• Nick Dauk is a freelance travel writer and copywriter. At 22, he quit a salaried job in retail to finish his bachelor’s degree and switch career paths.
  • When he was laid off six years later from his job at a sports broadcasting company, Dauk says he looked back to mistakes he’d made at 22 to guide his transition into freelancing.
  • Dauk says he learned it’s important to have a solid plan before quitting and losing a stable paycheck, and it’s key to know yourself as a professional to avoid becoming another anonymous job seeker.
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At 22, I quit a salaried management position at a college bookstore to finish my Bachelor’s degree. 

I spent seven years working in retail, and felt I’d achieved all that I wanted to in that industry. So after graduation, I began working at a major sports network. Although I never considered a career in broadcasting, I was able to transition from a freelance production role to a salaried position as an operations manager. After six years with the company, I was laid off at 28 years old.

My decision to completely abandon a stable career in retail was risky, so was my choice to accept a severance and not pursue another role within one of the largest broadcasting companies in the world.

I made a number of mistakes after quitting the bookstore that completely disrupted my professional life for the next six years. The lessons learned from these missteps, however, actually helped me survive the layoff, and successfully transition into a new career almost immediately. 

Mistake No. 1: Quitting without a plan

My long-term plan was to leave the retail industry behind and secure a management position in a different industry, before eventually transitioning into a writing career. The