Alternative Career for Young Adults

At 18, with your mind filled with creative ideas and the zeal to do something different, your career plans reflect a positive and enthusiastic attitude. And in all probabilities, you would definitely succeed and ace them. However, it is crucial to have backup or alternate career plan if your first career fails? It is true that having an alternate career option is a boon because you might have a teeny-weeny risk of not succeeding or doing well in the first one. We all like to travel or take the path less taken, but somewhere around this line, you might feel that you are not really on the right path.

Now is the time to get your plan B sorted out! Remember that in any academic circle, you will come across talks of having an alternate career ready for graduate students. Even when you are in college or planning on doing your degree, it is vital to have this little brainstorming session with yourself - and preferably with family or friends.

Demand vs Supply

Right from the time you are working on a graduation or post graduation plan, you need to be prepared with an alternate career. Your passion and love for a subject is very much genuine, but in general, you have to think on the practical front too. Often it happens that at 18, you just think of your likeness or inherent competency for a particular subject, but you also have to evaluate that will you get a lucrative job in that field after passing out of college? For instance, you may want to pursue a career in history, then do your masters and doctorate and become a professor. But tenure-track professor positions jobs are rather less as compared to the relative to the number of candidates. In recent years, it has been noted that openings in colleges and universities have come down, as compared to the number of students graduating or majoring. In 2009-10, there were 989 PhDs in History in the U.S but only 569 jobs were available in academia.

Another aspect to consider plan B is if you don’t really like your job or career path later on life. True that right now a particular sport or even a subject is the best thing that you can imagine. But what about a year down the line, when you lose interest. You may have often heard of people switching to alternate careers in 40s and 50s. The bottom line here is that the mind can change and you may develop a zeal for another subject or career option. Your creativity and unique mindset can be put to good use. Your psychology tests may reflect your inherent competencies to be in the field of art, for instance. But one fine day you might suddenly discover that you are beginning to love writing and have a flair for it!

Socio-economic conditions for failure of first career

When growing up, it is possible that you had a poor economic background or come from a family that struggled to have the ends meet. So going by this, you worked out a plan or education option that would take care of this. Again, how lucrative would a business be for you in the long run is something that you must evaluate. It could be possible that you might want to make a switch rather than stick to a business. Similarly, you might reverse this thought process too.

Other factors for failure of first career-

  • Don’t blame everything on yourself. The reason that you may not excel at something could be the simple reason that you don’t have a knack or passion for that subject.
  • Downsizing and economical conditions force companies to shut down, which means that you might lose your job.
  • At other times, it can happen that you have not succeeded at a particular venture not because of your own faults. It could be that your factory or business suffered an intensive damage during a storm. So external conditions are a vital cause for the failure of first career.

For individuals, who really like to play it safe, even plan C, D, etc. come into action. And there is really no harm in having a back up. Be it sports or any other field in the world, there is always a back up! You should focus on making a list of career option that put your skills and talents to good use. The exact idea is that "creativity is connecting the unconnected." as John Maxwell correctly stated. All that you have to do is make an attempt to find the connection between your courses, experiences, and the careers you're considering. Remember at the end of the day, this is just a back up or alternate career option that you may want to really consider! It could be something totally different from the field you are in right now, but for the 18 years and above age group, there is still so much to explore and find out. Here are 12 steps to broadening your mindset and setting aside an alternate career plan.

Plan and organize

The earlier you make a plan, the better it is. Preferably right along when you start college or are about to would be the ideal time. The first thing you hold keep in mind here would be that all employers are interested in executive functioning skills. So this includes your potential to organize tasks, stick to deadlines, follow through on initiatives, etc. Your first step is the mastery of these skills and what better use to them than sorting out some career alternates.

Leverage your skills

Take out the time to make a skills inventory and identify the skills you currently use. Next, take out your career portfolio, which has a tab of all your reviews, awards, recognitions, certifications and special achievements. Compare these and work on the skills that you would need to optimize and leverage. Often, we forget our skills in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But if you are prepared about your alternative skills, you would find a path to leverage them.


Now with the advent of the Internet and so many tools to facilitate your research, you just need to take a couple of days apart and work on finding some alternate career fields. Research on the kind of career fields you might have, the kind of job options and success rates, etc. You can in fact begin in your department itself. Suppose you were not able to teach as a professor then what other profession can you put these skills to use? Think of something creative like may be helping in a museum or even helping in researching on an epic movie! Start off with a listing of recent graduates' employment. Your research can also include some other seniors who passed out with similar careers. Get in touch with them social media modes and see where they are headed.

Start making connections

If somewhere along the line you already know that you have a potential alternate career in mind, then you should definitely think of making connections in that line. For instance, if you know that you want to switch jobs just 6 months into getting one, make a rapport not only with your colleagues but older friends, ex-classmates or batch mates. They are the ones who can help in getting you another job. From them, you can get more information about the current market scenario, how things are placed and even moving up the ladder.

Get your references

Post this, begins the task of developing strong and varied references. There is a chance that you might not have thought of this earlier, but the concept of making and keeping references starts right during your college years. If you were not able to get strong references from your department, then you can think of getting back and getting in touch with the professors and get some. Remember recommendations are a pillar or foundation for your alternate path. You should also depict your ability to connect what you have done with the non-academic world.  The reference letter is not really a book, just a few a few words that praise your skills. The entire idea is to make a connecting with your new interviewer.

Work on additional costs

When it comes to pursuing an alternate career, you might consider switching your degree too. In particular, you may feel that you need to change or alter your career path right on the verge of starting a new degree. But pursuing a new degree would require some additional funds. It is true that you will be losing out on some money right now, but it is better to make the right decision at the younger age of 18 years rather than making the switch later. So you should set aside some time to work out what new career you want to pursue and a degree cost based on that. Additionally, you can pursue a dual degree too and opt for an online course. This would not only work out cheaper, but since most of these courses are part time, you have the option to work full time too.

Lookout for internships/ part time jobs

In this reference, you must also seek opportunities for doing internships or part time jobs during this period. The entire reason of switching to an alternate career means a big change. Taking a part time job or doing an internship at this level would help you understand if you really want to make that switch. Doing an internship provides a list or approximate idea on whether to or not pursue another career alternate, later on in life. Plus, internships will give you connections, references, and thus help you in getting a job. Obviously it would mean a little extra and added effort right now, but you would be setting your base demonstrate your inherent skills during the training process.

Develop and update your skills

Boost your skill set to be eligible for an alternative career. So you are already well versed or possess a management degree, so update your computer skills, specifically word processing, Excel, and PowerPoint. Take the time out to invest in social media and creating a brand. If you were planning a switch over or starting a new business, this skill set would help you go a long way.

Join professional job listings

Of course, new job offers are not going to just fly into your e-mails. You have to work your way there. So sign up or look at the variety of job options available on social networks, employment offices and websites. Doing so will give you newer prospects in life that can be a great alternate career path for you.

Expand your career network

So you already have a plan B and made a gist of all the things that you want or expect from a new career. Now is the time to expand on your career. Remember that you are going to need as many inputs as possible in this reference. You can include your colleagues and friends in this arena to create a study group who would work together and also improve their career focus. You can support teach other with job leads, share new ideas, help with researches, job suggestions, etc.

Work on the time span

A back up plan is something that you should have even before you get your current job. As a student, there is a dream that you have in mind and everything you do is going to focus on that. But the idea is to remember how much time would you need to take or switch over to a new career. It is here that all of the above steps would be given shape.

At the end of it, remember that switching to a new career might not really be that difficult if you have done your homework. Plan B or any other alternate career path that you might have depends on your personal, social and economical needs. But why do you need to have one? Simply put todays economy is seeing a drastic shift with changes in technology. Jobs that were once very popular have given way to technological or automated systems. Having an alternative career plan is smart and would save you a lot of financial hassles and hurdles - no matter what state the economy are in. The idea is to leverage your skills in the right way. If circumstances get you out of a job, then you would have to hunt for something really fast. And if you choose to make the switch, then you would need a little extra time to make sure that you have enough finances and resources to get you through the period. So be it poor pay, being sacked or feeling unhappy with the job - no matter what the reason is, an alternate career path is savior in harsh financial times.

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