There are people who will tell you that switching careers gets you nowhere; that to be successful you must pick a career track and stick to it. And then there are those, like me, who insist otherwise!
My story makes a classic case for shifting gears. Post my stint with a bank, I tried my hand at various things — working as a restaurant manager, helping out a friend by handling her office, taking up a tailoring course, and finally, managing my husband’s business, where I ran the show.
But once in a while, life has a way of throwing you a curveball. Just as I was settling into that role, my marriage ended and I left home to start my life (and career) from scratch.
How did I manage to bounce back? And what can women, like me, do if they find themselves in a similar place?
Seek out a mentor
Like many women returning to the workforce, I hadn’t the slightest clue of what I wanted to do with my life. One of the first things I did was reach out to a good friend Tina Garg, who is also a very successful entrepreneur. Fortunately, her firm needed an admin and a HR manager at the time, and my experience made me a good fit. Tap into your network and seek out a mentor who, if not directly, but indirectly can help you on your journey.
Train your family to be supportive
When you decide to cross the threshold into the big, bad world, you won’t always find your family willing to let you go. Sometimes it can be a struggle, especially if you’re a single mom. I won’t deny that when I began my second stint as a working woman, it wasn’t hard on the kids. But over time, they learnt to accept that this was what their mom had to do. In less than a year, my children went from being hesitant to super supportive of my full-time job. With time and a little nudging, your immediate circle can be trained to become your biggest support system.
Grab every opportunity you’re given
One day, out of the blue, my bosses offered me a position in client servicing, instead of admin. They convinced me that I needed to move up the career ladder and take on new challenges. I took the plunge at 38, with two kids, and gave it all I had. It was a new field, a new territory, and a whole new ballgame for me. But when you have nothing to lose, you should never be scared to try something new.
Push your limits
When I joined Pink Lemonade, I was under-confident, nervous, and unsure of myself. I took the desk job thinking it would give me a steady income, and nothing else. Never did I imagine that it would lead me to a career I actually loved! Sales, business development, and client servicing came oh-so-naturally to me. Within three months, I was promoted to Head of Client Servicing to manage a team of 10! So take risks and don’t be afraid — your career will reward you for it!
If I have a single piece of advice to give, it is this: your resume is just a piece of paper. Don’t let your past experience define your future path. You are the driver of your own destiny and can take any path you want.
The switch has been the best thing I’ve ever done in my life and if I had to do it again in a few years, I’m sure I’d laugh in the face of uncertainty and take the plunge all over again
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