After spending a whole bunch of money on my university education and working my way up in my career for the past three years I decided to quit and start fresh. Fair enough, that's my choice right? But what has really irritated me is the way some people have reacted to my decision to change my career.
I already have a degree but earlier this year I decided to reapply to university to become an Occupational Therapist. I quit a well paid job in online marketing and started looking for work as a support worker. I knew it would be hard to find a role in this area as I had no formal experience, but I certainly didn't expect my education to be held against me. I braced myself for a range of reactions from various groups of people, but these are by far the most irritating phrases I heard and ones that I have heard over and over again.
"You're too experienced for this role..."
While applying for support worker positions I heard this a lot, which baffled me because I had zero relevant experience. When I asked one company what they meant by this they said that because of my background and education I would be better suited to a role in the head office rather than working with service users. Surely if I wanted that job I would've applied for it? And since working as a support worker I realised that wasn't true anyway, there's a wealth of knowledge gained from working 'on the ground' so to speak that benefits managing a team of support workers. Suffice to say it was rather disheartening to hear, but it all ended well as I eventually I found an incredible company willing to take a chance on me.
"It's a phase, give it a few more months and see if you still want to..."
I know my own mind; I have done from being a child - stubborn and opinionated some people call it but I disagree. Either way once I have made a decision I tend to stick by it, but I take a long time to come to said decision to make sure I have considered all angles. Which is why when people tell me it's a phase and that I should give it more time I start to feel my blood boil. If someone makes a life changing decision it's normal to ask them if they're certain, but please remember that it's a huge change for their life and they've probably given it some thought and had a few sleepless nights. Don't just disregard their choice.
"I'm not sure you realise how demanding this job is..."
Not only is this rather condescending but most people who decide to change their career put a lot of though and research into what they want to do - I certainly did. So being told that because I have no relevant experience I couldn't possibly understand the demands of a job was a bit presumptuous I thought. I don't have dementia but I can understand and imagine the toll it takes on a person and their family, and have seen it first hand. Personality plays a huge role too; you don't need first hand experience to support someone (although it does help), just empathy, patience and kindness.
"You must have taken a big pay cut..."
Yes I have. There's no two ways about it, but it's something that my husband and I decided was worth it. Work takes up a huge amount of our time, and given I'll be working for the next 30-40 years I want to make sure that it's doing something I love. A pay cut in the short term will be worth it when I reap the rewards after finishing training. Plus I'm already much happier and healthier because I'm doing a job I enjoy more.
Making a life changing decision like this is scary; it's not something to do on a whim. If someone tells you they're changing career give them the benefit of the doubt, they've most probably thought it through and could do with someone cheering them on and asking pertinent questions they may not have thought of rather than looking at them like their crazy.
Published by Hannah Graham