20 pieces of advice from people who completely switched careers

Here are our favorite words of wisdom from people who have pivoted to new, more fulfilling careers.

We asked all our readers who made the leap and switched jobs or industries or careers: What was your big career ‘pivot’? How did you make it?

20 pieces of advice from people who completely switched careers

Here are our favorite words of wisdom from people who made the leap — plus some from everyone’s favorite dreamer: Dave Matthews.

JOSH G. (College volleyball coach → Marketing for ESPN)

“Own your story. Being a great storyteller is critical for getting hired (especially when it’s in marketing), and it’s up to you to help them see all the value you can add because you took the road less traveled.”

ADRIEL L. (Startup founder → Director of Business Development at a self-driving car company)

 “A creative break of strategic self-reflection can be a beautiful thing.”

CHAD A. (School teacher → Pharmaceutical sales)

“More than likely you are not going to pick a career at age 18, study for it, then work in that same career for 30 years before retiring. The world is much more fluid than that now, and the people that are willing to take risks and try something else seem to be the most successful.”

ALEXANDRA H. (Education → Insurance to social media)

 “Figure out what makes you tick. If you really want to make a change, work at it while you still have your job and try it out. That way nothing is lost (other than time) if you find out you hate it.”

KEN K. (Municipal communications → Corporate marketing)

“Changing careers is an active pursuit. Apply to 100 jobs and 1 will bite.
In the meantime, be a rockstar in the dullness of where you feel you’re at.”

ASHLYN B. (Scientist → COO)

 “Screw the 5 year plan… it only makes you blind to unexpected opportunities that inevitably come up.”

JUSTINE F. (Retail management → Content strategist for tech startups)

 “Just start doing it. Start moving towards your goal career (or goal life) and put yourself near (or as close as possible!) to what you want to be doing.”

EMILY B. (Stage Manager → Healthcare Digital Marketing Specialist)

 “Trust in and advocate for your own abilities.”

MARIA (Tech startup→ Creative arts)

 “Give yourself 2 years. Save enough money to hold yourself over for at least 6 months while pivoting. Follow your passion/joss/dreams NOW. Be scared, be challenged. Get your inner superhero on.”

GORDON L. (College basketball coach → Automotive manufacturer)

 “My favorite quote is ‘Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity,’ which gives great context to ‘make your own luck.’”

DANNY S. (Military → Global advertising)

 “Life is about the company you keep — don’t burn the wrong bridges.”

JASON R.H. (Insurance → Mental health field)

“If you don’t design your life, someone else will design it for you.” – Nigel Marsh

LUKE H. (In-house counsel → Data analyst for business development)

 “Listen to those closest to you, don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself while soul-searching, and don’t chase money.”

COLIN W. (Accounting → Construction → Founder of a graphic design website)

 “Transition gracefully and be nice to people, you never know who you’ll run into or who you may need a favor from.”

CATHERINE F. (Account management → UX consultant)

 “Don’t be afraid to take the lead when interviewing for a position. It’s important to Illustrate the skills a potential supervisor can’t gather just from reading your resume.”

JENNIFER C. (Enterprise software consultant →Business intelligence → Business process re-engineering)

 “Not everyone knows exactly what they were born to do when pivoting. Determining exactly what you didn’t like about your last gig and being honest with yourself can help you narrow down the field you would like to move into.”

DAVID R. (Fireman in the USAF → Insurance sales → Postman → Graphic artist → Tattoo artist → Industrial designer → Product developer)

 “Hold on tight to your principles and persevere. Don’t just take whatever job comes your way, because you’ll just end up pivoting again. Persistence is key.”

ELLI R. (Higher ed → Corporate technology)

 “There’s always a million reasons why you shouldn’t do something. Don’t be afraid to pull off the bandaid, and when you do, do it fast.”

KEITH N. (Freight train conductor → Entrepreneur)

 “It’s good to take people’s advice, but the most important advice comes from your gut.”

ALICIA S. (Wine industry → Retail management → Wine industry)

 “Life is too short not to enjoy every second. As Dave Matthews says, ‘eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.’”

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