How to Make a Hobby a Career… being over-qualified without enough experience

For the past month, I’ve been struggling to answer this question. In my free time, I love to plan events.  Whether it be making a Birthday weekend special for a friend, planning my next trip, planning a baby/wedding shower, or researching fun new activities for me and my friends to do in Chicago, I’m always really excited to roll up my sleeves and get creative.  I truly have a knack for little details that make an event a success. I’ve been asking myself how to turn my true passion into a career.

Lots of people have done it.  Lots, in fact, who are close to me. My dad had a passion for art, and was able to start off doing some small jobs, which lead into a successful graphic design business.  One of my best friends loves fitness, and has been able to build a following, expand her expertise into yoga, and build her own in-house studio where clients come to learn from her.

I wish there were a guidebook, or a how-to tutorial to help get people started.  I know it’s all about taking risks and trying new things, but if you don’t find that passion until later in life, it’s not always easy to break into something new.  I have decided to document my learnings to hopefully help others who are wondering the same thing.

First, you have to find out what you truly enjoy in life- which is a challenge in itself. For me, I had to remove myself from what I was doing to allow myself space to focus on what I loved outside of work.  For others, I would recommend spending a lot more time networking and meeting new people. I found the sites and are two great resources to use to learn more about something you are interested in. Dabble has weekly courses lead by experts in the industry to “dabble” in something new.  Meet up has groups you can join (both social and professional) based on a multitude of different topics.  The groups have events you can attend where you can meet people that are interested or have experience in the same thing.

Once you have an idea of what you truly want to do, it can be challenging to reinvent yourself without any experience- even if you have a decade of professional experience- you don’t have experience in the new field.  Some steps you should take to learn more about how to “break-in”:

  1. Join an association- search the internet to determine if there are any associations that are related to the field you are trying to get into. If so, look to see what networking and educational opportunities are available.  Email the person in charge to see what specific things they have done recently to determine if it makes sense to join (I’ve learned some are more valuable than others).
  2. Search LinkedIn profiles to find those of people currently working in the field you are trying to break into.  They had to get a start somewhere. See what different career paths they took.  Also- see if you have any common connections, and reach out to them to pick their brain.
  3. Are there opportunities to volunteer? Most companies today want people with experience within a specific role- sometimes even for “entry level” jobs.  Since you missed the boat on internships, volunteering is a great way to gain the valuable experience you need.
  4. Networking events.  There are networking events almost every night in any major city.  Research to see if there are any coming up that are specific to the industry/role you are trying to break into.
  5. Certifications- are there any LEGIT certifications you can get in the field? I say legit because there are lots out there, and many are really just trying to get your $, and don’t bring a ton of value.  I would do a lot of research to see which ones (if any) are truly respected by employers.
  6. Leverage your own network.  Start asking your friends to connect you with their friends who are already working in the field. Think the six degrees of Kevin Bacon- everyone is connected somehow- leverage that power!


These steps can point you in the right direction as you begin to explore how to truly make your passion your career.  I’m currently working on all six myself- more updates to come!





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