“I’d encourage you to look for a middle ground, and to take some of the risk out of the pivot.”

Navigating career changes can feel overwhelming. In this week’s Creative Career Conundrums, Alex Bec shares insights on finding balance and taking practical steps towards pursuing your passion.

28 May 2024

Creative Career Conundrums is a weekly advice column from If You Could Jobs. Each week their selected panel of professionals from the creative industry answers your burning career questions to help you navigate the creative journey.

This week’s question:

I started off in the industry as a junior designer fresh from a very competitive internship but I soon switched to operation roles for a much needed financial boost. Commitments at home and family were too important and too big for a junior design salary, let alone a former intern. I gained experience to step up the ladder here and there and now, I’m head of operations in a small animation studio 12 years later. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and competent in my role.

Lately, I've had this sudden urge, realisation and itch for my designer days especially now I [don’t] have to worry about my kids as much. However, our industry is gravitated to the “youth” and I’m afraid I’m past that stage now. I don’t really want to start for square 1 but I don’t want to regret not trying. Is it too late for me to pivot back to being a designer after over a decade in operations?

Alex Bec, CEO of It’s Nice That, Creative Lives in Progress and If You Could Jobs:

Life is too short for regrets, and in my opinion it’s never too late to follow what you believe will make you happy. Why else are we here? Your career will most likely last 40+ years, so you’re only a quarter through and there’s still plenty of time for exploration. However, that’s easier to say in an instagram affirmation (or career advice column), than to make work practically in your real life – clearly a lens of realism needs to be applied to your thinking.

“Start to explore the possibilities in a tangible, practical way. Even if you only find a way to move 10% closer towards doing what makes you happy, I’m sure it will feel well worth it.”

Alex Bec

I’m assuming you still need a solid salary to support yourself and your family - so simply cutting ties with your current role and retraining would be a bold and potentially negligent decision. However, staying in a role forever that you’re not really enjoying, knowing there’s an itch you need to scratch could be equally damaging, in a different way. So I’d encourage you to look for a middle ground, and to take some of the risk out of the pivot.

  1. Explore more deeply what a change like this would take (and feel like) practically before making the leap. Is there a way you can start to retrain, or learn the skills you need to, while also keeping your current role (perhaps in a fractional capacity, or in your spare time)?
  2. Think about carving out a few hours a week to get your hands back on the tools and see if you really do love it as much as you think you will. Can you research the salaries and job prospects of moving back into design - could you handle that change?
  3. Consider the kind of companies you could work for; do they have have any available roles? I’m sure there’s a thousand questions you’d love to answer in your head; get them down and dedicate some time to exploring them and really figuring out what’s possible in reality.

Whatever you do, my advice would be to take things slowly. It’s not all or nothing. Start to explore the possibilities in a tangible, practical way and see where that takes you. Even if you only find a way to move 10% closer towards doing what makes you happy more regularly, I’m sure it will feel well worth it.

In answering your creative career conundrums we realise that some issues need expert support, so we’ve collated a list of additional resources that can support you across things that might arise at work.

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About the Author

Alex Bec

Alex is the CEO of It’s Nice That. He oversees the commercial side of It’s Nice That, Creative Lives in Progress and If You Could Jobs.

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