Our personalities, interests, and knowledge change over a lifetime—so how do we know that the career we chose after college is the one we'll be passionate about decades later? If the thought of committing to a single career seems counterintuitive, you're not alone. According to a 2016 LinkedIn study, the average millennial will jump jobs four times before the time they're 32, proving a pivot isn't a sign of indecision—it shows you're not willing to settle until you find your perfect career match.
It might be more common than ever, but that doesn't make switching industry any less intimidating. Given there's no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to mastering the switch, we tapped three women to share their personal experiences. Ahead, they reveal what worked for them: what to research before quitting, how to make sure your business idea is profitable, and why it's important to learn from the best. Here's how to change career, according to three women who've done it.
Brittani Rose, Illustrator
Brittani Rose is a hair stylist turned illustrator. Four years ago, she created a bespoke paper portrait for a loved one and was surprised by the response from friends and family—everyone wanted their own. She traded shears for crafting scissors and Brittani Rose Paper was born.
Start a Side Hustle First
"If you don't have the luxury of leaving your full-time job just yet, start doing what you love before or after work and on the weekends. This will allow you to build experience and make your mark in your particular field. Depending on your chosen career, don't think you have to go to school for it to be successful. I am a self-taught illustrator and feel I have learned so much just through personal research and experience. I am always pushing myself to learn more."
Create a Visual Timeline
"I created (and still create) a visual timeline to help me focus on the milestones I want to hit within a certain time frame. I have learned that writing it out and creating vision boards keeps me accountable."
Get Your Work in Front of Everyone
"I can't stress this enough! You will not make money if no one knows you exist. Get your work up on Etsy and social media, guest post for blogs, and join a local creative meet-up group. Meet-up groups are fantastic, as they are filled with creatives wanting to help others and often offer informative discussion topics. Find a local Rising Tide Tuesdays Together group to join! This is also a great way to collaborate, which is such a valuable tool when first starting out."
Barrett Prendergast, Florist and Gifter
Barrett Prendergast is a handbag designer turned chef, florist, and gifter. She founded Valleybrink Road, a floral design and luxury gifting company based in Los Angeles.
Learn From the Best
"Work for companies or people who have been successful in the field you are interested in. If you dream of being a chef, go work in a restaurant or for a catering company. If flowers are your thing, go work for a florist and an event planner."
Master the Cold Email
"Ask questions. Try to meet or start an email correspondence with individuals who could offer some insight to you. It can't hurt to reach out, and the worst that could happen is they don't respond."
Lean Into Fear
"Embrace the fear! It can feel terrifying and overwhelming to switch careers, especially as we get older. But it would be so much worse to do something you aren't passionate about your entire life."
Puno Lauren Puno, Creative
After mass layoffs at an advertising agency, Puno Lauren Puno went from working as an art director at the agency to a user experience designer for a video game company. Three years later, she was burnt out and resolved to start her own business. She's the founder of Instagram marketing tool People Map and creative connection platform I Love Creatives.
Do the Math
"I actually have a spreadsheet that helped me figure out how much I should charge for my hourly, how long that money will last, and when I can take on new clients again (so I won't get burnt out). If you're starting your business and bootstrapping, you need to figure out a system to be as productive as possible."
Give Yourself Time
"Give yourself at least three to six months to find another job or start freelancing, like I did. Add on a month for every year you were stressed out from the previous job!"
Don't Quit on a Whim
"Come up with a solution or at least bring up the conversation. I didn't try that and, although it might not have worked, you never know. As a boss now, I really appreciate it when people I work with pro-actively come to me with concerns and feedback."
Ready to take the next step? Subscribe to our podcast, Second Life, to hear more career change advice from real women who have mastered the pivot.