The Great Resignation, the Great Reshuffle, the Great Realization, or the Great Rethink—however way you call it, there’s no denying that thousands of workers (perhaps even you) are now re-examining what they want in both their careers and employers.
According to Zippia, one in three American workers aged 18 to 39 has considered switching careers since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Among the key reasons driving this trend point to the pursuit of what we’ll call the 3Fs: flexibility, financial incentives, and fulfillment.
- Flexibility. The pandemic showed that remote work is indeed possible for companies. Now that workers are aware of this, more and more are embracing jobs that can flexibly fit their lives, not the other way around. In fact, a McKinsey study revealed that 87 percent of workers would prefer a remote setup if given the opportunity.
- Financial incentives. According to an online survey conducted by the American Staffing Association Workforce Monitor, 63 percent of American workers consider competitive pay as the top draw for changing careers.
- Fulfillment. Many are also leaning toward careers that offer fulfillment, whether that translates into a job that has real-world relevance or one that promises plenty of opportunities for growth and development.
It’s no wonder that tech jobs are on the shortlist for most career changers. After all, the tech industry is known to offer any and, often, all, of the above. If you’re one of the many considering a career change into tech, you’ve come to the right place.
6 Actionable Steps for a Successful Career Change to Tech
As George Brumfitt, a senior career coach for tech bootcamp General Assembly, admits: “Looking for a job at any point is tough, but changing your career means having to go through a couple more hurdles.” To make your transition easier, we compiled the key things you’ll need to keep in mind as you switch to a tech career.
1. Narrow down your career options.
To say that the tech industry is vast is an understatement. It is an industry where, as the saying goes, “the world is your oyster”. You can have your pick on which role or specialization to focus on, whether that means highly technical sectors like data science, software engineering, and cybersecurity, or creative fields like digital marketing and digital design. Whichever you choose, it is essential to have the drive and genuine interest in the field to succeed.
2. Conduct a skills audit.
Just because you’re changing careers does not mean you need to start over from scratch. Take the skills you gained from your previous career with you!
Conduct a skills inventory by assessing all your current skills and competencies. Then, identify which of these skills can be relevant to your target tech career. For example, if you’ve worked in hospitality and wish to become a UX designer, you can use your communication skills to flesh out what end-users are looking for and apply them to your design.
While this task may come easy to some, it also pays to ask for help from a career coach who may be able to spot skills you didn’t even realize you had.
3. Invest in technical training.
Once you know which skills you can take with you, it’s time to build the other vital skills to do the job. The good news is that there are plenty of paths you can take to hone your technical skill set.
You can go the traditional path of earning a four-year degree or take an alternative approach and enroll in self-paced yet short-term courses online. If you’re looking for the middle ground, you can join a tech bootcamp, which offers the best of both worlds through its short-term yet intensive tech skills training.
4. Gain hands-on experience.
The tech industry is a highly practical field, which means you’ll need to gain some hands-on experience to be truly job-ready. You can do this by doing freelance work and building your own projects on the side. Others have also lent their skills to non-profit organizations for free, allowing them to do good and bulk up their portfolio at the same time.
Tip: Create an online portfolio accessible to everyone, including prospective employers, to showcase samples of your work and demonstrate your skills.
5. Build the right mindset to thrive
Tech is a high-pressure industry. Because of the attractive benefits that the industry offers, whether financially or professionally, you will always find yourself in competition with thousands of candidates worldwide. Learning new tech, tools, and framework is, therefore, a never-ending process that you’ll need to embrace to remain relevant in the workplace.
6. Network, network, network.
Networking is especially crucial if you’re getting into a new industry. Reach out to thought leaders, tech professionals, and hiring managers to learn more about industry trends and job opportunities. Don’t know where to start? Look into online meetups and seminars abundant on professional networking sites like LinkedIn or hosted by tech bootcamps.
While these are handy tips, we recognize that following through can be challenging and intimidating, especially when you’re making such a big shift. So, we sat down with career changers Malika Johnson and Anthony Pegues as they share how they carried out these six actionable tips for a successful transition into tech.
Their secret? General Assembly.
General Assembly is a pioneering tech bootcamp that offers comprehensive skills training and career prep support to career changers.Take your first step to a tech career.
How General Assembly Prepares You for a Career Change
Tech bootcamp General Assembly offers comprehensive support for career changers. Here’s how:
1. Courses for multiple tech careers
General Assembly offers intensive skills training for the most in-demand tech fields today. Malika, for instance, enrolled in General Assembly’s Software Engineering program, following her previous career in business management. Anthony, on the other hand, reskilled via General Assembly’s now-defunct Web Development program.
General Assembly also offers immersive programs in data science, data analytics, digital marketing, and UX design. If you’re unsure which path to take, you can join General Assembly’s free online workshops and events to get a glimpse of your career options. You can also schedule a call with General Assembly’s Admissions team, who can help find the right course for you.
2. Flexible schedules
General Assembly’s programs come in different formats: full-time, flex immersive, and part-time. If you want to complete your training as quickly as possible, you can opt for the full-time immersive programs.
Malika chose this format, with the understanding that her training will demand full-time commitment. “I chose the three-month Software Engineering program…I couldn’t work; I couldn’t do anything. And thank goodness I was in a space where my family supported my decision at the time.”
“It also was during the pandemic. So I thought that if I could master a lot of skills in three months and build projects, then in a few months, I could be on my way to finding a job.”
That said, you can also reskill in tech without having to give up your day job. General Assembly offers flex immersive and part-time programs, which cover the same curriculum as their full-time counterparts but at a more flexible pace.
3. Project-based learning
Hands-on learning is at the core of General Assembly’s teaching approach, which is why you can expect to work on projects, individually and in groups, during your training. Learning support is available along the way courtesy of your instructors and teaching assistants.
“The teachers care enough to think of you as more than just a number and give you advice that’s specific to what makes the most sense for you and how well you’ve done in the program,” says Malika.
The program culminates in a capstone project, which is an independent project designed to test your mastery of the skills you learned throughout the program as well as your readiness to enter the job market.
4. Career Coaching
Career support is built into all of General Assembly’s immersive programs. “After the program, we were designated a career coach who made sure that our resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles are up to par,” shares Anthony. “My career coach, Anna Kruger, helped me a lot to prepare for the job market.”
Career coach George Brumfitt further explains how General Assembly’s career services work.
“We work with two main pools of individuals at General Assembly. The first pool includes students trying to keep up with the courses. Our job is to prepare them for the real world before they even graduate.”
“The second pool of people we work with are those who finished their program. We help them strategize their career moves and identify hurdles they are facing. For example, are they applying for jobs and are not hearing anything back from employers? If that’s the case, we determine why and how they can improve their job search.”
Through one-on-one sessions, General Assembly’s career coaches learn more about the student’s background, strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations. “And then [we tailor our coaching to their needs and interests] and figure out how to make their goals happen. As coaches, the more we know about our students, the better value we bring to them,” says George.
General Assembly currently has around 50 coaches around the world, all of whom regularly discuss different tools, challenges, and opportunities in the market to optimize the way they guide students and alumni.
5. A global community of tech professionals
If you’re looking to build your professional network, General Assembly’s global community is a good place to start.
At present, the bootcamp has graduated over 70,000 alumni from full-time and part-time courses and has partnerships with more than 19,000 hiring partners. “There are companies looking for the type of talent we produce at General Assembly,” says George. “Some have hired from us before and want to meet people to fill more vacancies within their companies.”
Move Your Career Forward with General Assembly
Changing careers is a complicated process that requires you to learn new skills, rebuild your professional network, and enter an unfamiliar working environment. Fortunately, General Assembly does a great job at shaping career changers into valuable assets.
As George shares: “We had an individual who was part of the Canadian Olympic team and then went to work for a non-profit organization that elevates women in communications and technology. It inspired her to learn data science at General Assembly. Coming out of the program, she leveraged her career through community work and landed a data science job at a big engineering firm.”
“We had another student who was from Brazil and was an intellectual property lawyer. She moved to Toronto, took up culinary, and worked as a pastry chef in a big, fancy kitchen for a few years. Then, she left that career and enrolled at General Assembly to become a software engineer. It is amazing how she moved continents, flipped careers multiple times, and do them successfully.”
“These students didn’t forget themselves from their past. Instead, they took what was valuable from their previous professions, learned tech skills, and continued building their careers. We ensure that students understand that General Assembly is here to support and guide them, but it’s them who eventually make things happen.”
As for Malika, she works for aviation company Magellan Jets as a software engineer, a role she has held for a year now. “My life is just so much more flexible now. I have time to do all the things that I want to do within the day, as long as my work gets done, and I always have someone to reach out to. I’m 100 percent so grateful for General Assembly because it has been so monumental in changing the quality of my life.”
Anthony, on the other hand, has made a 180-degree turn from working as a custodian at a local middle school and a driver for Habitat for Humanity to now working as a software engineer for the popular stock photography company Shutterstock.
“When I look back at my old self, I felt that I was late for the race then. I was 26 years old when I attended General Assembly. A lot of my peers had careers built by that age. But I just had to persevere and try to figure out how to go forward,” Anthony recalls.
“Attending General Assembly gave me a way out…[It also connected me with] people who are like me; people who didn’t choose the traditional college route yet still wanted to find success in their careers. With so many opportunities in IT nowadays, [I am more confident] that I have a bright future ahead of me. General Assembly truly changed my life.”
Want to follow in their footsteps and confidently shift to a tech career? Get in touch with General Assembly’s admissions team and find the right course for you!
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.