Changing Careers After Marriage - My Experience

When I moved to the United States in 2009, I knew I was taking a leap of faith. I had finished a Master’s in Public Health Research in 2007 and worked for about a year after that with the Health Department of the Scottish Government in Edinburgh. I quit the job at the end of 2008 not because I didn’t like them, but I had just gotten married and preferred to join Atala who lived in the United States.

The recession really hit after I got to the USA and finding a job was out of the question anyway. So I had to ask myself serious questions, the foremost of which was, how do I reinvent my career? Fortunately for me, I had a small savings cushion and being married allowed me to optimize every penny. However, apart from the fears of how to be financially successful, other fears also lurked at the back of my mind.

After working since my graduation almost a decade earlier, I was afraid of stepping into the unknown and uncharted territory of being without an income. A part of me worried about what people – my friends, my colleagues and people I had gone to school with – would say. At the top of that list were my parents who had invested, emotionally and financially, in my education and lifestyle. I did not want to disappoint them, and the dreams they had of me, some of which we had shared together.

Still, I knew I had to remain true to myself. No matter how much I cared about other people or how much they cared about me, it was my life alone to live. Any decisions I made would affect me more than any other person. So while the fear that I had been wrong in making the inter-continental move simmered, I put some of my previous knowledge to good use.

If there was one thing that had been confirmed by my master’s degree, it was how paramount research, planning and information were to any project. I set out to find all the evidence I needed to begin to map out a new future. Gathering data and measuring article after article against each other helped me put things in perspective. I had a clearer view of where I was going.

I began to see that fear was a normal and common-place among those who had switched careers or stopped working at a certain point in their life. I found relevant blogs and it was reassuring to know, from reading other people’s accounts that I was not alone, as most of them wrote about the same fears that I had. They cautioned against being stuck at the stage of doing nothing, and the consensus was to keep moving, even if you might only be able to take small steps.

It is often said that when you do what you love, you’ll never work another day in your life. I thought about this for a long time and how to apply it to my life. Even though the decision to quit my last job and move to a new country had been a serious one, this time, I dug even deeper. I had to find those things I was passionate about.

There were not many options, as they would have to suit my situation were to do something that while it did not entail formal employment would allow me to gain some new skills and experience as well as build on the ones I already had. In my particular circumstance, it boiled down to the following;

- Volunteering, also known as internships in some places
- Taking up one of my skills/talents, writing, crafting, painting, etc
- Establishing my own business in an area I was passionate about.

I registered with a couple of charities in my local area and soon had positions with them. Volunteering is a great way to test out the job pool without sinking or drowning. I was working a total of 4 hours a week, at most six, and the positions were fulfilling. At the same time, I also joined a writing group, and began to work seriously on the novels I had in my flash drive.

I began blogging not too long after that in order to sample public opinion of my manuscript. This culminated in publishing my first book in December 2009, winning the Best Nigerian Blog Award for 2010, and releasing my second novel in March 2011.

With all my experiences in the last three years, including disappointments as well as achievements, I have learnt some things about changing your career after you get married, or at any other time in your life. The most important is the ability to ask yourself questions, to get as much information as you need and to keep moving, assessing and learning from each step you take.

In my opinion, life is a journey, and sometimes it is not about the destination as about enjoying the drive and stops in between. When you believe in yourself and learn to roll with the punches, changing your career can be a positive and enriching experience that will take you to heights you never knew.


This article was first published as Map Out a New Future on the Jobberman Blog