Starting a New Career at Late Twenties: Your Next Steps

Sometimes change isn’t just good, it’s necessary — like swapping your flip phone for a smartphone, or your old job for a new career path in your late twenties. Eyebrows might raise, but the heart wants what it wants, right?

By reading on, you’ll uncover actionable insights and empathetic guidance to help you leap into your new career with confidence.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Your late twenties are ripe with potential for a career pivot; draw inspiration from success stories and remember that the norm is now to embrace change.
  • Pinpoint your passion and strengths through self-reflection, then align them with concrete opportunities by using resources like O*Net Online for career exploration and Glassdoor for industry research.
  • Gain real-world experience rapidly through volunteering, internships, or side projects, and combat fear of failure by viewing setbacks as growth opportunities and maintaining resilience.

Is It Too Late for Me to Switch Careers?

Believe it or not, your late twenties are a time of incredible potential and opportunity. It’s a season of life where you’ve learned enough about the world, and yourself, to make informed decisions. When it comes to career switching, it’s not uncommon to feel like time is slipping by. However, the truth is that it’s never too late to pursue a new career path. History is full of examples where individuals have made successful pivots at various stages in their lives.

Take Julia Child, for example. She was a trailblazer in the culinary industry, but before her iconic fame, she worked in advertising and media. It wasn’t until the age of 36 that she attended culinary school, which set her on the path to becoming a celebrated chef. Or consider Vera Wang, who entered the fashion design industry when she was 40, after a career as a figure skater and journalist. These examples shine a light on the possibilities that can unfold, regardless of age.

Wrap your head around this – shifting careers is more the norm now than an exception. According to a LinkedIn survey, millennials could switch jobs an average of four times in the decade after graduating from college. This demonstrates a broader societal trend towards career fluidity regardless of age.

So, shake off those doubts, because your journey is just getting started, and the road ahead is brimming with potential.

How Do I Know What Career Is Right for Me?

Choosing the right career is a mix of introspection and market research. Start by sitting down and having a good, honest chat with yourself. What are your strengths? What activities make you lose track of time? This is often a good indicator of where your passions lie. After some self-reflection, take stock of your skills and experience. What have you excelled at in the past? What tasks do people consistently turn to you for?

Next up, it’s time to match your passions and skills with viable career paths. Tools like O*Net Online offer in-depth descriptions of hundreds of occupations to help you see how your skills could transition into different roles.

Keep your eyes peeled for career assessment tests as well. These can offer new insights and suggest career paths you might not have considered. Friends and family can also be a gold mine of perception — sometimes they notice things about us that we overlook.

A unique piece of advice that most don’t mention is to attend industry events related to your areas of interest. These events can give you an authentic feel for the industry and help you envision yourself in those roles. Plus, talking to professionals in the field can provide you with the ins and outs, the highs and lows, and the all-important career trajectory possibilities.

What Are My First Steps to a New Career at 28?

Embarking on this new adventure requires a well-thought-out plan, starting with some core initial steps:

  1. Research: Deep dive into industries that pique your interest. Websites like Glassdoor can give you an overview of different companies and job roles, including salaries and employee reviews.

  2. Networking: This is vital. Connect with professionals in the field through LinkedIn or local networking groups. These connections can become future mentors, employers, or collaborators. Be genuine in your interactions, and don’t be shy about asking for advice or informational interviews.

  3. Education: Consider if you need further education or certifications. Some careers may require going back to school, which is a commitment you’ll want to prepare for. Sites like Coursera or edX offer courses that can beef up your qualifications or give you a taste of a new domain without the steep investment usually associated with formal education.

Here’s a tip that’s pure gold – volunteer or freelance in your desired field if possible. It’s a commitment-light way to gain experience, build your resume, and confirm if a career is right for you.

Remember, this isn’t the end of the road; it’s just the beginning. There’s much more to learn and prepare for as you shift gears into a career that fits like a glove. Stay tuned, stay prepared, and take each step with conviction. Your new career awaits!

How Can I Gain Experience in My New Field Quickly?

Jumping headfirst into a new career can feel like you’re trying to catch up in a race that’s already half over. But fear not! There are smart ways to rapidly build experience in your new field that will have you lacing up for that sprint in no time.

Volunteering is a fantastic starting point. It’s a win-win: nonprofit organizations often need the extra hands, and you get real-world practice. Plus, you’re making a difference, and that’s the cherry on top. Don’t brush this off as mere charity work – it can be a stepping stone into your desired industry. For instance, if you’re looking to break into event planning, volunteering to coordinate a charity’s annual fundraiser can give you hands-on experience and something solid to showcase in your portfolio.

Internships aren’t just for college kids. They’re for anyone hungry to learn and willing to work hard, regardless of age. Sure, they might not always pay well (or at all), but the experience is golden. A three-month stint can teach you the ins and outs of an industry faster than any classroom.

Don’t overlook the power of side projects. If you’re transitioning into graphic design, start rebranding your friend’s local bakery for free, or if coding’s your new jam, build an app that solves a problem you care about. This shows initiative and passion, two traits that resonate with potential employers.

Above all, practical experience neatly ties the bow on the package that is your formal education. It shows you can walk the walk, not just talk the talk. The Balance Careers emphasizes that “employers value direct experience because it can be applied directly to the current job.”

What If I Fail?

Let’s get real: the fear of failing is like that one guest who overstays their welcome at a party. But here’s the thing – it’s normal to have doubts, especially when you’re stepping out of your comfort zone. What’s crucial is how you handle those bumps on the road.

First off, remember that every setback is a set up for a comeback. Thomas Edison famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Imagine if he had thrown in the towel? No light bulb!

To cope with failure, create a ‘Plan B’. It’s not admitting defeat; it’s smart planning. Say you’re nurturing a budding career in social media marketing but it’s taking a while to get off the ground. Meanwhile, you could freelance as a content writer, keeping you financially afloat and relevant in the industry.

And here’s the juicy bit, the unique advice that most blogs gloss over: Start a reflection journal. Documenting your journey helps you track your progress, and more importantly, it lets you reflect on what lessons each experience, even the unsuccessful ones, are teaching you. It can be incredibly empowering to see how far you’ve come and how much you’ve learned.

As for resilience, it’s your secret weapon. It’s the grit that keeps you pushing forward when things go pear-shaped. Building resilience can be as simple (and as challenging) as maintaining a positive mindset, setting realistic expectations, and surrounding yourself with a supportive network.

To sum up, view failure as a detour, not the end of the road. Learn from it, grow from it, and then, get back in the race. After all, every master was once a disaster. As Harvard Business Review suggests, “Reframe failures as learning opportunities that get you closer to your goals.”

Remember, there’s no single route to success in a career change. It’s a combination of experience, the right mindset, and a dash of courage. So go on, lace up those running shoes – it’s your time to shine.

  • Alex Mitch

    Hi, I'm the founder of! Having been in finance and tech for 10+ years, I was surprised at how hard it can be to find answers to common questions in finance, tech and business in general. Because of this, I decided to create this website to help others!