With four distinct industries under her belt, Viviana Castagnoli shares what she’s learned about job transitions

In the last 15 years or so, Viviana Castagnoli has learned a thing or two about career transitions—in four- to five-year intervals, she has been a chemist; an actress in commercials, television and film; a restaurant general manager and is currently an assistant to a team of real estate professionals and studying to become a real estate agent. Here, Wengage chats with her about the art of the pivot, transferable skills and how to frame your past experiences when you’re preparing for a new career.

Mindset counts
You really have to keep a good attitude. Just remember why you’re doing things, remember why you chose this [new] field. There are so many times I told myself, this isn’t the end of the world—it’s a career change. If you choose to do it, see it through and see it as a choice and remind yourself of your goals and how you want to achieve them.

Acting assets
My time in the acting industry—and specifically working in commercials where you’re an ambassador for products or a company in general—has definitely helped me develop transferable skills. [As an actor] you become very in tune with needs and unexpressed wishes of your clients. The smallest adjustments in mannerisms are multiplied in that medium, and you have to be able to take feedback and criticism without taking anything personally, because it’s always about what the client wants out of you, for their project. It can never be about your own ego. Your short-term memory and ability to take direction have to be on point if you want to work efficiently with your crew. Everyone loves to work with someone who is well prepared and ready to get the job done right the first time. 

Be detail-oriented
With chemistry and diagnostics, you learn how to crank out results and be very, very careful and diligent. If you record a wrong number, something can go wrong in the course of a medication that a doctor prescribes, for example. That level of diligence and thoroughness is a great thing in all aspects of life. It teaches you to be very aware.

From restaurants to real estate
If you work in a restaurant, you have the skills to get through any other challenge. When I was running a restaurant, I was able to take the ways I learned to work efficiently and effectively for myself, and coach other people how to do that. The coaching aspect of the job makes you feel like you have an impact on the next generation; to say, “hey, you can deal with personality issues if you just stay calm and don’t take things personally; it’s not your feelings that matter, it’s your job and your job is to x, y, z.” That sort of temperament is definitely a transferable skill that’s going to serve me well in this new industry [of real estate], where basically you’re helping people find the right fit. There are so many legal complications that can happen in this industry but if you’re diligent and you’re careful, you can help people in a way that’s going to serve them in the future, and in a way that’s going to build your business.


Viviana Castagnoli, Sylvan Lake, Alberta, Real estate assistant, Royal LePage