Special Events Blog
Kylie Carlson

An Event Pro's Guide to Navigating a Career Change

A changing world means we must change too--here's an approach to changing careers in events.

Career changes are scary. They signal a time in your life that is marked by both excitement and uncertainty. Even when you aren’t completely satisfied with what you are doing, you grow comfortable with your routines. However, you wouldn’t still be reading if there wasn’t a part of you that was intrigued by the possibilities that a career change might bring.

Change is hard, but there are ways to prepare and manage transitions that can help you adjust well and enjoy the fulfillment and new challenges that lie ahead.

Explore Through Research
Before you take any other first steps, research the area you are interested in and, specifically, the job you think you want. Find that area's current professionals and ask if they are willing to share a dialogue with you about their experiences, expectations, predictions for the future and suggestions for someone trying to break in.

If you can set up an in-person meeting, it can be very beneficial. But if you don’t feel comfortable, ask if you can send questions via email or set up a Skype session. Remember to be courteous with their time and grateful for their contribution to your journey.

Make certain you are pursuing something that is financially feasible considering your life commitments, and something that has the potential to be creatively fulfilling and long-lasting. If you’re not entirely sure, try creating a list of pros and cons and, as objectively as you can, weigh out which side of the fence you fall on more strongly,

Loop in the Family
During the research phase of your transition, I think it’s important to discuss your thoughts and findings with your spouse, significant other, older children or close friends. Tell them what’s on your mind and what you have discovered, and listen openly to their feedback. Often, those closest to us see things we fail or refuse to see about ourselves, so these conversations can be very helpful.

To the (Virtual) Rolodex!
If you have decided to pursue your career change dreams, it’s time to examine your connections. Whom do you know who might be able to put you together with the right people to help with training, opportunities and securing those first critical clients? If you are a team player who has nurtured positive relationships in your current career and personal life, this step could be more fruitful than you might anticipate!

You can also turn to local business networking groups to make new contacts and alliances. Approach every new contact from the perspective of what you can offer him or her and you should soon find yourself accepted into your new community.

Back to the Books
Your new career might require additional education, licensing or certification. Be prepared to put in the time to acquire the education you need. Online courses, virtual academies, short-term workshops and seminars, and long-term enrollment in career-changer university courses are just some of the options that might be available to you. Check the professional standards for your new career and make sure you are equipped to meet them.

Update Your Resume
You’ve chosen a direction, made the right connections, obtained the education you need for your new role--now it’s time to rework your resume. When describing your experience, don’t discount your current skill set. Much of it likely transfers to what you will be doing. Also, choose references that will hold weight in your new industry. Mentors or professors are often great choices.

Changing careers is the new normal--we are all continuously seeking our place in the world. The process can be intimidating, but the rewards can be beyond what you have dreamed. The “perfect” timing will never come, so start your journey today.

Kylie Carlson is the CEO of the International Academy of Wedding and Event Planning. With six locations globally, the academy boasts an internationally recognized accreditation program that brings professional training to wedding planners, designers and stylists.

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