The final years at college can be stressful if you are applying for jobs or plan on a different career path not related to your current major. At one time or another, it’s not uncommon to feel like it’s time for a change, especially in terms of your career. Oftentimes, we take a job because it aligns with what we do now, or the degree that we have earned. However, interests and circumstances change and to go fearlessly on the path of change is not easy; but it’s not impossible. It’s never too late to pursue a career you really want to have.

How to Choose the Right Career Path

The first in choosing a different path is by defining your “why.” Everyone has their own set of reasons why they want to make a change. Some may outgrow their current position, whereas others might feel like they’ve stalled and they need to find a job that offers more growth. Regardless, you need to identify your why before making any rash decisions. After determining your motive, you need to outline your strengths and weaknesses. What can you bring to a new job? Are you an excellent communicator, or can you create business strategy like no other?

Your strengths can help choose the direction you want to go. On that same token, you also need to use your weaknesses to improve. If you’re lacking the skills you need to step into a different role, you have a couple of options. You can learn new skills on your own or you can consider going back to school. If paying tuition is an issue, you can research scholarships for college students. Scholarships are awarded for a variety of reasons, which includes on merit and financial need. You can apply and earn a degree in the niche you feel is best for you.

Find a New Niche

If you decide to completely shift gears and work in a different niche, you need to consider the pros and cons. For instance, say you’ve always loved graphic design but never thought you were talented enough to work in the field. Will you be able to learn the skills you need to land a lucrative position? In addition, is there enough opportunity in this niche to secure a job? Even if you’re in love with a different type of work, you need to be sure that you can do that type of work well and that there are jobs to be had. The last thing you want to do is pursue a new role only to find out job growth is slow. Use job searching websites to do some preliminary research before you set plans in motion to fully make the switch.

Experience will add to your confidence and portfolio. Look for volunteer or internship opportunities in and around campus that will help you feel more confident and give you the experience that most employers love.

Research Your Options

Once you’ve decided where you want to go, the next step is to research your options. If you know those who already work in that sector, inquire about work-life balance, pay scale and their overall happiness. While their level of happiness depends on their own personal situations, you can still get a good idea of whether they feel content or whether they find more negatives than positives throughout the workday. Additionally, you should check out the BLS for expected job growth. Some industries are expected to scale faster than others, so it’s always better to know beforehand.

Map Out Your Course of Action

At this point, you should have a good idea of which direction you want to go. Now, it’s time to plan how you will make transition. You may or may not have the skills or certification you need to apply to other roles. If not, you can apply to earn that new degree or sign up for certification courses. Write down how long this part of the process will take, so you have a better idea of when you can start applying. Also, you need to consider whether you’ll need on-the-job training. If so, you should include a timeline of how long you’ll need to job shadow or go through training.

Let the Networking Begin

Even if you’re staying within your same wheelhouse, you still need to network like a newbie. Those who are where you want to be can sometimes refer to you to the right people. In addition, you can also mix and mingle with others who can act like a mentor. Don’t think just because you’re over 35, if you are, that you don’t need a mentor. Even the most well-versed individuals still look to others or guidance. Get active on LinkedIn to increase your network and for recruiters to find you.

Rebranding Strategy

Before you send out your resume, you need to make sure it’s up to date. Take the time to rebrand yourself prior to applying. This should include updating your resume, your LinkedIn profile, and rewriting your cover letter as well. You should also focus on writing a personal statement that’s powerful and makes recruiters want to know more. Take time to really think about the message you want to convey to them. Highlight the reasons why you’re the right person for the role and why you decided to shift gears in terms of opportunities. Always speak of past experiences positively. No one wants to hear about the grievances you may have had with your boss or co-workers.