There comes a time when a career in communications may begin to feel a bit stale.
Maybe you’re stuck between client contracts. Or the daily commute finally becomes too overwhelming.
Perhaps you have too many other evening obligations, and writing yet another last-minute news release late into the night cuts a little deeper than usual.
Whatever the reason may be, communications pros are trained to grin and bear it.
And, we do… until things get the better of us and we find we’re in need of a break.
Maybe that break comes in the form of taking a few personal hours or a vacation.
But for some comms pros, they take a bigger step and make the decision to leave the communications world behind for a fresh start.
This is the decision I made, leaving it all behind.
Transferable Skills: Repurpose Your Skills
While I was a very good PR practitioner, my decision to close my multicultural agency, Padma Media + Marketing, didn’t happen because I stopped loving PR.
I had simply reached my own personal career goals within the industry. And at the same time, my childhood passion became a real career possibility for the next stage of my life.
While giddy about my new career, leaving behind an industry I loved was hard.
Going through the process of ending an established career to leap into the great unknown was not only a financial risk but a major hit to my self-esteem.
I went from knowing how to do everything to questioning myself about everything.
Like most anyone else going through a career transition, I wondered whether any of my skills were transferable. Would they be useful in the next stage of my life, let alone as a filmmaker?
I was asking myself: How could I quantify the value of media impressions during an interview with an executive producer? Would anyone on a film set care that I could write pitch letters, news releases, and keep tabs on how much billable time I was reporting weekly?
And the biggest question of all: Did I waste time working on my career, only to leave it before I was ready to retire?
I found the answer was a resounding “No.”
Many of the skills I learned in my PR life were fully transferable to my current filmmaking career.
And they are more than transferable; they are an asset to most positions I have been hired for.
The following are valuable skills that you can transfer to any industry.
Attention to Detail
I usually don’t get into the nitty-gritty of my former job responsibilities with my filmmaking crew.
But I’ve found my current bosses and colleagues recognize my ability to handle even the most insignificant tasks with the same level of attention to detail I gave my PR tasks.
From editing to keeping detailed project notes that help everyone (including people I want to impress), to being able to see beyond the superficial—these are traits my new colleagues appreciate. And they make me look like I know more than I really do (shhh… don’t tell anyone!).
While managing more than one project at a time was the day-to-day reality of my former position, most filmmakers work on only one film at a time.
But great filmmakers, rather, the ones who are consistently working, might be managing pre-production details on one project while shooting a second and prepping for a third.
Some filmmakers even work on post-production for a fourth film at the same time.
In other words, the top filmmakers are working in a manner which any communications pro would recognize: Be able to multitask and you’re golden!
I quickly found out the film industry was notoriously old school when it came to most of its methods. If it isn’t broke, why fix it?
As with any industry, there are standard procedures which keep the industry running.
But I soon learned those rules don’t always apply to those mundane administrative tasks which drain your time and money.
So here’s a hint. Saving time and saving money will always make you look good—and keep you working.
A background in the communications industry is most useful.
Particularly, managing accounts and maximizing results with a small budget makes most comms pros naturals at saving money and figuring out how to best utilize websites, tools, and other resources.
The ability to do this means you’ll quickly create win-win situations which make you stand out.
Power of Networking
At the beginning of my new career, I was a wallflower at industry events. I was afraid of not having any clients to talk about.
At the time, I found it odd that people would try to connect to anyone about anything other than work at these events.
So while it did take time to drop my mask, I’ve since learned that networking outside of PR simply means just “being yourself.”
And that is exactly whom most industries are looking to connect with.
By being yourself, you will find it easier to get to the next stage in your life, including a new career, if that’s what you’re after.
The Excitement of What’s Next
Maybe I’m biased, but I think communications pros with a well-rounded skill set have a leg-up on other job candidates in most industries.
Unfortunately, many of you may also have the same unfounded fears that I did.
At the beginning of my career transition, I did not believe my skills would be transferable to a new career.
As you skim through the job-search sites, know this: Your unique traits, both personal and professional, are assets that make you an excellent job candidate.
These skills give you the ability to transition into almost any industry without a lengthy learning curve.
So if you’ve thought about leaving the communications industry, get out there and own it!
By owning every bit of your experience, you’ll take your new career, whatever that may be, to new heights.
You’ve got this!