The impact of the Coronavirus on the UK’s economy may be making you rethink your career change. If it is, read on.
Back in 2008, I was thinking of a career change too. I had first had the idea of training to be a career counsellor ten years before that in 1998. I had switched career from art conservation to university admin having had a few sessions with a career counsellor myself. The work he did looked so interesting and satisfying that I was intrigued and wondered whether I could ever do something similar myself. But the sensible thing seemed to be to get some generic work experience first before going down that avenue. So I went into university administration.
The university admin job I was doing in 2008 was stressful, I didn’t really relish going into work even though – all things considered – it was an okay job to have. And I had that Sunday evening feeling of ‘That’s it, weekend over, better brace myself for another week at the grindstone.’
Back in 2008, I was thinking of a career change too. I first had the idea of training to be a career counsellor back in 1998. I had changed career from art conservation to university admin. The job I was doing in 2008 was stressful, I didn’t really relish going into work even though – all things considered – it was an okay job to have. And I had that Sunday evening feeling of ‘That’s it, weekend over, better brace myself for another week at the grindstone.’
I had started looking into how to get trained in career guidance. The postgraduate qualifications I was looking at were based in London or elsewhere in the UK i.e. nowhere close to where we were living. Doing one of them would mean giving up the day job, and spending part of each week studying and living somewhere else. Not only would I have to pay £1,000s for the course itself, there would be significant living and travel costs – and those would be added on top of the existing ones for where we were living.
My husband and I talked through whether or not it would be feasible for me to do one of the courses. I was afraid of giving up a permanent job to commit to full-time study (1 year) or part-time study (2 years), only to find that at the end of it, there was no job to go to. Or if there was, it could easily be somewhere else in the UK. It didn’t look likely that a career-related job was going to suddenly materialise in the university where I was working.
My husband said we could probably just about manage on his salary if we were careful. After all, it would only be for a year or two. I continued to mull it over.
And then the 2008 financial crash happened. All around us people were facing redundancy… including my husband. It seemed crazy to even be considering giving up a permanent job when things were so uncertain and I might end up being the sole breadwinner. It looked like for the foreseeable future at least, I would just need to put the dream of retraining on the back burner.
My husband managed to get through two redundancy rounds without losing his job, and bit by bit the economy recovered. I thanked my lucky stars that I still had full-time during that unstable time. I didn’t do any more research into retraining because I thought I had got to the end of the road with what I’d found out so far. But still that yearning to become a career counsellor didn’t go away.
It wasn’t until 2011 that I finally did find a course that I could do. I blurted out to a colleague at work who was a careers professional that I wished I could retrain to do what she did, and she said: ‘There might be a way.’ It turned out that there was a part-time, distance learning course specifically for trainee careers professionals in the higher education sector.
If only I’d known.
It took six years to complete the course (seven actually, given that I took a year off). There was no reason at all why I could not have started it when the financial crash happened. By the time the economy was getting over the worst, I could have been well on the way to getting qualified. And I would have still had the financial security of a permanent job at the same time.
Looking back, I was right to stay in my job, but I missed an opportunity by not speaking to a careers professional.
Career coaches, counsellors, advisors… whatever title they go by… cannot possibly know all there is to know about every career path, role and sector. But they are trained to help people understand who they are and what they have to offer, to brainstorm ideas of work that might suit them, and to support them as they start researching those ideas. They’re also trained to help people acknowledge the limiting beliefs and stories they’re telling themselves, address their fears, and take action. I could have had that sort of guidance and support if only I’d thought of it, but I didn’t. As a consequence, I remained stuck where I was for another three years before finally taking some action.
When something big like Coronavirus comes along and messes up the economy, there’s no point in doing anything rash, but at the same time, don’t let fear and uncertainty hold you back. If you take action now, you may be in a much better position once it’s all blown over and you can then move with confidence in the direction you want to head in.