Changing Direction In Your Career

A pair of hands holding some coins and a slip of paper that says "Make A Change"

By Jacqueline Riselay, CHRP - Future Ready Premium Program Career Coach with Student and Graduate Employment

So, you’ve made it. You’ve gotten into the program you wanted, or you’ve successfully entered the field you were interested in, and you’re thriving (or maybe not). But either way, you’ve gotten this far and now you realize… “What was I thinking? This is not the right career for me.” Maybe you even dread going to work or school every single day. 

First off, I want you to know that you are not alone. This happens to so many of us. We make a career choice because we feel pressured, by our parents, by society, by our own standards of what we want for ourselves, or for a million other reasons that can lead us to feeling unhappy and unfulfilled. 

Now I can hear you from the other side of the screen… “sure Jacq, what do you know about any of this?” Well, I spent almost 10 years on a career path that I didn’t love. I loved the organization I worked for, I loved the people I worked with, but I absolutely hated much of the work that I was doing every day. It took me to the point of feeling completely burnt out before I decided I needed to make a change. 

I finally did make that change and I want to help you before you get to that point yourself, and if you’re already there, I want to help you too. 

It is no longer expected that employees will work for one company or even stay on a singular career path for their entire work journey. In fact, it is often reported that the average person will switch careers somewhere between 3-7 times over their working lives. Not jobs, careers.

You will spend a significant portion of your life working, and while I don’t necessarily believe that you have to be “passionate” about your work, I do believe that it should be fulfilling for you in some way. 

So, how do you make the change?


Get Clear On What You Want To Do

The first step before making any big changes is to really understand the kind of work that you want to do. Ask yourself:

  • What holds my attention for long periods of time and makes it seem like the day has flown by? 
  • What is important to me in a career? 
  • What values do I hold that I need my work to align with? 
  • What support do I have in making this change?

There are so many questions to ask and it can be very difficult and intimidating to know where to begin. 

Don’t worry, I’m getting to that... 

A great start would be to work with a professional who has experience in this area. Someone who knows what questions to ask, which career options might align with certain interests, etc. 

But career coaches are expensive and are just trying to sell some kind of product over the internet so they can get rich, aren’t they? 

Not all of them! Here at Mohawk, we have an amazing team of coaches and advisors who can support you with your career goals and mapping out a plan for next steps. As a student, recent graduate, or alumni, you have lifetime access to these kinds of supports and they are absolutely FREE. To get started today, book an appointment with one of our Career Advisors by using the CareerReady Portal Login.

Now maybe you’re an introvert (like me) and are not ready to meet with someone yet. That’s okay too; with all of the resources that are available to us these days, you can also get started on your own. The resource that I would recommend for this is the book called “What Color Is Your Parachute?” by Richard N. Bolles. This book is a comprehensive guide to job hunting that contains information on changing careers and includes tangible exercises to assist you with the process.

So now that you are really clear on what you want to do, what’s next?



If you’re making a career change, it’s likely that you will have to develop some skills that you don’t currently have or that might be a bit rusty. The next step is to determine what those skills are that are most sought after in the career you are exploring and start to work on them. 

This might be changing your program to something that is more in alignment with this new career choice. It could just be choosing one or two of the many Continuing Education Courses that we offer here at Mohawk. Or maybe, if you’re looking for a more cost-efficient option, you can find something on Coursera that will support with your development. Coursera is an amazing resource that provides free training from legitimate sources on many essential skills. 


Network, Network, Network

I know, I know, you’re absolutely sick of hearing about networking at this point, but the reality is that it’s going to be your best option when looking for a job, especially if you’re making a change and don’t have a ton of experience or connections in this new area. 

Networking is powerful because people tend to like things that they are already familiar with, including other people. This is actually a psychological phenomenon called the Mere Exposure Effect and you can use this to your advantage by building relationships with people who may be able to support you in the future. 

Now I know that networking is not everyone’s favourite activity, so if you would like some support with next steps, check out this article I wrote on Networking for Introverts and check out Mohawk’s Career Preparation Events page for all upcoming networking events. 


Develop A Job Search Plan

A contractor doesn’t begin building a house without having a blueprint, just like you shouldn’t begin applying to every available job without having a job search plan. Job searching in itself can be a full-time role, so being intentional about how you’re going to spend your time is important. 

Once again, if you don’t know where to begin, one of our amazing Career Advisors would be more than happy to assist you with this, but if you want to do this on your own, I would recommend having two documents that you create. 

The first document is your job search action plan. In this document, you will write down the job search actions you plan to take, the timeline you will complete each task within, the resources you will be using and the outcome that you are hoping to accomplish. For example, this might look like: 

  • Action: Networking
  • Timeline: Ongoing (because we should always be networking and not just when looking for a job)
  • Resources: Mohawk’s Events page, current connections, LinkedIn, In-person courses
  • Outcome: Strong relationships with people who may be able to support in the future, plus improved interpersonal skills

Then, you want to repeat this for all of the job search actions that you plan to take, such as industry research, career fairs, mock interviews, applying online, and so much more. 

The second document is your job search chart. You may get to a point where you have applied for many jobs and it can be difficult to keep track of all of the details. Having a chart will help to keep you organized and can jog your memory for when a recruiter or hiring manager follows up with you. I would recommend keeping the following information in this chart: 

  • Company name and job applied for (also try and keep a copy of the job description saved)
  • Contact name and information of the hiring manager/recruiter
  • Discussion details if you have spoken with the hiring manager/recruiter
  • Follow up date – choose a date to follow up if you have not received a response to your application; I recommend allowing at least one week to pass after the posting closing date to provide time for resume review


Be Gentle With Yourself

Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself. Switching careers, no matter when you do it, is a huge undertaking so remember to give yourself some grace. 

There may be times when you feel frustrated and discouraged and that is completely normal and okay! This is a really big decision and the Mohawk Student and Graduate Employment Department are here to support you with this change. 

I know that change can be scary, just remember that you are not alone and it’s never too late to make a change that’s right for you!