A career change can be very scary. Especially if you’ve only ever worked in one industry your entire professional career; and maybe even within just one organization.
Maybe you are actually great at what you are doing right now but are curious about what else is out there. Or maybe you’ve hit the ceiling in terms of your growth opportunity at a company. You don’t want to wake up one day regretting not having spent your life working on something you are passionate about or not having tried something different and completely out of your comfort zone.
Taking the Plunge
As the old adage goes, “the first step is always the hardest.” And it is. When you have a good job and are getting paid well it seems silly from an outsider’s perspective to throw the proverbial wrench into the smoothly flowing gears that is your career.
Ena Zheng, COO of PandaDoc, began her management career in the banking industry. After 6 years in banking and watching the technological changes unfold before her eyes, Ena felt uncertain about her long-term future and decided that it was time to change course.
The Next Steps
Nobel Prize winner Andre Gide once stated, “One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.”
Before you start applying to just any job out there you may have to ask yourself: What have I learned and what skills have I acquired that would be transferrable to a position new to me?
If you lack transferrable skills or knowledge in the field that you eventually want to end up in, however, it may be necessary to take on internships or some educational courses.
Having gained some experience in sales during her time in the banking industry, Ena decided to try her hand as a sales representative in the tech industry. Although this position was not an upward move in her career, she felt that she would be happier in her new environment and was determined. She excelled in her new position and within one year became the territory sales manager.
Her newfound love for tech, coupled with her sales and management experience led her to PandaDoc, a small SaaS startup. She started as the VP of Customer Success, quickly showed her tremendous value to the company, and was promoted to COO.
Don’t Give Up
Ena is very passionate about her career now. She took the leap of faith and even though her success story, at a glance, appears to have flowed with ease, it required a lot of hard work and dedication through the trials she faced.
Ena states that, “To be successful in a career change is to understand exactly what’s involved. It is a big risk for most people since a new career typically comes along with steep learning curves and a lot of uncertainties. Make the commitment before you jump in and make it with passion. At times of uncertainty, you’ll need to have the conviction to charge forward.”
A career change rarely goes very smoothly. And you may ask yourself “why?” a hundred times over and want to revert back to something comfortable. Remember why you wanted the change in the first place and hold fast. You will look back on it in the future and be glad you did.
This guest post was written by Erich Detert. Erich focuses on content management and marketing for PandaDoc. Erich is an avid world traveler and a former longtime legal professional and editor.