When and How to Make a Major Career Shift in the Diaspora

Your major career shift isn’t just a job change; it’s another bold step in the African diaspora’s ever-unfolding story.
The Love Central - When and How to Make a Major Career Shift in the Diaspora The Love Central - When and How to Make a Major Career Shift in the Diaspora
When and How to Make a Major Career Shift in the Diaspora

You’re a Kenyan software engineer, coding away in a sleek Manhattan office. The pay is good, and the benefits are great, but every time you bite into a slice of New York pizza, you can’t help but think, “This needs more chakalaka.” That’s when it hits you—maybe your calling isn’t in Java but in cooking. If this scenario resonates, you’re not just hungry; you’re ready for a major career shift

Our community’s history is woven with bold transitions. Take the “Father of African Literature,” Chinua Achebe. Before penning “Things Fall Apart,” he studied medicine at Nigeria’s University of Ibadan.

Or consider Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who pivoted from a 25-year career at the World Bank to become the first African and first woman to head the World Trade Organization in 2021. These aren’t just career shifts; they’re seismic professional realignments.

The trend is accelerating. A 2022 LinkedIn report reveals that 61% of professionals in North America considered leaving their jobs in 2023.

The Love Central - When and How to Make a Major Career Shift in the Diaspora
Making a major career shift often requires new skills Image source Freepik

When to Make a Major Career Shift

Don’t be confused, make a major career shift when: 

You’re More Excited About Your Side Hustle

Are you a Kenyan IT manager in Toronto who spends every free moment on your food blog? If your side gig brings more joy than your day job, it might be time for a major career shift. As Ethiopian-born chef Marcus Samuelsson says, “When your passion starts paying more than your profession, listen to that sign.”

You’re Always Exhausted

If your job leaves you feeling like you’ve run a marathon through the Sahara every day, take note. Chronic fatigue isn’t just tiredness; it’s your body’s SOS signal. Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, advises, “When work drains you more than it drives you, it’s time to recalibrate your career compass.”

Your Values and Job Don’t Align

Maybe you’re a Cameroonian environmental scientist in Paris, but your company’s practices harm the planet. That dissonance can eat away at you. Renowned environmentalist Wanjira Mathai, daughter of Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai, states, “When your work contradicts your values, it’s not just a career mismatch—it’s a call to realign your life’s purpose.”

How to Make a Major Career Shift

Okay, you’ve decided to make a major career shift but don’t know. Note these: 

Self-Reflection: Know Thyself

Before leaping, look inward. What truly lights your fire? What skills do you have that you’re not using? Try the “Ikigai” method, a Japanese concept about finding where your passion, skills, the world’s needs, and money-making potential intersect. It’s like finding the perfect spot to build your career hut.

Research and Network: Be a Career Detective

Once you’ve identified your new path, investigate thoroughly. Want to shift from banking to tech? Attend industry events, even virtually. Join diaspora professional groups like the African Technology Studies Network or African Women in Tech. These connections can provide insights and opportunities. As the Swahili proverb goes, “Unity is strength, division is weakness.”

The Love Central - When and How to Make a Major Career Shift in the Diaspora
What truly lights your fire What skills do you have that youre not using Image source Freepik

Skill Up: Be a Lifelong Student

Making a major career shift often requires new skills. Luckily, we live in a golden age of learning. Platforms like Coursera partner with top African universities, offering courses in everything from data science to creative writing. Don’t forget traditional wisdom, too. If you’re moving into agriculture, maybe an elder back home can teach you ancestral farming techniques.

Start Small: Test the Waters

Before diving into your new career, dip your toes in. Switching from law to filmmaking? Start by making short films on weekends. This approach, known as “pilot testing” in business, lets you explore without burning bridges. As Nollywood director Kemi Adetiba advises, “In career transitions, think of yourself as a startup. Test, learn, pivot.”

Financial Planning: Secure Your Safety Net

Let’s be real—making a major career shift can mean a pay cut, at least initially. That’s where Ubuntu (the African philosophy of community) shines. Talk to your family, both here and back home. 

Maybe they can support you during the transition. Also, save aggressively. Financial expert Bola Sokunbi, founder of Clever Girl Finance, recommends saving at least six months’ expenses before a big career move.

Embrace Your Story: Your Journey is Your Strength

As you make your major career shift, don’t shy away from your unique journey. Being part of the African diaspora means you’re adaptable, resilient, and innovative by nature. Use that. If you’re a Senegalese teacher in Montreal becoming a tech entrepreneur, your cross-cultural insights are gold in our global economy.

The Time is Now: When and How to Make a Major Career Shift in the Diaspora

There’s never a “perfect” moment to make a major career shift, but there are perfect reasons. As Hugh Masekela, South African jazz maestro, once told a young musician contemplating a genre switch: “Our people crossed the Limpopo on foot to find new lands. Surely, you can cross music genres to find your true sound.”

Whether you’re in Oslo or Osaka, if your soul yearns for a new professional path, listen. After all, our forebears are navigated by the stars to traverse continents. Today, we can use their celestial wisdom to navigate our careers. 

Your major career shift isn’t just a job change; it’s another bold step in the African diaspora’s ever-unfolding story.

So, when will you make your move? From Nairobi to New York, from coder to chef, or banker to barista—your next chapter awaits. As we say in Swahili, “Kesho iko mikononi mwako.” Tomorrow is in your hands.

READ: Get Heard, Get Noticed: The Secret Language of Confidence

This article will explore the power of confidence in communication and equip you with practical strategies to develop your own “secret language.”

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