Presto Change-O!

On average, you will have at least three careers in your lifetime. With the right preparation, the transitions can be like magic.

respectively, and weathered a divorce. Her division, which produces products for MRI use, was sold. It became Bracco Diagnostics, and she became the senior sales systems manager in charge of consolidating and developing sales systems.

Yet, through these transitions, the creativity of a romance writer lurked deep beneath the analytic skills required for her day job. In her spare time she wrote, took writing classes and joined organizations such as the International Women’s Writers Guild, Women Writers of Color and Romance Writers of America.

Such part-time or voluntary experience allows you to explore your dreams and have a safety net, notes Smye. Let’s say, for example, that you dream of working in a bed-and-breakfast. If you don’t have the time to work at one during the summers or on weekends, then do informational interviews to find out more about the field.

Harlequin Books, the largest publisher of romance novels, rejected Hailstock’s first manuscript, but gave her valuable writing advice. Her 1994 debut novel, Whispers of Love, and later Clara’s Promise were greeted with critical acclaim and awards. Hailstock, who serves on the board of the Romance Writers of America, has seven novels and three novellas to her name — all published by Pinnacle Books (just recently purchased by BET). She also finds time to teach novel writing at Middlesex County College. "For me, professional fulfillment has been the freedom to do what I’ve wanted and not be boxed in. I also never set unattainable goals," says Hailstock who hopes to be able to write full time one day.

To ensure that you too can make the transitions, organize your work around satisfaction, serenity and self-esteem. "You don’t have to be at the mercy of technology, economic decisions made five time zones away, or someone else’s Manifest Destiny," says Smye. "Whatever happened in your first life, you can plan for a successful second life. And you better do your planning now, because the future is going to happen whether you’re ready or not."

Resources for Career Changers
Survival Jobs: 154 Ways to Make Money While Pursuing Your Dreams by Deborah Jacobson (Broadway Books, $14). Details all the specs on everything from karaoke performer to English-as-a-second- language teacher. Helps you decide what job to take while you wait for your big break.

1999 Career Resource Directory by Mark Patton (MGC Publications, $14.95; 800-531-9874). Lists 250 trade associations, government agencies and organizations to help you start out or start over in the career or business of your dreams.

Is It Too Late to Run Away and Join the Circus? A Guide for Your Second Life by Marti Smye, Ph.D. (Macmillan, $14.95). Guide to help you decide what career change is best for you with self-help tests and anecdotal stories about people who have made the shift.

Reinventing Yourself: How to Become the Person You’ve Always Wanted to Be by Steve Chandler (Career Press, $18.99). Offers tips to help you uncover your hidden potential and succeed

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