When I decided to switch from Career Counseling to HR (only to later switch back to Career Counseling), I had to adjust to a few things.
First, although my pay was slightly higher in my new role, the university I worked at had a fantastic retirement plan match, so my overall compensation was lower. My thought was that the pay would come with time (and it did) and the experience would be worth the initial pay cut (and it was). That said, accepting a lower salary than before was a hard pill to take.
Second, I was older than my peers and many of the managers. This really struck home for me on my first day, when a peer who just graduated college, told me “Look at 'Bob'. Can you believe that guy is 30?” As I was hovering just under 30 at the time, I went home questioning whether this was a bad decision. Would I even be able to connect with my colleagues? I just felt like I was in a different place in life.
I also had to go back from being an expert to being a novice, which meant I was back to being a “junior” employee. I had to learn about benefit strategies, payroll, and many other things. It was challenging and at times frustrating, especially when going through some pretty in-depth math focused training.
But really, the hardest part was getting over myself and my hang-ups. I had to learn to drop my ego and self-absorption at the door. I learned from my peers and managers and started to connect with my colleagues. At first I had to “bite-my-tongue,” but then I realized I was just being foolish. In order to move forward, I had to move backward and accept the opportunity to learn from some really great people.
I stretched myself far more than I ever thought I would as an HR professional and I was able to use my counseling background to better connect with and service our clients. If I never switched to HR, I don’t think I ever would have tried to start my own company.
It’s difficult to decide whether to change career paths, and once you commit, it can be hard to accept the role of novice when you were once an expert. That said, restarting your career path can be a great opportunity to learn and to grow.