From Past to Present: Leveraging Your Previous Background for a Thriving Tech Career
Embarking on a new career path in a completely different field, particularly in the realm of technology, is no easy feat. It poses challenges not only because of the vast amount of new information to absorb but also due to the lack of understanding from those around you regarding the reasons for such a radical transition.
Questions like, "Are you going to abandon everything you've worked for so far?" or "Why would you do this? You're not 20 anymore! It's too late to become a programmer/web developer/UX designer!" are all too familiar to me as a journalist and communications specialist who worked in sales, art, health and beauty industry and who decided switch to the full-stack development career. So, what is the answer here? Actually, you don't need to explain your intentions repeatedly. Everyone has their own reasons.
Drawing from my personal experience and observations over the past 20 years in various domains, I can confidently state that previous experience and skills do not simply disappear. They are your strengths, your advantages, which you can undoubtedly apply in a new field. Once you realize this, your hesitations will fade away, replaced by an understanding of your true value. Let's explore some examples of previous careers that, in my opinion, can be successfully applied to technical areas.
Regardless of the specific sales domain, the crucial elements involved are relationship building, negotiation and persuasion skills, and understanding customer pain points. All of these skills can be effectively utilized and highly valued in account management, business development, or client services within any tech/IT company. For instance, individuals transitioning from a sales background bring with them a customer-focused mindset prioritizing customer needs, which is vital in roles related to product management, UX, and customer support.
Professionals from journalism, communication, or copywriting backgrounds are highly sought after in the IT industry due to their exceptional communication and writing skills. Imagine the wide range of roles available: technical writers responsible for creating, improving, and updating documentation, content creation for company websites, or involvement in user experience design. Effective communication, both written and verbal, is particularly valuable in interactions with customers and within teams. Delivering clear and structured information across teams and to external stakeholders is always in demand within IT companies.
A background in business or management is highly regarded in roles related to project management or consulting in IT. The ability to coordinate, organize, lead, and make informed decisions while understanding both the IT product and the business and customer needs contributes to the success of such professionals in the field.
A core advantage of a psychological background lies in its deep understanding of human behavior. This expertise can be effectively applied to roles such as technical recruiters who assess candidates not only based on hard skills but also on their fit within the team and the company's environment. Psychology also plays a significant role in interacting with customers within UX/UI positions.
One might be surprised to discover that an art background holds high value in the IT field. When combined with additional technical skills, it brings a unique perspective to roles related to front-end development and user experience/user interface design. Understanding composition, color theory, typography principles, and having a keen eye for aesthetics allows one to create visually appealing website and application interfaces, resulting in more engaged users. Moreover, an art background fosters out-of-the-box thinking, bringing innovative solutions to the IT realm.
In conclusion, the following examples illustrate how diverse backgrounds can transform into valuable transferable skills applicable to numerous positions within the IT industry. To embark on a successful journey in the tech field, based on my experience, I highly recommend conducting a comprehensive evaluation of your entire background, including education, work experience, and skills. Compile a list of your strengths that align with specific IT roles. This introspective process will not only guide you towards your desired path but also instill the confidence needed to achieve remarkable accomplishments in your chosen profession.