Should I Go Back To College? I Want To Make A Career Change
There is a perception around in some quarters these days that the work force is over-qualified. Companies talk about applicants who are over qualified and under experienced for the work in question. Great emphasis is rightly placed on candidates being able to show evidence of quality work experience. But if you are thinking about a career change you may not have yet secured or even identified the best work experience to advance your career goals. This is where the option of returning to college often comes up for discussion.
The chances are that you may need a further solid qualification to alter or significantly progress the direction of your career. While it’s wise to avoid presenting a CV that is top heavy with a colourful and disparate array of courses and certificates, certain careers require specific training, experience and professional accreditation, and there’s no escaping that fact.
Of course there are other broader career areas where your skills and experience count far more than additional educational qualifications. To see if you fall into this lucky category – try answering these four Key Questions:
CAN YOU ANSWER THESE FOUR CAREER QUESTIONS WHEN APPLYING FOR A NEW ROLE?
- Can I indicate on my CV and application that I do this particular work well?
- Do I have substantial, documented and accredited evidence that I have done this particular work successfully and to a high standard over a significant period of time?
- Can I show on my CV that I generally like and get on with people?
- Do I demonstrate in my application that people tend to like and get on with me?
IF YOU CAN ANSWER YES TO THE ABOVE 4 QUESTIONS THEN YOU ARE LUCKY . . .
. . . and barring other obstacles, you stand a good chance of securing the job without needing additional study or training. But not everyone thinking about a career change is that lucky. In some cases a short, intensive course in Finance, Management, or Marketing for example will set you on your way. Short courses are very useful for upskilling and especially if you have good existing experience and a promotion or new role in the pipeline. But if you do not have a specific role lined up it may well be worth your while looking at a degree, a Masters, MBA or other post-graduate option. Taking the decision to go back to college can be the route to success for the focussed career changer. Here are eight good reasons why:
NOT SEVEN BUT EIGHT GOOD REASONS FOR DOING A COLLEGE COURSE WHEN PLANNING A SIGNIFICANT CAREER MOVE
- You will acquire valuable new knowledge, current practice and work insight and you will broaden your skills base.
- You will meet people who are already working in or preparing to move into your target career area. There are also valuable networking opportunities where you can meet with current experts and key individuals.
- A return to focussed learning often provides a valuable psychological, vocational and practical buffer zone between the old career and the new.
- Taking on a new course of study is a good opportunity to evaluate and reposition yourself – your work needs, values and motivation, your long-term and shorter term goals. It is an opportunity to take stock and reflect on what you really want for yourself in work and life.
- Change and transition can shake the confidence of even the strongest. Applying for jobs can be a challenging process. Proving to yourself that you have the focus and discipline to take on and successfully complete a course of study is an effective confidence builder. It places you at a strategic career advantage.
- The prospect of a significant career change can be daunting and it is important to maintain focus. A course of study will help you maintain the necessary and required focus that will propel you into a new career area or level.
- A well-chosen and completed course of study is solid proof to potential employers of your purposeful commitment to changing direction or progressing. It shows them that you are focussed on securing a new career and that you are prepared to put in the hours in support of this goal. It’s an indication that you are a serious prospect for them.
- The right course will include an option of internship / placement that will add to your employability in the new role.
ANY DISADVANTAGES TO TAKING ON A SUBSTANTIAL COURSE OF STUDY?
The two big disadvantages are the sacrifice of your time and money. But planning ahead over a couple of years and taking the time to do some thorough research can make this process a lot less painful. There are many grants, sponsorship opportunities and tax benefits available. Many courses offer flexible learning structures, allowing students to work and support themselves through the process. Job applicants who combine full time work with study are attractive to employers because they are demonstrating concrete evidence of a strong work ethic.
It’s sometimes daunting to go back to college. But once you are sure of being on the right course and can see a clear path ahead your confidence will grow. You’ll be surprised at all you have learned so far in your career and life, valuable knowledge and judgement that will give you better insight into the course work you have undertaken and into how you can tailor the course of study to fit your particular needs. It will all give you positive career momentum.
People are occasionally afraid of failure or dropping out or embarking on the wrong path. Once you have gone through a good process of assessment and evaluation of your career needs and once you have identified the career and study path that is right for you, you will be in a position to put realistic plans and goals in place that will get you through the re-training and transition, taking you on the path to career success and a more fulfilling life.
© Mary Hosty July 2015