Okay so put a finger down if it was your first day working from home, and you completely crashed Brad Paisley’s website. We’re talking about a white screen of death and an upset Papa Paisley. No? Well, don’t worry because we’re talking to the man himself Adam Murray, Product Manager at Cloudflare. Jokes aside, Adam has had an incredibly successful career (and six kids to boot) and joined me for a chat about the diversity of careers in tech.
Adam’s career advice: Don’t be afraid to break things… and be good at Googling things. How you react in moments that aren’t going exactly as planned can really define your career. But more on that later.
If you’re looking for an excuse to stare longingly out the office window while listening to a podcast, you can listen here:
If you’re a word nerd, here you go:
We’ve talked about this before, but there are more ways to get into tech than just going the developer route. We’re talkin’ product management, program management, project management, marketing, sales, site reliability, customer success, QA— the list goes on. I mean if I could talk to my younger self, I’d probably be like, “Go to school to be a Business Analyst… or just invest in Apple or Amazon or something… also those pants are way too tight.” Because I can identify now that I love working with people and want a role that’s techy but not too techy. Take a moment of introspection (right now) and think about what are some things you love about your job and what are some things you might not love. There’s probably a tech job out there that could be a better fit for you. You just have to take the leap to try it.
Adam’s career didn’t start in Product Management. But moving into that role, he began to recognize that he loved being able to see the bigger picture of projects and collaborate with other teams. He’s now made an effort to be in a position to not just tell his team how it gets done but more importantly why it gets done. Yeah PM may stand for Plenty of Meetings, but having such a wide view of the project is exciting for him. Maybe that’s something that would be exciting for you, too.
Back to the break it or Google it— we all have and will forever continue to screw things up. We're just humans doing a job. A 'fix it' person will go a whole lot further than a 'give up' or a 'hopefully no one will notice' person. If you want to keep moving up the ladder, own those mistakes. Grow from those mistakes. In a similar vein, you have to be willing to explore and try new things to know what works for you. Keep the thing you love working on most at the core and then start trying new things. If you don’t like people, call yourself out on that and avoid those roles. If you like being the person that finds the errors, go in that direction. There are more options than just being a developer and your years of skills won’t go to waste. But at the end of the day, remember it’s just a job. You might fail. You might find a new, less burnout-y way to work. (*see a long list of tech jobs to explore above)
Okay before you click away to update your resume and look at job postings, three more quick pieces of advice:
- Your career is YOUR career. And that means sometimes you have to ask for what you want. Don’t sit there and stew and never bring up things that would make your job better for you. I can guarantee your employer can’t read your mind.
- If you get to the interview and you don’t know something, just be honest. You can learn a skill but you can’t replace your character. It’s not going to be easy to bounce back from being the person who said they could do it to the person who clearly can’t.
- Imposter syndrome never really goes away, no matter what level you’re at. You just have to keep putting yourself out there. Don’t leave yourself saying, “What if…”