Interested in Making a Career Change? Here’s How Veronica Coleman did it.

Many people interested in changing careers have an idea of what they want to do, but may not realize how they need to prepare to be successful through the transition. Veronica Coleman found herself in this position a few years ago when she decided to go back to school for an MBA and discovered a love for finance. Veronica went on to not only change careers, but essentially build her own business from the ground up as a financial advisor for Edward Jones in Granite City, Ill.

For anyone looking to change industries or career paths altogether, Veronica’s advice on changing careers will help with the transition. Here’s what she had to say about experiencing such a shift in her own life:

Do your homework.
“If you’re in a career you’re not passionate about and you’re thinking of changing, find something you truly care about. Talk to people who are currently in that industry and even people who left the industry. Make sure you’re pursuing something you’re passionate about and do the necessary research to make sure you understand what’s required of you and what you will need to give up to achieve a level of success in that role.”

Don’t allow yourself to have a Plan B.
“As a financial advisor, I’m aware of the high attrition rate in my industry. From the beginning, I told myself I would do the work to make sure I would make it. There was no Plan B. I think when you have a Plan B, it’s easier to bail out when you’re faced with unexpected challenges.”

Anticipate obstacles.
“As a financial advisor, I essentially run my own business, so going from an employee to a business owner was a challenging transition. Now, I’m the visionary and the driver of all the things that need to get done. Because of how drastic my change was, it took some time for me to understand what my responsibilities in this new role had to look like and how I could implement them.”

“In Granite City, I faced an unexpected challenge of breaking into the community as a new business owner. I think it’s hard for anyone to enter into a new community and feel accepted immediately, but finding the people who would consider me valuable wasn’t an obstacle I imagined facing. It took time, but I’ve found the people who accept me – even though I’m not originally from the community – and trust my advice for their lives.”

Enlist your support network.
“I’m a single mom, and relying on my support network was the only way I was able to successfully go back to school and start a new career while raising my son. My family and members from my church were who I leaned on through the hard times. During evenings when I had to stay late and days filled with trainings, I called on anyone in my family or an older member from my church to take in my son and help him with schoolwork. Without their help, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to make the transition.”

Incorporate your unique background.
“When I worked in the social service industry, I helped families navigate the court systems and got to know many of them while they were going through one of the most difficult times of their lives. Through that process, I had to identify the underlying causes behind the delinquent behavior and figure out what would really benefit each family. Then, I would refer them to different services that were best for their needs.”

“In a lot of ways, I get to take that same approach in what I do today. I love that I’m still responsible for helping families progress through various stages in their lives, and that I keep my clients first and do what’s right for them. It’s great to see people’s dreams realized.”

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Emily Knippa

Emily Knippa is a St. Louis-based marketer and writer who focuses on content marketing, career development, and personal finance. She enjoys meeting people pursuing inspiring career paths. She’d love to meet you at the next United Way event. Say hello to Emily on Twitter at @emilyknippa.