The Key to a Successful Career Shift: Asking for Help

Repurpose Your Career

Many people switching fields are loath to reach out to someone who already knows how to get the job done. Here’s how to ask with confidence.

My colleague was in her 20s. I was old enough to be her father. But I had switched careers in midlife to be a math teacher in an inner city school, where I could tell that she knew what she was doing. I, on the other hand, was ready to jump out the window.

So I asked her for help. Begged might be a better word. If she would give me her lesson plans, I figured, I would follow her every move, like a little puppy dog — a 6-foot-4-inch puppy with hair loss and wrinkles — until I got the hang of teaching. Voila!

Advice From a Career-Design Coach

I’ve made seven career changes, currently work as a career-design coach for other boomers and just wrote Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers. My experience and research has shown me that asking for help is the biggest hurdle people in midlife face when shifting careers. But it’s also the essential first step.

(MORE: How to Start a New, More Meaningful Career)

We really struggle, however, before asking others for assistance. It’s hard to swallow your pride, forgo speeches to new, young co-workers that begin “I was doing such and such before you were born” and instead say, “I need help.”

To get the rest of the story go to the PBS Next Avenue website.

Next Avenue


Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?


You can also download my whitepaperDon’t Retire Even If you Can and What to do Instead – A Baby Boomer Manifesto

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist


  1. I am in the process of changing careers, and I have found that the one thing that gave me the courage to try was reaching out to a friend who is in the field I aspire to join and asked if what I wanted to do was even possible. Turns out that not only was it possible, but I could gain some (volunteer) experience with her. After showing what I could do, she has strongly encouraged me to pursue positions in the field. She is incredibly well connected, and she has even contacted board members on my behalf before the interviewing process even begins.

    Reaching out is definitely worth the time and effort.

Speak Your Mind