Relentless Growth: 3 Steps to Make a Functional Change in Your Career

Hello career sojourners – let’s talk about Relentless Growth!

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:

  1. 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!

Once you:

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

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Somber November

Thanksgiving week is finally upon us here in the US. In a normal year, this is the time where most families would be excitedly gathering and making plans on who will bring which dishes – turkey, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes and the works – to the family dinner.

However, 2020 is not a normal year by any standards (quite the contrary, in fact). Instead, this year many of us will be spending time confined within the safety of our homes while the pandemic rages on in the country. There is a feeling of somberness and uncertainty in the air – families who have lost loved ones are grieving in silence, while others who don’t yet know anyone (at least on a personal level) with COVID-19 want to gather with their families to celebrate, and yet feel guilty for doing so.

Last night, I attended a vigil service on Zoom for one of my husband’s relatives battling COVID-19 in the hospital ICU. It was a grim affair – the ICU nurses create and host a Zoom meeting from a bleakly-named account titled “Educator Critical Care Unit” where the patient’s relatives and friends are all invited to dial in, sometimes with a pastor helping to lead prayers and hymns for the patient. Everyone tries to sing in unison, but different bandwidth speeds mean that the sound is disjointed, crackly audio cuts in and out, and people get frustrated wrangling with technology while trying to battle grief. People were crying, talking, asking questions all at once – total chaos. I saw how elderly relatives struggled to figure out how to even download the Zoom app on their phones, let alone find out how to input the meeting ID and password. I witnessed how one of the elderly church members had his video camera on, but could not figure out how to get the computer’s mic working, and so he had to use his mobile phone to call his son, who then unmuted his audio from his own end so everyone could hear what the elderly man was saying through the phone via the son’s laptop instead. Sure, technology can be a boon, but at times like these, all I can think about is how many people – especially the elderly – have been left behind in the wake of tech’s progress, and how much more all of us CAN and MUST do to help bridge this gap.

I do not know this particular relative well, but I’m told she was once a lively, outgoing woman in her early sixties. Yet, all I saw on the webcam last night was a poor elderly woman, unconscious and hooked up to a ventilator, heaving shallow, shuddering breaths while ICU nurses checked on her drips and tried to make her comfortable. It was heartbreaking to see, and devastating to imagine how this is the bleak reality for many families now who may possibly have to say goodbye to loved ones and relatives via a web conference call. We are still praying for a miracle for her to pull through, and overcome this virus. If you are reading this, please take care of your loved ones – stay home whenever possible, and wear a mask to protect both yourself and others as well.

We can all do our part to curb the spread of the virus. The more we band together and practice responsible hygiene + sanitation, the more lives we can save while waiting for the vaccine to become publicly available. Let us not become complacent, but keep vigilant in the fight against COVID-19.

This Thanksgiving, I am truly grateful for all the frontline healthcare workers who put their own lives at risk daily to care for the sick and vulnerable. They are the true heroes of the pandemic. Let’s support them however we can. It’s the least we can do.



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