We all reach that time in our lives when we’re no longer satisfied with what we’re doing. This could be mean anything from hating your day jobs, it’s not exciting to you or you've gotten into a new routine that isn’t really working anymore. But honestly, the hardest part of leaving my comfort zone to live the life I’ve envisioned for myself was thinking of how I would even get my foot in the door. As a writer, it has been relatively easy for me to connect with the experts in my new field through interviews, but I want to share what people who don’t blog or have a byline can do to seamlessly make the jump. Career shifts may seem like you are being pushed back further in your career, but when you love what you are doing, it shows and you’ll find yourself focusing on your development with a new sense of urgency. The best advice sometimes comes from within our own experiences, when Google simply doesn’t have all the answers.
Here’s what I learned about transitioning into a new industry:
1. Recognize transferable skills
Never think that all of the work you’ve done thus far has been a waste of time – that couldn’t be further from the truth. With each step in your career, you take a new set of skills you learned from the previous job to the next. Figure out which skills you will be able to take with you and use them as stepping stones to land your dream job. For example, because I work in digital marketing, I’m very comfortable with HTML & CSS code and using different apps to get my job done. Transitioning into a more technical role was much easier for me because I was always working with the department I wanted to join. Transferable skills like writing, communication, and computer software are just a few of the skills that can help you in a number of fields. Learning how to effectively communicate the value in each of your work experiences and the skills you gained from them, is sure to help you out.
2. Do your research
The worst thing you can do is try to jump into an industry and not have any idea what you’re in for. Start to research what it is going to take to get a job in your new industry, and what a typical day is like for someone in this role. When I decided I wanted to go into tech, I talked to a bunch of IT and computer science professors about what a career in tech would entail. In addition to talking to professionals who can give great insight, research what education or training you might need, what the job market looks like, salaries, top influencers and the best companies that you may want to pursue. Often, we only get to see the glamorous side of someone’s job, but it pays off to do truly do your research and learn the good, the bad and the ugly. Also, hopping on social media to find professional associations and community groups for people in that field will give you a sense of the bigger picture of the industry. It really helped me to talk to professors, people in the industry, read articles and watch videos, but it also helped me to get on Twitter and Instagram to search #webdesign or #cybersecurity.
3. Educate yourself
Every job is different in the training and education it requires for you to begin practicing. It is no longer required for everyone to go the traditional route of going to college in order to be considered for a job. If you want to be journalist, no you may not need to go back to school, but you will need to write like you never have and pick up every opportunity to do so. If you want to be a photographer, buy a camera and learn how to use and use it every day. Even if you aren’t going back to school to learn your new craft, it won’t hurt to take a few classes whether it be online or a local community center. I was lucky enough to still be in college when I decided to make the leap from business to tech, so I could easily pick up my second concentration in information technology. Having formal education didn’t stop me from seeking free webinars and online training from sites such as Lynda.com. You might have to work for free and intern although you aren’t in college anymore but doing the work and learning the craft is non-negotiable.
It is true what they say, it’s not what you know - it’s who you know. When I decided to get into the technology industry, what I was most nervous about was making new industry friends and making a name for myself. I’d spent years building my reputation as a PR girl and marketing professional but now I would be starting from scratch and had no one to reach out to. Take the time to research local meetups, Twitter chats, professional associations and conferences that can put you in the room with the right people. I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of writing experience, so when I wanted to learn more about someone I admired – I pitched the interview to my editor. Another major component that goes along with networking is branding yourself. Once I started to write more about tech or pick up a few design projects, I began to share it all on social media which got the right people following me. Finding both traditional and non-traditional ways to meet new people who are doing what you want to be, will give you opportunities that were never available before.
You’d be surprised by the number of people who begin their careers in one industry but end it in another. Life is all about taking different opportunities and having new experiences, and sometimes it leads us to a whole new life. When I thought all I wanted to do was write and started building my blog, I realized I was really interested in coding and design – it was only a matter of time before I decided to formally make the switch from business to technology.
Anyone can transition into a new field, all it takes is the right personal branding, effective networking and just simply getting your hands dirty and doing the work. [Tweet this]
Photo credit: WOC in Tech Chat