How to make a career change
So there’s something that you’re really passionate about and feel drawn towards turning into a career. A career change can be really tough and pretty daunting, however making that bold decision to take your life in a new direction in your 30’s, 40’s or even 50’s can be much easier than you think.
With the right research and support you could be in your new role in no time, without too much disruption to life as you know it. At University of Cumbria we have a lot of experience with people coming to us to change their career, so we completely understand the concerns you may be having. We’ve gathered some of our own advice about making a career change alongside hints and tips from some our current students and alumni.
What do you want to do?
Teacher, Psychologist, Lawyer, Nurse. You may already know where your passion lies but there are usually more choices to be made. So, you love the thought of being a Psychologist, but what kind of Psychologist? Clinical? Forensic? Counselling? The point here is, make sure you do the research behind your career change. Use university open days to get a feel for courses and subjects. You can even just use it as a chance to speak to experts who have worked into the industry and can guide you onto the right path for you.
Where do you want to study?
If you’re anything like most of our mature students then you’ll have a clear career goal in mind. When you’re choosing where to study for your change of career, make sure that they’re as passionate about you reaching that goal as you are. You may choose a place of study because it offers the course you want to do or because it’s close to home and though they are very valid reasons, make sure that the course structure and lecturers will compliment you. Here are some of the questions that we recommend you arm yourself with.
- Do they offer one-to-one tuition?
- Will you just be a number or will the tutors know your name and study style?
- Are they accredited with relevant bodies?
- Do they carry out real-world research or placements that you can get involved in?
- What percentage of alumni are in full-time work? And what careers are they in?
- What support do they have in place?
Address any concerns
There are a number of concerns that our mature students experience before they begin their studies. We’ve gathered some of those that seem to pop up again and again to try and guide you through your change of career.
- Entry Qualifications
One of the most common concerns we hear from our students looking for a career change is around their level of qualifications or having been away from study for so long. Don’t be concerned though, if you don’t have the relevant qualifications there’s likely to be an access course in place to bring you up to the required level. If you’re simply concerned about your skill level, such as writing, all of those concerns should fall away once you begin your studies. If they don’t disappear quickly then there’s usually plenty of support in place to help you develop your skills. Check before you enrol what support functions are in place such as one-to-one tutoring.
- The Matter of the Mortgage
This may be the most worrying element for most people. There’s a great deal of support out there for students, including those looking to change their career. Student finance is run by the Government and allows you to apply for Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans. The amount you get depends on your personal circumstances and the type of course that you’re taking. You may also get extra help if you have children.
In addition to the above, we have gathered some advice from some of our mature students that may help you achieve your career change goals.
- Your student loan will be paid in three termly instalments and each payment has to last for several months. It’s so important that you budget and set some aside for the coming months.
- Try a budget app. There’s loads of them out there, you just need to find one that works for you.
- As you’re a student you may be able to open a student bank account which provides you with a very handy interest-free overdraft.
- Start saving now. Whether you’re planning on a 2019 entry or a couple of years down the line. If you know that you’re going to be making this change just start setting a little aside each month. You’ll be very glad you did.
- If you’ve got the time then part-time work can add that little extra into your bank account each month. It may not be ideal but you’ve got to remember that in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t for too long.
- Family First
Whilst studying for your career change you will have to spend time on campus away from home. You’ll also need somewhere to lock yourself away for studying at home, away from the distractions of modern family life (screaming children and Netflix). What you really need to remember is that it’s not for long. You have to outweigh the disadvantages with the benefits. If you do have children, it just means that time spent with them will be that little bit more special because you’ll relish every moment, as well as knowing that you’re making a career change for them, as well as yourself.
There’s often support out there for mature students with young children. For example at University of Cumbria we have a nursery on site for our students with childcare needs, other universities may offer the same, so we’d recommend checking if that option is there before you make any decisions.
- Being That ‘Mature’ Student
One of the most common concerns we hear about is being the ‘old one’. You’ll probably be surprised by the amount of mature students at universities. Many people only figure out what they want to do with their lives after they’ve spent several years doing the ‘wrong thing’. A large amount of our students who are returning to study for a career change say that these concerns just disappear on your first day. Even if you are the oldest in the room, you’re there with like-minded people with the same goals, you won’t even notice the age difference. If anything you’ll end up with a group of friends with varying ages.
Talk to people about it
So, you’re almost decided but there are one or two niggles. We strongly recommend reaching out to somebody who’s been there and done it. Be it someone you know personally or a friend of a friend. If you don’t know anybody who’s changed their career then there are platforms to discuss this with real people who you don’t know. University of Cumbria have Access Platform which has a number of existing students there to chat to, including mature students who are more than happy to chat through any concerns with you.
Just do it
Our final step is simple… Go on take the plunge and change your career.