By Delania Barbee • March 05, 2017•Writers in Residence, Careers, Law School, Choosing a Career and Landing a Job
When you are considering a change or otherwise facing change, there are typically multiple avenues to consider. You should prepare for any change by vetting the possibilities to the extent possible. There are five actions that you can take to prepare for change:
1. Consider your childhood passions. Your childhood passions can inform your adult career decisions. This is not a suggesting that you become an “arts and crafts” professional. However, it appears that basic interests tend to remain. If you liked to be creative as a child, you may pursue a role that allows for more creativity. If you enjoyed performance arts, you may pursue a role that allows for more speaking.
2. Read books and listen to podcasts. Books and podcast are also great places to start when facing a potential change. They are helpful in giving an overview of various topics and also help you to focus before asking others for their time. You can get a sense of what type of assistance you will need. (It is difficult to ask for help when you do not know what you need.) Further, books and podcasts can give you access to insights from individuals that you would not get otherwise. You can find some book recommendations here. A good podcast to listen to is How I Built This, which often shares the stories of entrepreneurs and how they have responded to change.
3. Seek experiences. One of the best ways to figure out the direction that you want to go towards and to prepare for the change is to obtain experience. As mentioned in past posts, experiences may lead you to desire change. However, there is a difference between passively having experiences and intentionally seeking experiences. If you are considering a particular change or considering your possibilities, seek opportunities to volunteer, seek an internship or, if appropriate under the circumstances, request to shadow and assist someone in the role you desire for a day.
4. Perform informational interviews. If you want to know more information about a particular career path, ask! One of the best ways to find out about different career paths is to have an informational interview with someone in the role or at the organization of interest. LinkedIn is a great tool to use. You can search for a firm or company of interest. Once you find the firm or company, LinkedIn will list individuals who are with the firm or company and note whether you are connected directly with the individual, as a 1st degree connection, or whether you have a mutual connection, a 2nd degree connection. If the individual is a 1st degree connection, assumingly, you may have had interaction with him or her previously. Reach out and remind the person of your prior interaction; let him or her know of your interests; and politely ask for the informational interview. If you have a mutual connection and know the mutual connection well, you may ask that mutual connection to make an introduction to the individual with whom you would like to speak. You can also use LinkedIn to search for professionals with specific titles, and, similarly, you will see the degree of connection with the individuals.
5. Find a mentor. There is value in a mentor in any instance. However, if you are considering a change that will require a long-term plan, a mentor can get to know your personality and help you decide what would be the best path for you. You can find a mentor through informal channels by asking someone you trust and respect to be your mentor, or you can find a mentor through formal means such as through a mentor program sponsored by a bar association.
These actions, taken together, will help you to make an informed decision when facing change. Having a mentor does not mean that specific informational interviews are not valuable. Similarly, reading books and listening to podcasts do not replace seeking out experiences. Although making a wrong turn will not necessarily bring about the end of your career, time is valuable, and you want to make as many moves in the “right” direction as possible.