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Retraining for second career brings fear, doubts Add to ...

The question

I've been given a British Columbia Institute of Technology scholarship to do a bachelor of business administration degree, and am not sure which direction to go. Most likely I’ll go into marketing, but which program: sales, tourism, communications?

In my late 30s, and hardly having been in business, I'm a bit intimidated by the business world, though I am up for the challenge. People retrain all the time. But am I hirable as an “older” female just burgeoning into the business scene?

The answer

A bachelor of business administration offers you a whole host of opportunities to learn not only different business, but different facets and areas of business, such as accounting, marketing, strategy and leadership. Especially in the first year, it will give you a general, well-rounded education and this will help prepare you for areas or business types on which you may want to focus and specialize going forward.

Your program will have many like-minded people struggling with the notion of entering the business world. They too have feelings of doubt, fear and uncertainty. Business is a huge world, and they are wondering if they are going to fit into it.

Start at the beginning – with your courses – and begin to switch your mindset to how – not if – you will fit in. Take advantage of the knowledge you will acquire from your studies, peers and instructors and notice what feels right for you. Trust yourself and get some research done. Talk to people in tourism, sales, and communications and find out what the roles are for your area of interest, what background these people have, and inquire as to how they got where they are today. Once you gather information, take the courses that you feel will be of benefit to you to reach your potential. Drive that back to your overarching goal, an area of focus that you will go after once you have your BBA.

Remember, you can always change your mind. You may, as many people do, try out a certain industry in business and decide it is not for you. No problem. Just recognize what is not working, and channel your energy to what may work better. You will hit it. And once you do, don’t be surprised if after five or 10 years in the business, you want to switch it up again.

Careers are not static. Like people’s preferences, they are always changing and evolving and new opportunities present themselves. Your age and gender have nothing to do with it. All you need is fierce determination and the willingness to make tough, sometimes risky decisions when it comes to your career. If you have done some research and tapped into your intuition, the right decision happens. Work through the bumps and be prepared to reap the benefits of your hard work.

Eileen Dooley is a certified coach and lead consultant for Cam McRae Consulting in Calgary.

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