The year is coming to an end and the idea of “reinventing oneself” comes to my mind. It also takes me back to the moment when I settled in Buenos Aires with my degree in Communication which, having no professional contacts, was worth no more than the personal joy of having obtained it.
Some of the questions that haunted me were: What do I do now? How can I get into this market? Should I rethink my professional career?
I was job hunting and the job postings I found were mostly related to programming, IT and computer science. That’s when I started a journey to reset my brain and reorient my career towards the software industry.
In a previous article we demystified a few beliefs around programming as a profession and outlined some reasons why working in this industry is appealing, from the point of view of someone who’s just starting their professional career. But what happens when someone who is already a professional of other field needs or wants to make a career change? What’s stopping them from going forward?
1. Limited Thinking
The idea that we can only work in obvious jobs. For example, those who studied Management should be managers or work with numbers only. With this line of thinking we tend to ignore other skills those professionals may have, such as analytical, team management, or negotiation skills.
2. Age and Learning Ability
One thing is certain: the market is increasingly competitive and for middle-aged people it can be challenging to make a career change —not to say very difficult indeed. People over 45 years old think they don’t have the same learning ability as they did when they were in their 20s, and fear that if they begin to study something new they won’t be able to keep up.
3. The Impostor Syndrome
Self-sabotaging is more common than we think. In general, our mind is the first obstacle to overcome if we want to start exploring new professional paths, and this has to do, in part, with point number 1. “How will I be able to lead a team if I worked in the Finance department for years and studied Management?”
If any of these things rings a bell, then keep on reading.
Resetting the Brain to Make a Career Change
I’d like to begin by quoting the Argentinian Chamber of the Software Industry:
In addition to promoting the growth of all the productive sectors through quality, technology and innovation, the software industry has become a source of quality jobs. With a sustained growth over the last 15 years, in 2018 it created 5,300 new jobs.
1. Think Outside of the Box
It’s a good idea to explore new aspects of your profession that begin to be appreciated over time. Sometimes, new titles appear to name tasks we knew how to do but didn’t know how to call. According to LinkedIn – The Learning blog, there are 50,000 careers globally. But I prefer the perspective of David Garrote Yánez, expert in talent acquisition and HR marketing at Lidl Spain, who claims, instead, that there are 50,000 different ways to describe a far less number of careers.
The article states that creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and time management are the soft skills that companies require the most in 2019, because these skills are impossible to automate so far.
2. Erase the Boundaries
Luckily, in the programming and IT sectors in general, the demand of talent is so high that age becomes irrelevant. In software companies it’s quite common to see people of different generations working together.
On the other hand, middle-aged professionals who continue studying are fully aware of their development and know that they do it for themselves and not for anyone else. Besides, they are capable of linking their experience with the knowledge they’re acquiring and putting it into practice. Thus, we can find “mixed” professionals whose profile is the result of combining two professional careers.
The characteristics of adult learning have been explained by Malcolm Knowles in his theory about andragogy.
3. Be Disciplined
Wishing to stop believing you’re an impostor isn’t enough. Clearing such ideas from your mind can only occur by learning as much as you can to perform well at your new job. You should never dismiss self-learning nor going over basic subjects, because usually there are things we miss. And forget about shortcuts!
It may not happen in this specific order. Probably, you will make lots of mistakes along the way, which will force you to start over and try again. You may even regret having tried this at all and think that it’s best to stay where you are.
The hardest part is to take the first step. But what could be better than taking it in a place where you’re encouraged to —a place like intive.