Making decisions about your career as a woman isn’t always that easy. We tend to consider others and how it affects them first before focusing on what we really want to do.
So for those already in work, making the decision to change career can feel mind-numbingly difficult. If you have kids, there’s childcare to consider. Then there’s the financial aspect – will you need to pay to retrain?
Add in the loss of income and possibility you’ll have to start at the bottom of the career ladder and it can be all-too tempting to abandon the idea completely.
Which leaves many of us stuck in work we’re not enjoying or feeling fulfilled by. Surely something has to give?
A leap of faith…
Well, something can give, but you have to do your homework and make sure you’re not leaving yourself open to financial problems. Following a dream is wonderful, but you also have to be practical.
And I should know, because I’ve done it. I’d left my office job to bring up my children, and when the time came I decided not to go back but to retrain as a youth worker.
Adapt your career to your lifestyle
If making big changes is going to cause you problems, look at what you can fit into your existing domestic arrangements. As I had no childcare during the day, I worked two evenings a week. My employer gave me accredited training so I learned my new skills on the job.
As my children got older and were in school I decided I wanted to make this my full-time career. This meant going to university. I did my research trying to find a university in reasonable travelling distance of my home.
For me, travelling did mean I needed a childminder to do my school runs. The school holidays were less of a problem as I was off at the same time as the kids.
Planning, preparation and even more planning
Now was the time to really get organised. This is my next piece of advice. You can’t just sail through a career change or simply cross your fingers and hope for the best.
I focused on the fact that this was only for three years and it would all be worth it. Trying to balance everything in your life can be difficult and having a supportive family really helped me.
Exploring all the options
Depending on the career you’d like to retrain in, there may be other options, such as part-time courses or on-the-job training.
For example, one of my clients wanted to be a social worker. She retrained while being employed by the local authority, who paid for her part-time course at university.
There are also open university courses which are easier to fit in around your work and personal life.
Money, money, money
The biggest sticking point to people retraining can be the financial aspects. As a mature student – depending on your circumstances and the course you want to apply for – there may be grants or bursaries available.
You may also qualify for childcare costs – your chosen college or university can advise you.
One of the things that helped me through was imagining what it would be like to have the qualification to open that door to my dream career.
Only you can make it happen, so start to research what is out there. If you really want it enough you’ll find a way. Then the possibilities are endless…
Find out more…