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|For some, massaging what you've done won't do. Your career field is collapsing and you need to look at a far more drastic change, say from journalist to RN.|
As career fields continue to collapse, many people are overhauling their work life. It's much more than a nip and tuck. |
And career experts say a recession is a good time to reinvent yourself. But they caution you better have a plan.
A year ago, 32-year-old Kristy Eklund of New Philadelphia was working in the fast-paced world of bylines and deadlines as an editor at the local newspaper. Now, she's wearing a white lab coat and learning how to draw blood from a medical mannequin.
While many reinventions such as hers begin with a layoff, Eklund quit her job to enroll in nursing school at Kent State's Tuscarawas campus.
"Working as a reporter and as a journalist, I saw what was happening all around me," Eklund said. "And I was looking way down the road at retirement and things and [thinking], 'Am I really going to be able to take care of myself?' Because I didn't own a house, I rented an apartment, I didn't have a car. I mean I wasn't living extravagantly and it was still a problem."
Within weeks, Eklund went from working full-time and living on her own to moving back into her parents' house and spending some eight hours a day studying to become a nurse. Eklund said she doesn't worry about finding employment when she finishes the program in a year, though she may have to make some compromises.
"Say I decide I want to do ER," Eklund said. "Well, I'm not confident I'm going to walk out of here and walk into an ER job in the town I want to work in. But I am confident I will be able to get a job as a nurse and work."
Health insurance a big concernAfter losing two jobs in two years, 50-year-old Al Buheit of Wooster also made a drastic career change " from working 30 years in the manufacturing industry to enrolling in Wayne College's 15-week pharmacy tech program.
"Wherever I go anymore, I'm going to start at the bottom, so why not start a new career," Buheit said. "Fifteen weeks and you know I could start looking for work in pharmacy tech. And, at my age now, without any healthcare, this time I'd like to find something a little stable that has health insurance."
A lot of people are enrolling in schools that offer degree and certification programs that can be quickly turned around for employment. Since the recession hit, enrollment at two-year colleges has climbed at least 7 percent throughout Northeast Ohio.
Experts say having a plan for your new career is important, but so is having a backup. Howard Anderson, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, emphasized the importance of "Plan B."
"Plan B may be taking a lower-level job in an industry," Anderson said. "Plan B may be moving if that's necessary. Go to where the jobs are; [don't] necessarily wait for the job to come to you."
Who are you?Cindy Summers, Wayne College's student recruitment director, advises people considering a career change to make sure to move toward something they can " and want to " do. She said too often, too late, people pursuing the medical field realize they can't stand the sight of blood or can't handle the hours.
"You really need to think about, 'What kind of person am I?'" Summers said. "If you're a morning person, you do not want to be working that overnight shift. Even though it might be a good job and good money, if you're miserable, it's not worth it. So people need to think about, 'How is it really going to fit with me as a person and the kind of life that I have?'"
Summer and Anderson agree that most skills people had in previous careers can be transferred to a new one. Eklund said the foundation of her journalism career is similar to her newfound career in nursing.
"Working on a deadline and being able to make judgment calls quickly, and being able to get and extract information from people about topics they may not be comfortable talking to you about, and just generally at the end of the day caring about people and wanting to help them and wanting to better their lives. Those kind of things work in both fields," Eklund said.
Think and act fastCarol Pluess, a career counselor at Wayne College, said that when it comes to a career change, it's important act quickly.
"The first thing you do is take a self-assessment," Pluess said. "What kind of skills do I have? What do I want to do? You have to think positively and seek out the help that is out there."
Fifty-two-year-old Rose Jones of Wooster took Pluess' advice after being laid off from her manufacturing job in December. Within weeks, Jones was on the path to finishing the degree in social work she abandoned 20 years ago. Jones said she looks at her career change as an opportunity, rather than a loss.
"I need to make myself marketable," Jones said. "I need to show that I have initiative and I'm willing to do what I have to do to make myself a person that somebody wants to hire. I just refuse to be upset about it.
"I'm doing what I have to do to get by and it's a great opportunity for growth, personal growth. You can restart your life at this point in time. I have a clean slate, so I can restart it. I can be anything I want to be."
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