As a young person at college or university age, there’s one question you probably dread more than any other:
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Vaguely, I can recall school assemblies that spoke to this topic around the time I was choosing my A-levels. They shared no answers beyond “go to university and come back with a degree”. Later, I remember my grandad echoing this sentiment when I would visit in the summer holidays from university.
What are you going to do with an English and History degree?
The questions are always well intended but can be pretty stressful to face. Few of us have our careers figured out – that goes for people decades into their working lives – let alone fresh out of school or university.
I’m approaching about 2.5 years now in my first job. It’s a hands-on marketing role at a technology start-up that has exposed me to business strategy, development and sales, as much as social media and website design.
I love marketing but it’s definitely something I fell into after graduation. While I can see myself forging a career in it, there seems like there are so many things out there that I would equally enjoy or be suited to – perhaps even more so. My suspicion is that I’m an “all-rounder” with no set calling.
I think it’s far too early to box myself into a career path at only 23.
That’s why I wanted to write this post as a thought experiment – a chance to think outside the box and indulge in a range of job moves I could seek out at some point down the line (some are more realistic than others).
Here are 9 career change ideas for the future:
1. Move Agency Side Within Marketing
As with other select careers, with
Rather uniquely, my role has offered me something by way of “agency side” experience because the company started out doing website development on the side. This has allowed me to work for 3-4 different clients, giving me a taste of agency life. I’ve also built on this with some freelance work.
But what I’ve lacked is a team I can learn from. The benefit of going agency side would be surrounding myself with marketing specialists who can help me refine my craft and take my skills to the next level. The varied nature of working on multiple accounts appeals to me as someone that can get bored quite quickly.
My concern would be getting lost in a big team and, at the end of the day, making money for someone else and not myself.
2. Join Another Technology Start-up
I love my current job. It’s hard to know whether that’s down to the marketing or more generally being at a start-up company. It’s probably a bit of both which makes joining another tech start-up seem like a good idea.
Working within a small team, you can’t help but feel like a key player with real responsibility, making big decisions and having a direct impact. I thrive off this sense of validation.
But being part of a 2-5 person team has its limitations. I often find myself in the office alone and lack a social life. And the line between boss, mentor and
If I was to move to another start-up next, I would probably look for a slightly bigger team with a better social life. The other priority would be a product that I felt really passionate about. At the moment my company resells someone else’s software and it isn’t quite the same.
I don’t think I’m cut out to be a “founder” myself but joining a founding team at an early-stage startup? That would be super exciting, although it comes with financial and job security risks.
3. Land A Corporate Consultancy Job
As mentioned, I’ve done a bit of freelance marketing work in the past but here I’m talking about a corporate role at a consultancy firm. The kind that advertise the graduate schemes with crazy starting salaries.
I’m curious not just because of the money. It’s the prestige and the reputation of these roles as something reserved for high-fliers.
I’ve always thought of myself as a hard worker but I probably have it too easy right now. Could I make the cut working one of those 60-hour weeks? I’d like to think I could (putting concerns about work-life balance to one side).
I’ve definitely missed the train for graduate schemes but there will be other routes into corporate consultancy out there. I’d be interested to see if I could specialise in marketing, drawing on my background to date, and see how this would compare to simply joining an agency.
4. Start My Own Marketing Agency
Speaking of agencies, could I start my own? I’m not convinced by this prospect as I’ve already mentioned my doubts about being a #1 or a founder.
That said, my brother and I have aspirations to build something of a small, niche website design agency on the side. It’s something we have already put into motion with a few clients and definitely get excited talking about.
The obvious perks would be working on our own terms and taking home the lion’s share. The idea of “building something” relates back to my start-up interest but, deeper than that, to a broader urge to create.
If careers are about challenging yourself, then maybe starting something for myself could be a goal for the future. For now though, I am more concerned about honing my skills and climbing the ladder.
5. Get Involved With Investing
If you have read my blog before, you’ll know I’m a bit obsessed with money. I’ve started regularly reading about finance and investing a little of my salary every month. Economics is a real interest of mine.
Working in a business incubator, I’m surrounded by talk of investors and grant funding. This makes me wonder about that world when it comes to a career change. It would be unorthodox with an English and History degree but I’m not exactly talking about investment banking.
Only last week on LinkedIn did I get contacted by a recruiter at an Investment Group that provide seed investments and expertise to start-ups. That sort of thing really appeals to me. It ticks a lot of the boxes I’ve already alluded to.
I just don’t know how many jobs like that there are out there and what exactly they would involve. Am I only thinking about the money?
6. Become A Writer
Although incredibly vague, this idea goes back to my earliest ambitions as a child. An avid reader, I have always wanted to write. I used to pen short stories, the odd poem and even a few acts from half-baked plays.
Writing is undoubtedly one of my best strengths. An asset that carried me through university with high-scoring essays. Today it serves me to a lesser extent, writing project proposals and other documents at work. I can’t help but feel I’m under-utilising something I have natural talent in…
In the past, I have wanted to be a journalist or have my own column in a newspaper. In a way, blogging is an attempt to exercise this same urge. I don’t think old school journalism has much of a future but writers will always be valued, even if mediums are changing.
While I’m curious about writing a work of fiction, I have always struggled to go through with an idea. I’m not a finisher. My self-awareness suggests that I’m not creative enough either but writing a book of non-fiction definitely appeals, although I wouldn’t have the slightest idea what on.
An ambition for later life, if not a full-time career change.
7. Become An Editor (In Publishing?)
If I was taking inventory of my skillset, editing is a great alternative to writing. I’m a huge perfectionist and a painstaking pedant.
I often wonder if I can write, or if I’m simply good at editorial.
The number of people that have asked me to proof-read their university work is significant and I seem to have been able to help on most accounts.
My concern about not being creative or motivated enough to see something through (there’s overlap here with not seeing myself as a founder) can be addressed nicely if I work with others at enhancing their work. I think I’d still get a similar sense of satisfaction from being part of the process.
Maybe I should be a collaborator. Whether that’s a co-writer (or a re-writer) in some capacity or a hardcore editor working in publishing (a career I half-heartedly tried to pursue out of uni with no work experience).
8. Become A Politician
In the deep end of Brexit right now, one can’t help but wonder about doing a better job than the current crop of politicians running our country.
Becoming a politician or a speech-writer (this fits in above) is actually something my mum has said she can see me doing for a long time now and my girlfriend agrees.
The job of a politician appeals in the sense it is probably more meaningful at face value than any others on this list. It also comes with the authority I aspire to have and the ability to make a difference.
I’ve always been interested in politics, something that predates my current obsession with the economy. But being a politician, there could be overlap here. I’m a student of history and politics is putting that into practice.
While I think I would be a good policy-maker (or at least a well-researched and well-written one), I also strongly doubt my suitability for the job.
If I’m being completely honest with myself, I think I like my own way too much to work well enough with others. And I don’t think I would be articulate enough to
9. Go Back Into Academia
This final career idea I had to leave until the very end. That’s because it is the one I have agonised over the most. Ever since doing well in school, I assumed I would stay in academia, lecture and write books.
Looking at the skill-set I have outlined, you can understand why – a
When I didn’t get onto the Masters course I had pined all my hopes on, I let this idea fall to the wayside and pursued my career change in marketing.
My willingness to let this go, and the fact I didn’t apply to numerous courses to strengthen my position, suggests to me in hindsight that maybe it wasn’t what I really wanted after all. It was an auto-pilot plan playing within my comfort zone.
While I might have wanted to and still glorify the idea of being an academic, I never had a sense of direction beyond this in terms of a field of research. The idea of specialising in a niche, something success in academia requires (at least at the outset), really, fundamentally, puts me off.
The whole reason I’m writing this post is because I’m an all-rounder.
I can’t see myself going back to university for a Masters followed by a 3-4 year niche PhD. It’s too much of a risk at this stage. I’m too interchangeable.
Do I think I would be a good academic? Yes. Do I think I would really enjoy it as a career? Definitely. And yet I might say the same (however accurately) about a number of vocations on this list.
That’s what makes the whole business of choosing so damn tricky.
That wraps up my brainstorm of career change ideas for the future. I’m sure there are others out there, perhaps jobs that haven’t been invented yet, but each of these has a certain appeal. Who knows whether I’ve just outlined a future pathway or just wasted a good couple of hours…