How many times have you or someone you know said, “I hate my job. I wish I was doing something else instead,“? Probably a lot. But change is hard. Taking the first step towards change can be the hardest and a lot of people just don’t know where to begin even if they’re miserable. If you find yourself in this boat, what’s nice is there are a lot of free resources out there that can help if you simply start looking.
My site is one example. Capital One is another example. They sponsored me to attend one of their free career workshops in San Francisco the other day. Before diving into the key points of the workshop below, I wanted to share a story of a friend who took a risk everybody thought was absurd at the time.
Andrea had been in institutional equity sales for 10 years and grew tired of it. She was a Vice President who made a healthy $200,000 a year salary and a bonus that ranged from $0 – $200,000. She lived in a modest one bedroom apartment in a nice part of town and took the bus to work. Most people in their early 30s would never risk leaving so much money on the table. But Andrea did.
Andrea came into the office one day and told her manager that she was leaving. Everybody was shocked since she was a lovely person who was well-liked by her clients and by her colleagues. When asked whether she planned to go to a competitor, like so many have before her, she said, “Nope! I plan to go to baking school!”
Everybody was shocked! Baking school? What the heck? Even I was thinking what a curiously strange move to make when she could just practice at home after work and on the weekends.
Andrea was determined. For years, she had been dreaming of digging her hands into bowls of dough and watching her own scrumptious delights turn golden brown. If she was going to be a baker, she wanted to be the best baker possible by learning all the culinary secrets at a top school.
Surely a career doing what she loved would be less stressful and provide much more meaning to her day-to-day life. Even with the $8,000 cost to attend baking school, and the subsequent much lower salary, she believed this dramatic change would be worth it.
But once she finished school and got her first real baking job, reality hit hard. Being a baker wasn’t anywhere near as stress free as she imagined. She regularly had to work the graveyard shift in order for all her baked goods to be fresh the same day. When she worked dinner hours, she was constantly berated by the head chef, just like how Gordon Ramsey would yell at all the contestants on Hell’s Kitchen. “Hurry up you slackers!”, “Do you want me to fire you? Or are you going to fire the créme brulée because it surely isn’t going to fire itself!” It was non stop pressure in the kitchen.
After several months of work, Andrea said something I’ll never forget, “Sam I can’t take it anymore. If I’m going to get yelled at every day at work I might as well make six-figures getting yelled at every day instead of a lousy $15/hour!”
Andrea ended up giving up her dream as a master baker and going back into banking the following year. Years later she told me, “I have no regrets because I went after what I thought I wanted. I’m a much better baker now than before. And although I still don’t love my job, I have a much greater appreciation. The greatest regret would have been to never try.”
Career Change Workshop Recap
If you’re thinking about changing your career, make sure you really think through all of the risks before taking a leap. A lot of time and money is at stake! Here’s a summary of some helpful tips that were covered in the career change workshop I attended that you may find helpful.
The career workshop was hosted by Gwen Lane, an ex-marketer who decided to focus on building her own website and earn money as a product ambassador and Megan Lathrop, a money coach who used to work in investment management.
The most salient notes from the workshop:
- 77% of us take jobs not aligned with our values. Sound familiar?
- Personal branding is key – who you are, what are your values, what are your interests.
- Identify people you respect and look to emulate their brand, but also create your own.
- Ask yourself what you want others to think when they speak your name.
- Create your mission statement.
- Identify your values and find a career that’s in alignment once you’ve developed a financial base.
The 1.5 hour session was one part coaching one part therapy. We broke into groups to give and get feedback about our personal branding and values. I met one woman looking to get into social media marketing, but felt stuck because she didn’t have the three year common prerequisite. Another woman was looking to become a COO for a startup after 20 years of running a 100 person office. It was time for her to finally take some risks, she told me.
It’s really good to meet working folks or folks looking to do something new because I’ve been living in my solopreneur bubble for five years now. Despite a booming Bay Area economy, competition is still stiff to land a coveted job.
Your Brand Is Your Secret Weapon
Branding is vital to everyone’s career and business success. In a sea of homogeneity, you must develop some type of personal trademark that makes you stand out from the crowd. Be known for something.
With Financial Samurai, I’ve purposefully chosen a red, black, and silver color scheme. The colors are meant to convey a level of ferocity when it comes to tackling all of money’s mysteries. The mask is a universal mask that represents all of us, not just me, in our quest for achieving financial independence sooner, rather than later. My objective is for people to come away from my site feeling smarter and with more perspective than before they came.
Really take some time to think about what your personal brand says about you today and what you’d like for it to say about you in the future. The career workshop was a good reminder for participants to stay on brand. I often go off the rails with my posts because I’m bored or feel a little spicy. This workshop helped me focus on my site’s core values.
Other Career Change Tips
From a financial perspective, map out all the costs associated with doing a career change. For example, one common path many young folks take is to go back to business school full-time for two years. But I’m not exactly sure how many attendees actually add up the total cost of business school + the forgone salary + lost time and compare the total cost to the potential income + happiness increase. The worst financial decision is when someone goes to graduate school and then ends up not working shortly after graduation. The cost is guaranteed. The income and happiness are not.
More often than not, you’ll have to take a step down in pay if you transition to a new career. Therefore, it’s best to thoroughly sit down with a veteran in the space you want to join first and talk about all the pros and cons. If Andrea got to know more restaurant bakers, she might not have been so shocked by her treatment. I knew about the pitfalls of the online media world before I left my full-time job because I had been moonlighting for a couple years already. Try as much as possible before you buy.
It is very common to be disappointed after a career change if you don’t have proper expectations. The more you can align your values with your work, the happier you will be.
My New Co-Working Space!
What I realized from my latest visit is that a Capital One Café is a great free co-working space whenever I start getting cabin fever. Downtown SF is a mad house nowadays, so being able to have a place to host business development meetings, go to the restroom, charge my devices, relax, stuff my face with pastries, do some banking or just chat up with random hustlers is great.
Further, all the workshops have catered food and drinks as well, which is great for all those frugal folks out there! When our workshop ended, the caterers started setting up dinner food and beverages for the 5pm – 6:30pm entrepreneurship workshop.
For more expert insight on Mapping Your Own Career Path, you can also check out Capital One’s recent #CapXTalk panel discussion to hear how executives from companies like LinkedIn, Zappos Insights, The LA Girl, and Times 10 tapped into their personal values to achieve their career goals, and what advice they have for others who are looking to make a change.
Here’s a snapshot example of some free upcoming events in SF.
Thanks again Capital One 360 for helping keep the lights on here at Financial Samurai. It’s always fun to get out of the house once in a while and meet new folks and learn new things.
Recommendation: Learn how to negotiate a severance so you can leave your job with money in your pocket with my book, How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye. A baby panda dies every time someone quits their job! I was able to negotiate a severance worth six years of living expenses, including receiving unemployment benefits. If you quit, you get nothing.
Updated for 2019 and beyond.