A career switch or career change is the process of taking on a job or role that you werent doing before. Sounds simple enough by its definition, right? But a career switchat any ageis anything but simple. There are, first of all, all the internal tussles you will go through yourself before reaching that final decision to make the switch. What will follow is a long process of looking for prospective employers and convincing them, just like you convinced yourself that you are cut out for the job that they offer. And even when you make the switch successfully, there will be times ahead when you will wonderDid I make the right decision?No, a career switch is never simple. But it may be just the change you need to make, just the opportunity for a fresh start you deserve. How do I know all this? From personal experience, of course.The Journey Of A HistorianBorn and brought up in a family that has plenty of teachers, scientists, academicians and researchers, I knew early on that a career in academics and research was what I wanted. But, unlike the rest of my family, I chose the social scienceshistory, to be preciseas my field. I knew the steps I had to take to become successful in the field too. Getting through to some of the most academically renowned institutions for higher studies in the country was step one, and I got that done. Choosing a field that is futuristic and would be in demand was step two. I went for a blend of urban history and the history of science that I knew was fast emerging globally as a subject of study.My love for cities, constructed spaces and Indias many bridges, as well as the culture of producing engineers who would build these landmark structures, helped me narrow down on a bit of research that got me excited every day. To dig through century-old dusty archives of the Public Works Department like a detective looking for clues to solve the mystery of human progress was quite romantic and utterly enjoyable. Discussing my findings with my peers and seniors at conferences, especially international onesand getting appreciated for the work I was doing in the fieldgave me as much of a high as it does for people who get great appraisals at corporate jobs. I did my Masters, my MPhil, and then, during the third year of my PhD, the need for change suddenly appeared.Becoming A Digital Content Creator JournalistWhile I was perfectly happy with the direction I was taking, I felt deep down that this was not all I wanted to do. Millennials today would perhaps identify with the freedom that blogging brought about in the 2000s, and that is primarily what drove my career switch. I cook as a hobby and took to blogging about my experiments and experiences with food. This opened the path for me to write about other subjects I cared deeply about, health, pop culture, movies, television and womens issues. Unlike in academia, I discovered that publishing digitally was instantaneous, and the reach was beyond imagination. Soon enough, every media organisation started their digital platform focusing on all the lifestyle subjects I was keen on.This was also the juncture at which I realised that while my passion for historical research was immense, there was a huge saturation in the field that wouldone day, if not immediatelymake sustaining myself difficult. Permanent jobs in the field are hard to come by even today, and as a writer, my reach was going to be limited to only those who would already have an interest in the subject. On the other hand, the digital revolution created enough space for someone with my research abilities and writing skills to make an effective transition into a field that was definitely going to see a boom. Plus, given the vast scope of digital media, who said I couldnt write about history, along with all the other subjects I cared about, and engage with a wider audience through these platforms anyways? That was it, and I took a huge leap of faith.Life Lessons Learned During A Career SwitchThe first step to take was writing my resumean academic resume is nothing like a professional one corporate media houses expect. The second step was to approach prospective employers and convince themthrough written tests and interviewsthat a trained historian and researcher who writes 5,000-word academic papers can definitely write 500 words on every subject under the sky. It was a long journey, and a painstaking one at that. But at the age of 28 years, and after spending 10 years pursuing a different career, I made a switch that I have stuck to for almost six years now.So, if you are planning to make such a switch in your career, know that you will have to work hard but you will get the results you deserve. Here are a few critical life lessons I learned during and after my career switch:Dont Expect Everyone To UnderstandYou should have finished your PhD, said at least one person on every interview I have given since I made the switch. You should have stuck with what you were doing instead of struggling in this job market now, said every loved one who had seen my entire journey. No, not everyone will understand why you are making the switch, and dont expect them to. This is your life, and you must set your career goals according to your own priorities. Know that its okay to have a different point of view. Understand that not every career path is straightforward, and you have to chart your own course. Believe that if the risks you are taking are calculated properly, your decisions and hard work will pay off. You dont need anybodys validation and approval to make the career switch, although constructive advice should always be welcome.Pace Yourself Through The ChangeSwitching careers is a big change. Even if your previous field is somewhat related to the one youre moving to, know that the rules of the game are likely to be different. In my case, I was using the basic skill I hadwritingin both academics and journalism, but the turnover times were so drastically different that I was entirely out of breath during my first two months on the job. It is very important at this starting stage to pace yourself, keep an open mind, grasp as much knowledge about your new field as you can, and learn.Unlearn Old Methods HabitsNo matter how constructive, there are some old habits and work methods that you will have to unlearn to make space for the new ones. Every field has a different discipline and hygiene that is required, and to learn these, you might have to let go of old notions that helped you in your previous field. Adaptability is a core foundation of a successful career switch, so put your thinking hat and work gloves on to make the changes you need to turn your career switch into the best thing that ever happened to you.Find A Mentor A Support CircleWhen you are trained in a certain field, you have teachers, guides and a peer group to help you learn things faster. Those who switch fields may not have a ready mentor and support group waiting with open arms to welcome you into their fold. So, when you make a career switch, identify peers you want to network with to create that much-needed support group. Even more importantly, find a mentoror a whole panel of mentors if youre looking at learning multiple skillswho can guide you through the new field so that you can master it sooner.Make Your Own RulesEven with all the guidance in the world, you need to know that not everyone makes a career switch. Most people, in fact, set their path early in life and go down it to face anything and everything that the path throws at them. Those who choose to make a career switch, at no matter what age, are intrinsically not the same sort of people. You might have a greater risk appetite than others, and you might also be quite unique in your peer group. So, while its important to follow the rules that your new field demands, know that you can have your own work code and rules that set you apart.Never Be Ashamed Of Your ChoicesNow lets come to the last harsh fact: Not every career switch will work out for the best. One of my previous jobs in media was at a startup that didnt give all my stories a byline, and I realised that as a writer, that is not something I can live with. At that job, a doctorate degree would have probably given me that byline, and I did get a pang of regret when I learned that. Nevertheless, it is very important to stand by your decisions and move forward, instead of listening to others analysis of your value and choices. But once you have made a career switch, you should know that you have both the guts and the gumption to get up after a failure, dust yourself off as you analyse the lessons learned, and move on to better career prospects. Dont let anybody or any situation make you think otherwise.