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Darlene Proctor had never planned to be a nurse for the rest of her life. So when a friend reminded her about a dream she once had to start a bed and breakfast she decided to figure out how to make the leap from hospitals to hospitality.
“I thought I had to be rich in order to do that. Then I [realized] a lot of people are doing this and they’re not rich. How are they doing it? So, I started investigating and moving in that direction,” says Proctor, a psyche nurse.
Proctor stumbled upon Vocation Vacations, a company that allows clients to test-drive their dream job. Through the program, she visited Chloe Tuttle, owner of Big Mill Bed and Breakfast in Williamston, NC, and the experience taught her lessons about how to get started.
Doing the same things day after day was one of Proctor’s problems with working as a nurse. She also wanted to express herself more creatively. “I looked around my house and I had more cookbooks than I had nursing books,” says Proctor.
Her four-day apprenticeship under Tuttle in March 2008 helped her realize that running a bed and breakfast would also require a lot of repetition. Although she still wanted to start a B&B she decided to supplement the inn with an events planning and culinary arm to prevent boredom.
Also, the experience showed her that financially, she wasn’t ready to purchase her own B&B yet, but that she could save the money by catering. As a result she will launch her catering company this summer while she continues to work in nursing.
When considering a drastic career change, especially in an uncertain economy, most people do not have the luxury to quit their day jobs to start a business or the money to return to school and learn a new discipline.
Whether it is by an apprenticeship, by a request to change departments at a company, or by launching a dream business people are finding ways to pursue a dream job while remaining at their old job full time. Here is how you can do it too.
Volunteer or apprenticeship work allows a quick foray into a new world without committing to the unknown or ending your day job. Two percent of adults who are employed full time choose to participate in an apprenticeship, according to a 2005 Adult Education Survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics.
When searching for an apprenticeship, Pamela Mitchell, founder of the Reinvention Institute, a career coaching company, suggests that you read the business sections of newspapers and magazines and look for businesses that are branching out in areas that you would be interested in learning about.
“If you are looking to get a lot of hands-on experience, entrepreneurial firms [as opposed to large firms] are really the best way to go because they are growing very quickly, they are always trying to do something new, and they can always use an extra pair of hands and an extra mind,” says Mitchell.
If your day job prohibits you from working on site, start out working on a particular project with defined parameters that can be accomplished during evenings and weekends, she says. Make sure that your mentor understands the goals which you are trying to meet.
Finally, make sure that the opportunity to stretch, grow, and apply new skills in new ways is available. “You want a [mentor] who values your contribution and gives you access,” says Mitchell.