August 10, 2020 | Online
On August 10, 2020, Barrie Freeman of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office, Reta Jo Lewis of the German Marshall Fund, Wanida Lewis of Environment360, and Wenchi Yu of VIPKid joined Women In International Security President Chantal de Jonge Oudraat for a conversation on switching sectors and leveraging contacts. The panelists spoke about when it's time to move on from a job, how to expand your network in new sectors, and how to overcome transition challenges. This conversation was the fourth webinar in our Professional Development Series co-hosted by Women In International Security. Members can watch a recording on our Member Career Resources Platform

Advice from our Panelists

What should you keep in mind throughout your career?

  • Let change be your friend! Be adventurous and take risks

  • Not everyone’s career path is linear and that is okay

  • If you have a passion, follow it. Share your interests and passions with others—they may know of opportunities that could advance your career

  • Know yourself—take the time to figure out what you really want

When is it time to move on?

  • Make sure you’re still being challenged! If you feel like you’ve learned everything you possibly can from your job, it might be time to move on to something new

  • When boredom strikes, move on—you should be excited to go to work every day

  • If you are not being treated fairly or equitably, leave—there are plenty of people who will see you for what you are worth!

Where should you begin?

  • Start by being open-minded. You never know what opportunities will arise, so don’t be afraid to be adventurous and take risks!

  • Think about what your overall goal is and keep that in mind when pursuing new opportunities

  • Education is important—if you are looking to switch sectors, going back to school could help make a smoother transition

  • Highlight your competency in the skills that are important across all sectors, like critical thinking, communication, and problem solving

  • Make sure your application fits the sector that you are applying to, not the sector you’re coming from

  • Network!

How can you expand and leverage your contacts?

  • Start with your network and see if any of your contacts can connect you to someone in the field that you are looking to transition to

  • Explore relevant professional associations and networks, as well as your alumni network

  • Set up some informational interviews! Reach out to current employees and learn more about their day-to-day experiences. Just reading a job description will not give you the same insight

  • If you do go back to school, your professors and peers can be great resources

How can you overcome transition challenges?

  • Imposter syndrome is common when switching sectors, so remember your worth

  • Bring your past experience to your new position—you were hired because you bring something new to the table. Use that to your advantage!

  • Different sectors will have different work environments, so be ready to be flexible and adapt

  • Success in organizations of different sizes often requires different tactics: make sure to advocate for yourself in larger, more bureaucratic organizations and employ your communication skills in smaller, mission-driven organizations