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Career Pathing: Find Your Passion!

Have you considered making a career change? Or wanted to pick up a new skill, but are unsure where to start?

According to a report by Apollo Technical, the average person will have 12 jobs over their working lives.  In fact, an edX survey reported that since starting their first job out of college, close to 30% of those college grads have gone on to completely different careers.  You can count me in that 30%.

Do What You Love

I received a bachelor’s in Political Science with a focus on Internal Relations & Development.  My original intention was to go to Washington D.C. and work with non-profits. Rather than pursue a career in politics, after graduation, I ended up going down an entirely different path. On the advice of my mentor I made the jump right out of college.  She introduced me to project managers who all told me the same thing – “get certified in Scrum!”.

That summer I signed up for a Scrum certification course that lasted two days and ended with a quick exam to confirm that I retained the knowledge. Three months later, the two women I sat across from at the course called me up with a job offer as a business analyst.

To be clear, on its own, the certification did not get me my first job in IT.  What it did do is provide me with a few key things:

  1. The framework of understanding of how sprints and IT teams
  2. An expanded network of others who use Scrum.
  3. Experience I lacked to qualify for an IT position.
  4. Most importantly: by obtaining the certification on my own, it demonstrated to future employers that I had the initiative and a willingness to learn.

And You’ll Never Work Another Day In Your Life

My degree may be in politics, but any degree provides a foundation of analytical writing skills, organizational and planning skills, and a host of other transferrable skills. Much of project and product management is the ability to plan, execute, and adapt.  These are all skills that can be obtained through college, or just from life and other work experience. Making a career change or pivot doesn’t mean the investment you made in one career cannot be transferred to your new path.

Scrum is certainly not the only certification that can help you qualify for a job in product management. Technical certifications like C+ or other coding languages are great options to strengthen your resume and LinkedIn profile. Because coordination and managing complex projects is a key part of the job, gaining Project Management Professional certification would be a helpful skill as well.

Not sure what skills to invest in to get you where you want to go? Take control of your career path by speaking with someone who is working in the job you eventually want. This can be applied to any career that you have an interest in – not just in the technology industry. This not only gives you the chance to find which skills and certifications are most relevant and desired, it also gives you the chance to ask for advice from the person on their role.  What they love or where the biggest challenges are.  It also provides you with your first connection or reference within the industry.

I have extreme gratitude for the product and project managers (All of whom were women!) along the way who took time out of their schedules to advise and help me in my career.  I absolutely love working as a product owner at TalentQuest and have no regrets for the dramatic shift in career focus after graduation.

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