The Radical Sabbatical by Emma Rosen

The Radical Sabbatical

In 2017, unsure about the career path set out before her, alumna Emma Rosen (MA Applied Security and Strategy, 2015) changed tack and spent a year trying 25 careers before her 25th birthday.

25before25 saw Emma leave her job with the Civil Service to try her hand at careers as diverse as tour guiding, archaeology, alpaca farming and investigative journalism. Now that the project is complete she has written a book about her experiences – The Radical Sabbatical.

“I knew I wanted to make a career change.” said Emma, “But I didn’t know what I wanted to do instead. Nothing felt completely right and I didn’t feel as though I had enough information about most jobs to make an informed decision. It’s hard to know what a role will be like just by reading other people’s opinions when you have no experience of it yourself.

“One evening I sat down and made a list of everything I wanted to try and ended up with 25 different jobs. I was just about to turn 24 at the time so I thought ‘why not try all these before I turn 25’. Aside from a nice link up, it also gave me a fixed timeframe in which to do everything which was important. I did have a concern that afterwards I could struggle to get a job when employers saw my constantly changing placements, so this ensured it couldn’t take too long and would definitely be a temporary project”.

Emma chose the jobs on her list by combining the elements of her current role that she loved, essential skills that would be needed, and dream jobs from her childhood. She then began to organise short-term work experience, internships and work shadowing for each one.

She said: “A lot of the jobs I chose are the kind of things you grow up thinking you can’t make a career out of. But obviously you can and people do have very successful careers in non-traditional industries. I think there is a bit of a disconnect between school careers advice and what’s actually out there in the jobs market. You don’t need to follow a traditional path if you don’t want to.”

A few months into her project, Emma was contacted by a literary agent who had read about the idea, suggesting she turn the experiences into a book. While that hadn’t been part of the original plan, it ended up providing the ultimate dream job to add to the list.

“I absolutely loved writing the book.” said Emma, “It was an intense but amazing experience, the level of planning and complexity is something else, and it took me about 3-3 ½ months to write the first draft. I never really dreamed that I could be an author but now I’m thinking about writing a second book that will be about work happiness around the world.”

Emma now works as a writer and speaker, focusing on millennials in the workforce. She specialises in promoting portfolio careers and alternative ways of working; advocating for more diverse careers education for young people, with a far greater emphasis on work experience. You can watch her speak about her experiences in this video made for Exeter students with Career Zone.

The Radical Sabbatical was released in January 2019 and can be purchased online now. As well as detailing Emma's experience, it also provides a self-help guide for others who want to make a career change and touches on the themes of why millennials are so unhappy in the workplace, the future of work and careers education.

Date: 7 January 2019

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