Need A New Career? 5 Tips For Breaking Into A Different Industry
I have a lot of gratitude for spending nearly a decade working inside the entertainment industry. From intern to senior vice president, I saw it all. From angry audience emails to backstabbing co-workers to Matt Damon in the waiting room, the industry has a knack for attracting drama – it’s the business after all.
That’s why I’m always a little stunned when people ask me how to break into the biz. Wouldn’t you rather work at a bank? I guess some people are attracted to drama too. I get it. So, whether it’s entertainment or some other industry, here are some ideas to jump-start your search…
[Read more: 5 Steps To Find A Career With Purpose]
Don’t Bet On Applying Online
If you’re trying to break into a totally new field where you have no experience, you can be sure there is a human resources bot out there whose sole program is to filter out people like you. Preserve what self-esteem you have left and resist that same voice that says you have a chance at winning the lottery. Resist!
Instead, focus on reaching out to people as best and as authentically as you can. Post on Facebook if anybody knows anybody working in XYZ industry. You’ll be surprised at how people jump at the chance to brag about who they know. Use this to your advantage.
Talk To People Who’ve Been There
Take the pressure off career searching and make meeting interesting people who work in XYZ industry your primary goal. Talk to people. Ask them about their path and what they would recommend for someone like you.
At the same time, you’re proving to them that you are also a person to know – curious, charming, and capable of a conversation. This bar is lower than you think.
Where do you find these people? Meetups are a great source for informal and formal gatherings. Check out your local community college or university for events. Book a video chat with one of our industry mentors.
Go Back To School
Nothing says you’re serious about a career change like going back to school. Schools can be great launching pads for changing careers. From boot-camps to formal graduate programs, there are many opportunities to explore. The major benefits include time away to reassess and a rationale to meet industry executives (“I’m a student…”).
Just make sure you can handle the debt afterward. I’ve heard of folks negotiating a work-study exchange for classes or even getting a job at the school – where the perks include free classes! Don’t forget all the free education resources online these days such as iTunes University. This is a good way to sample a topic before enrolling.
For those more interested in doing than schooling, consider volunteering for the experience. I knew a woman who worked in finance who always wanted to be an event planner. When she took the leap and quit her job, she took a temp job as an assistant to pay the bills. Every time a holiday party or some such event came up, she raised her hand to volunteer. They loved her and promoted her to an events manager role.
I try to be careful with stories like that because for every time it works out, there is another where it doesn’t. The goal here is not to land your dream job (of course that would be an amazing outcome), the goal is to get experience doing the thing you want to do.
Also be mindful of how much you’re volunteering. There is a risk of organizations and people taking advantage of your desire to prove yourself, especially if they know how good you are. Where that line is drawn is up to you – in my experience, you’ll know it when you feel it. Talk it over with a mentor.
[Read more: Four Steps To Better Professional Boundaries]
Make It By Making It
There are some industries where being self-taught is acceptable and admirable. For example, I know a handful of musicians who taught themselves how to code by watching YouTube videos. They were able to build their own app from scratch and leverage that into a steady job.
The irony is you don’t need anybody’s permission to break into anything. What you really need is perseverance. And maybe you weren’t meant to have a boss, but be the boss.
“If you are willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.”