Ask Ms. Career Girl: How do I Transition to a Career I Have no Experience in?

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Q: Like you, I was a finance major as an undergrad. Why finance? Because it was what all of the prestigious kids took, of course, and I wanted to waltz around Wall St in thousand dollar suits too!

I actually started undergrad as an English major (I have always had a huge passion and talent for writing) with the dreams of becoming an author someday, but somewhere along the way I was jaded with cynicism and decided it was impossible to have a “real” career as an author. That’s when I made the switch to finance and because I was “good” at it, I never felt the urge to look back.

Now I’m working at a bank in risk management and I hate it. I feel no passion for what I do and its really bringing me down.

Like you, I started a blog as a creative outlet. While blogging has given me a hobby outside of work, I long for a career that I can actually get engaged in.

I’m trying so hard to get into marketing but as I have no experience in the field.  I know if I could just get in the door for an interview I could land a job, but I’m having a tough time even getting in the door.

I’m reading great books about entrepreneurs and feel inspired but I’m also starting to feel hopeless.  Do you have any advice for me?


A:  I can ABSOLUTELY relate.  This was my life for 5 years.  EXACTLY.  Everything you said resonates with me.

After exchanging some emails with you, I know you’re  off to a good start and heading towards a positive career change.  I created my own luck by doing exactly what you are doing right now:
  • Surrounding yourself with things you are passionate about before and after your day job
  • Blogging
  • Meeting other happy women who’ve made positive changes in their careers and lives
  • Like you, I started my own home business.  I did Mary Kay which I learned SO much from. Readers: Natalie recently started a Stella & Dot business after reading last week’s post “From Stiletos to Sweatpants and Back.”
  • Read books about, by and for entrepreneurs.  I feel this was crucial for me for many reasons.

I would also do the following if you aren’t already:

  • Guest post on blogs bigger than yours
  • Meet people who are more successful than you for coffee regularly
  • Take on some freelance marketing clients, even if they can’t pay you.  You could start by contacting companies or organizations that align with your passions (for example, for you perhaps restaurants in your area).  You’ll need this experience for your resume and to give examples during job interviews.  And hey, you never know, maybe one of your freelance clients will become your future employer!
  • Take any opportunity you get to speak (it can be about your passion/blog)
  • See if you can transfer to the marketing department of your bank.  Remember, the answer is always no if you don’t ask!  Even if this is a temporary solution, it will pay the bills, give you experience and get you through this time without having to start at a whole new company.
  • Attend marketing conferences and tweetups.
  • Test out marketing strategies on your blog and Stella & Dot business: start a monthly e-newsletter, make sure you have an email list, run contests on your facbeook page, this is all relevant marketing experience for your resume!
  • Listen to marketing podcasts while at your day job.  I did this while plugging away at spreadsheets at JPMorgan.
  • Take some marketing classes. I took mine at the University of San Francisco and I can honestly say I can’t imagine doing my current job in marketing without having taken them first!

Ultimately what led me to my job now is that I stayed consistent and hell-bent on doing all of the above.  I made a second job out of visualizing then taking actions towards getting to the next chapter of my career story.  It took me a few years of waking up at 5am almost every day and absorbing as much marketing info as I could handle.

Meet as many people as you can and don’t be shy about sharing your curiousity about a new career path in marketing.  Most importantly, stay POSITIVE.

I commend you for starting a Stella & Dot business because it is the perfect first step that satisfies almost all of the above. Mary Kay was a hugely important step of my journey and, honestly, I think S & D has even more to offer.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you end up growing a team and coaching other women into pursuing their passion as a paycheck.  Even if it’s just a creative outlet that gives you something to get excited about, it is more positive energy and successful women coming your way which means more positive things are about to happen.

Try your hardest to compartmentalize your day job. Do a great job while you are at work but focus all of your energy and thoughts on growing your blog, getting marketing experience and growing your Stella & Dot business.  I have no doubt that it will be the seed you need to grow a new career.

Lots of positive energy and opportunity sent your way,



Nicole Emerick

Nicole Emerick founded Ms. Career Girl in 2008 to help other ambitious young professional women thrive in a career they love. Ironically, growing MsCareerGirl helped Nicole transition her own career from commercial banker to digital marketer. Today Nicole leads the social media team at a large advertising agency in Chicago. Nicole also served as an adjunct professor at DePaul University where she helped develop the careers of PR, Advertising and Communications students. Tweet with Nicole @_NicoleEmerick.