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Being Non-Traditional in Your Field

By Carrie Recker PharmD RPh

Published March 22, 2022

Jumping off the professional train can be scary. It can create self-doubt and loss of confidence. But that jump may also be challenging, exciting, and kind of cool! I decided to become a non-traditional pharmacist about 7 years ago. My dream is to become a full-time consultant and expert witness in (mostly) criminal law. To this end, I started my own LLC a few months ago. Becoming non-traditional often requires you start your own business. Starting your own business can be financially challenging, so I have kept my traditional paycheck part-time for now.  

It is hard to quit traditional life cold turkey! To really get off the ground, you need to champion yourself to everyone who will listen, have a clear purpose and goal, and be sure of yourself. Sounds easy, right? It is, kind of. Decide what you want to do. Think about how to monetize that passion.  It is likely that you are not the first in your profession to make the jump. Research others who have successfully done what you want to do.  The hardest thing for me was figuring out how much to charge and who to charge. That is where Google came in handy. I also talked to a few people who had the knowledge base I was after.  

During this stage I received some warnings as well as  encouragement. I felt like things were coming together and I was on my way. I started reaching out to every criminal lawyer or legal secretary I could find. I began writing and presenting continuing education for lawyers and their staff. Next came testifying and writing briefs that could impact the outcome of cases. I was part of winning cases; I was part of losing cases. I started working for both sides of the courtroom. 

Suddenly, I was overwhelmed. I had taken on more cases than was appropriate. I put up a giant wall calendar and went on doing what I do. I was learning, I was discovering, and I was teaching myself to be a good consultant and expert which included copious amounts of research. . On top of this, I was learning the ins and outs of having a small business. Having an actual business plan is important when you become a non-traditional professional. Develop a plan for making revenue, paying overhead expenses, and planning for  taxes. 

Never be wary of asking for help if you need it and consider utilizing an accountant. There are people who want to help you make your dream come true!  Still, you may encounter people who do not want your dream to be. Ignore them. Believe in yourself! You can become a non-traditional professional. You just need to research, plan, and jump!

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