“After So Many Wrong Turns, How Can I Trust Myself To Make The Right Career Choice?”

Molly’s spent years experimenting with different career change ideas. At first, each one feels like the right fit, but something always happens to turn it into yet another dead end. Now she’s hit on something that seems perfect, but she’s terrified it will end in the same disappointment. How do you make a successful change, when you’ve lost all faith in your instincts?

What’s your career history and current job?

I studied computer science, then worked in lots of tech-related roles for different types of companies, trying to find something I could stick with.

My most recent full-time role was in education, doing computer programming and software support.  I did that for the past three years.

I’m doing casual part-time work at the moment, to keep me going financially while I work out what to do next.

How do you feel about your work?

Ever since I graduated, I’ve experienced a huge amount of sexism as a woman working in computers, which made me feel frustrated and uncomfortable. 

I’ve also come to hate frustrating, drawn-out tasks like data analysis and coding.

Despite this, my most recent role came with a very good benefits package, and I appreciated the fact that I worked for such a good cause as education.  

Unfortunately, so many of my colleagues resigned during the pandemic that I was asked to take on more and more extra work, until I was doing three people’s jobs for no extra pay or recognition.  

The company frowned upon people working from home, but the office atmosphere became so toxic that I felt I had no choice but to leave.

What would you like to be doing instead?

I’ve known for a long time that a career in computers wasn’t right for me, so over the years I’ve looked into lots of alternative options. 

Amongst many other things, I’ve wanted to be an author, a translator, a teacher, and a pastry chef.

When I was a child, my dream was to be a marine biologist.  I’ve always cared deeply about sustainability, so I began a degree in conservation biology almost two years ago, which I combined with my full-time role.  

But now, after spending so much time at home during the pandemic, I’ve realised that I want to work from home permanently.  I’m able to eat healthily and be more active, while still getting my work done during the hours I choose.

Plus, I don’t want to be away from my family for long stretches of time.  I love travelling, but I want to be with my husband on holiday, rather than alone and at work.

So I feel this makes the marine biology idea a dead end.

I study foreign languages in my spare time, and I’m a very creative person.  I’ve drawn ever since I could hold a pencil, and I regularly do illustrations for fun.  

I’ve recently started taking courses in graphic design, with a view to working from home, designing for a company with a meaningful cause.

What’s the biggest obstacle in your way?

I’ve lost all trust in my ability to make the right decisions.

Every time I get excited about a career idea, feeling certain that I’m on the right track to fulfilling work, the circumstances change and suddenly it seems to turn into a disappointing dead end.

I’ve come too far not to finish my conservation biology degree, but I feel like I’ve been wasting my time studying for something I’ll never use, which makes me feel sad and frustrated.

Now I’m also busy learning graphic design skills and building a design portfolio. However, instead of enjoying the experience, I’m permanently on edge.  

Not only am I working hard toward a degree that isn’t going to benefit me, but I’m feeling burned out, I’m living mostly off my savings, and there’s no guarantee that I’ll even find stable work as a designer.  In my darkest moments, I worry that I’ll be left with nothing.

I feel that graphic design is my last hope to find a fulfilling career.  But after hitting so many dead ends, how do I trust that this time, I’m on the right track?

Can you help Molly?
  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • How do you think Molly could move her shift forwards?
  • Do you know anyone she could talk to?

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