A Second Career in My 20s

It’s not uncommon to hear of a person who is on their second or even third career. I’ve often heard of people who are working in careers that aren’t what they studied in school. However, that doesn’t detract from the feelings of uncertainty and anxiety that making a career change can raise. When I found myself burnt out only a year and a half after graduation; I had to start considering this as an option.

I started my new career after graduating the Tourism and Travel program in a little honeymoon period.

I was excited by the work and the prospect of leaving my part-time job in retail behind. Within a month of starting at a wholesale travel call centre in Toronto; the company had their yearly conference and we were shipped off to California to Disneyland for a weekend in December. My coworkers were great, knowledgeable and willing to help you grow, there were regularly scheduled company events, and management was approachable and invested in your success. Unfortunately, the work itself and the often 2+ hour commute weren’t a fit for my personality or lifestyle. The honeymoon period ended and I found myself burnt out as I often found myself waking up at 5am and getting home by 8pm. I had to start looking at whether I was happy with my position, as it turns out, while I love to travel personally, the career of selling travel wasn’t fulfilling.

Any number of thoughts run through one’s head when they’re considering a drastic change in their life.

Are you making a mistake?

Will you regret it?

What would I even do?

Personally, the main concern was what to do next. I had graduated from College and I was still in my 20’s, I barely had a first career, how could I consider a career change?

Enter the period of soul searching and contemplation.

I used every resource to attempt to find the right fit for a new career; aptitude tests, job forecasts, etc. But sometimes inspiration strikes in the oddest of places. After several sleepless nights browsing floor plans of houses, when I wasn’t in the market to buy a house, everything seemed to click in place. Architecture has always been my main passion when travelling; I could easily find myself wandering through an old European city staring at buildings for hours. I’ve often looked at King Street by Gore Park with wonder in my heart of what it could look like with all of the aging buildings properly cared for. At least now I had found a general field.

With a new field in mind, the idea of returning to school was still daunting. I started looking at University programs but found myself being discouraged by long years of being a student, racking up student debt and adding very little real world experience to my resume.

The idea to return to Mohawk came from my then-boyfriend’s (now fiancé!) sister. While completing her Master’s and Ph.D. in Engineering at McMaster she had heard amazing things about the relatively new Bachelor of Technology program in Civil Engineering. Following up on that lead, I found the Architectural Technology advanced diploma from Mohawk. With a co-op program and the option of completing a degree after, I had finally found a path which didn’t make me cringe and that I was actually excited to pursue.

My story ended with returning to school full-time, I’ve just completed my first year in the Architectural Technology program, and personally I couldn’t be happier that I made the leap! A career change at any age is bold, brave, and fulfilling but it won’t necessarily look the same on everyone. It might include a new position with your current company, entrepreneurship, or continuing education courses. But if you’ve ever asked yourself “what if”, I wish you the confidence to go and find out!

– Melissa Melanson
Tourism & Travel, ’13

One thought on “A Second Career in My 20s

  1. […] reading a recent post by current 2nd-time student, Melissa Melanson in A Second Career in My 20s, grad Bobbi Jo wanted to share her similar experience from more than 25 years […]

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