“My passion was slowly waning. It was difficult to motivate myself.”
What work were you doing previously?
I had spent over 15 years in marketing management for law firms and barrister chambers.
However, this wasn't my first career change. Prior to marketing I worked in the technical arena at British Telecom and Cable & Wireless.
What are you doing now?
I was offered a role in my new target vocation, working in the mental health field.
I’ll be directly supporting individuals experiencing mental health issues for a national charity and the NHS, which commences shortly.
This is while I continue studying for and completing my postgraduate diploma in Wellness Coaching Skills.
How did you feel in your work before you decided to make the change?
I seemed to encounter 'glass ceilings' wherever I worked.
Despite having implemented marketing strategies, executed campaigns, delivered performance reports, and a plethora of initiatives, there was an underlying current of not always receiving what I deserved, whether it was respect, promotion, or financial reward.
I was in a constant cycle of working to prove myself, leaving to gain recognition elsewhere, challenging the status quo, leaving, and so on.
Why did you change?
I grew weary of the cycle.
Instead of approaching new roles with excitement, there was trepidation. The same pattern would emerge and I would say to myself, "Here we go again."
My passion for marketing was slowly waning. It was difficult to motivate myself on a daily basis.
I tried my hand at freelancing, but by that time, my interest had plateaued. I simply couldn't be bothered to put the effort into marketing myself to other businesses. And I wasn't interested in taking on another permanent role because of the same pattern arising.
When was the moment you decided to make the change?
It was when the pandemic hit.
I'd been working remotely for an US corporation. I realised that marketing was no longer the field that I wanted to work in.
Working remotely, dealing with a different culture and time differences made the situation challenging. Marketing technology had rapidly evolved and although I was no stranger to retraining / refreshing, I no longer wanted to update my skills. There was zero interest.
I decided that enough was enough. Spending over eight hours per day doing something that was of no interest to me made little sense – except to pay bills!
How did you choose your new career?
I'd been weighing up options for four or five years but procrastinating about making a change.
I enjoy studying. Over the years I'd explored various interests while gaining certificates / qualifications in health and fitness, market research, photography, voiceover and wedding planning.
I revisited every field and researched whether they were viable careers for me. I documented the pros and cons of every field, their earning potential, 'enjoyment factor', talked to associates / people in those particular fields, joined social media groups, bought books, and Googled every aspect.
At this point I attended a Careershifters webinar (where I first encountered the term 'portfolio career').
I shortlisted my interests and soon narrowed down from there. I was particularly interested in serving the BAME community and / or those experiencing mental health issues.
Are you happy with the change?
It's great to regain control over my destiny (again). The prospect of helping others as opposed to profits excites me.
My confidence is rising. I'm happier about life and working again.
What do you miss and what don't you miss?
I don't miss anything.
Marketing had its time. I'm proud of what I achieved, both academically and professionally.
I never dwell on what could have been. I did my best and now I've started a new chapter.
How did you go about making the shift?
I made a conscious decision at the start of the year that I would no longer pursue marketing opportunities.
It was a tad nerve-racking because at that point I was unemployed, but there had to be drastic circumstances for me to make the change. Being 'comfortable / complacent' can be a dangerous zone.
I researched courses until I found the right one for me. Once I enrolled, I then focused on seeking a part-time job to keep me afloat.
I kept my eye out for apprenticeships and volunteer opportunities in the healthcare sector. My course is two years long and I didn't expect to get a role until I'd qualified or gained practical experience.
How did you develop (or transfer) the skills you needed for your new role?
I am still training!
However, I had strong transferable skills from marketing, and I had prior qualifications in health and fitness.
What didn't go well? What wrong turns did you take?
It's early days, but so far, so good.
The course is mentally challenging, not least because my 'grey matter' is getting on in age! Coupled with a full-time job, it will be demanding and need great organisational skills, multi-tasking and time management, but I have those skills from my days as a marketer.
How did you handle your finances to make your shift possible?
Owing to my procrastination from several years ago and living alone (therefore the only earner), I had, almost without realising, kept money aside.
Fortunately my mortgage is paid. Over the last few years I've had bouts of unemployment and had a strict budget. However, my last full-time (marketing) job was well paid and enabled me to get a head start on my finances for this year.
Lockdown has shown me how little I actually need to live on. Prioritising primary and secondary bills, discipline and keeping service providers updated has made a big difference. I also researched various financial support options, which was worth undertaking.
What was the most difficult thing about changing?
Saying goodbye to marketing after all the years of study and working.
What help did you get?
I had a kind of unofficial mentor. Talking to them was a great help.
Having someone to bounce ideas and discuss the pros and cons made a huge difference.
Otherwise, much of the information I needed came from my findings during my own research.
What resources would you recommend to others?
I would definitely recommend Careershifters. It would have saved me a few years had I come across them earlier.
Join social media forums covering areas of interest. LinkedIn is fantastic for free courses and tutorials. I reached out to all of my LinkedIn contacts and commenting on posts has led to interesting conversations.
Googling and doing your own research is important. Talking to people in different fields is a must too.
What would you advise others to do in the same situation?
Make the change. What is the worst that can happen?
Plan your route. Prepare your finances.
Live life to the fullest and explore every possibility. Perseverance pays. Believe in yourself. Don't have regrets.
What lessons could you take from Monica's story to use in your own career change? Let us know in the comments below.