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A new career

(22 Posts)
Hikez Tue 10-May-16 11:32:15

Hello all.

I'm fairly new here so I hope you don't mind me starting a new topic.

I'm looking for some advice re changing careers. I've read a number of posts on MN on the subject of careers before and always thought them to be very useful.

My background. I graduated 12 years ago with a degree that I now regret doing. I wasn't really given any advice at the time other than 'Get a degree and it'll all be ok' and being the first in my family to get a chance at uni my (very supportive) parents were not able to really help. I was one of those teens who didn't really know much of the world and so went along with it. After graduating I went in to retail banking where i spent 10 years. I did ok there but longed for something else and eventually redundancy saw to that. I have ended up working in Projects for a very small business and that went well. Now that is at an end, I'm unsure what to do next.

I want to gain meaningful professional employment and I'm scared that now I'm in my mid 30's I don't have much time to sort this. I'm not against returning to uni part time to earn another (more useful) degree if this will help but I really don't want to end up wasting more time and money this time in my life.

I really want to turn things around. I realise that this is all down to me etc but I'm just in panic mode atm and was hoping somebody on MN might be able to offer any words of caution / advice.

Thanks so much for reading.

Hikez Tue 10-May-16 15:32:03

Apologies if I have posted this in the wrong area. I have seen the 'Work' section. Would it be possible to have this moved? blush

AdjustableWench Tue 10-May-16 16:10:35

Have you taken time to think about what you really want to do?
I think there are careers advisers, and also online questionnaires that can help.
Sorry, I don't know much about this because I'm quite settled at work, but didn't want to read and run. But I would imagine that the most important thing is to consider what kind of work would be fulfilling to you. And then think about whether it's practical - would you need to go back into education, how would the pay and conditions work for you, etc.

Hikez Tue 10-May-16 16:45:07

Thank you for taking the time to reply.

I do like the idea of working in engineering. From what I have read, a degree (poss HND ect) is going to be essential. It puts me off that all engineering firms that are recruiting seem to want experience too. I've also read that large numbers of engineering grads go into other sectors straight after uni.

AdjustableWench Tue 10-May-16 17:23:13

Oh gosh, engineering sounds exciting! I wish I had the maths (but hey, I have other skills).
Again, I know next to nothing about this, but would you get experience during your degree with firms that might give you some more experience once you graduate?

Hikez Tue 10-May-16 18:02:29

I'd have to do this part time so experience would have to be soured else where. It does make me nervous but I've always liked the idea of it. What industry are you in if you don't mind me asking?

thesandwich Tue 10-May-16 18:05:54

Try the free icould website for some ideas. The national careers service offer free advice. You are not too old for an apprenticeship!!

rockchick78 Tue 10-May-16 18:11:45

I went back to college to study engineering at 28, I'm now 37 and selling bathrooms, nobody else I went to college with has managed to get into the sector either - not trying to put a dampener on it, that's just my experience...!

PastaLaFeasta Tue 10-May-16 18:13:30

I'm similar, random degree and little direction. Went into the civil service but am considering a proper career route. I'm trying a new direction but am not completely sure. Apprenticeships usually aren't an option if you have a degree. If you have contacts, friends of friend etc who are in the industry you are interested in then try to talk to them or even get shadowing for a day to get a better feel for it. You don't want to commit time and money without trying it. I'm lucky to have picked a career where I don't need a specialist degree so can dip my toe without much money/time sunk.

AdjustableWench Tue 10-May-16 18:21:47

Ah yes, part time would make it a bit more difficult, but might still be possible, if you can find a firm that will give you some experience. I'm in education - rewarding but also quite challenging at times. Sometimes I fantasise about going into nursing, just because I find it interesting, but I have kids and it would be pretty tough changing career at the moment.

Hikez Tue 10-May-16 18:27:41

What direction did you choose?

What level of qual did you study and in what field?

I understand what you mean re getting some experience in first. I don't know anyone who could help but engineering is a pretty vast field and hopefully I will find my place.

Thanks so much for replying.

Hikez Tue 10-May-16 18:30:56


My friend is a nurse. She keeps reasonable hours these days now she's a mum. Also she has always been well paid. It made me wonder why everybody thought nurses were on poor pay! She is very happy in her work life.

BeachysSandyFlipFlops Tue 10-May-16 18:51:03

Maybe try to use your banking skills to get into a Finance or Treasury position within an engineering firm. I'm not sure which bit of engineering you find attractive? Maybe try to narrow what bit you want and then look for a company that could offer that?

Retraining in a trade like electricians, plumbers etc is pretty lucrative. I know a number of female electricians near me who are in strong demand?

PastaLaFeasta Tue 10-May-16 18:51:09

I'm hoping to enter finance and accounting, possibly not appealing after working in banking. I have some low level exams and might do more before job hunting in September. I expect to start from the bottom but it's also just a route into businesses and from there I may find a different route appeals.

Hikez Tue 10-May-16 19:49:35


What's your previous experience. It's a great industry if you can get on in it.

I have to pop out but will be back to check replies.

AuntieMeemz Tue 10-May-16 20:26:37

I changed work/career totally from the Civil Service, at 25 (went travelling the world, not a career in itself though!), then at 40, and finally at 55!
I did a degree when I was younger, and had no idea what to do with it (Except that I wanted to see Russia in the freezing snow-which I did)
Each time I was scared I'd never get another job, especially at 55. I'm not super intelligent, or super skilled, I'm probably less skilled than most people.
My Mum said when I was 17, always do what you WANT to do, not what you think you should do, and plan how to make it work.
Choosing and planning your direction when there are so many options is the hard bit, but that's what will make it work.
For someone with youth on your side, you may be able to find a cheap evening course, and perhaps reduce your work hours slightly.(to keep the income coming in whilst you change direction) Your local council probably has free business advisers/career advisers, you local college may well offer these services free too, even if you are not a student. You may be able to get good advice by seeing if there are any Open University Courses, which will give you an idea on a route into a career via their courses. You may be able to get the advice you need without having to sign up for a course. Your local parish council may offer study grants too.
Hope all this rambling in some ways, can help. I wish you the best of luck. Apologies if I have caused any offence!

Mumoftwoyoungkids Tue 10-May-16 20:40:18

Engineering is a very very wide field.

I am the daughter, wife, dil and SIL of engineers so can tell you a little about different options.

Dad - Civil Engineer. Went to work at County Council straight from university. Stayed there until retirement. Specialised in bridges. Spent a good few years on site that he really enjoyed. Slowly became a manager, liked that less but eventually moved into road safety that has little to do with engineering but he really enjoyed. Never earned huge sums but paid ok and stonking good pension. Unfortunately pay has apparently got worse and pensions are no longer stonking.

FIL - apprentice in hardware engineering. Worked his way up. Eventually owned his own factory. Still worked occasionally on factory floor. Made decent money but not millionaire type.

Dh - did the Cambridge general engineering degree. Discovered he preferred the computer side to the "real" engineering side. (Didn't realise pre university that he was good at computers as he didn't have one!) Now works in IT. Much better paid than engineering.

BIL - hardware engineering - set up own small company, still does a lot of the hands on stuff.

hilbobaggins Tue 10-May-16 21:12:13

I had a career change (became a careers coach) in my mid-30s and in my experience plenty of people start to ask these questions in their mid to late 30s. I found The Pathfinder by Nicholas Lore fantastically helpful during my career change - lots of exercises that really helped me think about what I wanted, what I was good at and what was important to me. And lots of practical suggestions about generating career ideas and making decisions. You can do this - it just takes time and effort!!

JenniferYellowHat1980 Tue 10-May-16 21:17:25

I'm currently changing careers from teaching to a band 3 clinical post in the NHS. I'm also doing Access to Science which is costing £1k. As luck would have it, there is a training pathway to take me to band 5 without having to do an unpaid 3 year degree. There are lots of options I've considered though, and with your background I imagine you have more obviously transferable experience than me.

Hikez Tue 10-May-16 22:27:47

Thank you to all who have replied. It's reassuring to hear that other people know what I mean and have done the same themselves. I always find it interesting to know what others have done, especially those who manage a complete career change.

SpotOfWeather Tue 10-May-16 23:00:15

Retail banking is grim! Been there, got the t-shirt. After 7 years I couldn't bear it any more, considered a complete change of career for same reasons as yours, but didn't have the guts so changed jobs 'sideways'. I am now utilizing the skills I had before, but I am also learning new skills which are essential in my new role. I love what I do now although it's been much harder to gain new skills than I expected - after many years in the same place you get used to being an expert, and starting slowly and clumsily in new areas was not easy.

Hikez Tue 10-May-16 23:21:51


I know what you mean about having guts. For years I wrestled with it. Now, I don't want to waste anymore time. It's now or never!! smile

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