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Considering a Career Change? Why Seeking Additional Education Might Be Right for You

Courtesy of Saint Joseph’s University

The way we work has changed drastically over the past two years. You’ve probably altered your office layout — maybe you bought a better desk chair or spruced up the room itself. Zoom is now both a noun and a verb, and remote work has become the de facto norm for most businesses.

What people think about their work has changed, too. Many workers across the country are taking the reins in their careers and reconsidering what they want out of their jobs.

In what has come to be known as the Great Resignation, employees are reconsidering their career trajectory. A Motley Fool study found that 20 percent of workers have changed careers since the start of the pandemic, while the Harvard Business Review found a similar 20 percent number in the resignation rate of workers aged 30 to 45.

“People are taking control of their careers and making decisions about their work-life balance,” says Josh Power, the executive director of graduate and extended studies in Saint Joseph’s University’s College of Arts and Sciences and School of Health Studies and Education. “They’re also seeing that, in order to pivot professionally, they may need more education or training.” 

At schools like Saint Joseph’s, programs offering micro credentials and graduate and non-credit certificates have become increasingly common, offering a comprehensive curriculum designed to help students — most of whom are career professionals — receive the specific skills and network they need. 

“At Saint Joseph’s, we’re committed to developing an academic portfolio at the intersection of student interest and societal need,” says Dr. Cheryl McConnell, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Saint Joseph’s. “This includes providing students with options like stackable certificates and non-credit bootcamps so they can gain the knowledge and experience they need to adapt and apply skills to the workforce immediately.”

By utilizing the programs institutions like Saint Joseph’s offer, there are ways to ensure you’re prepared for your next venture. Here are some tips to keep in mind to ensure a smooth and successful transition into a new career field.

Consider All Your Options

At Saint Joseph’s, opportunities to enter a new career come in many different forms. There are non-credit certificates designed to teach a specific skill set — for instance, STACK Education’s coding bootcamp and clinical certificates, or Green Flower’s cannabis education certificate

The cannabis industry is the fastest growing job market in the country, while the spotlight on clinical trials has grown brighter amidst the development of the COVID-19 vaccines. Saint Joseph’s courses, created with adult learners in mind, are designed to be taken both in-person and online to allow students flexibility around their day-to-day routines.

“If you’re looking for an opportunity to initiate a career change, think about the education and courses you’ll need to be successful,” Dr. Power says. “Consider all of all your options and how they may benefit you moving forward.”

And while learning a new skill or trade isn’t always easy, especially for those who haven’t been in a classroom in a while, preparing for these challenges is the first and most important step.

“Depending on how long people have been away from learning a new skill, it can be really painful,” says Peggy Yu, CEO at STACK Education who also works as a career counselor at Harvard University’s business school. “The hardest part is making that commitment and then choosing training that includes both technical and professional acceleration skills. Those are the types of things that employers look for.”

Take Advantage of Available Resources 

Micro credentials and certificate programs are set up to provide students with the specialized expertise they’ll need to enter a new career. At Saint Joseph’s, programs are integrated across its different schools, and in partnerships with organizations like Green Flower, which provides its own instructors and curriculum.

Meanwhile, in STACK Education’s certificate program, students conduct real-world projects with industry professionals to help them understand the type of work they’ll be doing in their career. 

“A stackable credential allows you to demonstrate a specific skill set and a mastery of a body of knowledge in a much shorter time frame,” Dr. Power says. “At the same time, it’s important for students to understand the level of time and commitment required for the program.”

Keep An Open Mind

Though you might not have direct experience entering a new profession, there are still tangible benefits you can add to a company. Being an outsider presents the opportunity to bring new ideas to a business. 

“Changing careers means coming in with a fresh perspective and, through a certificate or micro credential, with aptitude,” Yu says. “A lot of employers love the idea of having folks come in who don’t have any preconceived notions of how things should be.”

Dr. Power adds that drawing upon the critical thinking and problem solving skills you’ve honed in previous roles can also be helpful. If you’re able to combine what you’ve learned with your innate abilities, you’ll become a more attractive candidate, and, once you enter a new role, a valued employee. 

“Being willing to invest in your own growth is the best way to demonstrate to employers that you’re serious about expanding the way that you can contribute to whatever field you may be looking to work in,” Dr. Power says. “Saint Joseph’s wants to provide students with transferable future-proof skills that will empower them to adapt to a work landscape that’s always changing.”

For more information on the different continuing education, micro credential and certificate programs at Saint Joseph’s University, head here