Know when to switch careers

Tuesday December 5 2017

Switching careers can be disastrous as it can be fulfilling. Those who wish to do it should be careful not to misfire.

Job seekers check out for their names at a recent interview shortlist. File photo 

By Eric Kyama

Having spent four years as an engineer, Japheth Kiwanuka is getting second thoughts about continuing with his engineering career. The 29-year-old has two reasons he says have brought about a change of heart. His newly found love for acting and the fact that for all the time he practiced engineering, he found it boring and therefore less satisfying.
At a point in a person’s career path, there is likelihood of getting second thoughts on whether to continue in the same career. However, before one fully decides to switch, a number of factors/considerations have to be put in place. According to Nathan Balirwana Mugalu, a mentor at Transformation Mentorship Bureau, one must think carefully about their decision to avoid misfiring.
There is an age one cannot easily switch careers. Balirwana believes that people who are 45 years and above are likely not to find it easy to switch careers. “Switching to another career requires one’s ability to adapt easily to the new career’s demands,” he says. “This is usually hard for people who have aged because they may not easily adapt to the pressure that may come with a new career,” he adds.
He also says sometimes switching careers may depend on what exactly a person is going to do.
People joining consultancy, Balirwana says, are most likely to easily adapt since they have reached a certain level of professionalism and have attained the required skills for them to do consultancy work in a field they have specialised in.
Similarly, Ivan Mugere, the founding director infosis Uganda, asserts that switching careers is easy for youth.
“Young people are always adventurous and flexible,” he says. This, according to him, makes it easy for them to easily adapt to the demands that may come with the new career. Mugere also says despite the fact that young people are at an advantage, they still have to be careful when making such a decision. “For instance, one has to look at their personal abilities before switching,” he says.

Socio-economic dynamics
“Some careers are likely to put you away from the community and yet improve you financially,” says Balirwana.
This is evident amongst people who join science-related careers. Most of these require one to spend most of their time in the laboratory. However, there are some careers that are likely to bring someone closer to the community for example a career in marketing or journalism. That said some careers are more rewarding financially compared to others. “Change of career may come with consequences such as financial challenges,” says Balirwana.

Family dynamics
It is public knowledge that whichever career a person chooses is likely to affect the well-being of their family either positively or negatively. For instance, switching to a career that requires a lot of time, Balirwana believes, is likely to affect someone who is married and has children.
“Having a family calls for one to get some time to attend to their needs,” he says. Short of this, Balirwana adds, a person is likely to face challenges such as family breakdown because they spare less time for their family. In this case, he advises, if one is to switch from one career to another, they have to opt for one that enables them get some time for their family that is if they are married and have children.

Be careful
According to Ivan Mugere, the founding director infosis Uganda, switching careers may sometimes become the loss of one’s professional family. “Most of the time when one changes from one career to another, a gap between them and their previous colleagues is likely to develop,” he says. This, he adds, can affect one’s socio-network which may in the long run lead to one living an isolated life.
Mugere also believes that at times there is a likelihood of one becoming financially stressed since adapting to a new career may take long. If not well planned, switching from one career to another, Nathan Balirwana Mugalu, says, is likely to crash someone professionally. “Proper planning in preparation for one to switch careers is crucial,” he says adding that a person is likely to lose their specialty in a particular field. This is also a consequence that arises due to improper planning.