First, there may well be a way to apply your existing skill set to pressing problems.
For example, Isabelle Boemeke was a fashion model who came to really care about climate change. From talking to experts, she became convinced that nuclear energy could be an important part of the solution, but was unfairly unpopular. So she decided to use her social media and fashion skills to create a character, Isodope, and use it to popularise nuclear energy.
Or to give an even more niche example, anthropology isn’t the field we’d most often recommend someone specialise in, but it turned out that during the Ebola crisis, anthropologists played a vital role because they understood how burial practices might affect transmission and how to change them. So, the biorisk community needs at least a few people with anthropology expertise.
To find these kinds of opportunities, speak to experts in the problems you think are most pressing, learn where the gaps are, and try to spot opportunities to use your skills. Apply to speak to our team and they may be able to make introductions.
If you can’t see an opportunity to contribute right now, then you can work to put yourself in a better position to switch into something more impactful later. For instance, save money and don’t let your cost of living get too high. Simply being psychologically ready to make a big change is a rare and valuable trait.
Second, you may be able to use your current position to support pressing problems indirectly, for example through making donations or by speaking up about important issues. (Learn more about how to make a difference in any job.)
Third, you should consider learning new skills. Most mid-career people we speak to are keen to find something that “uses” their current skill set, but they often think about this too narrowly.
For example, someone who has worked in banking wants to find a job in banking with a big social impact.
However, some global issues are much more pressing than others, and some ways of tackling these issues are much more effective than others. So if you stay too narrow in your current focus, you’ll probably overlook your best opportunities to have an impact.
Instead, try to think more broadly. Someone who has worked in banking probably has skills relevant to organisation-building and policy — by thinking more broadly and considering adjacent skills, you can open up many more options.
Moreover, it might be best to learn something new. Hopefully you have many years left in your career, so if you can spend a couple of years learning a much more useful skill, that can be well worth it. This requires courage but is worth seriously considering.
For more ideas, read our article on work you should consider doing if you already have expertise. And if you’re already experienced in a field, our team might be keen to speak to you.