Women + Career: I Changed Careers Without Going Into Debt – You Can Too.
By: Natasia Langfelder
Americans are some of the most overworked and least productive workers in the developed nations. To throw some stats at you – The International Labour Organization reported that Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers. So we work more than the rest of the developed world, but, as The Atlantic reported, we are also getting less productive. The obvious question is, why? Why are we less productive even though we are always “hustling” and “on our grind”? Probably because most of us hate what we are doing. Approximately 70% of us hate our jobs. To paraphrase Drew Carey, one of the ubiquitous generic white male comics whose star peaked in the 90s, “Do you hate your job? There’s a support group for that. It’s called everybody. We meet at the bar.”
I used to be one of the 70% of people who hated their jobs. I was a conference producer, planning and running events around the world. I produced anywhere between 12-16 events a year, and for the month before each event I would get sick to my stomach with worry. I couldn’t enjoy life, because every second I wasn’t working felt like a moment wasted. I felt guilty for enjoying time with my family and friends when I should have been focusing my energy on finding speakers, or helping sponsorship find leads, and did I know that delegate sales were falling behind and I needed to help write more copy?
It breaks my heart that 70% of us wake up in the morning and dread going to work. Especially because now, I love going to work. As a content marketing manager, I get a lot of questions from former colleagues and college alumnae on how I was able to break into the field. Here are the secrets behind how I changed careers without going into debt.
1. Find your passion.
This step might sound easy, but it’s not. Personally, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Many of us blindly go into professions because we know we can make a good living from it, or our parents pressured us into it, or we wanted to be considered a ‘success’ in American society. You can’t get the job you want until you know what it is you want to do. Search your soul, find your passion, no matter how silly or embarrassing you are worried it might be.
2. Start at the bottom
Once I figured out what I wanted to do, I tried to get my foot in the door. I pitched my writing to websites that paid writers nothing. I would work my day job and come home and write until midnight. It’s not easy, but you have to be humble and begin at the beginning. Eventually, I worked my way up from unpaid internet writer to paid internet writer.
3. Make connections
Build bridges with people in the industry. Maybe they don’t have a position for you now, maybe you need more experience first, but build those bridges. Let them know you’re there whenever they need you, and eventually, the call will come in. I landed my paying writing jobs from the people who initially published my writing for free.
4. Look for your big break
Changes are your big break isn’t going to fall into your lap. My big break took was 8 years in the marking. I was working at a conference production company that wanted to reposition themselves in the market and needed a content writer to spearhead their brand new blog and support their social media efforts. I was able to pull out my eight years of writing clips to convince my employers that I was the right person for the job. If I had been too shy or scared of a challenge to throw my hat into the ring, I never would have been able to make the change.
That’s my story. Not everyone who hits me up for advice wants to hear it. It required years of patience, dedication and hard work. I was able to change careers without going back to school. School is a great option for those of us who can afford it. Honestly, that’s not most working women who have children and families to support. There are a lot of free and online resources for those of us who need to keep working while we try to pursue our passions and change our lives.
Follow the author on Instagram @lady_misfortune_