There are times when your chosen career after you have graduated might not actually be the career for you. It’s not as uncommon as you think. In fact, research in 2014 found that most graduates switched careers by the time they were 24, so if you are looking for a career change then you are not alone.

The finance industry can be difficult to get into straight from university, and it can be even harder if you are looking for a career change with no prior finance experience. However, that’s not to say it’s impossible. You just have to be prepared.

Research, research, research

The first thing you will have to do if you are considering switching to a career in finance is research. There are plenty of different areas of work in the finance industry. From investment banking to management consultancy, insurance to working in pensions, there are several areas of work for you to choose from. We have in-depth information on each area of the finance sector to help you decide which one is right for you.

Once you have decided which area of finance you want to go into, you can start to research what you need in order to make the switch. This could include professional qualifications, or even going back to university to get a postgraduate qualification. For example, there are several different qualifications available in order to become an accountant. These include the ACA qualification which enables you to become a Chartered Accountant, and the CIMA qualification to gain an international management accountant qualification. You can find out more about the different accountancy qualifications here.

Having a good idea of what area you want to go into, and what you need to do to get there, will make the idea of a career switch considerably less daunting.

Make a plan

The next thing you need to do is to make a plan. You can do this however you want, make a spreadsheet, write it on your bedroom wall, or make it your computer screen saver if you wish, just make a plan. Work out how long it will take you to do each step. For example, many accounting qualifications take several years to complete. Therefore you will have to think about juggling a full time job with your part-time study.

For post-graduate study, you will have to go through the application process before you begin studying. This can include interviews, arranging references and a killer personal statement. And that’s before you even get accepted onto the programme.

Do some research into networking events, lectures and industry talks. These will help you meet people and will help you get your foot on the ladder when it comes to the industry. Mark these in your calendar and treat them like a mini-job interview.

Making a plan of what you are going to do and how long it will take you to do it will make you more prepared. Instead of having ideas floating around in your head, giving yourself a time-frame will put you in control.

We also recommend setting milestones along the way. This will keep you on track and will make your goals more attainable.

Track your progress

Switching careers can be a long process, and it can be easy to lose track of the progress you are making. Keeping a record of the exams or modules you have studied, the work experience you have done or the networking events you have been to shows you how far you have come and what your next step is.

Be patient

Things aren’t going to happen overnight. You won’t be hitting the City as an investment banker in a matter of weeks. It can be easy to get frustrated when your plans don’t come to fruition straight away, especially when it’s something that you might have been dreaming about for a long time. Don’t lose faith and keep learning, networking and applying for jobs. Be determined and don’t be disheartened if things don’t happen immediately.

As we said at the start of this article, changing your career to one in finance doesn’t have to be scary. Do as much research as you can and make sure you have a detailed plan before you put said plan into action. Keep track of your progress and give yourself goals and milestones along the way. You also have to be patient, it can be a long process and there could be setbacks along the way. However, if you take our advice, it will make the process a lot less difficult.

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