Think you have to return to college for another degree to change careers? Well, think again. There are several careers you can switch to without going back to college. The simplest way to begin is by researching new careers and tapping into your own network to ask for connections to people who are doing what you want to do.
Here are a few other tips to make a transition into a new career:
Hire a business or career coach.
Forging a new career path can feel scary. A career or business coach can help you navigate uncertainty and create a plan for where you are, where you need to be, and how to get there. Most coaches can help you set measurable goals and keep you on track. Lucinda Cross, the founder of the Activate Movement and Melinda Emerson, small business expert, are both rock stars at mentoring career switchers, entrepreneurs, and women business owners.
Connect with an expert or thought leader in the industry.
Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, or even Periscope, are great ways to connect and collaborate with thought leaders in your industry. However, establishing a relationship with expert influencers on social media can be tricky. In some cases, sending a simple email may grant you access to a key player within the industry. But in other instances, before requesting information, a meeting, or offering to take someone to lunch, you may need to spend some time cultivating a virtual relationship. Engage with them by reading and commenting on their online articles. And if possible, attend their speaking engagements or workshops. Then ask if they could take a brief call, have coffee or a lunch date. Before the meeting, clarify what you want to walk away with. Then attend the meeting, prepared with questions and ready to listen.
Take an online course.
Tutorial and course sites such as Lifehacker U, Mediabistro, Lynda.com or Skillshare are all free or low-cost online platforms that you can use to add a few new skills to your resume—without going back to college. Additionally, many top colleges and universities offer free courses online through Coursera, an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide to offer courses online for anyone to take.
Attend meetups or industry conferences.
Beyond networking and connecting with like-minded people in your new industry; meetups and industry conferences provide a great way to share your expertise and find potential business partners. Keep up to date with industry magazines and online sites to find details about upcoming industry conferences. You can also search Eventbrite for events in your area and follow organizations on Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook to learn more about upcoming events.
Participate in Tweet-ups.
Twitter makes it possible for you to speak to anyone. And with many companies using Twitter and other social networks to find new talent, subject matter experts, and people with a fresh perspective; it’s a tool that should be included in a career switchers toolbox. Typically, Twitter chats follow a pre-set list of questions, so be strategic and ready to engage with influencers who may be able to help you get to the next level in your career.
Create an accountability team or build a mastermind group.
Most successful entrepreneurs will agree: you can’t do it alone. Creating a group of like-minded people who are committed to helping you navigate your new career or avoid common pitfalls can save you money, time, and aggravation.
Do you have any tried-and-true tips on making a career change without going back to college for another degree? Share with me in the comments below.
*Note this article was originally published for Black Enterprise.com.