Career Change Success – Creativity, Determination and Networking Pay Off!

16 12 2010

Allison worked in the entertainment industry for 8 years in freelance roles for various TV shows.  When she started her last freelance position, she anticipated that it would be her last role in the entertainment business, and she did not expect the position to last very long, given the tenuous nature of the industry.  She really enjoyed the job and the company, and she intended to leave the business on a “high note”.  The job ultimately lasted for 2.5 years, when it finally ended in June 2009.  The last show was wrapping up, and she saw this as an opportunity to make a “clean break”.

She wanted to transition into a “steady career” in which she was helping people.  She thought about Human Resources, so she started networking with HR professionals and had a number of informational interviews.  During this exploration process, she learned about the Training and Development field, and she became interested.  She then sought out Training and Development professionals and arranged for more informational interviews to learn about the field, the entry points, the career paths, etc.  Several people suggested she join and attend ASTD (American Society of Training and Development) for more learning and networking, which she did.  She attended a couple of meetings where she met the leaders for those specific ASTD division groups.  One leader indicated that they needed a volunteer for the Job Search Division, and she readily agreed to take on the role.  She organized, marketed and helped to set up the monthly meetings.  She saw this as a great opportunity to meet many more people in the field and to utilize and showcase her skills (e.g., organization, marketing, creative, interpersonal, communication skills, public speaking).

Just as she had done previously, she wanted to learn about the Training and Development field, and particularly, how to look for a job in the field.  She used the internet to research the field.  She also did some online job search, but she quickly determined that it was a waste of time to devote too much time for so little reward.  The few positions for which she did apply online netted zero response.

At the same time, she took a couple of courses through ASTD – “Instructional Design” and “Train the Trainer”.  She was investing in her new career even before landing a position.

She attended an ASTD meeting for a presentation on networking and using LinkedIn.  She spoke with the speaker and received some additional guidance.  The speaker also invited her to attend another of his presentations at a job support group, and he referred her to the group’s organizer to find out if she could attend.  The group’s organizer responded that the presentations were closed to “walk-ins”.  He did recommend, however, that she attend a job club at a local college near her home.

Allison had been getting frustrated with her lack of success in finding any viable opportunities for more than a year, and she considered expanding her search for career counseling positions.  The job club seemed like a good place to explore this option, so she attended their next meeting.  She met the person who ran the job club and arranged for a meeting with him.  He reviewed her resume, discussed her interests, and suggested that he might know of a position for her.  When Allison received a call to schedule an interview, she learned that the position was working for the job club!

Allison interviewed and was offered the Project Coordinator position for a specially funded program for job seekers.  In her new role, she has developed and organized the career coaching program, including promoting the program, attracting and screening candidates, setting up the training and coaching schedule, preparing several sessions for her to present, reaching out to non-profit organizations for volunteer opportunities for the participants, and administering the program’s day-to-day activities.  She is utilizing all of her previously acquired skills from her freelance roles and learning new skills as a trainer and program developer.

She shares her experiences and success at networking with the program participants.  She shares her confidence, persistence and determination, and overall positive attitude.  She feels that it is contagious, and she proudly noted that several participants have already landed new positions!

How does Allison feel about landing this position – “I Feel Lucky!”  Yes, in this market, Allison is lucky.  However, there is more to her success than sheer luck.  She set goals and pursued them.  She was intelligent in her process, focusing her efforts on networking – meeting new people, developing new relationships, and learning from them – and not sitting in front of the computer every day, all day, applying for jobs online.  Allison may be young and early in her career; yet she possesses a maturity and awareness that is far beyond her years!

Disclaimer:   Allison was very willing to share her job search success story, and asked me to use her first name only to protect her privacy.

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