Employees working in modern NYC office who have pivoted in their career

The days of remaining at the same organization or job for the length of one’s career are long gone. In our contemporary work environment, professionals are much more likely to welcome new work, or even a complete career change. While there is not a lot of hard data on how often people move into different fields or industries, anecdotal evidence suggests that pivoting to new career paths is becoming increasingly common. One study found that 53% of employed adults who quit their jobs in 2021 changed fields or occupations.

The reasons people choose to pivot to a new career vary widely. The rapid pace of technological development and accompanying societal change is causing some fields to shrink as they become less relevant, leading to layoffs and fewer opportunities. Other fields, however, are growing and emerging every day. You may hit the limits of what you can accomplish in your career, or find that you no longer feel fulfilled by what you do. Your needs may also change over the course of your life—you may require a higher salary or better benefits to support a growing family, for instance.

While everyone’s experience of a career change will be different, there are a few best practices and considerations to keep in mind. Since transitioning to a new field can require a significant investment of time, energy, and money, you want to be sure you are making the right choice. Mindful preparation can help ensure your career pivot is a successful one.

If you live in or plan to move to New York City, there are plentiful opportunities to prepare for and pursue a new career. The city is home to businesses across a wide spectrum of industries, as well as the headquarters for many large and prominent companies.

Explore Potential Career Paths

You may already know what new field you want to go into, or you may have identified an industry but are not sure about which role would be right for you or the extent of the roles available to you. You may even know you want a change, but are not sure how to figure out what you would like to do.

Researching potential career paths provides you with information that can help you learn about the landscape and clarify your direction. These are a few tips for learning more about potential new careers:

  • Talk to people you know in that industry about their experience. Ask specifically about the field or role’s opportunities and drawbacks. If you don’t know anyone, ask your contacts if they do.
  • Conduct online research into the field to find out average salaries, roles and responsibilities, projected growth, and required skills or credentials. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has data on job roles and employment growth, and there are many other resources online that you can dig through.
  • Read news stories on the industry to get a sense of the current landscape and how it is developing.
  • Arrange a day or two of job shadowing someone in the industry. Shadowing can provide valuable insight into what it’s actually like to work in the role or field.

You should also make sure that any role you are considering matches your personality and interests. For example, if you value working independently and without much socializing, you won’t enjoy a public- or client-facing role where you have to spend a lot of time in meetings and having conversations. Conversely, if you enjoy working with others or being on a team, you may not want a position that requires a lot of independent research or solitary work.

Mind the (Skills) Gap

Another important aspect of researching a new career is identifying the skills and knowledge you’ll need to secure a job and perform well. Many of your current skills may be transferable, especially those related to communication, team-building, leadership, problem-solving, and widely-used technologies. However, most career changes require you to gain specific abilities and expertise that are vital to your new industry. These can be anything, from an understanding of supply chain logistics to knowledge of marketing tactics.

If you don’t have the required skills or knowledge, you’ll need to find a way to get them. You may be able to pick up some skills on your own with books, online resources, or self-study guides. You can also ask to work on projects in other departments at your current job so you can develop and practice those skills. If you have the time and financial ability to do so, you could consider an internship or a part-time role to gain relevant skills on the job.

While practical experience and self-taught knowledge is valuable, many career pivots require more formal education. Degree and certificate programs provide in-depth learning and experience, as well as recognized credentials that show proof of your expertise to potential employers.

An MBA is often a good choice for a career pivot because it provides advanced, comprehensive business knowledge that can enable you to transition into a more lateral role in a new career, rather than starting out all over again at entry level. You also don’t need an undergraduate business degree to earn an MBA, since it provides an in-depth education in business essentials. Katherine Kunstel, an assistant professor in healthcare education and clinical practitioner, chose the Pace University online MBA program to learn more about leadership and teamwork. As she puts it, “What I really liked about the MBA experience was that I got to learn about a variety of topics—from accounting to supply chains, to finance, to disruptive technology and innovation and strategy.”

MBA programs also generally offer the option to tailor your studies through electives and specializations, making an MBA appropriate for a wide range of careers. Many programs provide flexible part-time and online options, so you can complete your studies without sacrificing your work schedule and personal obligations. This can help you manage the financial costs of advancing your education as well.

Navigating the Job Market

You’ve done your research, developed new skills, and now you’re ready to launch your new career with a job search. Especially in the crowded New York City job market, it’s critical to distinguish yourself from other job seekers by effectively presenting your professional background and abilities to catch employer attention.

A strong personal brand can be an effective tool as you look for a role in your new field. This is essentially a reflection of your unique mix of values, abilities, and interests. By thinking about your unique goals, strengths, and abilities, you might find yourself to be a gregarious connector able to facilitate relationships and build teams, or you might be a highly logical and focused thinker and innovative problem solver.

Once you know your brand, you can create a short statement or “elevator pitch” that summarizes it in a clear and memorable way. You can add it to your social media profiles so that they present a consistent and informative picture. Remember to always keep your messaging professional and brand-aligned if your social media profiles are public. You should also incorporate your brand into your resume, business cards, cover letter, website, portfolio, and any other marketing and job search resources and tools.

The Power of Networking

Moving into a new career can be scary and lonely—especially in remote employment environments with fewer opportunities for interaction. Networking, both online and in person, is an incredibly important aspect of transitioning to a new career.

Networking can’t secure you a job right away, but it will allow you to develop relationships that can expand your professional network and open up doors for learning opportunities and potential employment down the line. Networking is also a great way to stay up-to-date on your new industry.

Mentorship is another avenue to receive support and nourish growth in your career pivot. Finding someone who can show you the ropes, answer questions, introduce you to other people in the industry, and serve as a model and inspiration can help you build a road map to success. They can also provide valuable support and advice when you reach a crossroads or feel discouraged.

Many people find that they don’t know where to start when it comes to networking, but it’s not as intimidating as it seems. Your friends, family, and professional contacts are usually happy to help you with introductions that can support your career transition and job search. Look at your network on LinkedIn or in your address book and start identifying contacts who might be able to help you.

These are some other avenues and ideas for networking:

  • Alumni and industry associations and groups often hold social and networking events.
  • Explore Meetup.com and LinkedIn for online and in-person groups focused on your new field.
  • Look up former schoolmates from college, or even high school, to see if they might be in your chosen field or have connections to it.
  • Former coworkers are a rich source of networking contacts, especially if they have also gone through a career transition.

Networking and mentorship are so critical to success in any professional career that Pace integrates them directly into the MBA program. The University works with over 10,000 employers every year to fill roles. Leaders from New York City organizations visit classes and judge case competitions that can lead to internships and interviews. Pace MBA students, including online students, can also access the popular “boardroom to classroom” dean’s roundtable, where Pace alumni from prominent corporations like American Express, Estée Lauder, NASDAQ, Sloan Kettering, and more share their experiences and guidance.

As a Pace MBA student, you also have access to one-on-one career support services to help build a standout resume and practice interviewing skills so you can hit the ground running.

Take the Next Step toward Your Career Transition

Creating an action plan to keep you on track can help make the stressful process of shifting fields more manageable.

Earning an advanced degree and making a career pivot is really just another example of lifelong learning. In our fast-moving society, we all need to cultivate a growth mindset to become (and remain) successful. Your new skills and knowledge, in combination with your existing experience and expertise, can make you extremely sought after in the job market.

As you advance in your new career, don’t rest on your laurels. By continuing to challenge yourself and stretching your abilities, you’ll find satisfaction and fulfillment over the rest of your professional life—no matter where it takes you.

About the Pace University Online MBA and Lubin School of Business

The Pace University online Master of Business Administration (MBA) gives professionals a hands-on learning experience to master the ins and outs of business theory through real world application. This 100% online program has been handcrafted by expert faculty to ensure that students are career-ready upon completion. Choose a Corporate Finance, Marketing Management, or general business concentration.

For over a century, Pace University’s Lubin School of Business has been preparing professionals for fulfilling careers in business. From responsive professor communication to hands-on, project-based learning, we do everything we can to help students succeed.

Pace’s Lubin School of Business has dual accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International, an elite distinction shared by fewer than 2% of business schools in the world. With graduates thriving in companies like AIG, Nickelodeon, L’Oreal, Tesla and many others, Pace equips students with vital business knowledge, while also creating innovative thinkers that companies want.

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