Habits to Incorporate in Your Career Change Journey: Advice from 30 Global Fellows

Alexandra Nemeth

Senior Manager, Content Marketing & Storytelling at MovingWorlds

Changing careers is never a linear process, and it’s one that takes time. But, with the right connections and support, it is possible to land the purposeful job of your dreams. Our inspiring community of Global Fellows is proof of that. 

To support you wherever you are in the career change process, we asked 30 Global Fellowship alumni who have made their own successful career transitions the question: “What has been the most helpful lesson, resource, practice, or habit that you’ve incorporated to your own career growth journey?

See the wisdom they shared below!

Build and Invest in Your Network

“Maintaining the value of existing relationships and connections has been extremely helpful for me. The world is smaller than you think, and I’ve found that my connections from different states I’ve lived in have been willing to help me, even from afar. They also shared resources that I would not have found on my own.” – Joelle Hughley

“One obscure benefit of the global pandemic is that you hear people more openly discussing their search for meaning at work and desire to feel connected to the work they do. When I made my career transition 3 years ago, that wasn’t so much the case. What I’ve carried with me and incorporated into my own career growth is the knowledge that every single function in every single industry relies on relationships. Talking to others who are pursuing the same things or already in purposeful jobs is tremendously valuable, not just while job searching, but throughout your career.” – Natosha Safo

“I made a change in early 2021 after a two plus year job search. The things that were most helpful to me were mentors who could give me advice and give me feedback, peers who were also going through the same transitions (shoutout to the MovingWorlds Fellowship!), and dedicated time blocks for reflection, networking, and job searching.” – Clare Healy

[Editor’s note: If you’re looking for a mentor yourself, check out our Guide to Finding & Building a Great Relationship with a Mentor.]

“It really helped me to take a new approach to networking. I developed the habit of sharing in seminars or online events what points I found particularly interesting, and providing my LinkedIn. It has generated some great contacts for me! I’ve also adopted a more genuine presentation about myself, instead of just focusing on the “professional labels”. Genuinely connecting with others who share your interest can open all kinds of doors.” – Samanta Fonseca

“Build your network and keep it alive.” – Joelle Atallah

“The most helpful resource for me has been LinkedIn. It has helped me to build my professional brand, gain credibility, build connections and gather leads on new opportunities. An invaluable resource if you take advantage of it.” – Amy Danner

“Earlier this year I transitioned from a role as a Management Consultant in the private sector to the Chief of Staff at a nonprofit. While I’d been thinking about making the transition for years, I didn’t start taking action until I made my career journey a priority in my weekly / daily life. (Life gets busy and sometimes even the most important things fall to the back burner!) I joined the MovingWorlds Fellowship which held me accountable to learning about the social impact space and kept my career journey top of mind and top of my priority list for six months. During that time I reaffirmed that a career transition was the right move for me, and I took the first real steps toward making that happen. I recommend someone thinking about a career transition find ways to keep accountable toward making progress toward their goals – joining a fellowship is one way to do that.” – Jennifer Archila

[Editor’s note: Writing down your goals really helps with staying accountable! For support writing your own, check out our Guide to Writing SMART Goals for Your Career.]

Stay Curious and Open to Different Perspectives

“The most helpful thing for me has been asking the right questions, listening more, and being curious. This approach has saved me time and sanity on numerous occasions. Mapping has been another great skill: whenever I face a problem, I create a map of everyone involved, all challenges and barriers around. Very soon, the right doors appear :)” – Anna Derinova-Hartmann

“Connecting with people from diverse backgrounds who are also committed to making a positive impact in the world helped me see the world as a more compassionate place, and that has helped me retain faith in humanity. It has also led me to be more curious about other fields, and more respectful of those who chose a different path. Another thing I learned is to listen first. It’s easy to make assumptions and think you know better or think you can help, but without first hearing what the underlying problem is, you can do more damage than good. A perfect example of this is voluntourism vs. experteering.” – Yui Shapard

“I made a career change, and there were two helpful practices that I would recommend to anyone who wants to do the same: identifying transferable skills, and talking to as many people in different fields as possible. First, do a deep dive into what aspects of your current career you enjoy and what skills/strengths you bring to that work that you want to carry forward to the next one. Then, speak to as many people as you can about what they do and what they like about what they do. It was during one of those exploratory conversations that I realized that I wanted to coach leaders who are working to achieve diversity, equity, access, and inclusivity in their organizations and communities. Taken together, those two steps showed me that my former career had provided me with the tools I needed to succeed as a coach (with some additional education), so I had the confidence to pursue it.” – Sonya Rudenstine

“Over the past few years, I have learnt that while my journey is unique to me, I could definitely reduce my learning costs by speaking to more and more people. The most important thing is to constantly keep learning – this could be through a short course, reading articles, books etc. The aim is to constantly be relevant.” – Devika Wadhawan

Embrace Your Changing Professional Identity

“I’ve made a switch after 10 years and I often remind myself to not be too attached to my past jobs experiences & professional identities. While it can be valuable, it can also be a hindrance – preventing you from keeping an open mind to new opportunities and personal growth.” – Reuben Gan

“Flexibility is the name of the game. We were taught to have a career in marketing, or finance, or engineering, or even more specific than that, but nobody told us that we can change as many times as we want. We are plural and we have lots of possibilities. So don’t be too attached to your previous role or area. If you are interested in new areas, companies, sectors, I am proof that you can make it.” – Thaís Bueno Rodrigues

Appreciate the Journey (Not Just the Destination)

“Changing careers taught me to be patient, especially with myself. Take breaks to sort through your thoughts and feelings, and observe what is really in your control and what is not. One practice that really helped me do that was journaling on a weekly basis about what I had learned and how I had grown: it helped me see my own progress, better deal with frustration, and block out intentional time to reflect. Career change takes time, so remember to also be disciplined in making time to “celebrate”. – Samanta Fonseca

“The path is not a linear path. Take opportunities that allow you to grow whether they be down, lateral or up. Relationship building and being respectful is core to everything.” – Kelsey Dickerson

“The most important lesson I continue to learn and relearn is that fulfillment/happiness is not a destination that is arrived at when I reach my final professional goal. Rather, it’s about the experiences (both wins and losses) I gain along the path to pursuing my goal.” – Lukasz Czerwinski

“My most helpful lesson was keeping myself open to new possibilities even though I already had a pretty good idea of what I wanted from the start. When I left my home country 5 years ago, my plan was to land a job in the US and build my career from there. Remaining open along the way has taken me to 3 different jobs in 2 different countries, while helping me develop the skills I needed for an international career. Those experiences also gave me the assets I needed to make it happen such as income, flexibility, and lifestyle. Right now I’m the closest I’ve ever been to my initial goal and with everything I need to actually plan my new step.” – Fernanda Oliveira

Be Authentic and Vulnerable

“This process has reinforced the benefits of being open and honest with myself and with anyone I talk to. In a career growth journey, we all want the same thing: for the right people to be in the right positions. That doesn’t always mean that I’m going to end up where I think I want to, but I know I’ll learn and gain something along the way.” – John Cohn

“One of my biggest realizations has been that my career and way of life are not separate. If I want to “make the world a better place” I have to live this to my core. I do this through acceptance and love. Both emotions permeate my work, my life and my values. I cannot avoid doing the personal work while creating my practice – they are one and the same. Knowing that my career is part of my growth process has made me evaluate my morals and expectations of others and myself. Everything starts with you, don’t expect others to care if you are not living authentically.” – Amanda Provenzo

“The most helpful lesson has been realizing I’m part of this bigger shift in worker’s rights that we’re seeing as the ‘Great Resignation.’ As folks recover from this pandemic, we’re all collectively realizing the needs we deserve as employees and as coworkers. The pandemic moved workers to invoke a movement and as a result, employers are reflecting on our collective demands and slowly but surely moving towards a model that centers quality of life. The most helpful resource is the allies you have at work as well as your professional and social network who can share their advice or be a sounding board for your plans. The most helpful practice and habit have been honest and vulnerable conversations with those who have influence over your career about your needs and ambition. It’s important to practice negotiations prior to conflict because that’s when situations can transform from good tension, healthy negotiation, to bad tension.” – Ivy Teng Lei

Test Your Assumptions

“For me, a successful career change has been all about trial-and-error. It’s easy to get complacent without noticing that my field of vision is narrowing. Actively listening and learning about experiences different from mine helps mitigate that. And it’s fascinating! The other thing I realized is that at the end of the day, only I know how I feel about certain options, and that there’s only so much I can know about said options beforehand. It was a hard lesson to learn that sometimes I find out things that make me completely change my mind and feel that I made a bad decision – it is even harder to remind myself that a decision is made with information available at the time, not with everything else I learn after the fact.” – Katalin Kaplar

“The most helpful practice I’ve incorporated is the practice of actively testing my assumptions in small ways.” – Justine Jenné

Operate From a Place of Self-Knowledge

“In a career shift situation it can be easy to get lost trying to cater to what’s out there, but it’s important to define and keep coming back to your own intention for the journey – that will be your guidepost. And it’ll be an iterative process – our intention will keep evolving and mean something different as we grow. As Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems using the same thinking we used when we created them.”” – Jing Han

“It’s important to understand what drives you at work and what energizes you at work. Let that be your guide when choosing what position to apply for as well as and what direction to work towards in your current role.” – Irit Seligman

“One of the biggest lessons that I have learnt is to listen to myself first. While an advisory board is great to give you an insight about business operations and functions, it is imperative that you listen to your heart and decide how much of that advice works for you and how much of it you want to apply. The more you speak to people, the more you hear them out, the more you will be able to reflect and bifurcate your decision. Listen to everyone but make your own decision! Lastly, journaling my thoughts, meditation and keeping a basic routine that suits my timings and my goals has also helped.” – Devika Wadhawan

“A career that connects with your purpose will sustain you till the end.” – Vriti Jain

[Editor’s note: Not sure what yours is? Check out our Guide to Zeroing in On Your Purpose.]

“The most helpful lesson has been to use your passion and purpose as your guide.” – Serge Claude Eboa Edoube

Be Patient & Celebrate Your Progress Along the Way

“For me, what has made all the difference in terms of moving forward in my professional goals has been to change my thinking. I learned how to observe my own thoughts and identify the ones that were holding me back (fear and self-doubt, mostly). Thinking of all of my thoughts as optional, and that I can think and believe whatever I want that will support my future goals, was a total game changer for me. I simply decided that I was going to believe 100% in my ability to achieve my career goal – and after about 6 months of practicing these techniques daily, I landed my dream job!” – Holly Pearson

“Believe in your dream. Your thoughts and character is what makes you unique. Other people might not fully understand your vision, but you could be the perfect person to implement it. Take your time to enjoy the process and the journey. Nobody is chasing you.” – Joelle Atallah

“Gratitude – Having the option to change, having the awareness to do so and having people to support and assist you are all things to be grateful for. Maintain a gratitude diary to share on a daily basis with a friend.” – Chandana Sreerambhatla

Looking for additional support pivoting to a meaningful career that contributes to a sustainable future? Apply to the MovingWorlds Institute Global Fellowship for the confidence, connections, and hands-on experience to launch or grow your social impact career.