A career is not a linear path
- Hear Gabriela's journey of facing her fears, dealing with imposter syndrome and shifting her mindset which resulted in a decision to pursue a career in tech.
“A career is not a linear path”. This is what I heard from a mentor when I started to studying and pursuing a new career. Not surprisingly, when you hear stories of other people’s careers and how they got there, very often these stories are permeated with serendipitous encounters and opportunities. And sometimes, like (lucky) me, you may end up having many careers in one life. And this seems to be more common now than ever.
After the coronavirus crisis, we have seen an unexpected shift in the workplace with employees quitting their jobs and finding new purpose in their lives. This phenomenon was called “The Great Resignation” and caught many companies and governments by surprise. Self-isolation and social distancing allowed employees to self-reflect, assess their priorities and what they valued most. People used their time to think about where they were in their career journey, where they would like to be and what they were willing to compromise.
I decided to change careers in 2017. At that time, we still lived in a COVID-19-free world. I had a toddler, I ran my own business in Brazil and enjoyed a stable life. Yet, something was missing, and I decided it was time to do something unexpected: study IT. What motivated me to study IT was that, as a business owner, I could see how technology could give you a competitive advantage in the market. However, tech skills and knowledge was something that I lacked.
Studying IT was the right challenge for me because it was so different from everything I was used to. In my first programming class, I felt intimidated by all those new terminologies, and, for a moment, the impostor syndrome took over: “You will never learn that!”. My impulse was to leave the classroom and forget about this idea. But I am so happy I didn’t. By overcoming my fears and learning something new, I felt more and more empowered. From that point on, my mantra has been: “I am able to learn”.
Reinventing my career also required a shift of self-identity. I always perceived myself as a social science person, and, suddenly, going to IT did not seem right. I overcame this by constantly exposing myself to more tech related literature, events, and expanding my network of people in the field. In this regard, being part of the Australian Computer Society has greatly helped me to consolidate my IT professional profile and to increase my feeling of belonging. And to my surprise, at the ACS, I have met a lot of people who were changing careers to IT, just like me.
In 2017, when I decided to jump ship, comments in my own social circle indicated that career changers were considered “lost”, “unsuccessful”, “unhappy” people. However, I have noticed that the pandemic has normalised a career change behaviour, and this made me feel more accepted and less of an anomaly. Therefore, if you are also having the same thoughts of trying something new in technology, there was never a better time to change career. There are challenges, and it is certainly something that will require some planning, especially if you, like me, have a family to support. But my message with this article is that you are not alone in this endeavour and, always remember that you are able to learn.
P.S. Please, feel free to reach out to me if you would like to talk more about career change or know more about my career change journey.
I would like to say thanks to Zachary Isaac for kindly proofreading my article and providing helpful comments. You are the best, Zac!
Article written by
Content and Engagement Lead
ACS QLD Emerging Professionals Committee