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5 Things to Do ASAP When Mapping Your Career Path at Any Stage

Mapping Your Career Path: Capital One + Gwen Lane

This post is sponsored by Capital One, but all opinions are my own. Thank you to the amazing sponsors that continue to support The LA Girl!

You know the feeling. It usually hits you before heading to work or those days right before your graduation. Or when you’re infinitely more excited about your side business idea than the project that you’re working on in the office.

It’s that inkling that tells you it’s time for a change. It may start out small and most of the time, people ignore it. Because it would be harder to do something different, it may be even uncomfortable. But that’s when you let fear get in the way of growth, and that’s not what we really want, is it?

You don’t have to do anything drastic, not right away at least. But when you do feel that something has to change, it’s better to explore it than let the frustration build.

According to a survey conducted by Capital One just last month, in May 2017, 77% of Americans have taken a job that didn’t match their career values. What this means is you are not alone.

Perhaps you took a job that you really didn’t want because you needed one right away, to pay the bills and support your family. Maybe you took the first job that you got an offer from because you didn’t really have the time to explore your options. And maybe you really loved your job for a while, and now you don’t anymore. And that’s okay.

Whether you’re looking for your first job, thinking of a career change or starting your own business, here are 5 things to do ASAP when mapping your career path at any stage.

Mapping Your Career Path: Gwen Lane - Capital One

Learn Before You Leap

If you’re thinking about a career change and you’re unsure of what it would really be like to do something else, try it out first. Look for a short-term volunteer, freelance or internship opportunity in the evenings or weekends to see if this is something you are really going to pursue.

Schedule interviews with people in the same position you see yourself in so that you can ask questions and get more familiar with your potential new career. Learn as much as you can before you make any big decisions.

When you’re thinking about a career change or looking to apply to your first job, make sure you have identified your values first, refined your personal brand and developed short- and long-term goals you want to achieve.

I’ve partnered with Capital One to help people with these steps through a series of workshops in Los Angeles, Austin and San Francisco geared towards recent graduates, those looking to change careers and budding entrepreneurs. The first series will be hosted at the Glendale Capital One Café on June 17 – visit Capital One Café’s event page to reserve your spot!

As a way to kick off the workshops, Capital One is hosting a #CapXTalk on June 15, where I’ll be joining the panel discussion with experts in human resources, personal branding and entrepreneurship.

From Network to New Work

Think about your current relationships and perhaps making new ones. Do you know anyone in the industry that you want to be in? Are there any events going on with people in the industry that you want to get into?

Start researching your LinkedIn or Facebook networks and check out Eventbrite or Meetup for events. It doesn’t have to feel like networking and only reaching out to someone “when you need something.” It’s more about putting yourself out there, going to events and meeting new people and proactively creating connections that foster an environment for future opportunities. Used with creativity and enthusiasm, your network can lead to new work.

Deadlines are Lifelines

Once you’ve decided on making your career shift, it’s time to figure out your next steps. If you need to acquire a certification or take classes, this is the time to create an action plan with deadlines to keep yourself on track while you’re still at your current job.

Clear deadlines are the lifelines to your next career. This will also give you a chance to assess your financial situation to see if you can afford to quit your job and have enough to cover your expenses while you make your next move. You can also think about how long you’ll want to stay at your current job, if you want to inform your employer, and possibly work out a situation where you can work part-time or freelance while you transition out of your position.

Mapping Your Career Path: Gwen Lane + Capital One

Surf the Streets 

Most recent grads rely solely on internet job sites to look for opportunities and may be missing out from a much wider network: the “physical world” that contains true connections. Get connected through your university’s alumni association to employers that might prefer to hire graduates from their alma mater. Reach out to friends who have graduated and now work at companies where you would like to get hired. Don’t forget to tap into the networks of your parents, grandparents, and former colleagues –there’s no harm in being proactive!

Side Hustle As Long As You Can

If you’re thinking about starting your own business, it may be a good idea to do it on the side first. While it’s tempting to take the leap into entrepreneurship right away just like Elon Musk or Richard Branson, many entrepreneurs start their businesses while still at their day job.

Doing so gives you the freedom to explore your idea and grow your business without having the financial burden of earning an income from your business immediately. This will also give you the time to test out your idea, feel out the market and do some experimenting before you go all in.

If you feel like you’re no longer excited about what you do, then the first thing to do is to be aware of that feeling. It may be a little scary at first and might be easier not to change anything, but what if you embraced this feeling and turned it into excitement?

You don’t want to spend your whole life, thinking about “what if.” It’s always those big, crazy ideas that turn into something amazing. So take a deep breath, figure out what you want to do, create a plan and some action steps. Just take that first step, you got this!

Click here if you’re interested in attending a career workshop led by Gwen Lane in partnership with Capital One.

And tune into on June 15 at 1 p.m. PST to watch the live stream of the #CapXTalk discussion, moderated by Megan Lathrop, Capital One Money Coach, and featuring me and expert panelists from LinkedIn, Zappos and Times10.