Because radical transitions seldom happen overnight, try a “stepping stone” approach.

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Q: Although I have worked in business for many years, I would like to become an academic adviser at the university level. As an undergraduate, I enjoyed tutoring people, and I have also done volunteer work with high school students. How should I go about starting this new career?

A: Because radical transitions seldom happen overnight, such a dramatic change requires a “stepping stone” approach. Just as you might plot your steps to safely cross a river, so you must identify a logical sequence of events to shift from one career to another.

For example, one initial strategy involves using current skills to obtain a position in the desired setting. So if your background is in accounting, you might look for a position in a university finance department. By successfully transitioning to the academic world, you would have moved one step closer to your goal.

But before making any permanent changes, take time to thoroughly understand your preferred field. Explore educational requirements, research possible employers, and conduct informational interviews with academic advisers. Before crossing this river, you need to be sure that you’ll be happier on the other side.