When the ‘Dream Job’ Is No Longer the Dream

5 tips for making a successful career change

Back Article Jun 25, 2024 By Ananda Rochita

This story is part of our June 2024 issue. To subscribe, click here.

When I was young, I had a dream of working overseas as an international correspondent. I wanted to witness history, advocate for the most vulnerable and make a difference in my community and the world. And while I achieved something tangential to that vision in my journalism career, dreams can evolve and lead you down an unexpected path. 

The death of my grandmother (who helped raise me), the COVID-19 pandemic and the birth of my daughter ignited a drive for me to do something different. 

I had always wanted to be a journalist. There are family videos of me on VHS anchoring and reporting my newscast with two of the most supportive people as my audience: my parents. An internship led me to my first television station, where I worked as an anchor and reporter. From there, I got my master’s in journalism from Georgetown University. I worked at three different television stations, including in the Sacramento region for ABC10 as an investigative reporter and anchor. I went into my boss’s office at the time and pitched to create that position for myself. I had the dream job. 

While I was so thankful for my role, the aforementioned life events in the last few years made me seek a change. I wanted to have a more predictable schedule and be present with my family. I knew I had to change careers, but I didn’t know where to start. I was terrified when it came to brainstorming and figuring out what to do next. I kept second-guessing my skills, and I struggled to structure and verbalize what I’d done on a single sheet of paper. 

Some opportunities happen when you least expect it. I had been applying for jobs several months before the end of my contract at ABC10. Some jobs were out of state at different news organizations, and some were in the communications world. After reworking my resume and reaching out to my business contacts, I got some interviews, but nothing excited me until I got a call back from the California Manufacturers & Technology Association. The start date would be the same week as the end of my contract. Plus, the job involved some of my favorite topics I covered while working in journalism — economic development, business and technology, and creating opportunities for the next generation. It was kismet, a feeling of destiny. June 2024 marks two years since I took the vice president of communications role at CMTA. 

If you’re looking to make a career pivot, here are a few things I found helpful throughout my journey.

1. Network like crazy 

Reach out to people in your network whose roles interest you. Public relations is a typical career to go into after news; however, so many roles are wrapped into those two words. I reached out to friends in communications, external relations and communications. After learning about their roles, I better understood what industries I wanted to avoid and some I wanted to dive right into after leaving my career. Asking people to meet for coffee near their office or where it is convenient usually works. I also met people through networking events in the region. 

2. Rework your brand 

Once I knew what kinds of jobs I was interested in applying to, I reworked my resume and LinkedIn. I replaced news jargon with words that would be easily understood and transferable to jobs I sought in my transition. Although I had built up experience in the news, hiring managers in other industries didn’t realize what I did every day. When I went into interviews, I had to balance confidence and humility, knowing I could do the job, but I was also in a completely different industry. 

3. Ask for help 

Once I got into my role, I asked to meet with as many people as possible to learn from them. I treated the first year and even my second as grad school. I didn’t hesitate to ask people for help, take online courses in my new field and attend as many networking events as possible. 

4. Write an elevator pitch 

I’ve had several friends reach out who were interested in making a career pivot. One of the things I tell them is to be the best advocate for themselves. Rehearse your “elevator pitch” — especially during networking events — and know that there will be some “nos” throughout the whole process. It only takes one person to see your potential and give you a chance. 

5. Be a sponge 

The first few weeks and months into my new role were filled with so many emotions as I strived to show that I could do the job. Some of my mentors told me to take the time, especially during the first year or so, to be a sponge. Use the opportunity to observe and learn. Mistakes will happen, but this is all a learning opportunity. Be eager and say “yes” as often as you can without losing sight of your value.

I always thought journalism was it. I thought I was going to retire as a reporter because it was the career I dreamt of as a child. However, I didn’t want that career to define my entire life as I’ve seen happen to so many people. I’m also a mother, friend and wife. I get asked a lot, “Do you miss it?” Short answer, I sometimes do, but I now have the most precious gift of time as well as a career that I love.  

Ananda Rochita is a 2023 Comstock’s Young Professionals honoree. She has received several Emmys and a National Edward R. Murrow Award for her investigations as a reporter. She was selected for the Sacramento Metro Chamber Foundation’s Leadership Sacramento ‘23 class and is currently on the Board of Directors for the First Tee of Greater Sacramento and Public Relations Society of America’s Capital Chapter. 

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