Deciding to either commit to or transition to a creative career can be a daunting prospect. You’ve likely been told your entire life that you should find a stable job, or that you’ll never make it in this or that field. And even if not, breaking into a creative field is as much about meeting the right people at the right time as it is about the hard work. Getting to a good, stable place in a creative industry can take years of failures and hardship. But when you get there, it’ll all be worth it, right?
Sometimes, at the most inconvenient times, we discover the thing we thought we wanted to do all this time is not, in fact, our dream gig. Discovering this in the pursuit of a creative career can be particularly heart-crushing. Making any kind of career transition can be difficult to make but transferring from one creative industry to another can be especially tricky. No creative career is easy to get into, but making that transition is possible. Being as prepared for what that transition will look like is the best way to guarantee yourself a smooth transition and limit the amount of surprises along the way.
Career Transition: The Clock is Ticking
Just like making any career transition, it is crucial to really consider if it is the right move. Having security and decent income is nice, but being on a career path that’s more in line with your interests and hopes is a lot more fulfilling. If you could make this decision without having to worry about money or security, would you make that choice? The fear of leaving what you know behind can be overwhelming and stop you from moving forward, and it’s up to you to push past those fears and make the life you want a reality. Creating a plan can alleviate these fears; are you going to take classes for your new career before you leave your current one? When do you plan to formally quit your job? Do you know people in the field you want to join? About how long do you imagine this strategy taking? A couple years? Longer? There are a lot of tough questions that go into planning your next career, and making sure you have an idea of how to approach them will keep you from feeling lost on the journey. There’s no guarantee that everything will go as planned, especially in a field where income is not guaranteed, but you can give yourself the foresight to take on these hardships and bumps in the road.
Another important part of the transition is building and establishing a network. If you know people that have either switched careers or work in the creative field you’re interested in, talking to them and learning as much as you can about what to expect from your transition will give you a nice heads up on the road of work ahead of you. They may also be able to help you get a foot in the door in a way you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. If you don’t have an established network already, do what you can to put your name out there, either by making friends in your classes and workspaces, or go social gatherings and give your info to as many people as you can. Even if those connections don’t manifest into anything, there’s always the potential that someone you meet could help you land a gig in the future. Not to mention that having friends in the field can be a good source of motivation and inspiration. Seeing how people work can give you ideas of what you can do and stand out in your field.
Set Yourself Up For Success
Depending on what career path you’re looking to transition into, you may have to take classes to get educated in the field. Make sure you’re giving yourself the best resources possible. If you aren’t well-versed in the form from the get-go, you will also likely experience a lot of trial and error, and a lot of failures before many victories. Enduring all of this is key to moving your career forward, because it’s a natural part of acclimating to any new career path. There may be people in this field that are younger than you that are more established. Remember to not compare your speed and progress to theirs, because there will always be people who seem farther along and better off than you. Striving to be the best that you can possibly be should always be your core focus.
There’s no getting around the hard work of transitioning careers. Whatever you’ve built up in your previous career may not help you in your next endeavor, and you may need to build your credentials from the ground up, which will be a tough hurdle to overcome. But, hopefully, this struggle will be counteracted by your enthusiasm for your new pursuit. One of the hardest parts of making a transition like this is making the commitment to the work. Put aside all the fears, the potential issues, the hypotheticals and just make it happen. Because that’s ultimately what it takes to transition to a new career. There’s no amount of planning and talking and networking that can make the doing go away. This is the price anyone has to pay to do the work we want and love. But hopefully, once you get past those initial obstacles, and you’re figuring out your place in your new career, it won’t feel like work anymore.
Know a thing or two about preparing for a career transition? Share your insights with fellow creative professionals in the comments below!