Tips for Making a Career Change – From a 3X Successful Career Changer
A 3X successful career changer, Drew Schuetz’s career path has included moves from San Francisco to Chicago to Wisconsin, and now back to California – with roles as a flight attendant, a telecom account executive, and a university tech services professional.
Early in 2017, Drew leveraged his then newly-earned MBA and BBA – earned back-to-back – to make his latest career change into marketing and product management with Princess Cruises. He is a classic example of career change success. Drew and I got the opportunity to sit and chat about his journey.
Making a Career Change: Interview Notes from a 3x Successful Career Changer
What Steps Did You Take to Begin Your Career Change?
The first time I enrolled,” Drew remembers, “I left college after 6 months because I didn’t know what I wanted to study.” Loving travel, becoming a flight attendant made sense. When he saw that opportunities for career advancement were limited in this field, he became a sales account exec for a telecom company.
After he had lost three opportunities for promotion, Drew’s mentor told him not having an undergrad or a graduate degree was hurting him. From there, he made the decision to earn his AA (and got his company to pay for it!) while working, then entered a full-time, fast-track BA-to-MBA Program.
What Was Your Biggest Challenge During Your Journey?
“It takes a lot of mental toll to turn your life upside down,” Drew says. To complete his education sooner rather than later, he left a steady paycheck and his entire friend group. It was tough, he recalls, but had he not pursued this route, it would have taken him many more years to complete both degrees had he stayed working full-time.
How Did You Structure Your Job Search?
“Before I got my undergrad,” Drew recalls, “I was sick of the hurdles put before me as to why I couldn’t get ahead.” He thought returning to earn bachelor and graduate degrees would be the magic bullet, but discovered he wasn’t marketing his skills or degrees in the right way.
“When I first started, I hit the job boards – figuring the more I applied to, the better my chances,” Drew remembers. “The trouble was, I wasn’t hearing anything back.”
“I learned you can’t just go on LinkedIn once a month. You need to be on these sites consistently.” Today, Drew is in the habit of sharing, commenting or linking on items he finds interesting every morning. He also spends a bit of time repeating the process at the end of the day. “I’ve basically committed to being on there daily,” he says.
Advice for Career Changers
“I’m normally afraid to reach out to people – and thought they would be too busy to talk to me,” Drew explains. “By turning the tables and asking myself ‘how would I feel if someone engaged with me for advice?’ I realized I would be delighted to help! This made me realize there were likely people willing to give me advice. I just had to find them.”
With this approach, sometimes people didn’t respond, but sometimes they did. “Knowing how many roles get filled through people knowing each other,” he says, “I realize it is important to keep the communication channels going.”
Drew also recommends going to the job boards to find jobs that interest you. From there, review the skills and requirements, and find out what you are missing or lacking. “Tackle it head on and get rid of any hurdles that you might face,” he advises.
To that end, Drew learned early on in his current role that many product management tracks require more technical skills than he possesses. “I’m currently studying to close my skills gap in this area,” he explains.
“I love product management because it allows me to intersect with PR, IT and Marketing,” Drew explains. “I don’t have to focus on just one area!”
Passionate about the travel industry, he hopes his next move is within the industry, but hopefully in a management capacity where he can share his voice and ideas. “I remember a conference speaker once said that if you wind up in an industry you are passionate about, it won’t feel like work,” he remembers. “I totally agree with that.”
About this guest author:
In need of some career advice, a refreshed resume or rebranded LinkedIn? As the founder and chief writer at Virginia Franco Resumes, I offer customized executive resume and LinkedIn profile writing services for the 21st century job seeker. I would be happy to chat!