Change is not always a simple thing. Especially when it comes to your career path. There is a fair amount of uncertainty that comes with leaving something you’ve grown accustomed to and venturing into new territory.
But, as many of the prominent career coaches will tell you, change can lead to amazing opportunities for growth, both personal and professional. The key is not to make a dramatic change haphazardly. One must give careful thought and consideration to not only the implications of making a change, but also plot out the steps wisely.
The benefits of being a software developer and why they’re currently being ignored
There is no shortage of information out there that focuses on the generic benefits of switching careers to become a software developer. Better money, greater flexibility, larger pool of jobs to choose from, projected longevity and explosive growth of the sector, great opportunities for advancement, and so on. The list is long and certainly enticing. But, is it really enough to make you put your foot down and take action toward the change?
If you’re still on the fence about it, then it seems like the reasons listed above are simply not enough to convince you. It means you need to dig deeper and figure out what is holding you back. Sometimes, we avoid taking such a big leap for entirely unconscious reasons. On the surface, we know making the change would be a tremendously great thing in life. But, that almost inaudible voice in the back of your mind somehow gains the advantage.
Want to know how to silence that little voice that keeps sabotaging you? It’s not easy, but it is doable. Let’s explore some of the steps you can take to solidify your decision and protect yourself from losing motivation due to fear of the unknown.
Take pragmatic steps to invest in your future
Switching careers to become a software engineer may sound complicated or a little intimidating at first. There are obviously many reasons why you should, but are they enough to convince you to make the change? Above all, instead of focusing on hypothetical reasons why you shouldn’t, focus on deeper, more solid reasons why you should.
Get out a notebook or open a new document on your computer, grab a drink, and settle in to tackle the things that are holding you back. As you go through the following questions, think about your passions and other things that really get you excited. To help you take the first step to make the change, consider putting a spin on the trusty 5 W’s of career planning: Who, What, Where, When and Why.
Asking the who, what, where, when and why to make the jump to becoming a software developer
Who are you now and who do you want to become?
Right now, maybe you’re a customer service representative who takes pride in helping others. Perhaps you long to take that devotion of service to a whole new level by creating a product that will help not only customers but customer service reps, as well. Regardless of what you currently do, how can you take the best parts of who you are right now and amplify those in a new career?
What are the benefits?
Plot out the benefits over your current situation. Sure, better income as a software developer is a huge benefit, but look deeper. What other benefits do you expect to see? These may include greater opportunities for advancement, a broader choice of employers in areas you would like to move to, or a sense of greater accomplishment.
Where can this new opportunity lead you?
One of the best things about switching careers is you can bring a lot of outside skills with you that those who have only been in the tech field don’t have. Because you have these skills, employers may view you as an indispensable asset for bringing in fresh ideas or insights into other areas of business. It’s not out of the realm of probability that merging your previous skills with your new skills will lead to unique opportunities in areas that only you can fulfill.
When should you take the leap?
Although it is important to “strike when the iron is hot,” it’s also important to know the right time to transition. At the same time, though, putting it off while you wait for certain life events to occur may entice you to wait so long that you lose your determination. Do your best to find a good timeframe that is in the very near future.
Why are you considering becoming a software developer?
Perhaps you have hit a ceiling in your present occupation and there isn’t much opportunity for advancement. Maybe you’ve just grown tired of your current trajectory and want to challenge yourself by learning new skills. Or, maybe you love the idea of a much more lucrative career. Whatever your reasons, bringing them into perspective will help keep you motivated throughout the process.
Scratch the surface of the usual reasons why you should switch careers and dig deeper to find the answers to these questions. Doing so will begin to open the doors to explore the many opportunities awaiting you when you make the change to a career in the technology sector.
Making the transition
You have now crafted an amazing list of personal reasons why you believe making the career shift will be a great benefit. Make sure to keep it handy to reference during times when that annoying little voice comes creeping back. It will be your armor to ward off any self-doubt that may come up. Now, it’s time to figure out exactly how to take the next steps to make that career change.
First, you’ll need the education to get those skills. There are several choices you have here, and the direction you take will depend on your goals and your situation. If you don’t want to take on the time and tremendous debt incurred by pursuing traditional computer science degree programs, consider attending a coding bootcamp.
Coding bootcamps are accelerated programs that focus heavily on one subject to expedite your transition. They are becoming increasingly popular and graduates are sought after by large companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and more. Best of all, they are much more affordable than traditional degree programs.
Do your due diligence and research the best coding bootcamps in your area or online to find the one that best suits your needs, your goals, and your budget. Many offer very flexible ways to pay for your courses, and you may be able to approach your current employer to ask if they will help pay for it. Sometimes, employers may be looking for ways to promote from within and they may help you during the whole transition process.
Artur Meyster is the CTO of Career Karma, an online marketplace that matches career switchers with coding boot camps. He is also the host of the Breaking Into Startups podcast, which features people with non-traditional backgrounds who broke into tech.