“I had this building feeling that I was wasting my life just making ends meet and living for the weekend.”
From Travel Agent to English Teacher in Japan
What work were you doing previously?
I was working in a travel agency. It was dull work; I was sitting at a desk all day inputting data.
What are you doing now?
I teach children in Japan. I love it; the pay is good and I get to explore a whole new country!
Why did you change?
I wasn't happy with my job or even the prospect of changing my job to something similar. There aren't many jobs in the UK right now, especially for a philosophy graduate. I wanted to get away from a boring office job and do something I was passionate about.
When was the moment you decided to make the change?
I wouldn't say it was a moment, more of a building feeling that I was wasting my life just making ends meet and living for the weekend.
Are you happy with the change?
Yes! It's tough, and at times I think, "What am I doing? Can I really do this?". But I know it was the right decision and I'm much happier where I am now.
What do you miss and what don't you miss?
I miss my family and being able to understand people everywhere I go. Yet here there are so many things to learn and I'm just beginning to scratch the surface. Back in England, I felt like there wasn't anything there for me anymore. I don't miss the politics of the UK (it's so depressing), the boredom and trying to find something to do with my time just to pass it.
How did you go about making the shift?
After the Careershifters workshop, I immediately began looking for teaching jobs in Japan. I found a few ideas but the main program was very competitive and takes a really long time to get into so I looked into private education companies. I found an after-school English teaching club that required no previous teaching experience and training would be done in country both before and during the job placement. To me, it was a no-brainer. When I aced the interview (the interviewer actually told me on the spot that she was going to highly recommend that the company take me on) I made some much more meaningful preparations to make sure I could follow through.
How did you handle your finances to make your change possible?
Save, save, save. I didn't go out and blow money on stupid things and I tried to save at least half of my disposable income every month. It meant not spending as much time with my friends but it was also nice to see my bank account with a couple of thousand pounds in it instead of nearing empty at the end of the month.
What was the most difficult thing about changing?
Leaving home has been really hard. I miss my family and my dog, I miss my friends and being understood in every shop. But that's what Skype is for, eh?
What help did you get?
I had a lot of support from my friends and family and it's surprising who you come to know when you ask around. A friend introduced me to someone they knew who had worked for the same company before and they gave me a whole load of good information about the interview and the job itself.
How did the Careershifters workshop help?
It really brought me back to thinking about what I wanted and not "what a good career path should look like". Talking about what I would do if I had a year to do whatever I wanted basically told me that I didn't need to dream about it, I could actually just do it. The only thing stopping me was fear of failure, change, leaving things behind and doing something without the same safety net I'd had before.
What have you learnt in the process?
I've definitely grown and matured as a person, and at the same time become more in touch with my goofy side. I teach children now and I really love it, and it's given me a whole new perspective on what I can do when I take opportunities.
What do you wish you'd done differently?
What would you advise others to do in the same situation?
I would advise people to really take some actual time to think about what they really want and to actually TRY it. Don't just think about what you don't want because you'll very rarely find what you DO want from doing that.
Take your time, too. Don't rush into a career because you feel pressure. It took me two years after graduating to find what I wanted to do and I know it takes many people a lot longer! But you have to really think for yourself about what your motivations are and what you can see yourself doing for real.
What resources would you recommend to others?
The Careershifters workshop was a great catalyst for me. You also really need to talk to friends and family because they can offer insight about you that you don't even know for yourself. Talk to anyone you can, especially if you find something you think you might like. You talk to someone doing that job and they'll tell you that it's different from what you think it is. Just be honest with yourself about your desires and abilities and you'll be in a much better position to make a meaningful career change.
What lessons could you take from Charlie's story to use in your own career change? Let us know in the comments below.