The path may have many forks, bends, and waves, but the skies are clear!

Hi, OSU Career Beavers blog readers. It’s Finals Week of spring term 2012, and I’ve been writing to you all year about my changeable and wavy career path. I’ve taken many roads! Since graduating with my undergraduate degree, I’ve been an actor, a waiter, a receptionist, a creative writer, a college composition instructor, a gas station attendant, a high school drama coach, a substitute teacher, a real estate office manager, a writing workshop leader, a nonprofit program director, and now, while I’m in graduate school, I’m a career advisor! Imagine that, me with my wavy path, I get to help other folks figure out their paths, write their resumes and cover letters, prepare for their interviews, and search for jobs. One thing I’ve learned from helping students with these skills is that the better you’re able to articulate who you are and what your goals are, the easier it will be to explain those things to potential employers, through your resume, your cover letter, and in an interview situation. When I work with students that learn how to do this, they have the ability to land the jobs and opportunities they want.

If you’re still searching and your career path may be wavy like mine, you can still have goals and a strong sense of your identity. I needed to take the path I took in order to discover that advising at a college would be a great fit for my skills, my needs, my strengths, and my goals and priorities. But along the way, I was still able to tell others why the next experience, whatever it was, was the experience I needed to get me closer to my goal. Goals change, people change, but from where you sit right now, what is your goal? What is your dream job? If you could wave a magic wand, where would you work? Now, what do you need to do to get to that dream? If your dream changes in the process of getting there, that’s fine. The important thing is to have the dream and a plan.

In this swiftly changing economy, workers of the future will need to be adaptable. That is a given. So, why not look at change as opportunity, change as the ability to learn more, change as a way to explore another facet of who you can be in this life. I’ve always viewed change as positive and exciting. We only get one chance at this life thing; we might as well learn as much as we can!

Thanks for following my story this year. Good luck to you in your own path. May you be always learning more, about yourself and the world of work, so that you can create the place where the two meet and like each other a lot.

Jessica Baron is currently a Graduate Assistant in Career Services at OSU and a full time student in the College Student Services Administration Program.

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3 thoughts on “Confessions of a Career Changer: My Wavy Path Forward

  1. Jessica,

    I stumbled upon your blog and found it incredibly inspiring. I am on a similar wavy career change path… have been navigating a career in technical theater, while taking on whatever else to support myself and fill in the gaps. I hope to land in advising one day or work in a non-profit. It’s been and still promises to be a long and challenging journey. I would love to hear a little more insight on how you were able to explain your strengths and talents to prospective employers and convince them of your commitment to moving forward. This has been the greatest challenge, especially in the most initial stages (sending out resumes). I bring a tremendous amount of skill from working independently, as I am sure you had, but it’s hard to convince employers of that when you don’t fit their bill exactly. Also, I applaud your choice to go back for a second degree. I too have been considering a second Masters and that idea is particularly painful, for mainly financial reasons. Anyway, thank you. Reading your posts encourages me onward. I hope to hear more from you.

  2. Thank you so much, Megan, for your kind words about my story! It can be difficult to make a case for yourself when you don’t have the background of a “traditional” applicant. However, there are a lot of techniques you can use in resumes and especially in cover letters to tailor your experience to the required qualifications of the position. Once you get in for an interview, it can be easier to explain why you’d be a great fit, but those marketing materials will get you that interview. I always look for ways to explain how my unique background makes me a better candidate than someone who went the more conventional route. If you are looking for some ways to tailor your résumé and cover letter, take a look at our website: http://oregonstate.edu/career/job-search-preparation
    Again, thank you for letting me know how much you enjoyed the posts. Good luck to you! – Jessica

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