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Ready for a Career Change? Here Are 6 Reasons You Should Go for It

Change is never easy, but it can also be an important catalyst for self-discovery.

By Rachel Simon

It’s been more than two years since the start of the pandemic, and none of us is the same person we were back in the beginning of 2020. Some people have moved cross-country or started working from home; others have begun new hobbies or reconnected with old friends. And many have switched careers, taking on new jobs because of the financial opportunity, growth potential, or desire for a brand-new beginning.

Deciding to leave your job and start fresh isn’t easy, especially in a time as fraught as the pandemic. But for many women who’ve done just that, making a career change has also been the catalyst for important self-discovery. They’ve gone out of their comfort zones, picked up new skills, and taken risks, all in the name of finding out what they really want out of their lives.

With spring in the air, it’s a better time than ever to push past your limits and embrace the beauty of change. Below, six women who began new careers during the pandemic tell us why they did it and what it taught them about themselves.

Maggie Lovitt, 29, Virginia

Previously: Executive Director at a historical site and a TV stand-in
Now: Editor at two entertainment websites

I worked in the museum/public history industry for around 10 years, but I was starting to lose my passion for it. I was let go by the historical site on March 13, 2020, the day after the television set was shuttered due to Covid-19.

I’ve always been a writer, so I quickly turned to Twitter and put out feelers to see if I could find a few writing jobs to help offset unemployment. By the end of the day, I had found my first writing gig. It was kismet—everything aligned at the right time.

Freelancing is a tremendous amount of work; it definitely hasn’t been easy. But I genuinely feel like I am finally doing what makes me happy and excited every day. I am able to use my voice to talk about changes in the entertainment industry, whether it’s advocating for better access, discussing how unions could better serve their members, or fighting for equality and equity.

I would have never broken out of my old, safe habits if not for the pandemic. My career change has given me something to look forward to each day. It’s also made me more confident, determined, and comfortable in my own skin.

Kiana Jones, 29, Pittsburgh

Previously: Faculty fine arts librarian for a university
Now: CEO and founder of Happening Hands

I had my previous job for nearly five years. I loved certain things about it, and I was proud of myself, because being a librarian had been a dream of mine for a long time. However, there was only so far I could go with it. I felt stuck. 

I had been biding my time for two years, trying to find an opening to start my own business, and [when the pandemic hit], it just felt like the right time, even though the whole world was upside down. I stayed at my full-time job for another six months, then finally decided to leave. I knew I needed to focus full-time on the business and the community I was building.

Leaving my career behind was a big risk—my husband and I had a one-year-old, so we had to figure out how to work both of our jobs and watch her from home. I definitely had an identity crisis at first. But leaving was the most freeing thing I’ve ever done. Even when I was experiencing the difficulties of starting a new business, I wasn’t deterred. I would mess up every day, but I was so happy and relieved to be pursuing that new path. To have that passion present all day, every day, helped me realize that I have the biggest say in my own personal freedom and happiness. 

I’ve also learned that dreams can change sometimes, and that’s okay. I’ve started to embrace the flexibility that comes with changing circumstances, life events, and perspectives. I feel more open now to new possibilities and paths.

Sarah Thomas, 34, Illinois

Previously: Manager for a boutique chain of stores
Now: Assistant to a financial advisor

I had been in retail management for 10 years. I was starting to get burned out on the incredibly high expectations and low morale. 

During the first quarantine shutdown, I came to the realization that I did not want to return to work. My mental health was suffering, and I wasn’t getting the support I needed. 

Fortunately, [after a while] a previous employer reached out and asked if I wanted to come back to a job I’d had before. I started at my new position in the spring of 2021, and I love it. My stress level has decreased dramatically, and my self-confidence has increased. I’ve received more thanks and recognition for a job well done in my first two weeks than I had for two years at my previous position. 

Going forward, I will have higher expectations for the jobs and work environments I accept. I now know that I am worthy of being celebrated, rewarded, and compensated.

Sydney Baker, 26, Luxembourg

Previously: International program coordinator and admissions specialist for a community college
Now: Writer and graduate school student

Overall, I enjoyed my job. But it could be extremely stressful, and it was never my career end-game. I’ve always had multiple interests, and I become bored after just doing one thing for a while.

By the time the pandemic hit, I had one foot out the door. The global catastrophe forced me to sit still a while longer and examine how I could incorporate my myriad interests into one job. I’d always dreamed of becoming a writer, so I started a blog and pitched outlets. In late 2020, I quit my job and have been freelance writing ever since.

I’ve realized you can’t wait around for life to happen to you, and if you stay in anything too long, you’ll get too comfortable and resist change even when you know it’s for the best. No matter how “nice” a job is, if it’s not helping you grow anymore, it’s time to move on.

Audrey Mooradian, 28, Boston

Previously: Resident director for a university
Now: Hiring specialist for a career training corporation

I was able to find joy in my work, but the role was draining. I was unhappy, but I would second guess my frustrations and pain. And in the summer of 2021, after some deep reflection, I decided to search for jobs. 

Choosing to leave a field that I earned my Master’s Degree to work in [was scary]. I had to completely change my resume, change how I wrote cover letters, and learn new vocabulary for interviews. But I started my new role in December of 2021, and I absolutely love it; I get to connect with candidates and provide them with a warm, welcoming interview experience.

Changing career paths can make you feel burned out and exhausted, but I was able to find the strength to choose courage over comfort and believe in my worth and value. I know I would not have come to this realization if not for the experiences I had at my previous role.

Moving forward, I won’t shy away from asking myself challenging, reflective questions. I also now know not to gaslight myself and instead to trust my emotions and experiences at work.

Minreet Kaur, 41, London

Previously: Freelance journalist
Now: Swim teacher

I came into journalism later in life, and as a woman of color, I had to work twice as hard yet was not given as many opportunities as some of my peers. I struggled to get a break.

I started to take fitness seriously when I turned 40 in lockdown. A lot of people had asked me to teach them how to swim, and then I met a friend for lunch who said, ‘if you’re not having any luck with journalism, why don’t you become a swimming teacher?’ In early 2021, I decided to look into it. I wanted to make money, to be my own boss, and to give something back. 

I had to take two courses to become qualified and learn new skills like teaching. But going through this process made me realize I was willing to take a risk and do something that I didn’t know I would enjoy. I feel much happier now than before, as I am doing something rewarding by helping people learn a skill that can save their lives and potentially someone else’s. 

I will definitely jump at more opportunities and take on more challenges. My aim is to start a swimming school called Swim with Min.

Written By

Rachel Simon

Rachel Simon has written for the New York Times, Vulture, Glamour, NBC News, and more, and she is the author of the 2022 book Pickleball for All: Everything But the "Kitchen" Sink. Previously, she was an editor at Bustle, HelloGiggles, and Mic. She also teaches writing with Gotham Writers Workshop and Redbud Writing Project and creates custom crossword puzzles through her Etsy business YourCrossword. Follow her on Twitter (@rachel_simon) and Instagram (@rsimon113).

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