By Tobias van Schneider Published September 8, 2020
It couldn’t be a better time for a career change.
The current state of the world presents many challenges, but also opportunities.
We are more online than ever. Companies are changing how they operate, some hiring remotely for the first time. With no commute in our schedules, many of us have gained time back in our days to pursue new interests.
If you’ve been thinking about switching careers to a creative field, now might be your moment.
Of course, it can be hard to know where to start. Do you quit your current job to focus on your new creative pursuit? How do you get a job when you have zero experience in the field? Can you be an intern past your early 20s?
While the answer depends on you, your situation and the specific line of work you want to get into, it doesn’t need to be as complicated or intimidating as it seems.
If you can, explore your new interest from the safety of your current job
With most creative fields, you can easily dabble before making the full jump. By reading online, trying tutorials, testing out tools and playing around, you can gauge whether this is a passing phase or lasting interest worth investing in.
In doing so, you’ll have a safety net to fall back on as you determine which way to go next. You’ll buy yourself time to make a sound decision before making the leap.
Do you lose track of time late at night while creating design experiments or tinkering with 3D tools? Do you find yourself winding down by doodling on Procreate? That’s a good sign this is the right direction for you.
Of course, you may not have the luxury to do this outside a full-time job. But if you have a couple free hours in the week, it’s worth researching and experimenting in your field of interest while you still have a paying job.
Don’t default to what’s trendy – see where your curiosity leads you
It’s tempting to choose a direction that seems the most lucrative or popular, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right decision for you.
Always start with curiosity.
What are you always reading about online? What ideas and dream side projects do you find yourself returning to again and again? What do you do in your free time, not because you have to, but because you want to? It may not directly translate to your new creative career, but it can be a helpful place to start.
By following your interests and seeing where they lead you, you may uncover where your natural talent lies, and what you’d genuinely enjoy doing eight hours a day. And that’s worth a lot more than a job that only pays well.
Talk to those in the field you admire
Ask your friends in the industry about their experience. Reach out to professors or experts in the field. Learn about the industry you’re entering and make as many connections as possible.
This can be as simple as a Twitter DM or a cold email to someone whose skills or career path you admire. Just be thoughtful of their time and get to the point – vague emails simply asking for “advice” or to “pick your brain” are a waste of both your time and theirs, and likely won’t get a reply.
Reach out to friends of friends and ask for their honest feedback on your beginner work, or their opinion on the courses or type of work you’re interested in doing. That 30-minute Zoom call could clear up any imposter syndrome you may be feeling, give you the boost of confidence or reassurance you need, or even lead to your next job down the road.
The beauty of the world today: Everything is online
Most of us don't have the option to just drop everything and enroll full-time in school. And you don't have to. You can learn on your own schedule, from wherever you are.
Open Campus at The New School is bringing their entire fall lineup online for the first time. Their courses are designed for the working professional, and with non-credit and credit options available, you can take just one course or pursue a certificate.
If you're curious, here are some of their online courses starting October 12:
In the creative industry, it always pays to continually learn new tools, best practices, processes and trends. But education, research and inspiration can also be a clever disguise for procrastination.
If you’re always talking about this creative thing you want to do, reading books about it, looking into courses, doing online tutorials, asking friends and tweeting about it, when are you actually creating?
Just begin. Whether that means sitting down in front of your computer and finally signing up for a course, or creating your portfolio to start your freelance business on the side, there’s no better way to do what you want to do, than simply doing it.
Hi, I'm Tobias, a German designer living in New York. I'm the author of this blog, nice to meet you!