The Art of Career Transitions
Do you dream of transitioning careers or are in the process of one?
In today’s generation, transitioning into multiple careers is common. In an individual’s lifetime one will likely work in multiple different jobs, which will pave potential for multiple companies, roles, and paths. Many of us are generalists and jack-of-all-trades, who wear many hats and are well-rounded individuals with various passions, interests, and curiosities. We thrive on variety and perform well under different roles and tasks. We’re also the ones who are likely working on our side hustles or passion projects, pursuing work that sparks joy and fulfillment.
“People will look for jobs that give them the diversity of experience and skills that will enhance their personal mobility and opportunities rather than a conventional ‘career ladder’ set of skills”
– UK policy maker, the future of work report: jobs and skills in 2030
As exciting as career transitions can be, it’s also an intimidating decision to make for one’s professional journey. Sure, it brings about exciting changes with new experiences, challenges, and connections. Yet it’s also an act of bravery to take a leap of faith and embrace the unfamiliar path ahead. For many, it’s an extremely terrifying process because ultimately, you are a beginner again and need to put in the effort to master new and relevant skills. Leaving your comfort zone and making sacrifices along the way may bring heaps of uncertainty and self-doubts of, “What will others think?” and “Will it work out?”
As someone who has transitioned in multiple roles and industries from healthcare to education and now government, I know first-hand how difficult the process can be. As an advocate for career exploration, I’m constantly seeking opportunities for professional growth and learned many hard lessons along the way. But through it all, I’ve built identity capital from my diverse experiences, and bring forth the transferable skills to diverse roles and industries while cultivating passion in the workplace.
Earlier last month, I’ve had the honour to attend the Live Your Potential Talk Series: The Art of Career Transitions, where a diverse group of panelists shared their wealth of experiences as well as the strategies and insights they’ve gained for successful career transitions. It was obvious to see how the topic spoke to many people, as it was a full house event. Here’s a brief summary of what I learned from each of the inspiring speakers from that evening.
Akhil Mittal: Co-Founder & VP of Product & Operations, Directive Communication Systems
Akhil is an entrepreneur who has transitioned from leadership positions in the corporate world to co-founding his own company. His decision in transitioning careers came from the excitement of finding opportunities elsewhere. Feeling that he was tied down by the boundaries of his previous role, he sought out insights from colleagues which helped him realize that he needed to create a change and do something different. He knew what his core values are, one of which is flexibility. Sometimes having too many options is confusing, so his main advice for others is to know how to play your strengths and execute them. Understand what you’re getting yourself into when you decide to transition in your career, make the commitment, learn on the job, and eventually, your passions will uncover. Be willing to take risks as failure shapes who you are, and the worst that could happen is that you’ll be richer in experiences. When it comes to networking for aspiring entrepreneurs, go in with the intention of learning and meeting others regardless of the outcome, but also find a business partner who you can work with and support one another.
Amanda Lee: Senior Replenishment Manager, Walmart Canada
Amanda has transitioned quite frequently over the last few years in various roles within the same industry and even within the same company, consistently improving from her previous position. What triggered her to take action is when she’s at a point of her career where she finds herself bored in her current role; that’s when she feels the strong desire to learn a new set of skills in a new position. Based on her personal experience, her advice is to map out the next two years of your life. Understand that you will never be fully ready for a transition, but be prepared and vocal about what you truly want. Know your style of what works for you and what doesn’t. Amanda references Picasso’s years of deliberate practice on his craft to success as a reminder for us to work on mastering our own craft. When it comes to selling yourself in an interview, own it by doing your research, being open about your weaknesses and demonstrating unshakeable confidence.
Su-Nam Kim, President, Eyeshot Media Inc.
Su-Nam has the unique experience of successfully transitioning from an engineer to corporate executive and now the president of his own company. Having transitioned in multiple roles and industries, he shares his “secret” to success. His key advice is to always work hard and demonstrate the willingness to learn no matter the position. Demonstrate the transferable skills gained from your diverse experiences and communicate well with others to prove that you are a true leader. Ensure you have exposure to cross-functional projects and network to market yourself. Find a common ground, making sure you have a baseline for deeper engagement and stay connected with your contacts. When it comes to successful entrepreneurship, learn everything you need to know to be your own boss and work with partners with specific skill sets for delegation and support. Su-Nam also speaks the truth that your work doesn’t have to line up with your passion. Realistically, find some aspects of your job that you like. His final piece of advice is that it’s okay to make mistakes. “Make mistakes but acknowledge it, then find a solution to the problem and you will be remembered for it.”
Angie Kim, Category Director, Loblaw Companies Ltd
Angie excelled in various positions and relocated multiple times throughout her career. As challenging as it was, she provides concrete advice on how she managed this transition financially, professionally, and emotionally. Financially, she points out that good companies invest in their employees to retain their talent. Know your worth and negotiate for support, whether it is your mortgage for relocation or other financial hurdles. Professionally, she reminds us: “Don’t chase job titles but rather the path to success.” She stresses the importance of investing in what you want and making sure that your professional goals align with your mission. As for emotionally managing the transition, make decisions when you are at your best with a healthy frame of mind. Make sure that you’re at a stable state and don’t allow your transition to be about escaping reality. When it comes to “selling” yourself, believe in yourself and highlight your transferable skills. When you have a greater purpose, it drives you above your fears. Identify what makes you great and what empowers you in order to make the right career decisions.
Career transitions do not have to be seen negatively; think of it as an investment in yourself as your way of designing a life you love. Constantly ask yourself if your current position helps you grow both personally and professionally and “Is it good enough?” as of now. As long as there are continuous progression and engagement in your work, whether or not you decide to move within the company or transfer to an entirely different one that may be out of your current field is your own personal choice. Commit to a decision and as you continue to evolve in your career, your values and priorities will change along with your choices. Through it all, don’t ever feel stuck choosing one thing as there is no one path to success. Instead, reinvent a career that fits your lifestyle, expertise, and ambitions.