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Finding a career that balanced her passion and skills is what helped Andrea make the transition from retail management to public relations.

Whether working in retail or public relations, knowing how to tailor your message to different audiences is important.

Switching careers can be scary at any age. There’s uncertainty, hesitation and a slew of other emotions that can make you question your decision. Changing careers in your 30s release all those emotions and then some. Trust me. I’ve been through it. I found myself wanting more out of my career with an outdated degree, little to no experience other than what I was doing for the past 15 years and no network of people to help me make a career transition. Here are some principles that helped me through my transition.

Combine Your Passions and Skills

After much thought of what I wanted to do, I made the decision to return to school and get another degree in public relations. In my former life, I worked in retail management, rising through the ranks at companies like Gap and Target. I loved working on a team and dealing with the public. But I also wanted to make a difference in the world. I chose to combine my experience with my passion and work for nonprofits.

Gain Experience

Volunteering my time at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) led to a part-time position promoting a mission that I was passionate about while helping others in the process. In my former career, I would leave work feeling unaccomplished. At LLS, I left every day feeling a sense of satisfaction. I loved every minute of it. I was gaining valuable experience at the same time. The combination of my previous experience and doing PR for a nonprofit led me to my current position at Franco. Now, I leave work on a daily basis feeling good about myself and doing what I love.

Build Your Network

A friend of mine told me about International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), a professional organization. I started attending their workshops and seminars and meeting like-minded professionals. I was able to make contacts, get career advice and learn about job leads. Never underestimate the power of a professional organization! I am happy to report that I now serve on the on the Board of Directors for the Detroit chapter, leading the student relations portfolio. My goal is to help students make the most of their time in school so they won’t have to go through a career change in their 30s.

Everything Takes Time

I didn’t get to where I was in retail management overnight. The same applies to my newly chosen career of PR. I have to remind myself that everyone has to start somewhere and work their way up. I make mistakes, but my life experience has taught me to admit and learn from them. Life experience is something that cannot be taught. That’s something that comes with age.

Have you gone through a career transition? What helped you make the decision? Are you now happy with your choice? Let me know!

Andrea Kenski is an Account Manager at Franco.

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