An element of fear usually accompanies any significant change in life. Deciding to pursue a different career path is stressful, especially in a completely new field where you have to start everything from scratch. However, it’s important to understand that it’s normal to feel that way. You never know what the future holds for you. Yet, this makes the career journey even more exciting.
The IT industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors worldwide, providing jobs full of opportunities for professional success. Hence, it’s not surprising that switching careers and becoming an IT specialist is popular nowadays, even if it’s challenging. To learn more about changing the career path and becoming an expert in IT, we spoke with Zanda Arnava, Accenture Talent Studio Lead in the Baltics.
Completely changing the career path to become an IT specialist – could we say this is a common trend nowadays? If yes, what causes that?
In recent years, the experience of Accenture has shown that more and more people and students from other industries are considering a career change and want to start working in IT. If there were relatively few retraining stories in the past, their number has increased – especially during the pandemic. According to the latest survey data, about one in five considered a career or career change during the pandemic. Some people value career opportunities in the IT industry as the field continues to grow.
It’s typical to think that changing your career path holds a lot of risks. Does it actually? What should a person think about beforehand?
Any change means something new and different. But that doesn’t make it bad or even uncomfortable. Change can be thrilling and rewarding, especially when you’re making a career change. Changing your career path can be an exciting and fulfilling experience, but you should be prepared for an uphill climb.
There are many reasons why people want to change careers. Of course, it’s a personal decision with many factors involved. Career change must be carefully considered.
Before making such a big decision, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons, think realistically about the career you need, and consider when might be the right time to make the transition. It’s also helpful to talk to family or friends and ask for their feedback on your strengths and weaknesses or consult a professional career counselor or psychologist.
When changing careers, it’s important to consider several things.
First of all, if you’re switching careers, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to take your current level of seniority with you. No matter how high you are in your previous field, when you change careers, you’ll most likely start from scratch again, and this is a harsh truth to come to terms with before making a decision.
If you’re in a committed relationship and/or you have kids, changing careers is going to impact more lives than just your own. As such, you need to think about how making this change will affect others.
Don’t be afraid, even if the job responsibilities seem very specific at first and you don’t have the relevant knowledge yet – you’ll most likely learn it during the work. And most importantly, take advantage of the enthusiasm for in-house training opportunities.
Do women change careers often? In what life situations is such a decision made?
There’s currently strong interest among women in changing careers and focusing on the IT sector. Almost all professions are changing, and IT skills are required in nearly every field. Also, many professions have lost their capacity, and employment is threatened by the pandemic. Women are now much more active than ever in finding ways to acquire new skills to enter the labor market while rebalancing work and private life.
Many women decide to try the IT industry on parental leave: they rethink their lives, careers, and what they want to do next. In addition to raising their children, they learn and acquire new skills. During this time, women are becoming more aware of the value of their time, so they want to do something that will really make them happy. If the joy in the previous job wasn’t so great, they’re looking for something new to do after the parental leave. However, there are also women studying IT to develop and improve their qualifications in their current profession, not to change their occupation completely.
The good news is that the demand for IT specialists is so high today that companies are paying more attention and working hard to help young professionals get used to it and learn the specifics of their work faster.
What is more popular among women: choosing IT as studies right after school or retraining and becoming an IT specialist later?
We can’t say which is more popular, but we see both options in practice. I believe that retraining reflects the quaintness of our society. Women like medicine, a complex field with high responsibility but, for some reason, don’t see themselves in IT. But it relates to both groups of Talents. Maybe IT was hidden for some time on our future career radars, and we haven’t paid enough attention to really promote and lead by example. IT has become a new career trend, and everyone can freely and openly join the IT community. We all see how IT comes into our everyday life – a challenging, growing, and exciting field that we want to be a part of.
What are the ways to become an IT specialist independently, without studying it at the university?
Accenture Baltics also organizes IT training and practice bootcamps, where anyone with the necessary basic knowledge can apply. So, I encourage participants to continue their training and practice after the She Goes Tech program. Anyone interested in joining the Bootcamp program can choose from 12 courses lasting between 1 and 5 weeks. The courses provide a distance learning introduction to coding and lead to a paid internship with Accenture for 3-6 months.
Many other companies provide training or certifications that help learn or maintain new skills for IT professionals (and beginners). To keep your skills relevant, you need to be ready to learn. This is a continuing process as technologies are changing, and that’s why we, at Accenture Baltics, have training roadmaps for every employee that are regularly updated to ensure that we have relevant skills and continuously develop ourselves.
Could you say that studies at the university give a lot of credits to an expert-to-be, or other ways of gaining one’s qualification can be equally effective?
University is a great place to build your basic/core skills. Still, to develop your professional career, you will have to focus on specific courses (certifications) that help you develop yourself as an IT professional. Everyone pursuing an IT career needs to be ready to continuously improve their skills as technologies are evolving, and you need to work on self-development to be relevant. The good news is that many training providers are following IT trends and helping IT professionals learn skills that are demanded on the market.
In our experience, we see that people with logical thinking, STEM education, and finance or business background may find it easier to succeed.
A diploma is not enough – continuous learning is essential
University education is undoubtedly an enriching experience, and students who study programming acquire essential foundational knowledge in IT. A degree is not a final destination in today’s IT world but merely a beginning.
IT graduates still need to complete additional refresher courses and get certificates in relevant programming languages to have a successful career. This leads to the idea that it doesn’t matter what initial education one has received – what matters is what one wants to achieve and learn next.
Learning in IT isn’t exhaustive, and programmers who don’t want to become irrelevant need to develop their skills continuously, engage in self-education, and keep up to date with the latest technologies. This is the only way to secure the best working conditions and a competitive salary, or, in the case of new entrants, to enter the market. The good news is that the world is full of training programs – all you need is the desire to improve.
What are the main tips to success for anyone trying to change their career path? Is there a special formula?
Hmm… I believe each of us has a personalized magic formula. Not sure if this applies to everyone, but I would say – 1) don’t be afraid to discover an unknown, exciting world; 2) enjoy the challenges the new world brings; 3) continue lifelong learning – no one can take away knowledge from us – knowledge belongs only to us; 4) make the world around us smarter and better.