“I need to start over”, is potentially one of the most jarring things you could hear from yourself. Many people will reach a point in their careers where they feel stuck or stagnant and they long for a new challenge or different path. Career pivoting is the process of making a significant change in your career trajectory, whether that means switching to a new industry, starting your own business, or pursuing a different role within your current organization. Even though changing your career path can sound daunting, stressful, and costly (both in terms of time and money), with the right mindset and strategies, making a career pivot can allow you to find purpose in your work life again.
Photo by Brendan Church on Unsplash
Being a young professional myself and feeling like I wanted a career switch but having no idea how to even start, I spoke with some of the senior staff members at TribalScale and asked for their advice to make the switch from QA to Development.
The advice given from my seniors and from my own experience may not exactly work for everyone as everyone’s situation and story is different. But I do believe the general advice shared in this blog will be helpful to anyone thinking about a pivot in their career.
Gavneet: QA to Development
Coming to TribalScale, I was in an environment that encouraged innovation, creativity, as well as personal and professional growth. I started as an Agile Test Engineer and I really enjoyed the role, but saw myself succeeding in more of a development role. After making the decision to move into development, I spoke with other TribalScale developers, asking for advice and next steps.
To make the switch from QA to development I did the following:
- Sought advice and guidance from experienced professionals and seniors in the development field. I had coffee chats with these individuals and was able to ask them lots of questions related to the field and developer role.
- Worked on developing the necessary skills for the new career path. I joined small bootcamps and took courses I found online on certain tech stacks I wanted to learn and add to my resume.
- Applied my knowledge in real life and worked on side projects, attended tech events, joined hackathons and set due dates for myself to ensure I stayed on track and actually completed things.
After working on the switch, I was able to interview for the Agile Software Engineer role at TribalScale and made it through. Working on the development team now has been a great experience and I feel like I can continue progressing in my career. Luckily, as I’ve just started my career in tech, I was able to attempt and successfully pivot my career path and I’m confident I could do it again if I ever wanted another career change.
Don: Music Teacher to Developer
Don Stevenson is an Agile Software Engineer at Tribalscale, but before that he started his career in teaching children music for 23 years. Don completed high school and then his undergrad in university, where he started working as a music teacher part-time. Don also was able to complete another degree after his undergrad, in music. After teaching music for 23 years, Don went ahead and completed his Bachelor’s in Education and started to teach professionally at private and public schools. Don soon started to realize that teaching wasn’t the most stable job and realized the competition in the education field was getting harder. Don met a friend in 2019 who recommended he pursue a career in the software industry.
Don’s switch from teaching to development was done through the following:
- Researching booming industries. Don explored industries that have potential for long-term stability and growth as that was a priority for him in his new career.
- Building his network and relationships with people who were in his desired field. He took advice from peers and mentors he met at coding bootcamps. Don really appreciated his friendships during his transition to development as they were the ones who really helped him push through his learning curve.
- Being persistent and having hope. Don graduated from his coding bootcamp right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and like everyone else, Don was faced with unprecedented circumstances. Finding a job got a lot harder. But during that time, Don continued learning and working on side projects allowing him to continue growing, even when everything else was put on pause.
In late 2021, Don was hired as a full-time Agile Software Engineer at TribalScale. Looking back, he feels grateful that he went through this experience and he continues to push himself to grow in his career.
Anushree: Developer to Sales/Marketing to Product Management
Anushree Agarwal is a Senior Product Manager at TribalScale. After graduating from college, Anushree started to work as a Software Engineer. She worked in this development role for 4 years but started to lose interest in her work. From there, Anushree decided that her interests were in Marketing and decided to pursue an MBA. After completing her MBA, she took on various B2B Sales and Marketing roles, working alongside engineering teams and focusing on the client perspective to create the best solutions. This intersection of problem solving and customer management, along with her previous knowledge of development, piqued her interest in Product Management.
Making her switch from development to Product Management, Anushree did the following:
- Identified and reflected on what she was truly passionate about and what really motivated her in her work. Even though she was in a successful software role, Anushree knew that she didn’t belong in that role forever and wanted to take her talents somewhere else.
- Prepared for interviews by practicing and taking interviews. It was a trial and error process but instead of giving up, she used those opportunities and gained clarity. She began writing down what employers were looking for in a product manager, which allowed her to see what skills she needed to develop and what skills she already had.
- Gained practical experience and skills through side projects, working with clients and developers in her actual full-time, and joined communities online related to her new career path.
During September 2020, Anushree joined TribalScale as a Product Manager and has since grown into her current role as a Senior Product Manager. Looking back, she feels incredibly fulfilled going through this rewarding experience that has ultimately brought her a great deal of happiness. She mentions that it feels great knowing she was able to utilize her innate talents rather than those she’s honed over time. Through self-reflection and analysis, she’s gained an enhanced sense of self-assurance, which has truly paid off.
I hope these 3 career pivoting stories I’ve shared have given you some insight on the process, however it’s important to note that everyone’s journey will be unique and there isn’t only one path to pivoting your career.
To summarize, here are some general pointers to get you started on your career pivot:
- Do thorough research to identify the exact role you’d like to pivot to and what skill gaps you may have.
- Get further insight on the role by speaking to mentors, professionals in the field, seniors in your organization, etc.
- Create and execute an action plan that’s right for you, this can include learning opportunities for adding or growing new skills to address skill gaps, as well as opportunities to apply these new skills.
- Identify a path for transitioning into a new role, whether this is an opportunity within your current organization, or you may have to look at roles in different organizations and industries.
To wrap up, pivoting careers can be a scary and nerve-wracking experience, and it's perfectly okay to feel all the emotions that come with it. It's important to take your time and be patient with yourself as you navigate this transition. Remember, changing careers is a journey that comes with friction and both ups and downs, but it can also lead to great personal and professional growth. Trust in your abilities and take the leap if you think it’s right for you. With dedication and hard work, you can successfully pivot your career and find fulfillment in a new field.
Gavneet is an Agile Software Engineer at TribalScale. She works with cross-functional teams to collaborate and work towards creating software products. Outside of work, you can find her trying out new food places and volunteering in her community.