Making the Switch – Update September 2017

The goal of this post is to summarize what I’ve learned so far in figuring out the next step in my career after I lost my job in July 2017.

Hi everyone!

After some thoughts about this career change weekly serie, I decided to abandon the weekly update for the following reasons:
  • they seem too much like a laundry list, which is not useful for anybody
  • they are too long and have way too much detail
Instead of the laundry list, I decided summarize what I did, what I found helpful and new useful things I learned! So here they are!
This is what I did so far:
  1. When I first lost my job, I wanted to switch industry entirely because I felt like biotech wasn’t something I looked forward to every single day. I listed all the things I want in my career and I found that what I am interested in CAN be found in most industries. When it came time to decide on industries, I know what really motivates me (or things I care about the most) are health and lifestyle related. It is hard to switch to a field where one has no experience so I hesitated. I eventually decided to stay in biotech because biotech is related to health and this is where I have the most relevant experience, and instead I will switch function.
  2. At the same time, I checked out a copy of “What Color Is Your Parachute?” from my local library (yes, an physical book from a physical library. not Amazon! But for the sake of convenience, I found the Amazon link for you guys here). It has a very useful section that helps readers figure out 7 key areas to consider when it comes to your career: the kind of industry/knowledge, preferred people to work with, your favorite transferable kills, favorite working conditions, level of responsibility/salary, preferred places to live and mission in life. The exercises are painfully long but the results are well worth it! I do think that some of these I knew already (for example, I have always known where I want to live) but they do help me discover some parts of myself that I didn’t know before. I think having this extra knowledge about myself is very helpful when I apply for jobs and when I decide which companies to join.
  3. I then contacted some old coworkers to ask them questions about their careers because I am interested in what they do (these are called “Informational Interviews”). Interestingly, all these different functions that I was interested in all somewhat pointed to the same role that I could go into with the experience I have so far. You can probably imagine my excitement when I found out about this! These conversations also helped me identify a more long term goal.
I am pretty happy because starting from where I am I can plan a path to my long term career goal and I feel much more motivated this way. Of course, I will need to learn more about my long term goal by conducting more informational interviews and reading some books to make sure this is what I want to do eventually.
Another thing that is on my mind is that I want to have a secondary income because I want to have more flexibility with time without compromising on the pay. In the future I think I will be busier with family related things and I want to have enough income so if I need to take a pay cut for that flexibility I can still support myself and my family.

In the next few weeks I will blog about the important tools I’ve learned so far during my search. Please stay tuned!

Making the Switch – Week 1

Day 1

As someone who cannot stand the idea of staying at home for one whole day, I was shocked to find out that I did not go crazy at all. I was also shocked that I did not binge eat since now snacks and food are easily accessible. I did find that I spent a lot of time on my phone and the internet. So I decided to either turn the airplane mode on or leave it in a different room while I “worked”.

Following the initial shock of unemployment, some things became clear to me.

  1. I forgot how fortunate I was (when I still had the job): having a job allowed me to be self-reliant and it introduced me to a wonderful network of coworkers. When my feelings towards my job shifted, I forgot about all these things I should be grateful for. While I don’t wish to have my old job back, I really wished that I was more grateful when I had it. Having a job also gave me a fixed schedule and I find having a set routine makes me productive and makes “play” (ie. gym, shopping, cooking, hobbies) seem more enjoyable.
  2. I am grateful for this “push”: I was too comfortable to take actions to switch and this push is what I needed. I was more lazy than unhappy to do something about my career so I kept putting it off. I am very grateful to be knocked back to reality. Now I have no option but to figure my way out of this.
  3. I also realized how lucky I am to be able to daydream about work again. When I was still working, it was difficult to see myself working in a different role/industry. But now that I am unemployed, I feel much more free to consider other possibilities. It almost feels like I just graduated from school and I have so many options to choose from. However, it is also scary and extremely confusing. I feel unqualified to go into a different field because I am practically starting over. But I know if I go back I would be very miserable.
  4. I am not alone: it didn’t hit me until now that so many people have gone through the same thing and I am not the only one. I received so many encouragements and advices from my friends and old coworkers. My friends offered me advices while my old coworkers told me which companies that might have opportunities available for me. I am eternally grateful for the support I received.

Besides feeling thankful (and scared) for all the things I have and had, I spent about 1-2 hours today figuring out what I want to do next. Here is what I did:

  1. I listed my definition of “success” in terms of career and life
  2. I came up with a list of people that I think are successful and I analyzed why
  3. I listed the things I enjoyed doing from my previous jobs and in personal life

There were more things I wanted to think about, but I ran out of time (had to head to the gym) so I decided to take a break and continue later.

Day 2

I decided to come up with some sort of a schedule to keep myself sane. As I mentioned before, having a fixed schedule makes me happy and productive. I will spend 4 days a week on job hunting and take a break for the rest of the week. I’ve always thought working 4 days a week would be an idea schedule for me, and I see this as an opportunity to test things out. I don’t know if I will like it or if this is enough time spent on job hunting per week. I will find out.

I’ve also decided to use down time productively, instead of browsing on my phone like I used to. These are the things I will do, in no particular order:

  • Read books I’ve always wanted to read (I have a bunch sitting on my bookshelf and in my Audible collection)
  • Hobbies like arts and crafts
  • Afternoon tea (this is one of my favorite things to do)
  • Clean up and donate things
  • Explore the neighborhood on feet
  • Try workout outdoor or at home instead of at a gym
  • Do some volunteer work
  • Take a 15 min walk at least 3 times a week

I previously wrote about the importance of “play” (from my June favorites post) and I think I will try to schedule at least one of these things everyday.

Day 3

I didn’t get much done today, but I decided for tomorrow I will find 5 companies that I might want to work for that either have products or services that I like (based on my reflection from Day 1) and see if I can find someone in those companies to talk to.

Day 4

I spent most of the day on LinkedIn and Google looking for jobs that I might be interested in, based on my reflection on Day 1. The search took longer than I imagined, because I didn’t know what job titles to search for. I also got frustrated when LinkedIn told me that I am reaching some kind of search limit and that I would have to pay to view more profiles. But eventually I found some keywords I can use in my searches and people I wanted to connect with to learn about their careers.

I set up a very simple home office to work. In a spare bedroom I moved a chair and used an old table as a desk. I decided to work here in isolation and leave my phone out of sight so I don’t get distracted.

Day 5

Today I discovered a few more keywords I can use in my job search. I feel like my search is finally leading me somewhere. I am finding job postings and companies that do things that are similar to what I naturally gravitate towards. I reached out to two people I found on LinkedIn with job titles or descriptions I’m interested in and I am now patiently waiting for response.

Continue reading “Making the Switch – Week 1”

Making the Switch – Week 0

Earlier this month I lost my job.
I was shocked and sad to say the least, but I was also relieved because I had been thinking about making a switch for quite some time but I kept putting it off. This change came at the right time for me, and I decided to take this opportunity to blog about
a) how I figure out my next direction
b) my job search
I expect to write more in the early days as I reflect on what I like, what I am good at, what I want to do etc. As the days go on, I might upload less if I get busier with the job search.