You might have noticed that I’ve been fairly quiet on this blog for the past few months, but that’s only because I’m made yet another exciting career transition – this time into the Engineering organization, which is what I’ve affectionately referred to friends and coworkers as the “last (functional) bastion” that I had previously yet to experience firsthand!
Why the obsession with moving to the Engineering org, you ask? Is it because of the fantastical salary numbers we’ve seen reported by folks in tech all over social media? (P.S take everything you hear on social media with a pinch of salt, by the way!). Or perhaps because we often hear time and time again that most – if not all – Big Tech companies are traditionally “Engineering-led” companies?
Those are all good reasons, and certainly factored in my decision-making process, but the number #1 reason for me by far was because I’ve had people in my circle that doubted I could. To be clear, they weren’t necessarily doubting me and my capabilities per se; rather, they (perhaps out of purely good intentions) believed that it simply couldn’t be done because no one else they knew had successfully made the transition from marketing – with zero formal computer science/programming training, no less – into engineering before.
If you know me by now, that foundation of doubt and naysayers who say something can’t be done is always a huge driver in motivating me to disprove exactly that. I truly believe that the pursuit of relentless growth is what will help propel you to long-term success in whatever you choose to do.
So what did I do? I made a plan. You’ve heard it before – “when you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
Here are 3 things I did that helped me successfully make a functional change in my own tech career:
- Compile a list of skillsets that I was missing (read as “skills I have not learnt yet“)
Having a growth mindset is to view the skillsets that you don’t already possessing as skillsets that you simply have not mastered yet – and not that you never will. I highly recommend watching Angela Duckworth’s TEDTalk about Grit and the Growth Mindset here. A common pitfall many candidates experience is to automatically write themselves off when they see that the required skills listed in a job description (JD) is not something that they have. When they give up, they miss out on what could have been a life-changing opportunity. The most successful career sojourners take a mental (or handwritten!) note of what skillsets they need to acquire to get to their goal, and then WORK to achieve it.
2. Research your network for people who have successfully made the transition YOU want to make
Remember, just because people in your network say that something’s never been done before does not actually mean that NOBODY has ever done it before. If you research hard enough outside your immediate network, you are bound to find someone who has accomplished something similar before- even if it’s not the exact same technology area or functional area you want to switch to. Ask friends of friends for introductions, and share with them your vision on why this is important to you and how they can help. People usually want to help other humans be successful – just come prepared and make a compelling case as to why they should help you. When you’re successful, pass on the favor too!
3. Give yourself time (and space, and grace!) to acquire these skills, then put yourself out there!
a) Have the list of skillset gaps that you need to bridge, and
b) Have the list of folks who have sojourned this path before you and successfully made the transition
then all that’s left to do is to put yourself out there and apply for the job in the team/organization you want. You might get rejected a few (or a lot of) times, but don’t give up. Many teams look for “benchwarmers” i.e people who they might not be ready to hire right now due to lack of role/expertise fit, but getting on that benchwarmer list helps bump you to the front of the line when they do eventually become ready to backfill or create a new position that’s just right for you. Patience is the name of the game, and remember, you’re playing the long game here.
Stay relentless, stay strong – you’ve got this, career sojourner!
#CareerTransitions #NewBeginnings #CareerSojourners