WHAT WOULD MICHELLE OBAMA DO?

Making a (Career) Change

By Neepa Parikh, Director, Office of Career Planning

The moment you realize that you are in a career or job that no longer gives you joy can be quite scary, especially if you are doing something related to your college degree or that pays really well. If you don’t know what to do next, where do you start? The road to a career change can be challenging, but it can also be very rewarding – and dare we say, “Fun” – if you see it as a process or journey rather than a simple declaration of a new career to pursue.

Career_Change_Confusion_Cartoon

The staff in the Office of Career Planning recently hopped on the, Becoming by Michelle Obama, book club train and we’ve been super engaged with it. Although we are only halfway through the book, we were eager to share a piece of Michelle’s story with you – specifically, her journey from working as a successful corporate lawyer to a successful and personally rewarding career in the non-profit sector.

Michelle Obama has always been a very determined individual. Her path to practicing law was no accident and she worked hard to get there. However, she felt like something was missing from her career and yearned to make more of an impact on the world. Unsure of what that would look like for her, she embarked on an information gathering journey, reaching out to heads of various non-profits, universities, and foundations. In doing so she states,

The point was less to find a new job than to widen my understanding of what was possible and how others had gone about it…Finding a career as opposed to a job wouldn’t just come from perusing the contact pages of an alumni directory; it required deeper thought and effort.

Turns out, one of those meetings ended up in a job offer!

We can take out a page out of Michelle’s book and apply this to our own lives. Whenever the next step in your career seems unknown, start reaching out to people in your network and learn about their career journeys. While you may not get a job offer out of it, the information will be valuable to you as you embark on the next chapter of your life. To learn more about informational interviewing, view our Informational Interview webshop on eLearning.

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