Classroom teaching is a career unlike any other that comes with its own procedural and social norms. When a teacher transitions to a new role, the mindset shift and adjustment to corporate life can take some time to get used to.
The Transition from Classroom to Corporate Life
While every new career will require an adjustment, switching from classroom to corporate life can be particularly challenging. Teachers are used to working in a school environment and are often surprised by how different corporate life can be.
Before beginning a new career outside the classroom, teachers often go through many different emotions. You may feel guilty for leaving beloved students and cherished colleagues. Feelings of grief may arise as you mourn the loss of your identity as a teacher. Just know that these emotions are normal as you transition from classroom to corporate life. You are not the only one feeling this way. And these feelings will pass.
Moving past your feelings of guilt and grief takes time and requires a mindset shift. It’s important to remember your reasons for this career transition and think ahead to the positive changes happening in your life. Not everyone is going to understand your decision. But if you feel good about your new path, that’s all that matters.
Another internal battle you may be fighting is imposter syndrome. Switching from classroom to corporate life can often make you doubt your abilities to succeed in a new field. Teaching is all you’ve ever known, and it was supposed to be your long-term career. There is no quick fix for imposter syndrome. You must shift your mindset, believe you are capable and valuable, and practice self-love.
LEARNING NEW SKILLS
A classroom to corporate life transition may also come with a lack of confidence in your abilities to learn a new craft. Teachers have a multitude of transferable skills for roles outside the classroom. However, with any new endeavor comes a learning curve. You will likely need to learn new skills and technology in order to succeed in a different field.
If you have already secured your new position, then the company obviously saw something in you. They are excited to have your experience and skillset working on their team. You are capable of learning something new and excelling in your new position. Believe it!
Upskilling and reskilling may have been a part of your transition process to land a new role, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Continue to learn as much as possible about your position. Research online, ask colleagues for tips, network with others in the industry, and never stop learning! You will likely find that there is a good amount of corporate lingo that you may have never heard of before. Do your homework, even after you’ve landed the job.
The New Culture of Corporate Life
If a classroom is all you’ve ever known, the transition to corporate life can be a culture shock. There are many differences in working at an office compared to a school. Coping with a new type of workplace may take some time, so make sure you are allowing for that adjustment period. If you are willing to adapt, stay open and ask questions, then you should settle into your new role with time. Remember – everyone there was new at one point. Don’t be afraid to ask for help as you are transitioning to a new normal.
The imposter syndrome addressed above is, unfortunately, something that will likely hang around longer than you’d like. Once you begin a new role outside the classroom, it may take some time for you to feel like you belong. This is certainly a difficult obstacle to overcome, but don’t rush it. Former teachers transitioning to corporate life often feel like they must prove their skillset and value right away. Remember, this company hired you. They see your potential to learn the business.
If you are feeling a sense of inadequacy around your new colleagues, then do everything you can to learn more about the role. Ask questions, make connections with colleagues who will share their expertise, and learn the necessary corporate jargon. Just because you have the job doesn’t mean you have to stop upskilling. As you continue to learn more about your new role, you will feel a greater sense of belonging.
Remember your worth. You are an experienced, capable professional who has plenty to offer.
We also hear from former teachers about struggling to adapt to the slower pace of corporate life. Teachers are often busy, doing several things at a time, and feel a sense of urgency throughout the day. Corporate life often moves at a slower pace, and allows for more flexibility, self-care, and down time than you’re used to.
While that work-life balance sounds great, it can also cause an internal struggle. Managing your time and setting healthy boundaries can be a challenge if you’re not used to it. Former teachers may feel inadequate if they are not actively engaged in working every minute of the day. The full plate and sense of urgency that comes with teaching is something you will learn to let go of in corporate life. The change of pace and more laid-back culture will become a welcome adjustment.
HOW TO ADJUST
The transition from classroom to corporate life is going to be different for everyone. Remember to give yourself grace and allow yourself time to adjust to a new normal. If you are struggling to figure out the ins and outs of a new schedule and environment, don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Ask your new colleagues what a typical day looks like for them. This can help you get an idea of the work you should be doing and the breaks and balance you can create within your day. Seek guidance from your manager about time management techniques that work for them. Block out time for meetings and tasks, but also schedule breaks throughout your day. Take a walk, enjoy your lunch, or spend extra time getting to know a colleague.
Adjusting to Remote Corporate Life
Many teachers looking for a new position outside the classroom often set their sights on a remote job. While working remotely definitely has its benefits, this change in environment can also be a challenge at times. Aside from the typical corporate life adjustments, remote work comes with a lot more autonomy. When you are working independently and have autonomy over your work schedule, boundaries are going to be important!
Figure out a planning and/or scheduling system that works for you. Writing or typing your daily schedule can help you stay productive while also making sure to take breaks. It’s easy to continuously work when you do not have someone telling you exactly what and when to do your daily tasks. Using a planner or alarm system to chunk your tasks by windows of time can help you stay organized.
Another corporate life challenge to working remotely is the lack of socialization. The past few years gave everyone a taste of isolation. Whether you’re a people person or not, being by yourself all day every day can get lonely. Make plans to virtually meet with colleagues, go out for lunch, go to the park or gym, and socialize after work hours to help cope with the constant alone time.
Corporate Life Insight from the TCC Community
Feeling unsure and nervous about a transition to corporate life is normal. Many former teachers have made the switch and are excited to share their experiences. Here are some words of wisdom from former teachers in our audience who are now living the corporate life.
“Go slow, take time to learn. Teachers sprint all the time. Corporate life – pace yourself.”
“There will be a time of second guessing the move, but push through, it will pass.”
“Ask for a mentor to help you transition into your role. Take all the training you can get.”
“Be patient and respect the new learning curve.”
“You might have imposter syndrome for a year, don’t let it stop you! It’s 100% normal.”
“Use any open time you have to schedule 1:1s with other people in your department.”
“You do not need to be *on* all the time – the downtime is a BIG adjustment.”
We also know how valuable it can be to see first-hand examples from former teachers. One of our wonderful Teacher Career Coach Course graduates was kind enough to share a video of her typical “day in the life” as an instructional designer. Check it out:
Next Steps To A New Career
If you are struggling to determine what career outside the classroom is right for you, take our free career quiz to help you get started.
One of the biggest mistakes that I see teachers make is that they try to navigate this process alone. Often, they put off “researching” until the very last minute. Which sets them up for a very stressful application season. Teacher Career Coach wants to help you get some clarity in the options available to you. To know EXACTLY what you need to do (and not do) in order to get your foot in the door.
You don’t have to do this on your own.
With the help of an HR expert with over 10 years of experience and a team of former teachers, Daphne has created a guide to support you in the early stages of your transition out of the classroom. Tap the button below to learn more.