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Ask SheCanCode Anything: “I want to make a career switch into tech”

SheCanCode ask us anything series

ARTICLE SUMMARY

As part of SheCanCode’s mission to motivate, inspire and support women in tech, we’ve launched a new series where you can ask us anything.

We hope this open forum will give our community an opportunity to voice their worries, concerns and problems in a safe space. And possibly help others in similar situations at the same time!

This week, we’re talking about transitioning your career, taking the leap into the tech industry and starting over. To help us answer these questions is coach, Fiona Hatton.

Fiona Hatton

Fiona believes that we all deserve to live a great life, but what great looks like changes over time and sometimes we find ourselves stuck living in a way that isn’t right for us anymore. Yoco Studio’s unique blend of yoga and coaching can help you to feel happier and more content by opening up possibilities and overcoming barriers in your way. 

Join the Yoco Studio community for free resources, useful tips and offers – a wellbeing toolkit to help you make changes and be kind to yourself.

YoCo Studio logo

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS FOR US – WHETHER IT BE ABOUT WORK RELATIONSHIPS, GAINING CONFIDENCE, OR TAKING THE LEAP INTO TECH – YOU CAN ASK US ANYTHING.

ASK US ANYTHING

Hi SheCanCode,

I’m hoping you can help!

I’m a middle-aged woman and have had a successful career, but I’m feeling like I need to do something new and I think I’m ready for my next adventure.

I’m thinking about making a career switch into technology and I’m hoping you can offer any advice. I love the idea of working in the tech industry, being able to constantly learn new things and adapt, flexible working, and let’s be honest the pay.

I guess I’m most concerned about whether I have the right skills, whether this is the right fit for me, and how to navigate the transition with the least amount of upheaval to my life. I’ve also read and seen the reports on the mass layoffs happening in the tech industry – should this put me off? Lastly, am I too old to change careers? Is this a crazy idea?

Thanks,

Changemaker


HI CHANGEMAKER

I love that you’re thinking of this as an adventure, because it can definitely be one. But making a big decision like this can feel overwhelming, especially when you’re choosing between something you know well (and you’ve been successful in), and something you are just starting to learn about. 

Two things can happen – there’s the ‘grass is greener’ view, where we think anything is better than the situation we’re currently in. And then there’s the opposite, where we hang on to what we know because it’s comfortable and safe.

One way to approach this is to gather the information you need to feel confident you’re making the right decision for you. I’ll focus on the questions you’ve asked. 

SKILLS

You say you don’t know if you have the right skills. How could you find out what skills are needed? There are lots of different roles in tech, so focus on the ones that interest you most, those that align with your values and are most likely to fit with the vision you have for your life. 

One way to see whether you have what’s needed is to check job descriptions and cross-reference against the experience you have and the transferable skills you’ll be bringing. Notice what’s missing – is it essential? If so, how could you get it? And are you prepared to do that? 

There’s lots of training out there, so knowing what you need to focus on can be really helpful. And remember that there are bursaries available for women wanting to start a career in tech.

JOB SECURITY

You have asked about whether it’s a good idea to make a move into tech in the current economic climate. In the tech sector, just like any other, there are companies that thrive in difficult times and others that don’t. What kind of research could you do, before or during your application, to spot warning signs that roles at this company may be at risk? This is important in any job search, whatever sector you’re looking in.

TIMING

You’re wondering whether this is the right time of life to make a career change. Starting again can certainly feel daunting when you’re already established in your career, but I think it’s unlikely you would be starting from scratch.

In fact, your career (and life!) history is your superpower. The value you bring to a role goes beyond transferable skills – think of all the tricky situations you’ve navigated, the difficult conversations you didn’t shy away from, the lessons you’ve learned that you couldn’t draw from at the start of your career. Ask yourself: what experiences have helped me to grow into who I am now, and what do I bring to a role as a result?

MAKING THE CHANGE

A new job can be challenging: a complete career change can be even more so.

It might be useful to think of your journey in this new role as an inverted U. To begin with you’re travelling up the first side of the inverted U – you’re in a new role full of newness and complexity to navigate. You won’t have built up habits or made connections to fall back on. It can feel like a struggle, but this is all part of the journey, and it can be reassuring to know that this is something most people feel in a new role. This is not because you’re not right for the job, it’s because you’re new to it.

It won’t be long before you’re on the top of the inverted U – this is a great place to be. You’re familiar enough with the role to feel confident about what you’re doing but it hasn’t become mundane and you haven’t started to come down the other side. 

Your real challenge in this will be to find a way to stay at the top of the inverted U, feeling gently stretched and open to new ideas.

But for now, it’s important to be kind to yourself. Ask yourself: what do I need to take care of myself today? It could be something like taking a break, getting outside, connecting with close friends. Whatever helps you to feel cared for, supported, and capable.

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