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Hitting a Career Curveball


August 4, 2017

Unless you play for the Oklahoma City Dodgers, life's curveballs are typically metaphorical.

One curveball most of us deal with in life is a change in jobs or career. Years of learning, practice and experience in one field or area of expertise can sometimes feel wasted when "starting over." But the truth is wherever you've been, and whatever your transitioning to, will provide competitive advantages in your new role. Don't dwell on a loss of what's in the past, but remind yourself of what you bring to the future.

I recently transitioned from working as a reporter at a daily newspaper to my current role as an account executive in a public relations firm. Further, I moved from a small city in rural, southeast Oklahoma to the state's capital, Oklahoma City. My life changed drastically in almost every sense, and it would be forgivable if I felt a sense of loss in the process.

But look at the opportunities!

  • I work alongside more than a dozen sharp and experienced individuals in the field of public relations. My training as a journalist allows me to quickly and efficiently learn through many, many questions.    
  • I worked for years to serve the citizens and readers in the community I reported on. This service-oriented attitude provides a perfect way to transition into serving clients within the field of public relations.
  • Personal skills developed through hundreds of interactions with prominent local, state and national leaders taught me to responsibly interact with anyone I'll end up meeting in my new career field.

I could go on and on about my situation, but I'm not the only one who changes careers. In every case, there are ways you can use your differences to your advantage. Imagine a truck driver who decides to open his own sandwich shop. Two very different professions, right? Operating business functions and stocking supplies might be a challenge, but just imagine all the sandwich styles he encountered during his travels. He might bring a taste for regional foods not seen in his local market.

What about the manager of a construction firm who decides she'd rather venture into an online floral retail business. Those are pretty different, but her work in managing and operating construction crews will lead to a good understanding of online employee management or quality customer service. There is always a strength!

One last example, circling back to baseball — those men who spend their days trying to hit the literal curveballs in games here in OKC will likely never again physically bat a ball after their career ends. But everything they learn about operating as a team for the benefit of others will serve them well in life. Before you know it they'll be hitting metaphorical career home runs, just like they do at the ballpark now.

Stick to your strengths as you start a new job or career, and you'll knock it out of the park too.

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