20-Something Question: Advice for a Chronic Career Changer?

Dear 40-somethings,


I’m curious what people advice people have to give to chronic career-changers. I guess that’s kind of a misnomer. I graduated with a degree in Journalism from NYU and promptly decided (in an ideological way) that I didn’t want to be a part of the media.


I also had a passion for social justice so I went back to school for an MSW. I now feel completely lost. I’m on my third social work job and have found the profession to be thankless and feel like I barely use my skills. I don’t know if I want to go back to my Journalism career (or even HOW I WOULD) but I’d love to be happy at work.


I’ve never known that feeling (a frequent sore spot between my fiance and I, since he has ALWAYS felt at peace with his career choice) Mostly I’m just embarrassed that I may have wasted two years in grad school only to come to the conclusion that I was put on the planet to write. Anyway, feeling lost. Tips?


Dear 20 something,


Life is a never ending quest to find out who we are and this means trying new things and changing.  Going to school is most often not a waste of time, and skills earned can be used many places in life.


Sit down and make a list of your likes and dislikes, your interests and goals and your strengths and weaknesses, put the pieces together, and see what comes up.  Can you combine your love of writing with your passion for social justice?  In my experience, the people who love what they do to make money are the happiest. – 40-something, fashion / design entrepreneur, Brooklyn, NY


Dear 20-something,


Change is good, don’t beat yourself up.  Find a mentor to assist you with career counseling. Ask yourself: what is your passion?   Then make a career out of it. – 40-something, PR Director, NYC



Dear 20-something,

First…stop beating yourself up for “wasting time” in school. It was an investment in your and certiainly you got something from it. Write a list of the skills you learned. This about how you can transfer those seills elsewhere ro talk about what you learned and how it prepares you for xyz.


Second. Just do something. Most people don’t know ‘what their passion is’. Was there anything in both of your studies that you gravitated toward — one thing that overlapped in your interests or your strengths that led you to choose those to begin with? Dig into that. Are there other ways you can apply those strengths or interests?


How do you spend your quiet time? It could be anything at all, whether it’s reading about a certain topic or going to the museum or eating. There are industries built around “enthusiasms” so you just have to nail it down.


Then, go in a direction. Don’t get stuck trying to decide. Get started and once you get into a direction, you’ll find another direction. It’s okay to change directions many times. People get stuck because they think they have to know for certain. Everyone knows for certain at some point and it’s always wrong. You may change directions ten times so you better get started. Right now. Give yourself ten directions.”  — 40-something, entrepreneur, NYC


If you found this helpful, you may also like this: A Path To Finding Your Thing


Readers: what advice do you have for mentees on how to reciprocate? 

Q. I have reach out to a number of women in their 40s and 50s to ask for career advice.  I believe mentoring is a two-way street, but what can I offer in return?  I just started my career so I don’t have any connections that could help them.  What do 40-something mentors want from 20-somethings?  ANSWER HERE


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