Your Ego: The Biggest Barrier to a Career Transition

“I’m a 27-year-old intern.”

For some reason, those words sound as bad as “I’m a 40 year old virgin.” (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

A year ago, that’s what I was…the intern, that is.  As my readers and friends know, I quit my job for an unpaid internship in another state in a completely different career field.  I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but my happiness was more important than convenience.  I was not okay with a unfulfilling career because of convenience.

When I announced the move, I got a lot of puzzled looks from friends and family.  And a whole lot of “You’re going to be an intern? Isn’t that for college kids?  Are you guaranteed a job afterwards?”……and my answers were “Yep, nope, and nope.”   The way I saw it: this wasn’t an unpaid internship, it was a free 2 month bootcamp from experts in digital marketing.

Here’s a graphic that I love:

road to career success
Keep This Picture in Your Back Pocket

We’ve been trained to believe you start out at an entry level job, a coordinator, let’s say.  Then you’re a manager, senior manager, director, senior director….so on and so forth.  With that thinking, we get trapped in the momentum of our career– even if it’s in the field we hate, we stick with it.  When we start moving further and further up in title, our egos start getting involved.

When you’re transitioning careers, an ego can be your downfall.  It’s unrealistic to think you can move from a Director of Sales to a Director of IT.  Just like the graphic above, the path to success is not always forward, maybe your in to being an IT Director is taking a few steps back and working at a Help Desk.

I always get flack for making this sound too easy.  If you have a family, you may be thinking “What about the pay cut? I can’t support a family on a Help Desk salary.”  Or even if you’re single, “I have bills to pay and I have a good job.” I apologize for the corniness, but you can do anything you want to do, again, it’s a matter of setting aside your ego.  You don’t need a $700,000 house or a $600 a month car note to keep up with the Joneses.  Truth be told, the Joneses are probably miserable.   Think about where you can cut back. What skills do you have that can earn money with while you’re in transition?

If that’s not motivation enough, think about this:  there are people who move from completely different countries, with very little money to their name, and because of their drive, are now living their dream.  To simply move across the country with a little bit of savings under your belt, or to take the opportunity to switch careers for a little less money  — that’s child’s play.

So, be a 27-year-old intern, or a 50-year-old assistant to the marketing coordinator, or an 80-year-old college student.  Once you realize life isn’t about titles and egos, doors will open.

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