Graduating Into A Field That You’ve Turned Your Back On

Your intentions were spot on when starting your education. But now that you’ve finished you’re trained for a career you don’t want anymore. Time for some rescue steps.

Graduating Into A Field That You’ve Turned Your Back On


It seemed like a hella good idea at the time: Dive deep into a specialty area of study, get educated to score a specific kind of job, then lap up the rewards of being narrowly-trained (and oh so hirable). But now you're wondering how to switch career paths.

Along the way, something fractured. Initial excitement vanished. Doubts spread like cracks in shattering glass. By graduation, you make a hard decision: this particular career isn't for you.

Now here you are diploma in hand. Only instead of beaming with hope, you’re sweating over what the hell to do.

Begin by figuring out why you turned your back

All sorts of things may have changed your mind since starting out. Frequently young people chose to specialize their career paths (e.g. mechanic, medicine, landscape design, engineering). But really, how many people know what their life’s work should be at age 17 to 21?

Maybe you lost interest in that particular field or found the courses either too hard or tedious. Did a practicum, placement or internship and the work was wanting.

Another common reason for doing a 180? Didn’t research the profession or program enough beforehand and had a rude shock; for instance, all those juicy jobs supposedly waiting were a myth.

Start exploring career alternatives

Regardless of why you turned against your original choice, it’s time to move forward and plan for how to switch career paths. Hopefully, you’re not dead set against the profession you're studying.

Begin by looking up related careers. Say you studied to be an x-ray technician. What are the closest alternative jobs? Use the Canadian government’s free National Occupational Classification (NOC) guide.

Maybe you still like the medical field, but not a position dealing with patients. Would a career in sales of x-ray equipment be OK? How about in servicing or repairing it?  

Prepare for a tougher job hunt

Generally, the farther you stray from your career-oriented credential, the harder it is to get hired. Unless you have related experience (or damned good connections), that is.

If you do manage to get interviews, you’ll get asked to explain your about-face credibly. They could be opposed to quitters or the indecisive. Also, most other applicants will be better qualified with directly applicable education. Why should an employer take a risk on you?

Might be you’ll have no choice but to upgrade yourself. With relevant volunteer work or internship. Another certificate, diploma or degree. Not an ideal route. 

Consider sticking with your original major

A different escape from your career conundrum: find work in the career path you’ve studied for but rejected. First jobs offer substantial learning opportunities, to say nothing of helping pay down student loans.

You’d then have time to investigate other professions gradually. In the interim, you’ll be gaining workplace skills, connections and references. Proving to future employers, you’re less dicey. It may require revisiting how to switch career paths after several years, but that can be more manageable when still young and relatively footloose.