Interested in an unconventional career path? Read this expert advice on successfully changing careers throughout your life.
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As children, we perpetually changed our minds about what we wanted to be when we grew up. But as the years go by, we are encouraged to set our sights on one specific career path. Lockdown changed that, however, as a poll of more than 4,000 people by Aviva found three out of five workers plan to learn new skills, gain qualifications or change their career together as a result of coronavirus.
One person who has eschewed the pressure to follow a strict career trajectory is Anni Domingo. The polymath has spent her life enjoying many different careers, including acting, teaching, social work and broadcasting (among many other areas of work). Now, at the age of 70, she is embarking on another industry and publishing her first novel, Breaking the Maafa Chain.
“I’m a very inquisitive and curious person,” Anni says. “I was brought up to believe that you can do anything. You might not do it to the same level as someone else but you can certainly try.”
“I believe that most people never reach their potential because of a lack of confidence or a failure to consider new things,” Anni says. She adds that trying out so many new things in a professional capacity has helped her to build confidence and resilience. “I’ve never felt bored in my career,” Anni says.
Making a career switch and building a varied professional life is something you can do at any stage of life, no matter how established you are in your current career. Here, Anni shares her advice for having a varied career path and exploring your passions professionally.
Don’t set overly ambitious goals
Career-switching means finding new ways to think about success that don’t necessarily fit with conventional ideas associated with career progression.
The nature of trying out different things means that you might not necessarily progress in a job as quickly as you would if you were only focusing on one role or interest. Anni’s advice is to stop trying to be the best at everything and avoid comparing yourself to other people.
“If something interests you, see how far you can develop it,” she says. This might become a lifelong interest and career or it might be something that works for you for a very short period. Career-switching means finding new ways to think about success that don’t fit into conventional ideas associated with career progression.
Make the most of opportunities (and look out for them)
“The reasons I’ve changed careers throughout my life have often been circumstantial,” Anni says. “If an opportunity presents itself to me, I tend to follow it through.”
Anni explains that you shouldn’t only look for new opportunities when you’re unhappy with your current job role. “I’m always open to new things. Try not to block yourself or convince yourself that you can’t do something. Be more open to new opportunities and don’t worry about failing.”
Learn to compartmentalise
Having constantly pursued different careers at the same time, Anni has had to learn to balance different ideas and tasks at the same time.
“Compartmentalising is really important if you’re going to have multiple careers,” she says. “Change your mindset so you know that what you’re working on now is the only thing you need to focus on. Everything else can wait.”
Compartmentalisation skills allow you to focus on the task at hand without worrying about the other things you may have to do, which can help you be more efficient. Part of effective compartmentalising also means effectively planning your time, so you know you have time to focus on everything in due time.
Have confidence in your transferable skills
Changing careers does not mean starting from scratch. There will be transferable skills you can take from any role to a new one, even if the jobs are totally unrelated. “You often won’t be conscious of how many skills you have because they come so easy to you now, so try to make a list of your transferable skills, even if they seem basic,” Anni advises. “Varied experiences are so valuable to employers so don’t underestimate that.”
Consider unconventional employment options
Career switching doesn’t have to mean quitting your current job and starting a new one. In fact, Anni says that despite having had so many different roles, she has never actually been employed by anyone. “I’ve never wanted a permanent job because it gives me so much freedom,” she says.
For Anni, pursuing different careers simultaneously has not only allowed her flexibility, but stability, alongside creative fulfillment. “During the pandemic, theatres were closed so I couldn’t direct but I could still teach,” she says.
Know your worth
If you want to take on many different professional roles Anni says that it is crucial to know your worth. “Don’t do things for free or cheaply if you can avoid it,” she says. “If this is your profession, you have to make that clear from the start and have confidence in your ability.”
Although you may lack experience specific to the role, your varied experiences will be of great value to the role, so never undersell yourself. One of the main benefits of career-switching, according to Anni, is that you always have new areas to find passion in, which already puts you in a great position to excel in new roles.
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Anni Domingo is an actress, director and writer, working in radio, TV, films and theatre after training at Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama. She currently lectures Drama and Directing at St. Mary’s University in Twickenham, Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama, Students and at RADA. Anni’s poems and short stories are published in various anthologies and her plays produced in the UK. Breaking The Maafa Chain, her debut novel, is published by Jacaranda Books on 23rd September 2021.
Images: Getty, Anni Domingo