What To Consider When You're Considering Your Second Act
SMITH BRAIN TRUST – When Kim Kardashian West does something big, you can be sure it will be noticed – and talked about – by millions of people.
So, when the reality TV star, style icon and businesswoman announced in Vogue’s May cover story that she was studying to be a lawyer – and hopes to take the bar exam in 2022 – the news immediately began to trend on social media.
And it had a lot of people thinking about doing something big of their own.
O, The Oprah Magazine reached out to Rachel Loock, a career and leadership coach at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, to talk about career switching. Here’s a bit of that interview.
O: There seems to not be any definitive statistics on the number of people who make career changes in their lifetime (versus just job changes, which can include promotions, etc.) In your experience, do you think it’s common for people to make career changes? If so, at about what age do you typically see “second acts” beginning?
Loock: “Second acts” can begin any time, from the mid-late 30s through the late 40s, and even into the early-mid 50s, (which might be considered a “third act” change for some). In my experience, it’s most common in the early-mid 40s.
O: What do you think sparks most people to change careers?
Loock: Frequently, they believe something is missing in their current career and they want to perform work that is more fulfilling. Often, there’s a desire to give back and to make a difference, or to do work that better aligns with their interests and talents. Sometimes the spark to make a career change coincides with a major life change. For example, the children are grown and now there’s the opportunity to focus on their own goals and pursue a career they’ve always wanted to but couldn’t before.
O: Why do you think we should approach Kim K’s decision with some sensitivity? (If you do think so).
Loock: Career transitions challenge us to step out of our comfort zone and build new knowledge, relationships and experiences that we didn’t have before. It can be a daunting, time-consuming process that requires a substantial amount of effort. While Ms. Kardashian has greater financial resources available to her than the average person, I respect her decision to become a lawyer and putting the time and effort into it to make it a reality.
O: What are your tips for anyone considering making a second act?
Loock: Do your research! Interview people in the field that you want to transition to. Learn what’s made them successful and what they enjoy most about the work they do. Build your knowledge through books, websites, webinars, etc. Identify the skills, education and experience needed to be successful a competitive candidate. Join professional organizations that support the field you want to transition to learn about current trends and best practices. Finally, be patient. Successful career transitions take time – sometimes a year or longer. Have a good support system in place and, ideally, a career coach to partner with you in your journey.
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