Changing Fields: Advice from a Career Coach
Today’s career dilemma is addressed by Chrissy Scivicque, founder of eatyourcareer.com.
I love your blog and the career advice you give, so I felt you were the perfect person to ask about my career dilemma. I currently work in the financial world and am eager to make a switch into marketing. Although I don’t have any agency experience in marketing, for the past few years I have been doing online marketing and social media consulting. I also have a blog, have taken online classes on the subject and have a decent online presence.
Would you recommend that I focus on increasing my freelance clientele or do you think it’s better to get some corporate experience in marketing before going out on my own? As always, thanks for your advice!”
First off, congratulations on all of your career success so far. Don’t get so bogged down trying to figure out your next move that you lose sight of all you’ve accomplished. Take a minute to celebrate your victories!
Okay, now, let’s look at your dilemma: To stay in corporate America soaking up experience or head out on your own into the world of Marketing “2.0”. Big question.
Certainly there is something to be said for learning the ropes of an industry before setting out on your own. However, it sounds like you’ve been doing that for a little while now—quite successfully, in fact. Even though you’ve been working in the financial world, you’ve been out there learning on your own and physically implementing your marketing knowledge. Sounds like you’ve been holding down two jobs…which can get exhausting, I know.
There are pros and cons to staying in the corporate world to gain some hands-on marketing experience. Just like there are pros and cons to going out on your own. So, you need to evaluate your goals and where each option fits in with your goals. I’m going to outline some questions I’d like you to think about.
- If you were to stay in the corporate world, what specific experience would you hope to gain?
- How would it serve you when you eventually do head out on your own?
- How long are you willing to spend getting that experience?
- Do you feel financially secure enough to go out on your own now? If not, how much would you like to have saved?
- What appeals to you about being self-employed?
- If you went out on your own now, what struggles do you think you would have? What can you do to help minimize those struggles?
- What has been your experience with your freelance clients thus far? Did you feel adequately prepared to meet their needs?
- Is there a service that you’d like to offer to your freelance clients that you can’t because you don’t know enough about it?
In my experience, I’ve seen that effective, energetic and experienced marketing professionals are in great demand. In this field, building your online presence and network appear to be more important than building your resume. Of course, a corporate/agency marketing job would offer you many things you just can’t get on your own, including valuable industry contacts, so you’ll need to weigh the importance of these things.
Going into business for yourself requires more than simply knowing your field and the job. You have to market yourself, sell your services, track and manage your income and expenses, and a whole host of other things that aren’t always fun. With your background and experience (and your obvious intelligence) I have no doubt that you could do it very successfully if that’s the road you choose. Surely there will be stumbles and fears, but there’s no avoiding that when you’re carving a path of your own.
Review the questions I listed above and be honest in your answers. If you choose to stay in the corporate world, focus on gaining experience, expanding your network, and saving some money. But give yourself a finite period of time. Make it one year, two years, whatever you need. Outline exactly what you want to accomplish in that time frame and then make your move.
Also, look for other options. You outlined an either/or scenario: You’re looking to either increase your freelance clientele or find fulltime employment in marketing/PR/digital media. Might there be a middle-road that you haven’t considered? These days (with the economy fluctuating so much) many companies are hiring part-timers and contractors. Could you possibly find a part-time or contract role in marketing that would allow you plenty of time to increase your freelance client load at the same time? Look for ways to break out of your limited thought patterns and find new opportunities.
Unfortunately, I can’t just give you a simple answer. This is something that requires your full commitment, whatever you choose. So the decision has to be yours. Focus on your career needs and how each of the various options will help you meet those needs. And seek one-on-one career guidance for more in-depth assistance.