How to use a change in career to your advantage

Bear with me for a moment while I speak first about my new puppy, Buddy. I promise it is relevant to job change. Recently, I wrote about how getting a new puppy relates to your jobsearch. Teddy was our first dog even though Bill and I have been married for 31 years and he died suddenly of cancer on January 28. Losing Teddy was like losing anything. It hurt, we cried, we wondered how we would carry on without him.

A friend and our church Choir Director, Shelly, asked on Facebook message if we would want a German Shepherd puppy. Her mom’s dog, Shadow, had a litter and Shelly had met the pup called Garfield in June. She described him as having a sweet and gentle nature. She even offered to drive all the way from Wisconsin to New York to get him. It would give her another excuse to see her family. Amazingly, she left on a Thursday morning and was back with Buddy on Saturday night driving alone out and alone except for Buddy on the way back.

How we will manage Buddy differently than Teddy

Teddy was thrust upon us when my oldest son came home with him and we didn’t really plan or understand much about dogs. I was more worried about him not eating so I “enhanced” his food, first with canned dog food and then table scraps. When Buddy came in the door, he hadn’t eaten in the morning and had driven with Shelly for 14 1/2 hours. I filled his bowl and he emptied it in a flash. We made a commitment not to give him anything but dog food and to feed him away from the table. Study the wisdom of others and follow it. Others have been there before you. I sought out wisdom from pet experts like Dawn Bugni before Buddy got here so I would start properly.

Teddy had a tie out when he was younger but after awhile, he was so obedient that we let him patrol the boulevard. Teddy was also very gentle, with children, other dogs, and people in general. Wausau has a new leash law and since Buddy needs training and because we don’t have a fenced in yard, he will be leashed. After he is older, we will continue to keep him within the yard and not on the boulevard without being on a lease. Follow the rules.

With Teddy, I made the mistake of thinking the neighbors liked him socializing with their dogs. Teddy would visit the Jack Russell Terriers a yard away and race them up and down on his side of their fence. They seemed to like it and he seemed to play the role of a personal trainer. I had no idea that the neighbor didn’t like it, until I caught him throwing ice chunks at Teddy one day. When I called Teddy back, the man said, “don’t you know how to control your dog?” Teddy was voice-controlled. I just never asked and the man never told me it bothered him. Don’t assume you know how everyone else does things.

The exuberance of sharing a new puppy or pet makes you think everyone loves dogs but they don’t. And even dog lovers don’t love all breeds.

How can you use a career change to your advantage?

  1. Start by studying the wisdom of those who have been there. You may have brilliant ideas but don’t think you know the best way or proclaim their way wrong. Research the company, research projects and products, learn what roles others play in the company. Figure out the decision makers before you start thinking you can make everything better.
  2. Follow the rules. If you think you know better about company rules because your former employer operated differently, research company rules and customs and follow them. You will fit in better and find yourself respected. If in the future, you find that you see a change, make the suggestion to the right people and without sounding like a know-it-all.
  3. Don’t assume you understand company relationships. You think you do, but they were in place long before you came on board. This is another opportunity to study and research. You will step on less toes if you don’t assume you know how everyone else feels.
  4. As you face your new role with excitement, remember that you also need to learn everything you can about those you work with and the company. Learning to read your coworkers will avoid lots of mistakes.

A new job or career change is an opportunity to start over. You are starting fresh. If you follow the above tips, you may find the transition much easier.


  1. Kristin Johnson on August 23, 2011 at 9:54 am

    I’m so happy for you, Julie! Another great dog/career lesson is to remember to have a little fun on the job, but not too much-no jumping up on people, LOL!

    • Julie Walraven on August 23, 2011 at 10:24 am

      Good point, Kristin! Too much fun could backfire. You are right!

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