How Old is Too Old for a Career Change?

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6 things you’re told not told about chasing the dream job after 30.

Age. It’s just a number, right? Wrong. It’s a stigma. And from a career sense today, being over the age of 30 and making a career 180 is the 21st Century equivalent of being in a travelling freak show. Or worse even—because there are still plenty of laughs, only no one will pay you. Despite what your daily affirmation memes and Insta feeds have led you to believe, you’re not the star of your own movie and the camera isn’t rolling. In the eyes of recruiters, HR honchos and office assistants, you’re more of a liability than heels in a foot race. And if you were in a movie, it’d likely be a home-made sex tape shot on a Nokia 3210. (If you’re over 30 you’ll get that reference, which in turn immediately counts against you).Because while attempting to realize one’s dreams is the essence of a life well lived, when it comes to successfully changing careers post the big three zero, you’re facing more opposition than gay rights in Georgia and diversity in Hollywood combined.

“But what about Walt Disney and Ellen Degeneres? Or that story about that chick who quit her job to become a professional shoe horn?” They’re the exception to the rule—relative lotto winners. “Then what about my dad’s friend, Craig. He’s 47 and studying to be a lawyer.” Great. But Craig actually getting hired is another thing entirely. Now, before you swap out your contacts for glasses, get into your Onesie, cold brew some tea and jump on the FB comment section to unleash your tales of optimism and delusion, consider this: Those over 30 aren’t the problem. The inherent biases of recruiters and HR types are. If you’re reading MC, you’re clearly not an imbecile. Which means you’re also perfectly capable of kicking ass in any profession you choose. Fuck, you’re only 30 for god sakes and just starting to hit your straps. Put simply, a successful career change post 30 is more than possible. But it’s not easy. There’s a reason billionaire businessman Mark Cuban says, “Don’t follow your passion, follow your effort.” Because no matter what gender or race you identify as, ageism is an issue we all deal with—even at 30. Some more than others admittedly. So sticking at something you’ve spent more than a decade of your life perfecting may indeed be the easier route. Here’s what daily affirmations don’t tell you about following your passion:

1. You’re gonna be broke – but your friends won’t be

“I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t think about you at all.”— Coco Chanel

As much as you think you’ve gotten your head around sipping instant coffee, drinking domestic beer and welcoming a housemate into your pad, expect it to be a downright punish after years of $5 coffees, Coronas and solitude. And there’s no accounting for your friends’ continued financial success around you as you blast through your savings trying to realize the dream in a share house. But, you’ll convince yourself you never wanted to go to Coachella anyway…

He might’ve spent much of his career slurping booze and hoovering blow, but you can’t fault Stephen King’s work ethic. The man’s prolific in every sense of the word.

2. Employers will be suspicious of you

“What separates the talented from the successful is a lot of hard work”— Stephen King

After some 200 applications you finally land that dream interview for an internship. But in the same way a stranger is sceptical of you the moment you try to make them feel welcome, potential employers are just as suspicious. “If you were so good at your last job, why would you give it up to be an intern here?” You can illustrate that you have the work history, life experience and references to back it up. But that won’t fit the finely tuned JD. Even if it did, you’ve got too much life experience to be a shit-kicker and be easily manipulated. It’s often easier to go with a graduate.

3. You will be taken advantage of

“Whoever is trying to bring you down is already below you” — The Internet

You finally get a shot at that dream job in a junior role. And you absolutely dominate it like a Biggest Loser contestant does a burrito. In no time you’re doing the work of someone in a senior position for half the wage. And despite that, the higher-ups haven’t promoted you because hell, you’re doing a senior job for a junior wage. And they know how much you want to be there. It’s career limbo.

4. Self-loathing and doubt are omnipresent

“No matter how many self-doubts you have, you’re in it. The ship’s sailed. You can’t turn around” — Spike Jonze

Just as when you were floundering in your previous career wondering if you should take the leap, self doubt will cripple you on a weekly basis. But in the words of famed writer and director Spike Jonze, that’s what procrasturbation is for. There’s gonna be dizzying highs and terrifying lows. And the next pay cheque isn’t guaranteed. So strap yourself in for a helluva ride. (Ed’s note—Spike Jonze is the man responsible for the film clip above, so it’s worth taking what he says with a grain salt. You ain’t Spike.)

5. It’s just as hard to turn back

“You either suck it up… or you go home and say you gave it a shot, but that’s the end of that” — Jon Hamm

Your savings won’t last forever and those junior wages won’t cut it for long. Meanwhile, it’s been two years and the person who replaced you in your old position is now second in charge and pocketing $150,000 a year. You’re still 12 months away from making a decent income in the dream career while your previous profession has changed so much that even if you could go back you’d likely be in a lower-paying position than when you left.

6. The good news?

“Nothing has ever come easy for me and I think that’s a really good thing” — Zooey Deschanel

You’re only 30. You can do it. Like trying to hook up with that dream guy or girl, it’s all about persistence. In the words of Lloyd in Dumb and Dumber, “One in a million is still a chance.” Dream big.

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