In a previous article, I talked about how my younger clients and their parents worried about the limited opportunities for gaining work experience. To help them, I listed a number of sites where students and young people can gain some work experience virtually, and for free.
But young people are not the only ones concerned about getting a feel for different jobs. My ‘older’ clients, who are dissatisfied in their current jobs and careers, also bemoan the lack of opportunities to experience alternative careers. And for them the risks seem bigger. They don’t want to risk leaving a job that, however unsatisfactory, helps pay the bills only to move into something that is unsuitable but in a different way.
Unfortunately, our work scene is even less geared toward career changers. Some will have the advantage of a good network and will be able to draw on this to gain insights into alternative careers. A fair amount can also be gleaned from trawling the Internet and looking at the websites of professional bodies, individuals who have posted about their careers on YouTube, and from trusts and charities set up to attract workers into their industries (especially where they are concerned about diversity and inclusion) – the Grierson Trust, for example has an excellent scheme for trying to attract and retrain production managers.
These are not the same though as gaining first-hand experience and I’m sorry to say that there seems to be precious little free virtual work experience out there for career changers. So, I have taken a more flexible approach here and include some links that are not exactly free and some where you can’t just click and get involved but need to ‘apply’. I still hope there will be something useful here for those looking for tasters of alternatives.
Working for a council
If you live in or near West Sussex, the council there run a scheme that allows you to apply to get a taster for working for the council. The scheme covers a range of sections and is open to everyone although career changers such as veterans and those returning from a career break are particularly encouraged to apply.
Construction tasters for women
For those who live in or around Leeds, Leeds College of Building are offering taster days for women in wall and floor tiling, carpentry and joinery and painting and decorating towards the end of October 2021. They are trying to encourage women, who are underrepresented in the building industry generally, to consider a career in construction.
Lots of choice from Future Learn
Future Learn offer a plethora of courses specifically aimed at the ‘older’ career changer, most of which are free and can be done from home. They range from job search skills to tasters for particular careers such as data science, HR, and construction.
Not exactly work experience but the Open University offers many free courses some of which are very short and focus on key skills in particular industries such as HR, accounting and IT skills and others can serve as a very good introduction to certain careers. While not ideal, one or two of you could get lucky and find out quite a bit about whether you might enjoy something or not. You can also draw on the material to carry out more informed conversations with your network. Worth a look I’d say.
Brave Starts is a not-for-profit organisation set up with the explicit intention of helping people age 50+ develop their careers. There are some free events providing information on different careers and for a small annual fee you can access various other virtual events aimed at supporting you through career change and transition. Best of all, they have a scheme where you can shadow an expert to learn the reality of particular jobs. Highly recommended.
In conclusion, as a career changer, you may well need to be a little creative about experiencing different careers before committing to them. Nevertheless, I hope the links above serve as a starting point for trying out something different.
Photo by Catherine Heath, Unsplash
Disclaimer. This article is meant as a brief and light exploration of subjects that interest me and that relate to my work. I hope it might stimulate personal reflection and/or discussion in others.