Why it's never too late to change your career path

June 4th 2015 / Hanna Ibraheem

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Not sure if you're in the right industry? We spoke to three women who showed why it might be worth looking into a new occupation...

Getting your first proper job is a monumental moment. You’ve studied hard through school, passed numerous interview rounds and proven yourself. But as you work your way up the ranks over the years, it clicks – this isn’t the career path for you.

For some, this can lead on to the determination to seek out a new industry but for others, it can seem daunting and something they never follow through.

We quizzed three of the biggest names within the beauty and wellness industry who chose the former. Here they discuss when they decided they needed a change, how they got their new dream jobs and whether they ever looked back…

Marian Newman, from Forensic Scientist to Fashion and Celebrity Manicurist

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What kind of tasks did you carry out as a Forensic Scientist?

I worked in what was called the Chemistry Department and analysed anything from a drink/driving sample to a murder. I would analyse and investigate things such as glass, drugs, tool marks, footprints, clothing, fire debris and, sometimes, even bones. All of these were evidence samples in a wide variety of criminal cases. I also had to take my turn in the X-Ray department for a week at a time to analyse evidence samples.

At what moment did you decide you wanted a career change?

I had my first child and gave up work to look after her. All science develops so fast that, by the time I was ready to go back to work, I would have had to start at the bottom again so it was time for a change. Initially, I worked in the field of Behavioural Therapy for a couple of years, which was fascinating and gave me a great grounding for the teaching I would do later. Then I had 2 more children, so I had another break from working until my youngest went to playschool.

What were your first steps towards your new job goal?

At the start I really didn’t have a job goal it was more of an evolution and growing awareness of an industry that was completely new to me. I ‘discovered’ professional nails during a 6 week full-time make up course in London and then, while working part-time for a small chain of beauty salons, I was asked to investigate products and services for them to create a ‘nail clinic’.

That was it! I was hooked and did every course that was available which, looking back, was pretty dreadful. I was further drawn in as I needed to know answers and the education was so dreadful I had to find out for myself. This was in the mid 80s, so there was no internet to help! This is why I am so fascinated by the theory behind products and the specific anatomy and physiology of the hands and feet. This eventually led to my writing several textbooks on the subject.

What was the big break that got you where you are today?

I had been doing a lot of voluntary work for the main nail trade association at the time and was their elected President. The office got a call from a photographer’s agent, as they were looking for someone to do artificial nails and mix colours on a shoot (there were no sessions manicurists around then). It sounded interesting so I went along and had a lovely day with great people and a completely new experience. It was just the photographer, the stylist and I on the shoot as no hair and makeup was needed. This was mid 90s and the photographer was Nick Knight and the stylist was the Vogue Fashion Director! I still work with them 20 years later.

Did you feel nervous about changing careers?

I suppose I felt nervous going back to work after so long as a full time mum but, fortunately I’m not a nervous type of person

Do you think your previous role as a Forensic Scientist helped you in any aspects of your job as a Fashion and Celebrity Manicurist?

The fascination in science definitely does. It means that I understand how products work, so I can adapt them for any situation. I am also always focused on the health and protection of the nail and skin which is very much part of my scientific background. Many struggle with that aspect, as they are more creative. I find that the easiest part and have to think harder about the creative bit!

Describe a typical day as a Fashion and Celebrity Manicurist.

I have no typical day ever!! I do a lot of shoots and every one of those is different (like working with a Master Chinese Calligrapher the other day!). I do a lot of fashion shows, press events and consulting for brands. They all have very different disciplines and etiquettes.

What advice would you give to somebody who is considering a change in industries?

I think it’s hard to know the variety available in a specific industry until you’re actually in it! I suppose my advice would be that if, for whatever reason, a change were needed then have the confidence and ‘jump’. There is the very best chance that you will find a job role that you enjoy so much you would do it for free (if you didn’t need to earn a living!). You could even end up creating one as I did all those years ago. But you’ll never know if you don’t try and you could regret it, always think ‘what if’.

Elaine Slater, from Model to Psychologist

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What was a typical day like when you were a model?

Every day was different. One day I could be at a photo shoot or doing a show and the next I could be running around London on castings or travelling.

At what moment did you decide you wanted a career change?

I always knew a change in career was inevitable and that was very exciting to me. In my late teens, one of my goals for the future was to return to studying. It wasn’t until my late twenties that I finally discovered what I wanted to do with my life in terms of career – it was a blessing and a relief.

What were your first steps towards your new job goal?

Going back to school. It took some time to find the right psychology course for me but I knew intuitively the moment I found it. I think the universe played its part in sign posting the way at times.

What was the big break that got you where you are today?

I’m not sure that I had a big break as such but I believe my psychology course was the making of me. I owe such a debt of gratitude to my teachers and fellow students. It was a very special time in my life.

Did you feel nervous about changing careers?

Not at all. I was excited and ready for my new adventure, and I was desperate to get back to learning.

What attracted you to psychology?

People have always fascinated me with their capacity to endure and overcome. I enjoy the complexity of human beings both in their joy and sadness. It is an absolute privilege to do my work. I am always in awe of an individual’s grace, integrity and struggle to heal their suffering and wounds.

Do you think your previous role as a model helped you in any aspects of your job as a psychologist?

As a psychologist, I regularly deal with body image issues, and for women, the perceived need to look a certain way. The societal pressure on women to achieve a particular aesthetic is ongoing. This pressure is amplified for a model who is scrutinised with often unrealistic expectations on a daily basis.

Do you ever miss your old role as a model?

I rarely feel nostalgic or sentimental, I suppose because I am so happy with my career now. That period of my life holds a very special place in my heart - I had lots of fun, wild adventures, and met fantastic people.

Describe a typical day as a psychologist.

I don’t have a typical day, every day is different - perhaps this is a pattern of mine! During a typical week, I’m in private practice and based at my consulting rooms in Wimpole Street, The Priory Hospital and Grace Belgravia Medical Clinic seeing patients.

I usually spend one day in meetings planning next steps for my retreat company and one day consulting for organisations or wellbeing brands, as well as trying to fit in some time to write my book. My international retreats mean I travel more these days – so it can be a constant juggling act in terms of my diary. During the year I spend time at London Fashion Week in my role as resident psychologist for the British Fashion Council.

What advice would you give to somebody who is considering a change in industries?

I always encourage the full expression of your potential and living true to yourself. If there is a burning desire or ambition in terms of a career change, then have faith in yourself and go for it. People tend to regret missed opportunities and the things they didn’t do – rather than the things they did do. Of course, it is also important to research your ideas well and make a plan of action. This may involve further study, finding a mentor or career coach, or talking to people in the industry you want to move into.

Eve Kalinik, from PR Director to Nutritional Therapist

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What kind of tasks did you carry out as a PR?

In my last position as PR Director I would create and implement the longer and shorter-term strategy for brands with the support of an amazing team. This would typically include editorial placements, feature stories and exciting collaborative partnerships as well as events.

At what moment did you decide you wanted a career change?

It was actually whilst waiting for a bus on High St Kensington that I decided to look on my phone at nutrition courses in London and it was that very same day where the College of Naturopathic Medicine were hosting their open day. That was it. I signed up for the 3-year course without hesitation.

What were your first steps towards your new job goal?

I was studying whilst working since for most people making the financial shift can be a bit of a stumbling block. But it was on a trip to Mexico that I realised I could combine my longstanding 12-year career in PR with my knowledge as a practitioner and I set about consulting for naturopathic brands.

What was the big break that got you where you are today?

I genuinely have to say it was my last role in PR as London Director at Karla Otto. If I hadn’t had the opportunities and the tenacity to work with such high calibre clients, I don’t think I would have had the nerve to leave and start my own business.

Did you feel nervous about changing careers?

Yes of course. But having a plan and combining my skills allowed me to make a smooth(ish!) transition.

What attracted you to nutrition?

I’ve always been a foodie. Growing up in a house where everything is cooked from scratch and where produce is almost all home grown is a good start for anyone. And the more I practise and gain knowledge, the more I understand how much else there is to learn. That is so unbelievably attractive and inspiring.

Do you think your previous role as a PR helped you in any aspects of your job as a Nutritional Therapist?

Absolutely. Negotiation is key to my skills as a practitioner. Also, coming from an environment that is similar to a lot of my clients’ means I can actually relate to them and understand how realistic it is to incorporate dietary changes and the challenges that they might face.

Do you ever miss your old role as a PR?

Not really as I still work on a consultancy basis which can be anything from strategy through to product development. I’ve always believed that I will work with brands in some capacity; it used to be fashion, now its food & wellbeing, which resonates on a much deeper level with me.

Describe a typical day as a Nutritional Therapist.

There isn’t one, which is the exciting part! But take today for instance; I will spend the morning in my clinic based on South Molton Street and the afternoon in a meeting to discuss a corporate wellness programme that I am curating for a big organisation. Then I’ll work on various editorial commitments. I really love writing and writing about something I’m so passionate about is incredibly satisfying.

What advice would you give to somebody who is considering a change in industries?

Plan. Have a strategy of how you are going to achieve it- but don’t be scared. Fear doesn’t breed success. And most of all believe in yourself. Anything is achievable if you really put your mind to it.

Follow Get The Gloss on @getthegloss and Hanna on @hanna_ibraheem

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