It’s a fact: Non-tech passions can FUEL – not hinder – your tech career.
You heard me.
Surprised? It’s true. You don’t have to only talk or be interested in tech 100% of the time. If that is what you personally enjoy doing, great; power to you. However, I have always believed that it’s actually better if you have a diverse range of hobbies outside of just tech because you get that unique multi-disciplinary perspective.
Last month on the Humans of IT Community, I invited a few inspiring folks in the tech community who have non-tech passions and non-traditional tech backgrounds. Whether they built vintage mini PICO-8 games, had a gig in musical theater or custom-designed their own clothing line, one thing all these folks had in common was that they eventually found their way into tech. More importantly, they didn’t just stop there – they discovered their own way of blending their non-tech superpowers with their tech ones!
When I was a 15-year-old student at a Christian all-girls school in Singapore, I had a form teacher named Mr Anthony – a strict, stoic man who (back then) was frankly quite terrifying and had the uncanny ability to make teen girls cry with his lectures, only because the things he said were not only profound, but they were hard truths. Even though at that age most teenagers are often not amenable to constructive words of advice, one thing in particular that he said has always stuck in the back of my mind.
“There are many routes to the same path,” he would say, his brows furrowing intently. When students came to him seeking advice on what courses they should take, or internship opportunities to pursue, treating every decision like their lives depended on it, he would firmly remind them to avoid pigeonholing themselves into one category or area, but instead be open to following their passions. After all, they will never steer you wrong. There’s that famous saying, “Do something you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” – in the same vein, if there’s something you enjoy doing outside of your “day job”, eventually you will always find a way to infuse that passion into the work that you do.
In my time at Microsoft so far, I’ve met so many people with interesting career paths – military veterans turned cybersecurity professionals, former Catholic nun turned Ethics and Compliance manager etc. Most of them were unplanned; these individuals simply followed what they were passionate about – eventually things clicked together and they found the right opportunity/role to bring their passion (and authentic selves!) to their work. You can, too. It starts with knowing what your passions are outside of work, embracing them and bringing that unique lens into all that you do.
Do you have a passion outside work that you don’t often talk about? Perhaps you have a skill that you think nothing of because it seems so “basic”, but could in fact be something people find valuable? Write that down, and tomorrow when you log into work, think about how you can infuse that passion and hopefully in doing so, make your work a little more fun + meaningful 🙂