More and more there are programmes for changing from one profession to another which highlight the importance of acquiring new skills. Taking on a new professional identity when you conclude that you need a change can be understandable at a glance. Changing and re-positioning of this kind is incredibly common among “Generation Y”.
The explanation could be as simple as “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”, if you allow room for feelings about work. Multiple choices combined with the ease of movement (especially in the EU) allows young people to broaden their professional experiences. Surveys on this specific issue are not definitively available, therefore let’s take a look at two recent changes in profession – one by Patricia from Portugal and a second by Dzvezda from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Patricia (Portugal): from Video Producer to Electrician
Since childhood, Patricia has been fascinated by light. After establishing her career as a video producer and events manager, two years ago she decided that she had had enough.
Nobody, not even her family, encouraged Patricia when she decided to enroll in evening classes in a technical school to become an electrician. Soon she resigned from her job as a video producer and quickly found her current job as polyvalent agent and electrician’s assistant. Patricia is working 40h/week and earns more than she made before the change. The work day, however, can run very late now, especially since she launched her own entrepreneurial startup and is getting more and more clients through her Facebook page (Patricia Vassallo e Silva - Electricista).
Patricia speaks with passion about her current job. She cannot see herself back at a desk. Despite her intense involvement and full commitment, Patricia finds it extremely difficult to understand the way some people react to her change. “It’s a job for a man!”, a cleaner yelled once to her while Patricia was changing a lightbulb.
Patricia is somehow immune to misogynist reactions. Even if she is the only woman at her job, she is pretty satisfied about the progress her colleagues are making in accepting a woman doing the same work they do. She is not a very engaged feminist, even if she participates from time to time in demonstrations for gender equality.
Patricia is simply doing what she finally discovered gives her satisfaction. “You need to be crazy and believe in what you’re doing. Otherwise, I would be crying every day”, says Patricia with a big, infectious smile.
Dzvezda (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia): from Languages to Mushrooms
Looking for the right meaning of words or learning how to grow mushrooms? This was the question for Dzvezda before she enrolled in a 6 month programme in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, to learn about cultivating mushrooms with RotterZwam, an enterprise specializing in fungi-culture.
Dzvezda is firmly convinced that it is inadmissible to state you don’t like something before even trying it and especially before choosing the right path for your career. Even if she had an academic background in Languages and Cultures, Dzvezda constantly delayed a commitment to a full time job in her field of study. “With languages I can always find work, but I have often asked myself, why not try something else?”
Dzvezda is the product, she says, of “experience” and describes her first 3 months in Rotterdam as very “thought-provoking”. She has learned a lot of things about mushrooms that she didn’t know before and “I’ve learnt a lot of things about startups that I can use in many other fields besides mushrooms”, adds the apprentice.
Moreover, Dzvezda loves to travel and always finds ways to combine work and travelling. With mushrooms it might be different, but there is something calling her to give it a try. Entrepreneurship has been stuck in her mind for years and now even more since a distant relative gave her some inspiration and advice about cultivating mushrooms.
She has a business plan carefully prepared and is looking to find ways to implement it back home as soon as the remaining three months of her studies are finished. Wind in the sails!
Conclusion: Opinions may be very divergent about any individual’s change in profession. The two individuals above are simply acting in compliance with the objectives they have for their careers and somehow against the consensus within the still influential professional establishment. The two who have changed their professions are trying to highlight that working in a framework can be suffocating when something else might be waiting for you. Maybe above all, there is a lesson to be gained from listening to yourself so as not to be passed by.