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Five ways to upcycle your career in 2017

HBO Girls-Lena Dunham.jpg

If you spent the better part of last year dreaming of quitting your job to begin a fresh a start in your dream new career, now’s the time to start making things happen.

We’re not suggesting you throw in the towel just like that (of course, feel free to do so if you’ve got your Plan B mapped out already), but come the first few few weeks of the new year, there are things you can do to start putting the plan in motion.

Do you have enough experience in the field you want to move into? Do you need to pick up a few extra skills before you take the leap? It’s taking time to fill in the little gaps like these now, that’ll help you to smoothly upcycle your career further down the line.

So to help you get started on the road to career progression, here are five things you can set up now, to help build the momentum for your next move.


If you want to move into the charity sector, volunteering experience will be invaluable, but it’s also an incredible way to gain more experience in various other fields, too.

Charities are often looking for help in all sorts of areas, from tech support and web design to communications and social media management. If you want to build on skills you have by getting more diverse experience, or try your hand at something new, this could be the way to do it.

Start by either getting in touch with a charity directly, to enquire about the opportunities for volunteering they have in their offices, or check for roles online via volunteering boards such as do-it.org or volunteerteam.london.gov.uk.

Read more: Three ways to rejuvenate your career right now

Enrol on a part-time course

If you need to retrain, start with a part-time course or look for weekend workshops. Samantha Cameron did it during her time at No.10, and now she’s ready to launch her very own clothing line.

It might be a challenge to juggle things alongside your main job, but it’s likely going to be the most practical route, given that you’ll need to support yourself financially through the transition from one role to the next.

Open University has quality degree and postgraduate courses in most subject areas, which can all be done via distance learning, while colleges and universities such as City Lit, Central Saint Martins, Imperial College London, UCLA and City University all offer either evening courses or short courses designed for those looking to progress their careers. 

Woman working on a laptop - how to revamp your career

Learn a new language

Whether it’s Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Mandarin or Arabic, learning a new language can be a huge stepping stone towards promotion or career progression, especially within the business sphere.

But while learning to speak a new tongue can seem daunting, the good news is that the tools and support you’ll need are now incredibly easy to access.

Plenty of colleges run evening and weekend courses for languages, such as King’s College, UCL and University of Westminster, while apps and online courses, such as Rosetta Stone, Babbel and Duolingo, mean you can learn at your own pace.

Read more: How to reboot your career in 30 minutes or less

Pick up part-time work

Yes, it’ll be a challenge and likely tiring, but if the last push you need to switch careers is a financial safety cushion, a little extra leeway, picking up an additional part-time job is a great way to make things happen.

As well as being able to save the extra cash to tide you over during the transition, you could get yourself some extra experience by picking a side hustle that’s relevant to your career move. If you’re going to need to start off on the lower rungs, this is a great way to do that without taking too much of a salary hit.

While most recruitment agencies will have part-time roles on offer, it’s also worth searching via sites such as Timewisejobs.co.uk, which only advertises part-time jobs and those with flexible working hours across a good quality range of business sectors.

How to plan your next career move

Look for a mentor

A little guidance from somebody who’s been there and done it can be incredibly useful, but that’s not the only benefit of seeking out a mentor. You’ll also have a trusted ear to bounce your questions and new ideas off, and you’ll be able to plan a calculated pathway to your new goals with the help of somebody who has relevant insider information.

Finding the right mentor can take some time, so follow the advice of Stylist Live speaker and ‘serial mentor’ Barbara Kasumu; don’t rush into a commitment with the first potential mentor you find. Arrange to go for a coffee first and ask a few questions about what they might be able to offer, so you can both find out if you’re a good fit.

You can start the search within your own network of friends and colleagues, or try reaching out to people on LinkedIn. There’s also new app Rungway, which has been designed make access to mentors easier and faster, although it’s on a more remote, one-off basis. Professional networking events, such as those hosted by HubDot, are also great places to connect with people who may have the skills and experience you’re looking to tap into.

Opening image: Girls/HBO; Body images: iStock



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