employment, the process can feel incredibly isolating.

1. MAKE CONNECTIONS IN YOUR NEW FIELD 

Whether you're changing industries or branching out into self-employment, the process can feel incredibly isolating. Sometimes, it can seem as though you're taking a few steps back, especially if you're moving from a senior position into something more junior.

I certainly felt this way when I left the corporate world to start my own nutrition practice. I knew starting my own business would be challenging, but I was surprised to find that I was my biggest challenge. Starting out, I worried too much about what I didn't know and my own inexperience.

That's when I realized the importance of connecting with other nutritionists (or whoever shares your field). They were warm, driven, ambitious, and totally on the same page as me. It's critical to surround yourself with people who get what you're about, understand the unique benefits and challenges within your industry, and can connect you with possible clients or other like-minded contacts.

If you don't know anyone in your target industry, try reaching out to potential mentors through LinkedIn (or other social media accounts) and request informational interviews. Attend relevant conferences or events in your area and really stick your neck out during coffee breaks. If your particular industry has a significant online presence, like graphic design or marketing, try connecting with others digitally. It always helps to have people in your corner. 

Don't allow what you don't know to eclipse what you do (or what you can pick up).

2. LIVE AND BREATHE YOUR INDUSTRY

When I was studying to become a nutritionist, I read and watched everything I could get my hands on. It's key to immerse yourself fully in your chosen topic, particularly if you're new to the field. When you're changing industries, you have a lot to learn. But don't allow what you don't know to eclipse what you do (or what you can pick up). 

Notice what people are into or what's currently trending. Read relevant blogs and study your competition's websites and social media accounts. I purchased eBooks, joined Facebook groups, anything I could to learn about what others were doing.

Here's why immersion is important: you'll find the gaps in the marketplace or your desired industry—and you'll be able to position yourself to fill them. The way to narrow the gap is to start learning, keep learning, and get a sense of what it's all about.  

3. WORK AT IT PART-TIME

Want to become a personal trainer or yoga instructor? Try teaching at night or landing a part-time job at your local fitness studio. It's a great way to learn about the industry and mine some data while making a bit of extra money, networking, and interacting with relevant clientele.

I accepted a low-paying job at a local juice joint because it covered some of my basic expenses while I learned more about the industry and because it got me acquainted with other nutritionists and wellness-minded individuals. Although I'd gone to school for nutrition, I hadn't learned how to translate that to daily interactions. The juice job forced me to get comfortable talking about the topic and allowed me to use the industry language every day so that it became second nature.  

While dreaming about change is fun, to actually move industries you have to act. 

4. WRITE DOWN YOUR PLAN OF ACTION

While dreaming about change is fun, to actually move industries you have to act. Change can often feel overwhelming, but studies show that breaking large projects down into small actionable tasks can be a gamechanger.

Sit down at your desk or kitchen table and actually make a list of your goals. Maybe the first involves networking, while the second involves setting up a website. Maybe you need to take a class or two. Writing down the steps you intend to take makes the process real. If possible, assign target dates to complete these tasks. Start small and be consistent. Changing industries is rarely easy, but having a plan will help you when you're down on yourself or feel you'll never succeed. 

5. VIBRATE HIGH

Surround yourself with positive people, mantras, and energy. This may sound less important than LinkedIn networking or business classes, but taking care of your mental, physical, and spiritual health by exercising regularly, eating well, and making positive lifestyle choices in general gives you the energy to tackle your career shift. By taking care of yourself, you'll be in the best position possible for when an amazing opportunity strikes—and you'll seize it. 

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Any other tips you can give to someone considering switching industries?