Career Path

5 Steps Toward Changing Your Career Path

Ten lightning-fast years into my career I can say with honesty that I enjoy going into work everyday. I feel challenged, valued and I’m encouraged by what the future holds.

It wasn’t always dandelions and roses, though.

I had a lot of indecision in the early stages of my career as an interactive designer about whether I had chosen the right path. I can recall days and nights spent starring blankly into my monitor, mouse heavy in hand, questioning the life choices that had landed me in my specific situation.

After taking a hard look at where I was in my career and where I wanted to be I determined I was in the right line of work, I simply needed to re-dedicate myself to the craft to get from where I was to where I wanted to be.

Although I chose a career transition over a radical change, I’m here to offer practical advice on both. I am still completing the transition from hands-on designer to design manager and creative director, but I can tell you some of the things I did to make it happen:

Step 1 – Volunteer your time

I learned a valuable concept early on in my freelance design career: the best way to get to do exactly what you want to do is to offer your services at no cost.

When a client isn’t paying your rate, you’re much more likely to get creative freedom on a project. The same principle applies to volunteering your time to a professional organization or non-profit. Offer your time and volunteer to fill a role in an area where you’d like to add experience.

I see these opportunities at my day job as well, where management is looking for volunteers to step up on a special project or initiative. When these opportunities align with areas you’re looking to add experience in, volunteer your services.

Step 2 – Make lateral moves within your company

I remember being asked by a VP of Business Operations why I was interested in “making a lateral move” within the company. What he meant was that I was pursuing another job with a similar salary to the one I currently held.

At 23 years old this was the first time I had heard the term lateral move, but I understood it in context. I explained to him that I had learned what I could in my current role and I wanted to round-out other skills.

I wasn’t the most qualified person that interviewed for the job, but I was an internal candidate that the company could save some money by hiring. So, I convinced them I was dedicated to learning what I didn’t already know…and quickly.


Step 3 – Seek mentorship

I learned a good bit about the world and personal responsibility while in college. That said, I gained more business knowledge in my first year working than I did in 4 years at a university. It helped that my first year out of college was spent working under Robert Croak, the founder of the start-up that eventually launched the global trend known as Silly Bandz.

It’s important to be self-motivated and take the initiative to learn on your own, but learning from someone with experience is invaluable and can propel you to rapid improvement. If you can find someone that you respect that is kind enough to mentor you? Jump on it.

Also: don’t forget to send the elevator back down and offer your wisdom to those who can benefit from it.

Step 4 – Learn people skills

This piece of advice is for anyone interested in working in management (people or project). Many times, the best people to lead and manage technical teams (Design, development, IT, engineering) are those with hands-on knowledge of the craft.

However, it can be tough to find people with the technical knowledge and the people skills necessary to manage a team and report up to the executive management.

Work on really listening to your co-workers and communicating clearly and concisely. Make the most of your interactions with people in executive positions in your company. Carry yourself with confidence and dress like you have something important to do…it doesn’t go unnoticed.

Step 5 – Make your desire known

Before taking this advice, consider whether you’re happy working with your current company. If the answer is yes and you would just like a chance to move into a new role, don’t keep it a secret.

The company I work for has enabled employees to move from our warehouse into our design department and from purchasing to marketing. Make connections within your company and let your desires be known. A good manager will respect that you want to contribute to your company in the most productive way possible and won’t stand in the way.


Other options:

Start over

My hope in the tips above was to advise you in transitioning from one job or career path to another without substantially back-peddling. But there are career changes that require starting over. That could mean going back to school or accepting an entry-level position in a new industry.

You will have to determine if the up-front sacrifice is worth the potential longer-term payoff. Inflexible financial obligations can be a barrier for some in considering this route.

Create your own opportunity

Starting your own business is the highest risk/reward scenario I am suggesting here. However, many entrepreneurs report a high-level of satisfaction derived from work. There are no guarantees in the world of entrepreneurship, other than you determine your own fate.

Keep in mind, not every business needs to take on employees and manage payroll. A lifestyle business is designed to sustain a way of life while providing flexibility of schedule.

Have you transitioned or radically changed your career path? I’d love for you to chime in below with any personal advice or tips I didn’t touch on.

46 thoughts on “5 Steps Toward Changing Your Career Path


    I’m not sure the place you are getting your information, but good topic.
    I must spend some time learning much more or understanding more.
    Thank you for magnificent info I was looking for this information for my mission.

  2. why coconut oil

    This design is wicked! You most certainly know how to keep a reader
    amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved
    to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Great job. I really loved what you had to say, and more than that,
    how you presented it. Too cool!

  3. quest bars cheap

    Fantastic goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you’re just extremely fantastic.
    I really like what you’ve acquired here, really like what you are saying and the way
    in which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you still take care of to keep it smart.
    I can’t wait to read far more from you. This is really a
    great website.

  4. quest bars cheap

    Hmm it seems like your website ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so
    I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say,
    I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing.
    Do you have any suggestions for first-time blog
    writers? I’d certainly appreciate it.

  5. quest bars cheap coupon twitter

    Having read this I believed it was rather informative.
    I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this article together.
    I once again find myself spending a significant amount of time both
    reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  6. ps4 games

    Hey exceptional website! Does running a blog such as this require
    a great deal of work? I’ve absolutely no understanding of coding however I was hoping to start my
    own blog soon. Anyhow, should you have any suggestions or techniques for
    new blog owners please share. I understand this is off subject however I just wanted to ask.


  7. ps4 games

    I am curious to find out what blog platform you happen to be
    working with? I’m having some small security
    problems with my latest website and I’d like to
    find something more safeguarded. Do you have any solutions?

  8. Hairstyles

    I intended to write you a very little word so as to say thanks the moment again with your pleasing techniques you have shared on this site. It was really wonderfully generous with you to offer unreservedly precisely what many people could possibly have offered for sale as an e book in order to make some profit on their own, principally considering the fact that you might well have done it if you ever wanted. These tricks additionally worked to provide a good way to comprehend many people have the identical eagerness really like my personal own to see significantly more regarding this matter. I know there are several more fun moments in the future for people who browse through your site.

  9. quest bars cheap

    Nice blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?
    A theme like yours with a few simple tweeks would
    really make my blog shine. Please let me know where you got your theme.

  10. ps4 games

    Great blog here! Also your website rather a lot up fast! What host are
    you the usage of? Can I am getting your affiliate hyperlink in your host?
    I desire my web site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  11. coconut oil

    This design is spectacular! You obviously know how to keep a reader amused.

    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Fantastic job.
    I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you
    presented it. Too cool!

  12. coconut oil

    I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your site. It’s
    a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often. Did
    you hire out a developer to create your theme? Great work!

  13. GuQin

    Have you ever considered publishing an e-book or guest authoring on other sites? I have a blog based upon on the same information you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my audience would enjoy your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e-mail.

  14. free trial

    Admiring the commitment you put into your blog and in depth information you
    present. It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of
    date rehashed material. Fantastic read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  15. free trial

    My programmer is trying to convince me to move to .net
    from PHP. I have always disliked the idea because of the costs.
    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using WordPress on a
    variety of websites for about a year and am worried about switching to another platform.
    I have heard very good things about
    Is there a way I can import all my wordpress content into it?
    Any kind of help would be really appreciated!

  16. sling tv

    Incredible! This blog looks exactly like my old one!
    It’s on a entirely different topic but it has
    pretty much the same layout and design. Superb choice of colors!

  17. sling tv

    Hello! I know this is kind of off topic but I was
    wondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha
    plugin for my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as
    yours and I’m having problems finding one?
    Thanks a lot!

  18. sling tv

    hello there and thank you for your information – I
    have certainly picked up anything new from right here.
    I did however expertise a few technical issues using this web site, since I
    experienced to reload the site lots of times previous to I could
    get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your hosting is OK?
    Not that I am complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will sometimes affect your placement in google and could damage your high quality score if advertising and
    marketing with Adwords. Well I am adding this RSS to my email and could look out
    for a lot more of your respective exciting content. Ensure that you update this again soon.

  19. sling tv

    hey there and thank you for your info – I’ve certainly
    picked up something new from right here. I
    did however expertise some technical points using this web site, since I experienced to reload the website a lot of times previous to I could get it to
    load properly. I had been wondering if your web hosting is OK?

    Not that I am complaining, but slow loading instances times will very frequently
    affect your placement in google and can damage your quality score if advertising
    and marketing with Adwords. Anyway I am adding this
    RSS to my email and can look out for much more of your respective intriguing content.
    Make sure you update this again very soon.

  20. sling tv

    I’m not sure exactly why but this site is loading incredibly slow for me.
    Is anyone else having this issue or is it a problem on my end?
    I’ll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.

  21. sling tv

    you are actually a just right webmaster. The website loading pace is amazing.
    It kind of feels that you’re doing any distinctive trick. Furthermore,
    The contents are masterpiece. you’ve done a excellent job in this topic!

  22. sling tv

    You made some really good points there. I looked on the net for more information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *