How My Mentors Helped Me Decide to Make a Career Change

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Editor’s Note: This post is part of our ongoing #MemberMonday series. Each week, we will share content focused on our New Pros members and how PRSA benefits them. Follow us on Twitter at @PRSANewPros and share your stories using #MemberMonday.

Deciding whether or not to leave your first job isn’t easy. There are a lot of questions to consider. Is it the company you don’t like or is it the industry? Is it the agency world or your particular agency? Have you done all you can to grow and love your job? Do you want to relocate and, if so, can you afford it?

Deciding whether or not to

Fortunately, mentors and other resources can help. As I debated whether to leave the agency world, here are a few lessons I learned from my mentors.

Build a network before you need one

When I started considering a career change, I decided to consult my mentors. Fortunately, I’d been building up a network for the past couple years, so it was easy to think of people to reach out to.

Here are the three types of mentors I consulted:

  1. Seasoned professionals. These are the well-connected, executive-level people who can relate best to the hiring managers who will be looking at your resume.
  2. Young professionals. Mentors who were where you are just a few years ago can relate to what you’re going through and offer timely advice.
  3. Mentees. I’ve found my mentees are so wise that they end up mentoring me in the process.

Don’t have mentors yet? PRSA Mentor Match is a great tool PRSA members can use to connect with seasoned professionals. I developed a corporate mentor who was very helpful in my decision.

Stop worrying about appearing like a job hopper

I, like most Millennials, was worried my résumé would look bad if I left my first job before the two-year mark. But then a mentor told me that’s a myth. Sure, some PR people may think you look like a job hopper, but it all comes down to the story you tell.

As long as you have a good story for why you jumped and if you are truly concerned with finding the right long-term fit, it shouldn’t matter if you leave your first job earlier than expected.

The key is to make sure you are making this change for the right reasons and that you’ve done all you can to be happy in your first job. Before leaving, outline the path you’d like your career to take. Will your current job help you get there? Have you done everything you can to carve the path you want? Have real conversations about your goals with your supervisor before deciding to leave.

Make a decision you can live with

Two people recently told me, “Your career is too short to be unhappy with your job. Why stay if you aren’t happy?” It seems so simple, but it can be hard to come to terms with. Just remember, there’s a difference between having a bad week and having a bad job.

Everyone will have opinions about your career path. But no matter what they tell you, you’re the only one who will be with your employer for 40-plus hours a week. You’re the one whose career is on the line.

Sure, some people will still tell you that you have to stick it out for a year or two. But in the end, it’s your decision. Make the one that feels right.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAl1AAAAJGM5NWQyMTZkLWFlZTAtNDU1OS05NDZiLTgxYTU2ZDNjZGJmNgHeather Harder is the programming co-chair for PRSA New Professionals and a former national president of PRSSA. Follow her on Twitter at @HeathHarder.

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