Changing Careers & How to Get a Head Start

Changing careers is always hard, whether you’re thinking about breaking into or across tech. But communities like DevelopHer are here to support you through this change, and can give you the opportunity to meet people and make new connections at our events.

For those of you who are just starting to think about making a move, we’ve asked a few inspirational women from our DevelopHer community to give us their best piece of advice for a career change. We’ve weaved their wisdom into a few common threads to share with you.

One of our DevelopHer mentors, Denise Jones, Technical Product Manager at Expedia.com/Hotels.com, began her journey by realizing that she needed new challenges, then noting down what about her job she liked, what she didn’t, and what she’d like to do instead.  Sometimes all it takes to start a new career is wanting a new challenge. We think that’s a great place to start, alongside these top tips below:

1.) Prioritise the career change

Kristina Dimitrova, founder of INTERLACED, tells us to get our priorities right and work hard for the things we really want. It’s not all safe sailing but it’s worth it. Knowing the move you want to make is the important first step to focusing your career change.

If this is something you really want to do, make the conscious effort to dedicate [yourself] to making the career change.
– Julia Mitchelmore, Software Engineer at Founders Factory

2.) Talk to people

Surround yourself with the right crowd.

Jess Williamson, Director at Techstars, tells us that it’s best to spend time talking to other people who have made significant changes, and to ignore those who are limited in their thinking or making us feel stuck on one identity or skillset.

Julia Mitchelmore, Software Engineer at Founders Factory, reinforces this message and suggests going to meetups, attending events, speaking to people in the industry and asking them to show you their work and take you through their day-to-day process.

If you’re jumping out to do something on your own then Hannah Mirza, Global Head of Media Partnerships at Mediacom, advises you to choose your partners and team carefully and to find people you can trust. The people you surround yourself with should question you, challenge you and push you out of your comfort zone for all the right reasons.

Remember to ask the hard questions and learn from people’s mistakes!

Speak to anyone who is passionate about their career. Ask them how they deal with setbacks.
Roslyn Scott, Founder & CEO of MobiCycle Ltd

3.) Be resourceful

We live in a digital age where knowledge can often be found as long as you know where to look.

Julia from Founders Factory advises us to read blog posts, articles and any material that we can get our hands on. Then take an online ‘Intro To’ course on a site like UDemy or Coursera. If you want to move into a programming role, start writing your own code, ask questions on Stack Overflow and learn through doing.

Jess Williamson, Director at Techstars reminds us that it’s key to start going to relevant industry events or meetups, soak up insights, teach ourselves lessons on YouTube/Wikipedia/online, and to stay confident.

We agree that confidence is key and the more you learn the more confident you’ll be, so don’t let the journey ahead deter you!

4.) Reframe your story

No previous experience should be wasted as there will always be some transferrable skills that you can bring over from your current job into your desired one.

Figure out how to tell your story in a way that somehow makes sense for the next thing you want to do – whether it’s re-framing the work you’ve done, focusing on lessons you’ve learned in different past positions, or conveying what sparked the new direction.
Jess Williamson, Director at Techstars

5.) Gain experience

Sharon Anne Kean, Product Director at Bloom & Wild, advises us to get some experience in the area we want to move into, and be prepared to volunteer at first. Do whatever it takes to get actual experience as this is pretty much always what potential employers will be looking for when you interview for your next role. Be humble and mindful when taking a step back – it may mean taking on responsibilities that you feel are trivial or beneath you, but applying your experience to making a success of this will help you learn fast and accelerate in your new career.

A final word of advise from Roslyn, CEO of MobiCycle is that we may want to change careers not because there is anything wrong with the industry, but because of the people within it.

 “If that is the case, you may benefit from working in your industry in a role that introduces you to people with different work habits.”

So remember, prioritise the career change, go talk to people, be resourceful, reframe your story, and get that experience out of the way! It may seem like a hard road ahead, but we’re here with you every step of the way and wish you the best of luck!

If you’re interested in networking at our future events, so you can get a head start, keep an eye out on our event page.

Written by Mai Vo

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