Build Your Career HERE – Changing Paths

How many of you feel like leaving your current job will be a job in itself? Your resume may be solid if you are staying in your current field. The problem is that jobs are limited in many fields and require people to leave the region if they want to advance in your industry. If you want to stay close to your friends or family, sometimes you have to think outside of the employment box. Even if you are ready to do this, your resume can be more of a curse. You work your whole life to make that piece of paper seem exciting and important, but when you decide to take a chance and make a change, it hurts you more than it helps you because your employer only sees your employment history and not your valuable talents.

We all get it. Finding a job can be hard. Even if unemployment is low, one line on a resume can make someone else look just a little bit better. So what exactly do you do if you are wanting to make that change? Well, it isn’t quite as difficult as it feels. I talked to some industry experts in business consulting, economic development, management, professional development and entrepreneurial development. Unsurprisingly, these people had some of the same advice.


Starting a new job

So how exactly do you find a career that is out of your normal work scope?

Even the experts have made big career changes and have found successes. Sonya Snellenberger-Holm, Project Manager for the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership told me, “I made a big shift in jobs when I started at the Regional Partnership. Before starting my job in economic development, I had only worked in the restaurant industry. While the two aren’t related I do think that being a bartender/server helped shape what I really wanted in a career. I knew I wanted a job where I could talk to people and build relationships with them. I also knew that I wanted a job that the result would make people feel happy. People like to go out to eat to socialize and have a good experience; people also like when their personal per capita income is raised, and they have more access to jobs. It takes very different steps to get to the result, but the outcome is the same. I like to make people happy. For anyone switching careers to something that is out of their norm, I would suggest going back to the basics. What makes you happy? Trust in the process and welcome the new change in your life, you never know what new stories you’ll create.” Sonya has had great success in her career at the Partnership. Luckily she took a chance on herself. She is currently a certified Strengths coach and really gets to work on that relationship building

Theresa Steele, owner of Steele Business Coaching suggests talking to a recruiter, HR specialist or life coach. While she hasn’t done this herself, she believes a Life Coach could certainly help in this area if you are looking to make a serious life change. I know many of you are probably like me and think of Paris Gellar’s life coach from Gilmore Girls. Don’t worry. They are a little more serious than that. If you want to shop around for quotes on life coaches, go to Thumbtack and enter in in your needs, the way you want to meet, frequency, and more!

The next expert I talked to was Jim Johnson, Vice President of Member Services at 3 Rivers Federal Credit Union. Many may know Jim from the popular new professional development group, First Fridays. “I’ve counseled many folks seeking new employment. I’ve advised them to identify their gifts, talents and abilities. A person may be seeking a different career, but that does not have to mean that they should ignore what they uniquely have within them. Look for a new career that addresses their strengths. For example, if the person has teaching experience, a training position could be a good fit.” Personally, I have seen this career change work well first hand. I have seen two teachers make a change into advisors and become very successful. Sometimes they find that helping someone one on one is just more rewarding.

Karl LaPan, President and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (The NIIC) had a different perspective on the topic, but it was just as insightful. “I would not advise people to find a career out of their norm. Today, less than 3 out of 10 people go to work actively engaged in their job or career. I think it is important to pick a career that you are passionate about, that you love, and where you feel you can make a difference and add value.” This is a very important statement. You can move to a new position because you have gone as high as you can go at your current job, but you may not love it. You may find that you hate that industry. If the original industry is that difficult to get in and out of, you may not be able to re-enter for a considerable amount of time. Is the risk worth it?


So now that you are making that change, how do you know that the company is right?

Sonya Snellenberger said, “I think young people are fluid. I think the right field could be a plethora of fields. That goes back to finding a career. Does the field satisfy your happiness needs? As for an employer, I think every employer has something to offer but I don’t think every employee/employer is best fit for everyone. I believe that an employer is right for an individual if the mission statement and the employers core values resonate with the potential employee. I think it’s important that an employee feels like they can exhibit and employers core values in any area of their life. The employee shouldn’t have to be two different people, and even if they are…. Can they believe in what they represent at work? I hope so. I have an interesting stance on this, and I’m very very very fortunate that the mission and values at NEIRP align with my own. The organization meets my happiness needs, and they genuinely care about me.”

Karl LaPan believes that trial and error is the key to finding the right company. “Cultural fit is important so don’t ignore the warning signs when you find out you are a square peg in a round hole. Check out internet reviews, talk to current and past employees, and do your homework. You are interviewing your prospective employers just as much as they are interviewing you so don’t ignore what you hear and learn. Be sure that the values of the organization you are serving or working for mirror your values. Once I was offered an opportunity to interview at a tobacco company, I turned down the opportunity because I didn’t see how I could be part of an organization that creates the conditions for people to die.”

Jim Johnson’s advice is to do your research. “Google the company. Study their website to learn as much about them. Go to to read reviews of the company from customers as well as employees (current and former). If you land an interview, be sure that you go prepared with questions. Never be afraid to ask questions! You are interviewing them as much as they are you! Ask questions about their culture. They should have a clear answer. Ask what they seek in a team member. Ask how they are known in the community. Research the company’s leaders on LinkedIn. You can learn much about a leader from that.” Researching the company is indeed so important, How many of us have seen lists of the “Best Companies to Work For” and checked for openings? What makes them great to work for? Happy hours? Flexible hours? Extended parental leave?

To sum up these great responses, choose a career that you are passionate about and where your talents are strong. Ask for help and ask for coaching if you need coaching to get to a place that makes you happy. If you are not happy, find something that makes you happy and always learn from your past experiences. Don’t settle to work for a place that is against your core values.

Looking to hear more on looking from these experts? Stay tuned for more of their answers on where to go for the best professional development, what industries are the best to break into, how to learn new skills, and how new businesses can thrive in northeast Indiana.

Victoria Sarjeant

Author: Victoria Sarjeant

Victoria moved from to Fort Wayne from Greentown, IN in 2007. She received her BA in Political Science. She presented "Building Affinity Groups to Engage a New Generation of Alumni" at 2015 CASE V Conference and "Regional Talent Retention" at the 2017 CASE V Conference. She received the 2016 IPFW Distinguished Service Award, and was a director-at-large for IPFWAA Board of Directors. the secretary on the Emerging Leaders Alliance Executive Committee, vice chair of Living Fort Wayne Committee, a member of YLNI, a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters, and she runs her own business in her free time. She also owns I'm Not Wining, LLC and is an independent distributor for Young Living Essential Oils.

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