A Career College and Job-Search Advice Column
Dr. Randall Hansen a nationally recognized career expert is the Career Doctor. Discover more about Dr. Hansen read about the purpose of this column and find previous issues of this column at the home of The Career Doctor.
If you have any college career or job-related questions or comments that Dr. Hansen could provide valuable assistance with please feel free to email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Hansen writes this column on a biweekly basis.
Note: Readers can find other columns from this year in Current Year Archives of The Career Doctor Q&A.
In This Issue (03/12/04):
- Determining the best methods for making a career change
- Finding a financially rewarding career after graduate degree
- Transitioning from legal secretary to paralegal
- Changing careers from education to gardening/horticulture
|Q:||Glenn writes: I’m in a dead-end job and feel a real need to make a career change. My employer is reorganizing the department and probably going to offer most people a package. I see this as my chance to get out and do something different. So what should I do – and what should I not do? I already have a tentative job offer from an old boss and am thinking of taking it once I get the package. Your advice?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: What should you do? If you are seriously thinking of changing careers — not just jobs or employers — what you should not do is jump at the first opportunity that comes your way.
One of the most common mistakes career-changers make especially ones who are being forced to make a change through some sort of corporate restructuring is to grab hold of the first job offer that comes your way. I don’t mean to imply that it might be a bad offer but why not take the time to see what other opportunities are out there especially if you have a severance package? You need to evaluate whether you want to stay in your current career or make a switch tom something different.
What are some of the other career change mistakes to avoid?
1. Making a career change without a plan. A successful career change can often take months to accomplish when you have a strategy — and even longer without one.
You can read more details about these 10 mistakes in this article published on Quintessential Careers: 10 Career Change Mistakes to Avoid.
And find lots of great resources and tools in the career change resources section of Quintessential Careers.
|Q:||Delicia writes: After graduating from college with a degree in psychology I got a job at a title insurance company where I’ve been employed for the past 3 years. I am presently working on a master’s degree and feel the need to change to a more promising financially rewarding career. What should I do?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Unfortunately I have no clue what type of job you currently hold what area your graduate degree is in nor what your interests and goals are — besides wanting something financially rewarding. I think most of us — at least the ones not independently wealthy — want a financially rewarding career — so the key is finding one that you are passionate about… a career and job that will make you excited to head to work every morning.
Usually you get a master’s degree in the field that you see yourself entering. If you are continuing your psychology at the graduate level then it certainly seems that a counseling career is appropriate.
My best advice is to first sit down and reflect on who you are and what you like doing. Perhaps conduct some research on a number of careers that interest you. Then meet with one or more of the professors in your graduate program (or perhaps even from your undergraduate days) and pick their brains about career options. Finally once you have narrowed your career choices down start making a plan for how you will make the change from what you are doing now to your new career.
|Q:||Jennifer writes: Can you tell me what classes and how long and what I need to do to become a paralegal? I work for a law office as a legal secretary right now and they want to promote me to a paralegal once I go to school for it. Can I go to my community college for it??? Help!|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: First let me congratulate both you and your employer. You are obviously a great employee and it’s wonderful to see your employer wants to help you grow as a legal professional. Before you take the next step please make sure this career step is one you want to take. I assume working in a law office you have a good idea of pros and cons of being a paralegal’ but if not now is the time to do the research. Since you are obviously very good at what you currently do there is no shame in staying a legal secretary if becoming a paralegal does not appeal to you.
OK. Now to your question. There are several ways to become a paralegal. If you do not have a college degree then one option is to attend a local community college’s paralegal program leading to an associate’s degree. If you do have a college degree there are certificate programs that lead to a certification in paralegal studies in just a few months. If your local community college does not offer paralegal studies there are numerous online programs that do – but make sure you find an accredited program. You do not necessarily need a program approved by the American Bar Association but graduating from an ABA-approved school should enhance your options (if something happens with your current firm).
Once you complete your education you may also want to look into becoming certified through the National Association of Legal Assistants or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations.
Find more useful information here:
|Q:||Amy writes: I am a special education teacher who has been teaching for approximately 20 years. I would like a career change and the one thing that attracts me is cultivating plants and flowers. I would like to know what sort of measures would I be able to take in order to start a career or business that would allow me to do this. I have often thought of having a business where I can grow and sell my own plants in a greenhouse something similar to the nurseries they have alongside towns and suburbs. However I have no background in this except for growing in my own (small) garden.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: One of the first questions I ask people who desire a career change is to list their hobbies interests and activities — the things they enjoy doing when not working. It’s often from this list that we discover a career field worth researching. I think switching from education to horticulture is possible but before you finalize that decision I would also recommend examining some of your other interests — just to see if there are any other career paths worth investigating.
Once you decide on a career field the next step is research. Growing plants these days is a science so I would recommend talking with an agricultural agent with your county or state. I would also schedule informational interviews with the owners/managers of several local nurseries. Once you have developed these contacts you might consider volunteering or working part-time on weekends or school holidays to get a taste for the work.
After you’ve completed your research and your trial work the next step is whether you want to try and find work for an established nursery or horticulture business or start your own business. Many former job-seekers and workers have opted out of the workforce to start their own businesses — and some have been more successful than others. You might see if there is a local office of the Small Business Administration (or go to its Website) where you can find critical resources that may help in your decision. And of course if you are thinking of starting your own business you will need to speak with your local government about zoning issues and permits/licenses.
Go to the Small Business Administration Website.