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Don’t Make These 5 Mistakes When Making A Career Change

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Whether you’ve recently graduated and are hoping to pursue a job unrelated to your degree, or are already in the workforce and ready to try something new, it can be hard to know where to begin and how to make a career change.

If you’re looking into how to make a career change, you’ve probably already started exploring best practices and must-do tips. You’re probably editing your cover letter, adding transferable skills to your resume, and getting your references in order. But if you’re never made a career change before, first-hand advice is one of the most valuable things you can have. Keep in mind that other professionals have swapped roles and industries before, have made mistakes, and had successes. Fortunately for you, learning from their trial and error will smooth your own path!


Wondering how to make a career change? Here are 5 mistakes to avoid:

1. Don’t try to do it alone

As you’re exploring how to make a career change, and contemplating how different your life might be afterwards, it can be easy to fall into feel that you’re alone in the process. But nothing could be further from the truth! Don’t try to accomplish a huge task, like making a career change, without help. Your professors, mentors, co-workers, and even family and friends, are excellent resources for your journey. Chances are, someone in your circle has made a career change themselves, or knows someone in your new industry who could lend a helping hand. Whatever you do, don’t cut yourself off from your personal and professional networks as you make your career change – your connections are often the most valuable resource you have!


Three young professionals work on laptops

2. Don’t play it safe

Deciding to make any type of life change is challenging. Making a career change is always a risk. But doing it successfully requires embracing that risk, and not playing it safe when it counts. Put yourself out there – ask for advice, mentorship, and  letters of reference. Don’t play down your strengths – make sure employers know exactly what would make you so valuable to them.

3. Don’t be so hard on yourself

Making a career change is challenging, no matter where you are in your current career, or how much professional experience you have. Hold yourself to the highest standard, and don’t settle for less than your ultimate goals. But, don’t be too hard on yourself. You’ll inevitably experience set-backs, and at those times it’s important to remember how far you’ve come. Celebrate your wins, no matter how small!


4. Don’t focus too much on the past

Getting caught up in your past roles, industry, or even past mistakes, can hold you back when you’re making a career change. Step outside your comfort zone, explore ideas you’ve never considered before, and above all else, keep moving forward. You’re likely leaving your current field for a reason, but rather than focusing on what you’re leaving behind, keep your attention focused on what’s ahead of you. What excites you about your future role? Where do you see yourself in five years? How does your new industry align with your passions? Keep that forward focus, no matter how difficult your job hunt becomes.


5. Don’t get caught up in what you can’t control

Knowing how to make a career change seamless is almost impossible. Every professional making such a change faces obstacles and hurdles in their path. Keep in mind that not everything is in your control. A challenging economy might make it harder to find a job. The time of year might mean you’re competing with recent graduates, or a global pandemic might put all hiring on pause. While these things may slow you down, keep your mentality focused forward, and be prepared to adapt and go with the flow when the need arises.


A virtual internship is the perfect way to test drive a new career. Discover more. 



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Photos and blog by Maeve Allsup

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!

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