Think it’s hard to give up a career that you have spent years building up? Try 12 years — that’s how long Eunice spent as a successful telemarketer before making a switch. Although now pursuing her passion in community service, she didn’t expect that she would be unemployed for almost a year before getting the right job.
Here are five lessons from Eunice’s job-seeking journey.
Lesson #1: Even the best careers have a lifespan
Like most people seeking their first jobs, Eunice stumbled on a path and followed it. Telemarketing suited her and before she knew it, 12 years had passed. “It was a rewarding career,” she shared, “I had enough money to pursue a business diploma and a degree in financial management, and also to buy a home.”
But success came with a price; work stress had seriously affected her health and it made her re-think her long-term career goals. “I realised I wanted to do something I was truly passionate about,” she said, “I wanted to give back to the community, even if it’s totally different from what I’d done before.”
Lesson #2: Passion only gets you so far
With her passion to help others and to make a tangible difference in others’ lives, what kind of career would be a good fit for Eunice? Her first step was to take on an administrative role at a youth centre. This meant a substantial pay cut but she followed through on her belief that it would take her far. However, after two years, she realised that she wanted more out of her job—she wanted to make a difference on the ground.
“Nursing was the first thing that came to my mind,” she recalled, “But interviewers told me I didn’t have the qualifications or experience.”
Weeks became months as she searched and waited for potential employers to call back. “When I still couldn’t get a job after more than 6 months, I started to worry about my finances,” she added, “The bills were piling up and that really scared me.”
Was this the end of Eunice’s dream to find a meaningful new career?
Key takeaway: Passion can lead to success at the workplace, but you need realistic goals as well.
Lesson #3: Do your homework
Eunice started to do extensive self-reflection and research, like mapping out her strengths and weaknesses, listing down the possible career options in Community Services, as well as the training and qualifications she would need.
“I enjoy talking to seniors very much and decided that I could pursue training in this area,” she said, “But I needed some help to bridge the gap — between what I wanted to achieve and how I could get there.”
One of her friends suggested approaching a Workforce Singapore (WSG) career centre for advice. She recalled thinking, “Perhaps a career coach could guide me on the next steps to take.”
Key takeway: Map out your options and have a plan on how to achieve it. Don’t be afraid to ask for some help.
Lesson #4: You don't have to figure it out alone
Eunice was quite nervous for her appointment at WSG’s Woodlands career centre. Questions swirled in her mind, “Would the career coach’s assessment conclude that I was better suited to telemarketing after all?” She really didn’t know what to expect.
Her worries were unfounded. She smiled as she recalled, “My coach was professional and friendly, and ultimately, she assessed that I was indeed suitable for the Community Services sector.” Her hard work also paid off; because she had researched her training options, her coach was able to register Eunice for the appropriate course right away. “My financial worries were also eased,” she added, “as my coach also helped me to apply for a WSG grant that provided a training allowance.”
All set on the right track at last, Eunice embarked on a 5-month course that included opportunities to observe first-hand the different aspects and sometimes harsh realities of Community Services. But Eunice didn’t waver.
“With these experiences, I’m more confident that this is a career path that I want to commit to!” Eunice exclaimed, when asked if she ever regretted her decision.
Key takeaway: A career coach can be an invaluable guide for your career direction.
Lesson #5: You never stop learning
Upon completing her training, Eunice found a job through her training provider as a Programme Executive at the Pacific Activity Centre. She now spends her time caring for seniors.
Although she had learned a lot, Eunice knew she would need time to understand and grow into her new role. “Thankfully, I have very supportive bosses,” she said, “More importantly, I kept the fire going in me and took on new challenges as learning opportunities. Not every senior would be satisfied with the programmes and activities I’d designed, so I take that as feedback to adapt and make changes accordingly.”
Today, she is healthier and takes pride in her ability to plan enjoyable and meaningful activities for the seniors under her care. Eunice concluded, “I enjoy talking and interacting with them and I’m thankful that I'd made the right decision to change careers.”
Key takeaway: There is always something new you can learn to keep improving and growing.
Why not seek professional advice if you are at a career crossroad? A neutral assessment can reveal your blind spots as well as hidden opportunities.
Make an appointment today at a WSG or Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) career centre.