Why You Might Need to Pivot From Academia

Let’s face it, there’s no perfect time to pivot in your career. It’s not easy to make the leap from one drastically different field or even an adjacent field. Especially for academics, they can be caught up in semester schedules that often leave little time for the thought of career pivots.

Career pivots take time due to the need to acquire new skills, build experience, network, and understand industry nuances. The process is also influenced by factors such as job searching, creating tailored resumes, overcoming resistance from others in the industry, and personal considerations, all of which contribute to the time required for a successful transition.

Here are a few primary reasons why it may be time to make a career pivot.

Reasons for Making A Career Pivot

  1. Unhappiness with Current Career:
    • Your mental health is paramount, and discontent with your current career can significantly impact your well-being.
    • Pivoting becomes a valid option when you find yourself disliking your job or career path, as prioritizing your happiness and fulfillment is essential.
    • Stress, both mental and physical, stemming from dissatisfaction in your professional life can adversely affect your overall health – physical and mental.
  2. Financial Concerns:
    • Beyond mental health, financial considerations often play a crucial role in the decision to pivot.
    • While a purposeful career is fulfilling, financial stability is vital. If your current career doesn’t align with your financial goals and responsibilities, it may be a strong motivation to explore alternative paths.
    • The financial implications become even more pronounced when supporting a family, making the need for a change more compelling.
  3. Work/Life Balance:
    • Work-life balance is a significant factor influencing career decisions, sometimes prompting individuals to pivot.
    • In cases where a career, such as software engineering, begins encroaching on personal life, the imbalance may serve as a catalyst for change.
    • Balancing professional responsibilities with personal time allows for meaningful investments in relationships, fostering stronger social connections and support systems.

I Need To Pivot – Where Do I Start?

There’s no concrete plan for career pivoting. People pivot from all sorts of fields to new fields.

The best thing you can do is to talk to people. Talk to as many people as possible and forge a new plan elsewhere. Conduct informational interviews – read articles about people with careers that interest you. Above all else, be diligent and continue pushing yourself to learn something new.

If your network is small, branch out online and meet people in online communities or make a LinkedIn profile. Look for people with a job title that interests you and reach out!

Additionally, look at jobs that interest you and highlight skills that are most common in the job ads. Create a list of skills you can focus on and make a portfolio to show off those skills.

Lastly, some folks often try boot camps or pursue a new degree.

Learn From Other Academics Who Pivoted

Some of the careers already featured on the After Your PhD include:

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Founder – Ryan Collins PhD