Career Change Questions Answered

We began this week with a look at what it takes to make a career change and how your passions, skills and resources can help you succeed as you work through the process. In this economy, where job losses are especially prevalent, it’s wise to give some thought to planning for modifications in how you spend your day. You may want to sign up for classes from your local community college to help with your career changes.

On Wednesday, were pleased to welcome Teresa Burrell, author of The Advocate’s Betrayal to our blog for a virtual book tour. An educator, attorney, businesswoman and writer, Teresa graciously answered our questions and also responded to several readers’ comments and requests for advice. We’d like to share those with you today:

One reader, Annette, wanted to know more about how Teresa went about making her career changes. She commented: “I am in awe of your courage in starting new careers. I would like to go back to school but I’m afraid to quit my job and start all over from scratch. How much did you have to plan ahead so you’d have enough money to support yourself after your career change?”

Teresa had some practical advice for her: “I did a little financial planning for my career changes, but mostly I just remembered what it was like when I first started attending college. I didn’t have anything then and I made it through. And each time it just got better. I’ve never been one to have a lot of debt other than school loans, and I didn’t have any of those until I went to law school. I always knew I could find some kind of work if I had to, so I just dove in. I realize I took some chances but I had to in order to follow my dreams. I do have to admit, the older I get the more planning I do for a career change.”

Another reader confessed that she was concerned about her internal motivation to stay on track. Suzanne commented: “I like the idea of working for myself – like you’ve done as a writer. But I’m afraid I wouldn’t have the energy to keep going without someone (like my boss) pushing me. How do you get yourself to stick to your job on your own?”

Teresa shared some of her philosophy about taking responsibility for herself and her career: “Suzanne, keeping on task can be one of the hardest things to do when someone isn’t standing watch. Many businesses fail for that very reason. This is a business, just like any other. If you take that approach, things will get done. If you look at it as a hobby, that’s all it will ever be. For the most part, you have to schedule it into your day or your week and then stick to it.”

One would-be author asked about how to move forward with her manuscript: “I’ve been working on a book too – a novel, not a mystery. This is all brand new for me. When I finish writing, how do I get it published? How did you decide on your publisher?”

In response, Teresa gave her some of the inside scoop about publishing: “Getting published can be a real nightmare. I’ve heard some horror stories from many authors, some well known, others not. I didn’t have the typical experience. I went to a writer’s conference, submitted twenty pages to a publisher, and she asked for my manuscript. My second book was picked up by another publisher who approached me. I think that was because my first book was doing well and they saw how much effort I put into the marketing process. When your book is finished the first thing you have to do is learn how to write a clean query letter and a great synopsis. Both of those things can be done at a writer’s conference. And then you start the search for an agent or a publisher. Most of that can be done online or you can attend a conference and submit some of your work. There are a number of writer’s conferences that give you that opportunity. Here locally we have the Southern California Writer’s Conference which I attended and would highly recommend for both the learning process and for making connections. Just make sure you approach the process knowing there is a lot of rejection in this business and at the same time keep a positive attitude.”

Our thanks, again, to Teresa Burrell for her candor and advice. You can learn more about her book, The Advocate’s Betrayal, on her website.

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