“Do I Have To Lie My Way Into A New Career?”

Robbie knows what he wants to do next in his career. But there's one problem: he's never done it before, and he doesn't have the time or money to build up experience before he makes his leap. Is he going to have to fake his way into his new industry? How can you get established in a new field without feeling like a fraud?

What's your career history and current job?

I'm a production designer for a television company.

I work on all aspects of set design and construction, and work with the tech team to create the general aesthetic of the shows we develop.

How do you feel about your work?

I used to love it.

I was a graffiti artist in my teens and when I landed a job working on sets in the theatre, I thought I'd hit the jackpot.

Then I moved into television, which felt very glamorous and exciting to begin with, but now it's just starting to become stale. Shows come and go, people move on, and there I am, still doing the same old thing, ten years after I made my move into TV.

It's time for something else.

What would you like to be doing instead?

I don't know what it's called, officially, but basically what I want to do is help entrepreneurs set up socially responsible businesses; perhaps working as a consultant.

I'm not 100% certain about it as an idea, but there are a few things I know, which all seem to point to something along those lines.

I know I want to work with people who are switched-on and committed to making the world a better place.

I know I'm naturally a good sounding board and supporter, and I can often see the long-term 'big picture' where others are more focused on the here-and-now details.

And I'm interested in being involved with new ideas, bringing them into reality and then stepping back.

I've spent a lot of time playing with ideas of how I could bring those elements together, and consulting with young entrepreneurs seems to be the best manifestation of my interests and qualities.

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

How on earth do you even begin with an idea like this?

It's so far from what I do now. I have no solid credibility in this field, so why in the world would any potential clients take me seriously? How could I reasonably charge the kind of fees I'd need to earn in order to live?

If I were to walk into the office of a new start-up today and call myself a consultant, I'd feel like the ultimate fraud.

And that's really what I have to do, if I'm going to make a move into this kind of work. I can't afford to start from the bottom, that's for sure.

People have suggested that I go and do some work with start-ups for free, to build up some experience, but I honestly don't have the time to dedicate to something like that.

My current job takes up all my time and energy, and if I were to quit now I'd be putting a lot of financial pressure on myself to make something work. I can just see myself running back to architecture in order to make ends meet, and that's the last thing I'd want to do.

But making a career change into a completely different industry, utterly from scratch – there's no way you can do that without some level of dishonesty and pretence. Is there?

Can you help Robbie?
  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • How could he start working with entrepreneurs without feeling like a fraud?
  • Do you know anyone he could talk to?

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