Asking what’s next can be a tough question, especially when you’re on the brink of transitioning into a new career path. We were always told that your twenties will be the age of exploration. Some may discover themselves to be a jack of all trades, while others have figured out their niche and will continue to grow and mature that aspect of themselves. But if you're anything like me, pivoting was a skill you had to learn early on.
I was a bright-eyed curious girl who barely knew anything about the professional world, and saw myself entering spaces where that curiosity could be nurtured and welcomed. But in a saturated professional market, where it is recommended to stay within your “niche,” I had to learn the idea and art of pivoting really early. Pivoting taught me that I did not have to stay within the box, it allowed my curiosity to flourish and gave me the chance to take opportunities that sparked my interest.
I took advantage of pivoting in my 20’s, I had selective internships in agri-tech, non-profit, app startups, talent management, social impact, and many more. Being a business major, I found myself enjoying the flexibility it provided. I could enter any industry, as long as I knew how to personally brand myself. Through these experiences, I learned three major takeaways on how to successfully pivot into a new career path.
The idea of personal branding starts before you enter college, it begins in high school. Those personal narratives you wrote and skills you utilized to get into colleges, should be leveraged when you begin to apply for internships and jobs. How did you pitch yourself to that out-of-school state that was a wild card for you? How did you pitch yourself to your first internship where you did not have any prior experience? The way you were able to mold your strengths to attract the employer can still be viable at any point of your career.
Yes, your experiences are important, but who you are is even more important. Everyone has a list of past roles they’ve done, but it is the personal narrative you create with these experiences that make you stand out as an individual. Reclaim your idiosyncrasies and use them to your advantage. It may seem daunting to enter and apply for opportunities that are outside your scope of knowledge. But, those personal traits of curiosity, tenacity, and adaptability can be amplified to the recruiter.
Those initial experiences taught me how to pitch myself as a qualified candidate despite my limited work history. By emphasizing my willingness to learn from this opportunity and highlighting how my past experiences can help the firm with a problem they are facing, I provided a clear picture where I can excel in the job.
Every field and job has similarities across the board, and it’s up to you to understand what the bridges are. In simple words, my experiences in social justice activism translated to digital media opportunities because I learned communication skills to cultivate a message and to gain followers. My past opportunities in event planning were applied to project management, because I learned the tenacity of keeping up with moving deadlines and learning the skills to delegate tasks. Through these detailed explanations of my transferable skills, I was able to show how multi-faceted I was in my personal and professional life.
Don’t try to be a replica of what you think a firm or company wants. Be the individual that is true to yourself. Sometimes stepping into a new journey can be scary, but trusting yourself to make the best decision for your future can make taking the jump easier. The best way to navigate this time of uncertainty is by being confident in what you can bring and receive from the company you want to work with. Oftentimes insecurity can stop you from applying to a job, reaching out to someone you look up to, or pivoting to a new career which closes a door before you even have a chance to open. Instead be confident in yourself and take a chance on an opportunity that could possibly change your life.
It’s natural to be nervous about what’s to come next and to contemplate if you are capable of doing well in the new field you are entering. However, don’t let those natural feelings overshadow your confidence, your skills, and your strengths. Pivoting requires adaptability, confidence, and the ability to learn how to pitch yourself in the best way. The most rewarding aspect of pivoting is that anything can happen! Be open to these changes and yourself.
With the current job market, understanding these three takeaways can help you make that jump into a new industry, career, and opportunity. Choosing to pivot is a major career choice to make but with the right tools and mindset, you can open up the doors to even more opportunities than you ever had before.