career rut

4 Signs You’re Stuck In a Career Rut & What To Do

Sharise Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Internships aren’t just for college students. Even those who have already started a career but want something different, can benefit from doing an internship after college. Often, young professionals can find themselves chasing a paycheck rather than their passion. With the amount of student loan debt that college grads are taking on, I get the need for money. But, all too often we learn that chasing the check can lead to less satisfying careers and getting stuck in a career rut.

Feeling underappreciated yet over-stressed wishing to break free from it all is not a way to live. It is time to break the cycle and get yourself out of the career rut you’ve been in. These are the four ways to identify if you need to make a change.

You are bored

You are bored. Some jobs are just less exciting by nature. Look when I was in college, being a cashier on the slow days was great because I could do homework. As a working professional, I didn’t spend years in college and doing multiple internships to be disinterested in what I do. That’s why we invest in a college education.

The same job that was exciting for the first 3 months can turn into an emotional drain. When you’re working a job that you no longer find stimulating or rewarding, the days and weeks blur into one another. It becomes a little like Groundhog Day (great movie if you’ve never seen it).

When you no longer feel engaged by your work and are disconnected emotionally, then it is time to re-evaluate. Think about what is causing the feelings. The work itself, the environment or have you just outgrown where you are? Did you take the job for the money and already knew it wasn’t a good fit? When the most exciting time of day is when it’s time to leave, that’s not a good look.

career rut

You don’t receive any new training

In your first few days or weeks, you received all types of training to help your learn your job and do it well. Since then, you have continued to learn on the job, but there have been no real opportunities to expand your knowledge. Your employer doesn’t seem to value your learning and development as much as they should.

Employee training shouldn’t be a “one and done”. It should be an ongoing part of a scheme of personalized development. Ask for the opportunity to take some training courses you’ve found, find out if they will pay for some college courses or certificate programs. If they can’t invest in you, it might be time to invest in yourself, learn new skills and find a new place.

You don’t know the next step for your career

A good employer will not only support you in your current position, they’ll help you along each step in your career. A good manager, however may help and support you even if it means you have to leave.

Your employer should be able to help you identify and prepare for the next step on your career path within their company. At smaller companies, the career ladder might not be as clearly defined. Larger corporations tend to have clear cut steps and paths to operate from. You don’t know unless you ask the question, “what’s next for me here?”

You need to be proactive in your next steps too. If you see a job you’d prefer and aspire to have in the company, ask “how can I become an X?” In fact, you may already be qualified for a different role but you just need to let your managers know you are interested. As my mother used to say, “closed mouths don’t get fed.” Translation: if you don’t speak up, you won’t get what you want.

If you are good at what you do, they will want to invest in your growth by letting you know what experience and training you need to “level up” in your career. If your current employer won’t or can’t do this, it may be time to move on. 

Sunday evenings make you miserable

You get a case of the Monday’s every day. Sunday brings a feeling of dread that you have to return to a place that is emotionally and physically draining. You sustain life like that.

When you start to feel this way, it can begin to effect your work performance. Don’t endanger your current job from poor performance, it is better to start looking for a new position.

I know, life is too short to be stuck in a career rut, but that doesn’t mean you should act without a plan.  

Change of scenery or change in career

If you arrive at the conclusion that it is time to move on, make a plan. Determine what you want to move into next. Assess the skills you have and evaluate the opportunities that you can apply for. You might need to take on an internship to add new skills or connect into a different industry.

After some reflection, you may however discover that you are still interested or even passionate about your career, but just not your present job or company. A change of scenery isn’t necessarily about changing what you do, but could be about changing where you do it. Can you find a position at a larger organization? Smaller organization? Same role but a different industry?

How would your job be if you could work in a different location all together. There are agencies and resources to help you find and prepare for new jobs and career changes. In the healthcare field for instance, Cornerstone Medical is an example of a company that can help you make that kind of leap beyond your current geographical borders.

If you are stuck in a rut, and decide to stay, here are a few suggestions:

  • Talk to your boss. Be open and honest about how you feel. They may be willing to help you to improve matters.
  • Think about what you really want to do, and start looking for appropriate internships or training programs to make your move up and out.
  • Consider online certificate programs or evening courses to learn new skills to broaden your horizons.
  • Attend networking events for your chosen field or industry.
  • Be diligent in your job search and join various agencies to help spread your reach.

Whatever you decide, don’t stay stuck!

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Internship Expert | Freelancer at Sharise Kent | The Internship Manual
Sharise Kent is an internship expert and freelance writer. She has spent over 20 years in college admissions and career development. As the former manager of a national internship program, she oversaw the placement of 400+ interns with some of the biggest media companies in the world. She holds an MS in Professional Writing and a BA in Public Relations.

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