“I felt I had untapped skills to offer, but I lacked confidence and a clear direction.”

Image of Lucia Castello
From the Private Sector to Non-Profit

Lucia Castello knew she wanted to make a shift but couldn't see a clear path forward. Through connecting with others, she found work that brings her more confidence and energy. Here's her story.

What work were you doing previously?    

I was a designer and project manager, working at an architecture office.

I'd been there for eight years. It was a very small office consisting of two bosses and myself, occasionally another coworker. 

A small office has its perks, but I was missing co-workers and an office culture with more activity.

What are you doing now?    

I’m now a project architect for an architecture and real estate non-profit that’s rooted in social justice. 

It’s an interdisciplinary office with a variety of people and skills.

Why did you change?    

I was feeling very stagnant and a bit stuck in my work. 

My work situation at the time worked fine, but I wanted to feel more engaged. I felt myself being pulled towards something else.

But I just couldn't see a clear path forward, or what the next step was for me.

When was the moment you decided to make the change?    

While I worked a full time job, my employer allowed me to work less than 40 hrs a week, between 30-40 hrs.

It took a lot of courage to ask for this, and I’m so glad I did! I started teaching architecture to youth a couple mornings a week, doing work-trade at a yoga studio once a week, and taking a variety of evening classes. 

All of it was amazing, and I gained so much from all of it, but I was feeling exhausted from this busy lifestyle. I was trying to find satisfaction by doing four things instead of one, and also trying to figure out my career change by myself.

I realized this lifestyle was not sustainable for much longer, and I'd felt stuck for long enough that I decided some outside support would be worth the investment.

So I joined the Career Change Launch Pad. I had tried a free Careershifters online session and it was so refreshing. I then subscribed to the newsletter, and there was something so grounded and human about the approach.

How did you choose your new career?    

Ultimately, through attending events in my area that were of interest to me, making connections, and slowly building a network.

The process was circuitous, though, and using the exercises in the Launch Pad I had many conversations that helped me narrow things down.

For example talking to someone about what it's like to be a dance teacher as a main job, what their day to day life is.

Rather than having the dance teacher idea being something that was teasing me in my mind, I could get the actual practical information about it to make an informed choice around whether it would work for me as a main job or not.

So I honed down what would be right for me by talking to people, getting into the nitty gritty, and then asking myself 'Do I want that lifestyle? Do I want to go through XYZ in order to get that job?'.

Are you happy with the change?    

Definitely, it feels great. 

Prior to the Launch Pad I thought maybe I'd make a larger career jump because I just have so many interests that I want to explore and experience.  But, it turned out that I was able to find a job within my field where a lot of my interests, skills and values are aligned.

I think it was helpful to tease through some “large career jump” ideas, and arrive at more clarity within myself. I think it allowed for a more clear “yes” when I saw the job description. 

I’m still open to the possiblity of a bigger career change down the road, but for now, I’m so grateful to be where I am.

How did you go about making the shift?    

Part of the problem for me was my lack of confidence. 

I didn’t have a strong feeling of accomplishment or satisfaction at my previous job, and I was often wondering if I was doing a good job. 

So, having those “side hustles” gave me an opportunity to experience myself in new situations, doing new tasks, interacting with new people.  

Teaching architecture to youth, for example, was a really positive experience where I felt both challenged and supported. In this new teaching space I had amazing mentors, the kids loved me, and I got to see and use skills that I knew I had but that weren't being tapped in my day job. 

I feel like I blossomed by just doing a couple of hours a week of this teaching work. That helped boost my confidence and energy to make a bigger shift.

Alongside this, I was also participating in a Pathways to Equity fellowship, which was a great networking and community building opportunity.

It turns out that two of the people in the programme work at my current office. I was able to ask them about the workplace and build a bit of a personal connection.

One of the directors of the fellowship, as well as one of the managers at the organization through which I taught architecture to youth  were 2 of my 3 references for my current job which was really helpful!

Being out of school for a while, and working somewhere with so few coworkers over the years, I’m not sure who I would have turned to for a reference otherwise.

What have you learnt in the process?    

That timing is important, and to have perseverance. 

If the thing that pulls you forward is still resonant over time, keep following it.

And from the Launch Pad, the reminder to not take career change so preciously. To have fun with it. The lightness around it all was such a breath of fresh air.

What would you advise others to do in the same situation?    

Be gentle with yourself.

Don’t look at your current career situation or past choices and think of them as mistakes. You haven't done anything wrong, and it will all make sense at some future moment. Appreciate all parts of your career story.

And persevere with your career change – stick with it! 

Lucia took part in our Career Change Launch Pad. If you're ready to join a group of bright, motivated career changers on a structured programme to help you find more fulfilling work, you can find out more here.

What lessons could you take from Lucia's story to use in your own career change? Let us know in the comments below.

Plus, if you know someone who's made a successful shift into work they love, we'd love to hear from you. Drop us a line at [email protected]. and you could win a £25 / $35 voucher in our monthly draw.