5 Tips For Launching A Career In Tech
If there is any industry that is in a constant state of evolution, it is the tech space. And because tech is a big part of almost every industry, you should be thinking of yourself as already being part of this space whether you are in retail, food or fitness.
But what if you wanted to delve deeper by launching or transitioning into a full-fledged career in tech? What would you need to know to keep up to speed in this fast-paced world?
Here are five pointers to help you test the waters and decide whether you should stay for the long haul in the tech space.
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#1. Start dabbling. Tech can seem like an intimidating space with developers engaging in techno speak, designers sparring over UX principles and product managers obsessing over KPIs. The good thing is you can easily test the waters before deciding to take the plunge.
For example, if you are a stellar brand marketer but not quite ready for a full-time digital marketing gig, look at consulting or pro-bono work to build that muscle. This will not only give you credibility when you do decide to apply for tech jobs but also real life experience.
Another way to sample the tech space is to sign up for workshops or lectures in an area that appeals to you. There are many online and offline schools today that offer a wide range of tech courses to those in career transitions. Make the most of them.
#2. Nurture a growth mindset. The tech landscape is dynamic and rapidly changing. Many of the jobs in demand today did not exist five or even three years ago. In order to keep pace with the evolving industry needs, you need to adopt a growth mindset rather than think of your skills and talent as fixed.
Stay on top of industry news by subscribing to the best newsfeeds and blogs, seek out growth opportunities, enroll in internal and external training and raise your hand for stretch projects. It might seem scary to take on something you have never done before but the most successful career trajectories are shaped by taking calculated risks. (Tweet This)
#3. Invest in relationships. One of the most valuable things you can do in any community is get to know the people in it. Sign up for local industry meetups or swap learnings with someone in a similar role at a different company. This will grow your network and give you a better picture of your industry’s unique dynamics and challenges.
The other piece of advice is to find a mentor. Now, a mentor does not have to be a super accomplished, older person whom you find intimidating. In fact, such a person is often not the right fit. Look instead for people who inspire you, whose skills or strengths you admire or who you look at and think, “I would like to accomplish that some day”. This could easily be someone your own age so do not dismiss the value of peer mentors.
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#4. Be your authentic self. It is not unusual to feel pressured to look and sound like everyone else in order to fit in. This can be especially so in a tech culture where everyone seems thrilled to be guzzling beer, eating pizza and rocking up to work in jeans, flip flops and company T-shirts.
The reality though is that staying true to yourself will help you feel more comfortable in the long run and earn you the respect and trust of your colleagues. Authenticity fosters real human connection; pretending to be someone else leads to self-doubt. So embrace your true self whether that means flaunting those leopard print loafers in the boardroom or exercising your own style of leadership.
#5. Do not be afraid to pull the plug. Lastly, if you have given it your all and things are just not working out, do not be afraid to pack your bags and move on. The era of spending 30 years in a single role is long gone. Of course, this does not mean leaving a string of premature departures in your wake. It means giving your new job a good solid try but being honest with yourself (and your employer) if things are not working out as you had envisioned.
Natasha Prasad is the Australian General Manager of ClassPass, a tech startup that aggregates boutique fitness classes into a single monthly membership. Prior to joining ClassPass, Natasha launched her own fitness startup and honed her product management skills at Atlassian, Paperless Post and Rent the Runway. Natasha began her career in investment banking in London, holds an MBA from Harvard and is a passionate advocate for women in tech.
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