Conquering Career Fear This Halloween

The phrase “career change” gets a bad rep.

When I first told friends and family I was leaving my previous employer, I received many different reactions. Some quickly appeared shocked, as if I had told them I was leaving modern day comforts to live amongst the wolves. While others acted completely fearful, like they just heard the theme song from Jaws or Halloween and they were just waiting for someone to say, “look out!”

But honestly, a career change is not all that bad; it can actually be a good thing! I reinvented my path completely and still came out on the other side of the rabbit hole.

Suits and ties a la Justin Timberlake and cubicle nation. My previous employer screamed corporate America! When I first took the job, I was not fully prepared for what it would be like to work for a large corporation, and be a tiny minnow in a giant ocean of sharks.

I knew after only three weeks that it was not for me. I thought in a similar way as this famously grumpy cat. - less than pleased. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted. Between figuring out the type of role I’d be happiest in, and the kind of company I needed to look for, I had a crazy thought. “What about a startup?”

At a MassChallenge job fair, I was approached by a Startup Institute team member. We talked for a few minutes about the classes, acceptance rate, job placement percentage, etc. I walked away seriously considering applying. It was exactly what I needed – a huge change and an immersive experience into a culture and an industry that I knew nothing about.

A few days later, I connected with her on LinkedIn. She messaged me that the Boston team was looking for a Marketing Associate, and although it was a short-term contract position, she thought I would be a good fit. Naturally, I blew them out of the water with my charm and charisma, acing the interview. As of last week, I am the newest member of the Startup Institute Boston team.

Stepping into a new world, I had no idea what to expect. I felt like it was my first day of elementary school, wondering if the cool kids would like me and if I would have someone to sit with at lunch. I wore jeans, which felt foreign, and I just hoped I would not commit any embarrassing gaffes.

Luckily, things went better than expected. By the end of the week, I felt completely exhausted, but entirely fulfilled and satisfied with my job for the first time in a long time.

The point? Changing your career does not have to be scary. I left complete job security, a comfortable salary, benefits and a nice vacation package, and arrived to a short-term job, no security and no benefits.

I have never been happier! And as the Dalai Lama said, “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes with our own actions.”


Adrian Finch is currently a marketing associate with Startup Institute Boston. Connect with her on Twitter @anfinch1