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The truth about how to transition in your career is that it’s not a quick fix. I think a good bit of people are lucky enough to just fall into a new career without trying. But those of us who have made a conscience decision to switch gears midway through our careers, discover that it’s not always that simple. 

It’s no secret that millennials are the generation that likes to keep things fresh. We’re always on the lookout for new challenges, and we’re not afraid to make a change if we’re not happy with our current situation. This is especially true when it comes to our careers. 

According to a recent study by Gallup, 21% of millennials have changed careers in the past year. That’s 3 times the number of non-millennials. So, if you’re a millennial trying to do the same, understand that there is a lot of competition. 

You’re competing with so many other millennials, Gen-Zers just entering the workforce, and Gen-Xers who have 20+ years of experience. Be strategic and be willing to invest time and money to get where you want to be.

Unless you have connections within an organization with the power to “get you in”, It’s going to take a considerable amount of effort. 

It’s important to understand that it’s not going to happen overnight. It may be a bit easier if you’re in the entry level phase of your career; but if you’re mid or senior level it’ll take more effort.

Considering salary expectations and benefits, there will be more requirements in landing a role that provides the same or better perks than what you’re used to. 

According to Angie Pulfer in an article written on LinkedIn, it takes on average 6-18 months to transition into a new role at a new company. Those numbers are different if the change is in a new role at the same company or the same role at a new company. 

For me, it took approximately 13 months to make the transition.

13 months of agony and hopelessness – I’m sorry but it’s true. A part of the agony was that I was jobless, no money coming in and seriously against taking a similar role as what I had previously. It was also 2020 – so…yea. 

The determination to make the transition and build the life I desperately wanted kept me semi-sane and focused on moving forward with my goal. 

Patience is a virtue.

Don’t give up. If you’re serious about changing your career, be extremely focused, plan it out, and be patient.  

Highlighting transferable skills on your resume is necessary but it’s only half the battle. 

Doing this is great, and necessary for the transition; but sometimes that’s not enough. Look at job descriptions and pay close attention the required skills. 

If you need to know how use Jira or Salesforce but have never used the platform, this is your clue to go learn it. Or maybe you need skills in creating user stories and gathering business requirements. Watching a YouTube video on what these skills are, isn’t enough. You’ll need working knowledge to better your chances in landing a role.   

Fortunately, most non-technical skills are relatively easy to learn, and there are a number of online resources that can help you get up to speed quickly. If you’re looking for a more technical role that involves programming, skill building might take a bit longer.

I earned certifications from Udemy and Coursera. Both sites helped tremendously in my transition. 

the nerd bae career transition

You can spend time submitting 1000 job applications but networking with people in your chosen profession will go a long way.

As you’re skill-building and updating your resume, you should also be networking. Find meetups, online discords or conferences with people in the industry you want to get into. 

Learn the lingo, find out how others got into their roles. Networking is also a good way to meet recruiters and gain insights.

Facebook is a great platform for networking if you’re a bit of an introvert like me. I understand how cringy it can be to force those awkward conversations. There are so many Facebook groups you can join. Two that I am a part of and enjoy interacting with are Black Orlando Tech and Black IT Network. I also recently joined a network of amazing women in project management.

Women of Project Management is a community of women supporting each other in their project management journey. I recently wrote a blog post on their platform, “How to Pivot in Your Project Management Career”. Women of PM is a crucial piece of my career development. If you’re interested in project management or an adjacent career, they have a dope conference coming up this November in Atlanta, Ga. 

Find your group and start making those connections. 

Education is great… but experience is King. 

Trust me, I know. I get it. What comes first, the chicken or the egg? If you’re trying to transition in your career, you may not have experience in the role you’re seeking. So how do you gain experience without the opportunity to do the role because you don’t have experience? This is the issue a lot of people run into – but luckily there is a solution. Many online certification curriculums contain simulated projects so you get a feel of how it would be on the job. You can then use that to start your own project and create the experience. Or use the project that you completed during your courses as experience. I did both. The goal here is to be extremely competitive; remember who you’re up against. 

Another option is to volunteer. There are so many small businesses that could use the help. Keep in mind that time is valuable, so go in having already done your certifications for the role. This is your chance to put what you have learned into practice. Having relevant experience will put you sooo much further ahead. Get your certs but focus more on gaining experience. 

When I started my transition, I was literally just doing random things hoping something would stick. The most important of these points is to be patient. Like I said in the beginning, it’s not an overnight process. But it’s well worth the 6-18 month time investment if it’s what you really want it. 

Have you recently transitioned in your career? What did you learn in your journey?

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