The Post-Pandemic Career Change

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The past year has been, if nothing else, a time of constant change.

Doors are opening and closing left and right in the professional world, and plenty of people are walking through them. Rather than standing rigid against this tide of change, perhaps it's time to go with the flow and consider a new career. This could simply mean taking the same position at a new job, or choosing an entirely new career path that makes you truly happy long-term.

Elizabeth Burnson is one local professional who decided to make the change, leaving her role at Spectrum Health for a position as business development manager at Warner Norcross + Judd LLP.

"I was in a community relations role at Spectrum Health for over seven years when the pandemic hit," Burnson said. "I loved the work I did, as well as my employer. It was a great opportunity to make meaningful connections in our community while working for an organization that made a difference.

"But when the world slowed down because of COVID-19, it forced me to think about what I loved most about my job and how I could find something that would allow me to spend more time on developing those skills and talents."

The pandemic presented a unique opportunity to rethink her career path, and while the world may be more open and active than it was in 2020, those opportunities are still present.

There are a number of good reasons to change careers. Maybe you're looking for more benefits, especially amidst our tumultuous economy. Or you want room to grow and advance—is your position providing you that opportunity? Culture is key, too. If your current job isn't meeting your work-life balance or making you feel welcome and respected, it may be time to make a career change.

Consider this an opportunity to take a step back and examine your life. Look for things you've been doing without thinking about whether they really bring you happiness—it may be time to move on. But to know how to move on, it's important to focus on what does fulfill you.

"Really think about what motivates and energizes you," Burnson said.

Look back on your current and past jobs—which aspects of your work brought you joy and fulfillment? You don't need to find a new job that offers those exact same tasks, however. Instead, think about the personal skills you used in those moments, and how they could be used in a different field or position.

For instance, Burnson was originally connecting to the community. Today, she's still making connections, but now they're between attorneys and individuals or businesses who need help to succeed. It's the same skill in a totally different environment, and it's working out great for her. "It has been an exceptional year of growth and development in many areas, both personally and professionally."

Of course, switching careers right now does involve new challenges. For Burnson, the interview process involved panel discussions via Zoom and masked, distanced discussions, making it harder to read the room and deliver her message. Still, the great culture of Warner shone through it all, making it clear it was the right place for her.

Once you've identified the kind of career change you'd like to make, it's all about networking. Update your LinkedIn, ask for any possible connections on social media (it's not embarrassing, we promise), and reconnect with those connections that may have drifted away during the pandemic. You never know what kinds of opportunities are out there until you start looking.

Changing careers can be terrifying, but that doesn't mean it's not worth it. Do what makes you happy and fulfilled, which will in turn lead to your friends, family and coworkers being happier around you, too.

"Life is about learning and developing, so take risks to help you grow," Burnson said.

Written by Josh Veal, Contributing Writer for West Michigan Woman.

This article originally appeared in the Oct/Nov 2021 issue of West Michigan Woman.


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