100%, you can change careers without going back to school.
I worked as a classical musician and in academia for 10 years, and had little tacit knowledge or hard skills that the private sector/startup market place asks for.
But now I work at a startup, and I didn’t go get another degree to do it.
Here are some key pillars for how to change careers without going back to school.
The reason I now work for Crash is because I incessantly followed my curiosity. I’ve been obsessed with philosophy, personal agency, and self-driven education my entire adult life. I listened to podcasts around the topic and eventually came across founder Isaac Morehouse. I got lit up about his values and vision of philosophy, personal agency, and self-driven education.
So it wasn’t that I wanted to work for him, it was that I couldn’t’ NOT want to work for him.
When you seek opportunities through your curiosity, you lead from the core, from your own self-authenticity. That become the motivational fuel to accomplish any task you desire.
The point is, if you want to change careers without going back to school, don’t start by searching all around for companies. Start by looking inward and inviting yourself to ponder, “what am I curious about?”
As I clarified this sense of purpose, I realized, well, I didn’t have much skills or experience that a startup demanded, e.g. marketing, sales, coding, design, etc.
(I did have plenty of soft skills I could transfer though, like grit, curiosity, communication, organization, and growth mindset).
So I began learning out loud by starting a blog, podcast, and connecting to people around Isaac’s companies (Praxis and Crash). I preached on social media about the companies. Then I did small favors to build social capital.
I then became a user of the product (Crash), to start to change careers! And with that endgame in mind, I took a guess that I would go into sales as my launch point. I thought I could bring my go-getter personality to it. I began learning tech tools like Salesforce and LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and did a month long bootcamp VictoryLap to continue to learn (without going back to school).
The point is, I made my learning happen without paying a teacher to give me an assignment.
Then I started pitching, before I was ready, and it felt really uncomfortable at first. Did I pitch Crash first? No, to be honest, at the time I wanted to focus on bigger companies to initiate my career change – I thought it would be easier to get hired (though that wasn’t actually true) compared to pitching Crash when they weren’t officially hiring.
But it all worked out.
I pitched 20 companies for sales roles and got 12 interviews. I just kept shipping. Also, I made custom projects and did research on companies in advance.
So I become a Crash superuser, and I built the skill of pitching.
I then pitched Crash when they weren’t hiring and broke in to the company.
I guess my story is unique, but the lesson can apply to anyone: dive into your interests, curiosities, and passions, and good things happen. And become a customer of the company you like! That is a huge leg up to signal that you are enthusiastic, and to gain insights into the product and service so you can make a value proposition.
Just go for it! Don’t wait for perfection or permission.