How to Begin a Career Later in Life
There are many paths one can take to pursue a career. Some people know what they want to do at an early age and take a direct route. Others build their knowledge and skills through a variety of different work experiences before deciding what they’d like to do long-term. If you find yourself in the latter camp, it may feel like you are trying to catch up with those in that profession that started at an early age. But that shouldn’t discourage you — let it motivate you! With the proper attitude and these tips, you can see for yourself that it’s truly never too late to become the professional you aspire to be.
If your desired career allows the opportunity to work on a freelance basis, strive for that to get your foot in the door. In addition to allowing you to get a better understanding of the job market and the companies you’d like to work for, it can serve as a valuable opportunity for you to improve your skills. Working on your craft for several hours a day over an extended period will undoubtedly improve your knowledge and skillset, and make you much more qualified for full-time employment.
Consider the expression, “if opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” It applies well when put in the context of volunteer work. Volunteering most often doesn’t require certain qualifications or prior experience, and can be rewarding on a couple of levels. Personally, you can obtain a sense of pride for your work. Professionally, you can gain skills that may improve your resume and job candidacy.
Work On A Side Project
Do you have a passion or interest that motivates you? Find a way to make the most of it by embracing a side project. Side projects allow recruiters (or others involved in hiring decisions) to understand you better, and see a side of you that may translate well into a role within their company. If your side project can address a business challenge, it will demonstrate problem-solving skills and give you something relevant to talk with potential employers about.
Each of the three previously mentioned tips all includes great potential for networking. When you’re freelancing, volunteering or working on a side project, there will be opportunities for you to connect with people who work in the industry you aspire to be a part of. In fact, you may want to consider that a primary reason to pursue unpaid work such as volunteering or side projects. These networking opportunities can be more valuable than forced occasions such as career fairs or networking events, because you won’t be competing with countless others to gain a small bit of attention from just a handful of decision-makers.
At no point in your career will you ever be allowed to stop learning, so you’d better start now! The more you know about your industry and profession, the more prepared you’ll be to jump in. While popular job-hunting advice may say “It’s not what you know — it’s who you know,” who you know won’t get you far if you don’t know what you’re doing.