Changing Careers

Interested in changing careers? It can be difficult to do, but so worth it if you're not enjoying your current career. Below are all of our posts on changing careers -- some of our greatest hits include

Have another question you don't see addressed below? Please send Kat a question. Thanks for reading!

How to Decide Whether to Go to Law School

How to Decide Whether to Go to Law SchoolLadies, how did you decide whether to go to law school? How did you finance law school — and how old were you when you started law school? For those of you who decided NOT to go to law school, are you happy with your decision? Did anyone get to law school and drop out, or finish law school and decide not to practice law? For those of you who went to law school when you were older, was it a big decision to go back to school? Reader S, in her late 20s, is trying to decide whether to go to law school:

I’m in my late 20s and seriously considering law school. It’s something I’ve had on my radar since for about 10 years now, but finances always got in the way/thinking I was in some way not smart enough for law school because of a lower uni GPA. A master’s in hand and experience working as a paralegal/risk assessment for international programs in universities, and I finally feel ready. Any advice from Corporette readers who went to law school later in life, especially related to finances?

Wow, great question, Reader S — I can’t wait to hear what the readers say. I expect there will be a barrage of DON’T GO TO LAW SCHOOL responses, and might I add my own voice to those to say : Make sure you are going to law school because you like to argue, negotiate, and represent clients — NOT because you like to write or research. Note that a lot of legal work is drudgery, and that there are huge tranches of people with law degrees who a) cannot get work as lawyers and/or b) can barely make enough as a lawyer to pay their bills, including hefty student loans. (For those of you struggling with big debt from school loans, you may want to check out our post about how to pay off big student loans.) Be very sure you want to go to law school for the right reasons.

With that said, here’s my advice on how to decide whether to go to law school:

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Job Hopping: Yea or Nay?

Job HoppingLadies, let’s talk about job hopping: Do you view it as the only way to get ahead? Do you worry about being viewed negatively if you’ve had too many jobs in too short a time? What do you think is the minimum time to stay in one job?  

In the recent past, job hopping was universally seen as negative. It was said to make employers question your commitment and reliability, and job hunters were often advised not to include short-term positions on their resumes and to stay a certain length of time at jobs they hated to avoid tarnishing their employment history.

The GenXers and Baby Boomers among us — especially those with parents who stayed at one company for their entire careers (can you imagine that today?) — may still have a negative impression of frequent job changers. In the last few years, though, the news has been full of headlines reflecting an evolution in how short-term jobs are viewed. Articles that wonder if job hopping is “losing its negative stigma” or “losing its bad rap” and those that give tips on how to change jobs “strategically”  are just a few examples. While job hopping isn’t exactly welcomed by employers, surveys and studies have shown a change in attitudes, especially among Millennials, about switching jobs more frequently. Check out these representative stats:

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How to Give Notice When You Leave a Job

how to give noticeWhat are some “best practices” you should follow when it’s time to quit? Reader T asks about how to give notice when you leave a job…

We’ve discussed in the past about how to know if it is the right time to move on to a new job, how to interview while working, and how to transition files to other coworkers after you give your notice — but I would love to hear everyone’s stories of how they actually gave their notice. Procedurally, logistically, how does one “give notice”? Whom do you tell? In person or via email? How have Corporette readers given their notice when they have left a job in the past?

Congratulations on your new job, T! We have talked about how to quit gracefully, how to quit when your mentor is your boss, and how to handle exit interviews, but not in a while, and I’m excited to hear what readers say. Personally, every time I’ve quit I’m surprised at how maudlin I become. Even with jobs I couldn’t WAIT to quit with some dramatic “blaze of glory” action (um, remember this story about the flight attendant sliding to freedom?), I’ve inevitably sat across from my “evil” soon-to-be-former boss and gotten teary-eyed about how much I would miss everyone. So, hey. For my $.02:

 

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The Worst Career Advice You’ve Ever Heard

worst-career-adviceHere’s a fun question for today: what is the WORST career advice you’ve ever heard? I just saw an article about this at Inc. — about how “follow your passion” is really dumb advice — and I thought it might make an interesting topic for us over here. The worst advice I ever got was a version of the “follow your passion” advice, when a career coach once advised me to “Find something you love — like baseball! — and then go be a lawyer for baseball.” I kid you not, those were the exact words. Putting aside the wonky sentence structure, so many things struck me as wrong about this. Maybe I like baseball because I like drinking beer in the stands while talking to friends! Maybe I like the excitement of the game, or the statistical analysis of players’ performances! Maybe I like collecting baseball cards, or following the players over the course of their career as they move from one team to the next? Whereas someone who ends up loving sports law would, presumably, have a passion for contracts, intellectual property, and all the other things that go into the game and the business of sports. [Read more…]

A Feminine Approach to Business Casual

Dressing Femininely at Work | CorporetteBusiness casual can be tricky — particularly when you’re transitioning from a conservative office.  But what if the culture at your company isn’t just business casual, but ultra-feminine business casual — and you’re still most comfortable in a gray suit?  When you’re in a new job and feeling pressure to dress a certain way to fit in — even getting critical comments from coworkers — what should you do? Reader E wonders…

I recently relocated and am in the middle of a career change, and I’m really stumped about how to dress for work. I work in a business casual environment in a small, Southern city. Women tend to dress hyper femininely here: today my boss is wearing a pink ruffled tunic over flowy trousers with embellished flats. The job is entry level, but it’s an important step career-wise. I’m all for dressing to fit with office culture. But, really, yikes.

Right now my pencil skirts, sheath dresses, flats, and cardigans are getting a lot of “why are you so dressed up?” and (from the office mean girl) “do you always wear such depressing colors?” I guess these are my questions: how far do I really need to go to fit in with office wardrobe culture? and how can I femme-up my wardrobe without looking like 5’10” wedding cake?

Hmmn.  Well.  It seems like a few things are going on here, some of which we’ve talked about before, such as transitioning a corporate wardrobe to a casual office, looking stylish and professional in a business casual office, as well as surrendering a bit to office culture (but as the song goes, don’t give yourself away). I may also detect a smidgen of . . .  judgment? superiority? in your email, which we’ve also talked about before when you take a job that’s beneath you.  I know all about finding your groove with one set of work clothes, having a rough time transitioning to a new office with a very different culture, and then feeling a bit like you’ve lost yourself in the process.  So I definitely have some thoughts, but I can’t wait to hear what the readers say.

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Your Job, Your Career, or You: When to Quit Your Career

hate job or hate careerWhen should you quit your career? How do you know when you’ve chosen the wrong one? How long should you give yourself before you quit — and how many jobs should you try in that career? Reader F has SUCH a great question about this:

Question for you: how do you know if you hate your particular JOB or hate your whole CAREER? I’m a first year associate in (the biggest of) big law, and I know it was supposed to be hard — I knew I was going to bill 200 hours a month coming into this! — but I think my position might be particularly hard because of people I work for. How do I know the difference between a challenging environment (and maybe should switch jobs) or a terrible career choice (and maybe should switch careers)? At what point do you throw in the towel and say, “It’s not them, it’s me”?

I can’t wait to hear what readers say here because I think this is something a LOT of people — particularly entry-level BigLaw lawyers — struggle with. We’ve talked about changing careers before (the pros and cons of different careers, as well as my own experience in career changes. While I had yet to find my fit in the law before I decided to focus on this blog, many of our readers are happy lawyers, and hopefully they’ll have some great advice for Reader F. For what it’s worth, though, here’s my take:

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