Best way to pivot into another career in my mid-30s
April 16, 2018 3:11 PM   Subscribe

What kind of things can leverage one's chances of success when switching career lanes from design to news/media production in their mid 30s?

With a degree in communication design (specifically graphic design), my experience is primarily in print and packaging. I worked with an advertising agency for a year before starting my own thing, and have gone to work with some renowned clients over the years. I have been forced to work in a variety of odd jobs over the years, but my studio has been in business ever since and my clients thankfully always come back. I've also expanded my skill set to venture into producing animation-based TV commercials, as well as 3D-production. All of that said, my true passion has always been making movies, documentaries, and media production. I haven't been able to go into that due to a number of personal circumstances. My dream job is to work for a news/media company that produces relevant content about important soci-political issues.

A few years ago I was on a trip abroad and, through some well-connected friends, had the chance to film an extensive interview with someone who would later become a notorious fugitive in that country. I have been working on the documentary ever since and it should be completed before the end of this year. Additionally, I have started a modest social media page which I hope would grow into a bigger news/media company, and its growth has been steady and garnering some good interaction. What additional things should I incorporate into my road map in order to successfully pivot into my desired career path, and to convince others that I am the right person for the job? I constantly feel that I am too old to make this change, but another part of me says that I should do it.
posted by omar.a to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You are definitely not too old (I myself am 42, and making a transition from marketing strategy into graphic design). I would say the best thing you could be doing is talking to as many people you can who have been successful in the field you want to get into. I have found that people love talking about what they do, and are generally keen to give advice.

In addition, lots of and lots of networking. Go to as many events as you can, and be friendly and open. Be interested in what others are doing, and they will in turn be interested in you.

Good luck! Your documentary sounds fascinating.
posted by Jellybean_Slybun at 3:53 PM on April 16, 2018

“My dream job is to work for a news/media company”
Realize that media production is a freelance world—multiple jobs, multiple companies. I’ve been in documentary for around 20 years and I have had only 2 staff jobs. Most people, even at big news outfits, are independent contractors.
Network, get your work seen, take any gig to get your foot in the door.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:56 PM on April 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I write for a bunch of the biggest news outlets in Canada, and I am freelance. I transitioned into this career at 34, following a previous transition into corporate PR at 31.
posted by 256 at 6:16 PM on April 16, 2018

Thank you all for your replies.

@Jellybean_Slybun: Are there specific events that I should be looking at? I live in Toronto.

@Ideefixe: In your opinion, what is the bare minimum of things I have to have in my portfolio in order to attract potential clients?

@256: How did you make this transition, and are there any tips and tricks to streamline it?
posted by omar.a at 6:52 PM on April 16, 2018

Memail me!
posted by caitcadieux at 9:23 AM on April 17, 2018

Production companies want someone who can handle whatever is thrown. If you have graphics and Photoshop skills, highlight those, and maybe take some editing classes. If you want to produce, show clips of interviews you’ve done.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:03 PM on April 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

The first transition (from computer programming to PR) was the hardest. But, I had sold some freelance writing and started a magazine, so I did have some accomplishments to point to. My first PR job was a half-time gig for a local charity, and that led to bigger and better things.

My final PR job was for a renewable power company that folded due to mismanagement. When the company collapsed, I called up all my contacts at publishers and advertising agencies, asking if anyone was looking for someone who knew their way around a sentence, and that led to my first freelance writing contract.

It may seem obvious, but your best career change resource is someone who is already in the industry you want to transition to. No matter how trivial your relationship, they will often be happy to introduce you to other people.

Doing favours for others makes people feel good about themselves.
posted by 256 at 10:53 AM on April 18, 2018

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