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Switching careers. What do you think?

By Optimistic Maverick ·
Hey guys,

I have recently graduated from college with a degree in computer science, and by the grace of God, I've been working at a software development firm for the past one and a half year. Recently, somehow, I've developed an affinity and liking for "other" job descriptions, ones that are more focused more towards mainstream business areas, such as marketing, operational management, finance, etc.

Now I know that the two careers are completely opposite to each other, and this is a huge leaps towards the unknown. But, somehow, I feel that I am more tilted towards these areas, apparent by the fact that my soft skills (communication, presentation, organizational skills) are certainly geared towards them.

So, guys, what do you think? How many of you are really tired of the hectic, strenuous and demanding schedules that have really become the part and parcel of the IT sector? How many of you are seriously considering the possibility of switching your careers?


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Also switching

by jgazis In reply to Switching careers. What d ...

I spent ~15 years in marketing, and am now doing freelance web work. If you have the ability to connect with the techy people, and also with the non-techs, you should have plenty of opportunities in online marketing or business and marketing for technical products. It also sounds like you might do well in a sales position.

Demanding schedules come across the board - don't think that if as a developer you put in long hours, in some other area you won't.

Just a year and a half out of school, you certainly aren't locked into any one career path. You might start by talking to your manager or HR person about opportunities to move internally or build your "soft" skills. Understanding the business side of things will never hurt you if you stay on the tech side, either, that will be an asset whatever you do.

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I'm not thinking about it

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Switching careers. What d ...

but there's no reason why you shouldn't. My soft skills are OK, but tech is what I like.

If/when you make the move, remember that you can't market what we can't make, doing nothing doesn't cost you nothing, and IT schedules some times cross over fiscal periods.

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IT knowledge is essential whatever you do

by adelinec In reply to Switching careers. What d ...

I have been working in a logistic company for the last 6 years as an internal IT support. Being an IT support I actually get more exposure on different business areas, such as operation, logistic, marketing, sales, product management, pricing stategies, warranty services,finance,etc.

It is an advantage to have IT knowledge because you can fit in to any business and any environment, also have the opportunity to learn the essence of every aspects of a business. However the biggest benefit I get as an IT person is the project management skills, and with these skills I am hoping to switch to a project management role in the future.

One and half year in IT, to be honest, is not enough experience but may be a good time to make the move, and experience all possibilities before deciding your career path. My opinion? Why not?

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Go with your passion, it worked for me when I switched careers to IT

by Web-Guy In reply to IT knowledge is essential ...

The most important question you can ask yourself is what do you enjoy doing? There is nothing like getting enjoyment out of what you are doing on the job. Of course it can be difficult doing any job for long hours but if you got to do it anyways, it might as well be something that you enjoy.

In my previous career I was a Chemist, but I was never really happy doing the work. When the Web came around I was blown away and I new I found my passion (Web development) and got my MS in Comp Sci (partially paid for by my old lab co.) so I could make the career jump. Luckily back in late 90?s the job market was thriving for programmers and I was able to get a job easily even though I had no work experience. My career has had a few bumps, and I?ve paid my dues, but I?m really happy with this career at this stage. My career move was one of the best decisions of my life.

Do what you enjoy, that is the key, as your work and enthusiasm will be seen by your bosses. Also the younger you are, the easier to change, especially before you have a mortgage and kids. Likewise when you start a new career your salary usually starts near entry level. It is better to take the pay cut, if any now.

I say go for it and good luck.

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Trying to get into IT

by JKTexas In reply to IT knowledge is essential ...

Can I get some opinions? I enjoyed reading this thread. I work for a very large insurance company. We just finished purchasing and installing a new claims system. I was on the project for 2.5 years (getting ready to roll off). My primary role was as *the* "business designer" for our organization (SME). Working with a team of process analysts and external consultants, we gathered requirements from our end-users and provided the business specifications to customize the software. I had a fairly broad role and saw the project end-to-end including participating in implementation and completing the formal documentation (process maps).

It has been a dream job, and I would like to leverage this experience along with my extensive operational experience to continue to do this type of work. I have had several interviews, but it seems like I lack the technical requirements.

I am learning UML now. I am not having any problems learning it, though one thing it is teaching me is that I still like the business (process) side more than defining the software requirements. I have strong MS Access skills, and have started to learn SQL. I plan on learning XML also. I have read several books on process modeling, and plan to read one or two more.

So, the question I have to ask. Am I wasting my time learning this stuff? I can't say that I developed any use cases for example, and I can't say that I have written any SQL databases for any company, though I have written access db's which are in use by the company.. all I will have is the experience I have gained, and what I have learned in books...

??? Thanks for taking the time to read this and to post a reply.

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Focus on Transferable Skills

by jgazis In reply to Trying to get into IT

Technical skills often seem to pose a catch-22: either rule yourself out of consideration or limit yourself to a very narrow area. The key is to downplay the specific applications (have just enough to be able to put in the keywords) and play up the universal skills involved. MS Access or SQL are specific, but the principles of database design are broader. What aspects of your Access experience also applies to other db platforms? Highlight that experience.

If you have experience that demonstrates that you can quickly pick up new skills, are familiar with a wide range of applications, and actively pursue training to stay up to date, highlight that. Be able to offset the negative of limited experience in a specific platform with positive confidence that you can get up to speed very quickly. Look into courses or certificates in key ares to go beyond just reading books. Sign up for webinars, email newsletters, podcasts in relevant areas or join prpofessional associations in the areas you want to move into. There are project management certifications that might be applicable to your goals.

"Working with a team of process analysts and external consultants, we gathered requirements from our end-users and provided the business specifications to customize the software. I ... saw the project end-to-end including participating in implementation and completing the formal documentation (process maps)" sounds like valuable skills that could apply to all kinds of projects - not even only IT projects. You could use a little more active wording - "saw" and "participated in" are somewhat vague.

Good luck!

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Same after 10 years

by highlander718 In reply to Switching careers. What d ...

Well, I've been in IT for more than 10 years now, after graduating University in the same field. I kind of immediately started to lean towards the ERP/Business systems Analysis more than to programming, due to the job opportunities I had. I ended up knowing different type of Businesses and supporting them through IT means. For most of the time I also had to cover the networking, desktop support, communications part as well, latest years I ended up also managing a small team + external vendors, contractors, budgets ...etc.

So my take is that the IT field is big enough for one to have a wide selection of opportunities, and no, I did not like the hectic part either but it was an experience.

We moved to a different country and I was able to find a close to ideal IT job for me which is senior ERP and business systems analysis in a not so critical environment. Due to the nature of the business, the pay is also more than decent and more than my IT Manager related one (unfortunately this is one criteria that one cannot disregard).

To cut it short :-), by all means you should pursue your own calling, it is terrible to wake up after 10 years realizing that you're in the wrong field. then it might really be to late. For me I'd rather be a writer living somewhere in a cottage up in the mountains near a crystal clean lake, but not much talent on that side :-))

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