It’s very easy to get stuck in a career you don’t like.
If I take myself as an example, I studied sciences when I was younger, because I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and my parents told me it was the best choice for me. Then, I got my bachelor’s degree in mathematics because I did like maths. However, I realised pretty late, that even if mathematics was a field of interest, it wasn’t something I wanted 40 hours a week. The job I wanted had to be more creative and maths is very practical. I rebounded, got my master’s degree in business management and tried to focus on the supply chain, because, again I was scared. Sure, I wanted something a bit less like 1+1=2, but I felt that not using maths was almost like throwing away my bachelor’s degree and my experiences in this field.
Some people will tell you they knew from their childhood they wanted to be a nurse and they actually did it. But there are plenty of other people like you and me, who will go from one trial to another to find the right fit. And it’s OK.
But in your late 20s, is it too late?
It is never too late. Just think that you have at least 30 years of a career yet to come. Do you really want to spend 30 years doing something that, you know deep down, isn’t for you anymore, as it had been once? I hope you won’t say yes. Also, think that a job that motivates you will increase your earning potential and it will enlarge your growth opportunities, and the stress who will deal with will be manageable.
For sure, you have to balance what you have with this job with what you’d have with your other job in the long-term. Don’t jump into a new career without seeking advice with a professional working in that field, and ask yourself the right questions:
Does this career change imply a new lifestyle (nightshift, lower salary among other factors)? And therefore, do you think this lifestyle could be yours for a long, long time?
Do you really know what this job is about? We have a tendency to fantasise what we don’t have and to forget the boring tasks that a job could include, by just thinking about the fun parts. Be optimistic but also realistic.
What skills does this new career require? The myth that a career change will make you start from scratch isn’t true. Some of your skills are transferable and could be deeply valuable in another industry, especially if these ones are rare. Think about your career move as a strength.
What to do?
Get a strong understanding of the job you want to go for. Shadow a colleague who works in this industry and follow them for a day to see what the job really involves. Use LinkedIn to contact professionals and ask them about their routines at work, the challenges they face, their struggles, their successes. In three words, try it out!
How will you get these skills? Figure out how you will upgrade your skills. Do you need to go back to school? Could an online class or a short training course be an option? Can you afford to go to university?
Assess your current job. What is wrong with it? What would you like to do instead? What is missing? What aspects do you like? Are these dissatisfactions caused by your work, your company values or your team?
And when you have assessed everything, go for it! Don’t try to be a lemon if you feel like you’re an orange, it won’t work!