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Dear AAPAAN
A forum for students and alumni of the Asian American UVA Community
Category:
Career

How would I change my career path or job if I don’t enjoy what I’m doing?

Dear AAPAAN

How would I change my career path or job if I don’t enjoy what I’m doing?

Anonymous

 

Dear Anonymous

It’s bad when you get up in the morning and dread going to work because you hate your job.  Imagine doing that for the rest of your working life. If you feel you need a major change then it’s best to make it happen sooner than later.   Don’t let inertia drag it out. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to make that change.

How to make that change?  The difficulty and probability of a successful change will depend on the details of your specific situation.  Ideally you want to be able to leverage all your current experiences and skills. But if you want to start something you have no experience or talent for, then obviously you are going to have a very difficult time.  

I had a colleague who decided the corporate world was not for him after all.  He quit and became a lobster fisherman. He made it happen because he had family roots in New England and he had the money to buy a fishing boat.  

For me,  I started my career with a government job in nuclear power.  When I decided I did not want a government career, I quit and went back to school to get an MBA.  It was a way to start over with new credentials and skills. I was able to leverage my new degree along with my engineering background under the umbrella of “energy”, and started a second and long career in the petroleum business.  I eventually spent most of my time in logistics and oil trading.

The general way to change jobs or careers is to weave a credible (and hopefully convincing) story to your prospective new employer(s) why the drastic change makes sense for you and what you can offer them.  You will need to take a full inventory of all your skills and experiences and explore how they relate to your new job/career choice. For me, my government job gave me experience in thinking broadly about how an industry sector works.  My engineering background, while not in petroleum, gave me a disciplined and analytical way to look at business situations. My new MBA gave me the macro and microeconomic and financial foundation for integrating everything into sound business recommendations.  

On the other hand, if I wanted to change career and be an actor, then the above strategy would not work as I would not have anything to build on.  I would have to get acting training and some actual acting to my credit. I would start at the bottom and compete against younger actors. As you can imagine, this would have been an incredible long shot.  So what you want and what you might achieve will depend on your specifics.

Besides taking inventory of yourself, you will need to build up a new professional network.  If I had wanted a new career as an actor, I would have to connect with agents, other actors and most anyone likely to have a lead.  If you think that networking in your current job is hard, wait till you try to network in a totally new industry. One way to do this is to call on your University connections.  Make use of alumni groups like AAPAAN. Find out if anyone is doing what you want to do and contact them. Go to conventions in the area of your choice and try to make cold contacts.  

Lastly, does being an Asian American add another hurdle?  Possibly. In stereotypical fields for Asian Americans like tech, it might be an advantage.  But in many other fields, you may find built in obstacles.

It will be very hard and time consuming work to make a drastic change.  But it’ll beat getting up each morning dreading work because you hate your job ( … maybe)!

Good luck,

Wee