Q. I hate my job as a computer consultant. I am ready for a career change. The aptitude tests say I should be a recreation specialist. I like the idea but I dread returning to school for a new degree.
A. Before you invest in a degree, try out the new career. A test drive will tell you more than any pencil-and-paper test. Find two or three people who are doing what you want to do and ask to spend a day or a week with them.
If you like what you see, visit a few schools or universities that offer degrees in your area of interest. Ask for names of people who have graduated one, three and five years ago.
Ask the alumni, "Did this degree help you get your job? Advance in your job?
"Would you have done better with a degree from another school? Or would you have done as well with a degree from a lower-ranked school?"
Don't stop until you have talked to six graduates -- maybe more.
Talk to students, not faculty. Professors must support their own programs, even when they want to say, "You can do better elsewhere," or, "This program is a waste of your time and money."
And these days, anyone with a title like "Admissions Director" or "Enrollment Management" may be trying to make a sale, not offer objective guidance.
Investigate several options.
You may find an equally satisfying career that offers on-the-job training. You may find an educational program that takes less time or comes with a stipend.
No degree program offers a magic bullet.
Ultimately you may win the job and career success by your power networking as well as you social, interpersonal and technical skills.There are many paths to career fulfillment, not just one.
I offer one-to-one consultations on career strategy.
From Back to School: A midlife career guide
About The Author
Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., is an author, speaker and career/business consultant, helping midlife professionals take their First step to a Second Career. http://www.cathygoodwin.com.
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