Onward and Upward – Switching Careers During a Pandemic

M / L

In the face of economic hardship amidst a global pandemic, overwhelming thoughts can blanket even the most confident of people in uncertainty and shame. If there is anything 2020 taught us besides a physiologically familiarity with excessive drinking and netflix's monthly programming - it has also taught us to be comfortable with holding a mirror up to ourselves and our personal goals. So if you have even entertained the slightest thought of changing careers or simply changing paths - this blog is meant to reassure and guide you in your process. 

Three of the most wonderful people I know recently shared some insights and advice from their own personal career change/life change. 

Ask yourself BIG questions and be HONEST: 

Robert Z, who is going back to school has some prolific words for you: "Look inward. Ask yourself, "What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?" Then build from there. Don't lie to yourself, don't compare, just look inward and follow your gut and happiness." Sage advice. Isn't it an all too familiar nuisance when you find yourself constantly comparing your journey to others? 'Well Staten Island Jimmy started his own Food Truck specializing in Vegan Hot Dogs, maybe I can do that, I like Vegan Hot Dogs!' Keeping perspective is healthy when kept in check, but when charting your own career change the only journey that really matters is your own. Plus nobody wants their legacy to be a Vegan Hot Dog food truck, so it's all yours Staten Island Jimmy. (Apologies if your dream is Vegan Hot Dog food trucks)

Put in the work:

If you're going to start a new chapter or pivot your career goals - treat the change with the respect it deserves. This is just as much closing an old chapter as it is starting a new one. Be organized, take time to research and write things down. "In order to narrow things down, organize your thoughts and answer any question you can think of. "I asked a friend who is a career coach where I should start and she recommended I read the book "What Color is Your Parachute?" which helped me articulate what makes me tick in terms of a career, my top values and priorities in my work, and what skills and abilities I already excel in and could transpose into a new field." (Wesley) $20 is a small price to pay to help kickstart the process.

You will always be more than the sum parts of your career. "Journaling and answering questions like, "What other skills do I bring to the table that have nothing to do with theatre/art?" and "What do I already excel at in my artist career that can be used in other professions?" is a great place to start. But ultimately, being patient with/kind to yourself, reminding yourself that you are way more than your career/livelihood." (Brooke) You definitely have skill sets that you have been honing and developing up until this point, and whether its reciting Shakespeare effortlessly or knowing how to use a laptop to edit movies together, consider these valuable resources that in their base form will aid you wherever you go. 

Lets shine a light on some challenges you'll face when changing careers:

"I'm closing out my 1st semester of my Masters this spring and the biggest challenge has been money - I've relied on unemployment, federal school loans, and family financial support." (Wesley)

"Doubt, Loneliness, and Unjustifiable Anxiety. The pandemic has led to me imagining worst case scenarios, when they simply haven't happened or would probably never happen. (What will help) Yoga, Goal setting, Eating healthy (try to drop quick fixes like constant drinking and binging)" (Robert Z)

"I've also had to grieve the death of my previous career dreams. That was an unexpected challenge. It was important for me to take time to process the grief that swelled up intermittently throughout the process." (Wesley) 


So if this little blog has helped you face the daunting precipice of life altering journeys and career goals, here are some great pieces of advice to leave a hopeful taste in your mouth:

Wesley - 

"-Seek support early and consistently. Whether it's logistical, emotional, informational. I'd suggest all of the above.

-Google every whim of interest and follow the rabbit holes and hopefully the best fitting options will resonate.

-Take notes. Log your thoughts and findings.

-Interview anyone you can who is in the field you're interested in. I even looked up strangers on LinkedIn and interviewed them via email. People are generally very helpful.

-Be kind to yourself, prioritize self-care and emotional processing through the whole process."

Brooke -

"Don't feel like you have to have it all figured out right away, but also, continue to show up and do the work on yourself every day, no matter how hard it may be! P.S. Take comfort in the fact that NYC and theatre/art/whatever will ALWAYS be there for you, should you decide to move back and pursue that dream again someday! Nothing is permanent! :)"

Robert Z - 

"It's NEVER too late for anything. So if it speaks to your soul, pursue it. It will take time to master if it's new, but skills grow like a plant, so be patient and kind to yourself."

Godspeed to our Laners who will brave this whole new world in the coming months. We applaud Wesley, Brooke, Robert and anyone else who has been forced to course correct this past year or just decided to stop putting off those empty promises to yourself and finally walk the different path. Check in with yourself, do the work and acknowledge that there is no wrong move so long as you go with all of your spirit and heart. You are so much more than what your business card says.