Career and Money Advice At The Intersection Of Business And Technology

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New Career Path

November 3rd, 2008 · No Comments

Question from a reader (some details were modified slightly to protect confidentiality and personal information):

I recently got laid off from an IT position in the Silicon Valley and even during the time I was working I have been thinking about a career change.

I’m 26 and don’t even have a computer science degree. I think it’s going to be difficult finding another job in IT. I think I was lucky last time for this past job. Anyway, I’m not even sure what I want to do. The areas/industry I am interested in (TV Production) I’ve heard isn’t doing very well or is mostly freelance which I don’t think is a smart career to enter into during these times.

I’ve been contemplating relocating to NYC because that’s the hub of TV production but not sure if this is the right time. I don’t have any baggage right now and am open to many possibilities. I’m the type to try different things out and see what I like. Should I go back to school or relocate to another city and see what happens and who I can network with?

How do I figure out what I want to do during these unstable times and know I’m entering into a secure career and not something that I’ll get laid off from or can’t find work in another 6 months? I’m very persistent and have the energy to job search and network, but not when I don’t even know what to look for or how I want to update my resume for a different type of job.

Should I just get another IT job and wait this stuff out and take more time to decide what I want to do? I feel like I won’t know I want to do something until I can actually do it and try it out but not sure if this is the time to experiment….

Thanks for any advice, help, or insight.

My Reply
Thanks for your question. I’ll try my best to help.

Below is a list of my thoughts after reading your email:

  1. Do you like the IT work you’ve been doing? If you hate it, then I think you should make up your mind to change your career. Life is too short to keep working on something you don’t like.
  2. How long can you survive without a paycheck? Do you have enough saving to support you for a year? This is a very important consideration. Before pursuing your dream, you need to make sure you can have food, sheltering and basic living arrangement. 🙂 Make sure your personal finance is in order. If your parents are nearby, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility to move home for a while. Conserving cash will give you a lot of flexibility down the road.
  3. It’s risky to move to NYC to pursue TV Production if you don’t know anybody. The media production industry is all about connections — it’s hard to break in when the economy is bad, and you have very few connections. One alternative might be to get an IT job in NYC to pay the bill, and work on the media production side as a volunteer (or low pay assistant) on a part-time basis. Instead of going for drastic career move, try to made gradual progress.
  4. You seems to have a lot of interest, but don’t know what you want to do. That’s fine. a lot of people are in your shoes. You should identify your top 3 professional interests, and try each of them. It’s okay that you don’t have a stable career for the next 2-3 years. You’re only 26. The key is to figure out what you want before you turn 30. It’s really sad if you regret your career decision when you turn 50. Take your time to figure out what you want to do. It’s perfectly fine — as long as you make sure you have enough money to meet your basic living needs.
  5. Regarding whether you should look for a job now — let’s say you get a well-paid IT job, will you be happy? if you won’t be happy and you have enough money to support yourself for a while, I think you should consider give other career option a try. Your age is  your advantage. You can still afford to experiment.
    Hope this helps.

Final thoughts

I was in similar situation during the last recession. For anyone who is still in your 20’s and don’t have a family to support, I strongly encourage you to experiment with different careers options if you’re not happy at your current career. Don’t let the societal, parental or peer expectation to stop you — it’s your career, your happiness, and your future. Experiment and decide for yourself.

Tags: Beat Recession · Career Transition · Go Back to School · Q&A

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