The fear that comes along with making the decision to change careers is overwhelming at times. There were moments that I wondered if I made the right choice in moving on from my previous career. There were other times that I questioned if software engineering was the right path for me. Although I thought all of this, I never felt deep down that any of it was actually true.
What I came to realize is that all of these thoughts stemmed from my anxious mind. My anxiety is what caused me to worry that I was making a huge mistake in changing careers or that I had chosen the wrong path. It was during my job search that this anxiety seemed to hit an all time high.
There was that fear of thinking I may never find the right role for me. I always tried to stay positive and tell myself that it would happen eventually, even if it took time. It wasn’t a constant battle between my anxiety and staying positive, but it was definitely not easy to juggle.
I want everyone to know that it is completely normal to feel scared when switching professions. It is a scary pivot to make. You are taking a leap into the unknown and most likely leaving a job that is comfortable.
Here are a few tips I’d love to supply people who are thinking about switching careers or just starting their professional transition.
Making this decision is scary. You are leaving your normalcy behind and heading into a new unknown chapter. Take a deep breath and accept that being scared of change is normal.
Talk to people in the profession you are considering. Ask them questions that mean the most to you. I asked questions about work-life balance and diversity because those were missing in my previous career and meant a lot to me.
Do not feel like you have to quit your job and jump head first into the new profession. There are plenty of people who take night classes, online classes, or classes over weekends to gain the skills for the new profession they want to dive into. However, if you have the freedom and flexibility to quit and jump right in, there is no shame in that either. That is exactly what I did!
Acknowledge that this transition is going to take time. It isn’t easy to switch from one profession to another, especially if they are nowhere in the same ballpark of one another. I went from healthcare to tech. It took me 1.5 years from when I started learning to code to landing my first job. It can take some people less time and others much more. It depends solely on you and your timeline.
Which brings me to my final point: be patient with yourself. You can set a tentative timeline, but don’t beat yourself up when you aren’t keeping up with it. It took me 5 extra months than I planned to finish my bootcamp. Did it suck not to finish when I wanted? Yeah, but only because I put all that pressure on myself. It wasn’t a big deal to anyone but me. So, please learn from my mistakes and don’t get down on yourself when you aren’t accomplishing things as quickly as you wanted. You will get to the finish line eventually.
These are all things that I think could have diminished or did diminish my anxiety and fear during my career changing journey. I believe that if I would have not been so hard on myself for the 5 months after my original graduation goal date, there would have been a lot less tears and a lot less stress. If I would have been more patient with myself and acknowledged that this transition didn’t have a set deadline, I don’t think I would have struggled staying positive and upbeat all the time.
My goal by sharing these lessons that I learned through my own journey is to help aid the next person in theirs. Maybe even inspire someone else to add the lessons they learned about themselves and wished they would have known before starting their professional transition. I know not everyone encounters the same struggles, so please feel safe to share yours.
Note: This posts cover image is brought to you by my recent camping trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park. This image is of Cinder Cone.