Career Changes

Twenty-eight months ago I had a vague feeling that I needed to be working at something other than finance in a financial services firm.  Twenty-eight months.  That’s all.  It feels like eons ago.

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I took five months off to travel, study, network, see if I could bring any sort of shape to that vague feeling.  It felt virtually impossible to know what else was out there in terms of careers when I had been doing more or less similar work for eleven years.  As my “find myself” nest egg ran out, an old Boston College classmate dropped a Chief Financial Officer opportunity in my lap.  With his introduction smoothing the way, the role was mine to win or lose.  “I’ve always wanted to know what it feels like to be CFO,” I thought to myself as I accepted an offer of employment.

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For better or for worse, the nagging vague feeling continued.  This was awkward for me as I started my new job, working my way up a steep learning curve.  Rather than waste more time attempting to figure it out on my own, I hired Career Joy, a career counseling firm, to run me through a battery of exercises, tests, and directed self-reflection over the course of nine months.  My counselor and I determined that I needed to be outside more (yes, while I sit in my office at least 50 hours a week), that I likely needed a writing component (great, I spend all day looking at spreadsheets of numbers), and that the corporate environment was no longer suiting my work needs (now what?!).  She helped me identify possible career paths and I set off to interview people in those fields and do some more research on getting into them.

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Ten months ago while on a research binge, I found the website for the Outdoor Adventure Naturalist Program at Algonquin College in the Ottawa Valley.  The proverbial light bulb went off.  This, combined with writing and photography that I’d manage on my own, was exactly what I was looking for.

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And so I find myself hundreds of kilometers away from friends and family in a part of the province that is unfamiliar to me learning new names, making new acquaintances possibly friends, and generally stretching myself well beyond my comfort zone.

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What will follow on this blog in the coming days, weeks, and months are my thoughts on the new skills I learn, the career paths that open up to me, and all of the weird and wonderful things I see and people I meet throughout this journey.  They are as important, if not more so, than the end result.

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Up for discussion: I collect career change stories. Who do you know who’s made a significant change? What’s his or her story?

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