For the money or for love?
Why did I work so hard to change out of a successful career, in order to pursue another from ground zero?
Partly, it was due to the creative limitations of the profession that I was in – a well paying, but highly process driven role. I was also lured by the glitz of the world of marketing and in particular, the layers of psychology ravelled within it. Above all, I strongly believed that we all need more strings to our bow. We are educated in a narrow field, and being competent in an alternate discipline infinitely broadens our world view.
Let’s not pull any punches, making the transition was much more challenging than I had anticipated.
However, the choices you make today will determine the number of regrets you have in the next decade. To limit the number of regrets, don’t wait for a perfect time, don’t talk yourself out of trying and don’t ever give up.
Transitioning within your current organisation
My first port of call was to seek a move within the company that I was working for.
It’s arguably the best platform to springboard into a different division. If you are able to present a strong case, then in your favour is:
- your brand equity and reputation,
- your company knowledge, and
- the company’s savings on recruitment costs.
However, even as a solid performer, the challenges that I faced were:
- my brand was not well known in the marketing division,
- a mandate for a marketing degree, which I lacked, and
- lack of marketing experience.
Knowing the challenges meant that I could build a plan. So I set about:
- working with my manager and superiors to identify projects that had a marketing component,
- studying digital marketing and getting certifications through EDX, a “MOOC” or massive open online course provider with qualifications from the world’s major universities,
- freelancing as a copywriter,
- subscribing to marketing podcasts and resources,
- building my website and blog, and
- talking to the people in the marketing division to learn what it is that they do.
That’s a pretty lengthy list and it took me nothing short of two years to chip through it.
Keeping your game on
Whilst working to develop your new career pathway, you have keep excelling in your current role. This is a non-negotiable.
You’ll need your manager to have your back and the advice I’d give, is to take the emotion out of it. Don’t waste your energy holding back, fearing the consequences and second guessing what your superiors may think. If you are a solid performer and you share your ambitions professionally, there’s no reason it will backfire.
Figuring out your niche
Marketing is a huge field. One of the questions that stumped me early on, was “What area in marketing do you want to work in?”.
Fact is, I had no idea. I figured that I liked everything about marketing and I’d have been happy in any role I could get my hands on.
This is the reality – people have little time to experiment on you, so they cast these limiting judgements to box you in. You can’t fight it, so work with it.
Talk to marketers, read widely and start to narrow down your proposition. Start with your interests – be it sport, entertainment, politics or the environment. Maybe you’ll set out to be the best marketer in sports and events. Distinguish your brand and grow from there.
Knowing when to strike out on your own
After you’ve applied for a few internal roles, met with HR and had conversations with marketing team leaders, you’ll quickly get a vibe for whether the organisation has the appetite to support your change.
Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Our daily grind and tired brain spaces often clouds the fact that there are lots of opportunities out there for the capable and willing. We just need to take the first step. The right fit is out there, but you have to be visible in order to be in the running.
If your passion is to work in digital marketing, then you’re joining an evolving discipline that’s in high demand.
The Sensis report on social media indicates that eight in 10 Australians are now on social media, with usage almost universal in the 18-39 age group. We’re barely scraping at the surface of the potential of this medium.
Don’t throw away the past
I mentioned above, that having multiple strings to your bow is important and yet surprisingly, underrated. As you move deeper into your new career, it’s worth taking time to consider how you can merge your previous career with your new discipline – to craft a brand new value proposition.
Time away has helped me develop a new found fondness of my previous career and I’m sure that one day in the near future, I’ll be returning to it, all the better.
Welcome to the journey.