By Caroline Levchuck, Yahoo! HotJobs
Everybody loves a great success story, particularly those that begin with someone walking away from their regular job to chase a professional dream. If you have a dream but aren't ready to make such a dramatic switch, take heart. There are still ways to successfully (and prudently) pursue your dream job without quitting your day job.
Pursue It Part of the Time
What's your dream? Owning a store? Running a restaurant? Having your own yoga studio?
Take a step closer to your ideal profession by pursuing a part-time position that is as related to your dream job as possible. If you're not yet a certified yoga instructor, take on some shifts as a receptionist at a studio. If you want to run your own restaurant, try to land a job as a host or hostess or a server. Get a gig in whatever type of store you want to own one day.
If you're a reliable, well-spoken employee, most companies will welcome your part-time contributions and, in exchange, you'll gain invaluable first-hand experience.
Investigate an Internship
If you're unable to take on a part-time position, try doing an unpaid internship in your ideal field. Internships can be of varying duration, from one week to many months. Unlike a job, internships often offer more flexibility in terms of when and how you fulfill your commitment. Also, you may be able to rotate through a variety of departments or positions, which will allow you to gain a more complete perspective on the realities of your dream career.
Hit the Books
Continuing education has come a long way in the last 10 years. For virtually every profession, there's a continuing-education course that can help the curious follow their dreams.
Sign up for an offering or two to expand your knowledge. You'll probably meet like-minded people in class who can help you start building a new network.