Today we've got a guest post from our friend Tyler Berry. He's a UX Designer and lives in Atlanta with his wife Aimee. Oh, and NBD, but he was the best man at our wedding. Enjoy!
By Tyler Berry
18-year-old me should never have been left on his own. The hardest decisions I wanted to make were whether to skip leg day or not and which dining hall to go to for breakfast. When big decisions like choosing a major popped up, I tried to simplify the choice as much as possible.
(me in college)
For example: I based my choice of major on a simple set of criteria:
1. Did I know anyone else in the major?
2. Did I have to take advanced maths?
18-year-old me landed a cushy spot in UGA's School of Public and International Affairs and celebrated not having to take Calculus. #AchievementUnlocked
I got better at making big decisions over the next 2 years, and the summer before Junior year, I faced a big one. To set myself up for a good career, I needed an internship with a government agency.
52 internship applications later...Nothing.
Unfortunately, I was too far into college to even THINK about switching majors. I tried not to worry about it and spent senior year focused on things like planning a wedding. I took the first job offer I got after graduating and hopped into a cubicle as a 'lead generation specialist'.
I tried to make it work. I promise. But sitting on the phone 8 hours a day seemed like a fate worse than death.
So 3 weeks into the working world, I decided it was time for a career change.
A friend of mine was working as a copywriter at the time and he suggested I give it a shot. Since I thought myself a pretty good writer, I said OK and we hatched a devious plan.
Devious Plan: I'd sign on with his company as a freelance copywriter, set my own hours, and never see a cubicle again. I joined his company and thought I was good to go. Unfortunately, writing keyword-stuffed articles was almost as bad as #cubelife, so after 2 months I implemented Devious Plan 2.0.
(here we go again)
Devious Plan 2.0: Join my wife at her agency as a full-time copywriter and go from there. Fortunately, getting into #Agencylife put me in contact with people who actually knew what they were doing.
The User Experience Director was one of those people. She spotted that I had a mind for patterns and systems, and suggested that I pursue a career in User Experience. For the next 6 months, I traded in my evenings and weekends for a crash course in UX Design. The stress of those 6 months took 5 years off my life, but it was the crucible that proved I was finally in the right career.
My journey from clueless college student to semi-competent professional could have been a lot easier.
If I had to change careers again, here's how I'd go about it.
1. Get advice early and often.
Shockingly, your friends and mentors have opinions on what jobs would be a good fit for you. Make sure you ask them and listen to what they say. It might save you a lot of trouble later on. And not shockingly, make sure you talk to your significant other. Make sure they're on board and work out whatever complications or transitions may be in store.
2. See what's out there
Coming out of college, I had no idea how many different jobs there were in the world. Do yourself a favor and hop on Glassdoor.com or Indeed.com and see what's around you. You might find something awesome you never thought of before.
3. Make some lists.
If you didn't catch it earlier, my Devious Plans usually amounted to 'OMG GET ME OUT OF HERE PLEASE'. If I could do it over, I would have taken a minute (or an hour or a day. You do you.) to make the following lists before bailing:
- An honest account of what you enjoy doing, what you're good at, and what you wish you were good at.
- A short list of things you never ever ever want to do (ever.)
Hang onto these lists. They're your cheat-sheet when you're job hunting.
4. Teach Yo'self.
The best part of the modern world is internet access. If you're missing some hard skills for that #dreamjob, get on YouTube, Lynda.com, Skillshare, or your local library and treat yo'self to some tutorials. You can learn almost anything you want to know for less than $200 if you know where to look. Develop those hard skills and then apply.
The biggest thing I learned?
Career changes are hard. You're going to feel like you're in over your head sometimes. Keep going and it will get better.