Tips for switching careers at mid-life
If your career has been torpedoed or you simply want to switch career paths, consider a mid-life internship – or as some call it, an apprenticeship. They’re becoming an increasingly more popular option for people in their 40s and older.
“When you have been working in a field for a while, often the only way to make a career change and to re-brand yourself is to get new relevant experience that is current,” says Roy Cohen, New York career coach and author. “No one will pay you to learn or to experiment.”
There is an opportunity cost, but the pay-off has the potential to be infinite. Cohen notes that one of his clients, a fellow in his early 40s, wanted to move from being a financial analyst to financial advisor.
“I encouraged him to offer his time for free to a mid-sized financial planning firm. He did, to his surprise they insisted on paying him a small stipend, and the experience was then prominently represented in his newly revised résumé. He successfully crossed over and he is now employed full-time in that field,” Cohen says.
Nathan Parcells, co-founder of InternMatch, online platform that helps students find internships and companies hire talented students, says internships can be an asset to any professional, no matter where they are in their career.
For those who don’t have the right connections or necessary skillsets, internships can help boost résumé s while teaching the ins and outs of a new industry.
Internships can be particularly helpful to those who are looking to switch industries or veterans looking to break into a new field after returning from duty.
Midlife professionals often have more experience than their younger counterparts. If you're taking on an internship later in your career, try to emphasize the accomplishments you've already achieved, especially as they pertain to the organization. Plus, if you have transferrable skills or can link the organization to powerful connections, you effectively prove your worth – regardless of the fact that you're a mid-career intern.
To maximize the opportunity, Parcells suggests getting a mentor as these help plan career moves. In addition, try to learn all you can, take on additional tasks and come to the table with new ideas and strategies.
“This will prove that you’re more than just an intern. You become an asset who should be kept on after program completion,” she adds.
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