Finding the right job out of college is overwhelming enough. Changing careers is all the harder. Having gone through both, Justin Ellingford has experience any college student could learn from.
Ellingford currently works as the director of marketing and communications at Revere Health, a health care organization with 100 locations and 300 providers throughout the state of Utah. As a director, he is responsible for representing the organization internally & externally. Just a few of his duties involve overseeing the Revere Health brand, dealing with anything media related and supervising visual promotion material.
He didn’t study marketing as an undergraduate though. He majored in corporate video production.
So how did he make his way into a completely different career? It wasn’t simple. For every college student and employee there is a different answer. However, drawing on Ellingford’s experiences presents options student should consider.
Considering graduate school
For some college students, getting to the right career might mean pursuing additional education. For Ellingford, graduate school was about finding a program that suited his ambitions for the future.
Ellingford’s interests changed after a few years of working in corporate video. He decided to return to school for a master’s degree in communications management, which offered a specialized program that helped him find his niche.
“I felt that I hit my stride and found what I was really interested in,” he said. “I was a little more seasoned professionally and had time in the corporate world to see what I liked and where I could see uses.”
With his master’s degree in hand, he got his current job directing the marketing communication efforts at Revere Health. Graduate school turned out to be a worthwhile investment for him.
Identifying suitable careers
Finding a fitting career is not only about qualifying for it, but also jiving with the industry and company culture. Being passionate about the career or industry is a good way to tell if it’s right. Ellingford’s own enthusiasm for health care was a factor in choosing his current job.
“I’m not selling anything like shoes or food,” he said. “Selling a service is so much more. I don’t want to cheapen the practice of medicine, and I’m passionate about doing it for the right reasons.”
Along with passion, the right career should build off individual strengths. Ellingford describes how many of his personal strengths allowed him to address his job’s demands. His attention to detail, ability to communicate and collaborate, willingness to take feedback and capacity to present a vision have all been assets for him.
Investing in the future
Changing careers can become an easier process by gaining experience and knowing people in a variety of fields. To college students or those just starting out in the professional world, Ellingford emphasizes the importance of finding quality internships, networking and activity on social media.
“Get experience in multiple organizations, and try your hand in a few different things,” he recommended. “Have conversations with people in careers you’re interested in, finding out who they are and what they do.”
Anyone interested in a career change can learn from Ellingford’s experience, and make the change best for him or her.
Preston Williamson is a junior studying public relations at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. His career interests are in health care and service marketing. Preston is married to his wife Jane, and his hobbies include cooking, exercising and reading non-fiction books.