Switching Careers is a Challenge

Switching careers was one of the toughest decisions in my life. I got a medical education and became an eye-doctor,  but it turned out that it’s almost impossible to support your family working in Healthcare in Ukraine. I had to look for other options and tech career seemed the most obvious since you get many opportunities, can work flexible hours and learn new things all the time. I was lucky that IT was my second passion after medicine and I liked what I was to learn.

However, there are things people don’t talk about much. Those who switched careers successfully will mostly tell you  that they worked hard and finally got enough skills to find a new job. Full stop. Hard work and dozens of job applications without any answer were things I was prepared to but it wasn’t all. 

When you are trying to switch career, you face the following:

  • Doubt. Are you smart enough to learn so many new things and be a competitor to those who got tech education and have professional experience?
  • Depression. There will definitely be moments when you’re stuck, can’t understand something and are about to decide that it’s not the right thing to learn and it’s better to give up.
  • Disapproval. Many people who learn that you are about to give up your current job and do something completely different will try to discourage you and warn that you might fail. They usually think that they’re doing good for you but it only makes things harder.

I want to share my recipes that helped me along this journey.

How to Fight Doubt?

The first thing is to always remember that you already have a job and skills to earn your living. If something goes wrong, you can return to where you started. So it’s most likely that you aren’t losing anything but you’re getting a chance to have a new better job. If you are working in a fast-changing environment, you might indeed need to catch up if you decide to return to your previous career but since you have experience in it, it won’t be that hard.

What to Do with Depression?

Keep a list of things that motivate you and cheer you up. When you feel down, you might simply forget about these things so having a written list of them on your table is a good idea. It’s totally OK to feel down from time to time when you’re doing something difficult. Never blame yourself for that or for being not efficient enough. Such thoughts can only make the situation worse.

Find a friend or two who support you and talk to them if you feel you need support. If you don’t have such friends, join a chat or a Slack group on the technology that you’re learning. There are many people ready to encourage you and help with advice.

Don’t let Disapproval Make you feel Guilty.

The way people communicate their judgment largely depends on the culture. You’re lucky if you come from a country where it’s impolite to tell others what to do with their lives but it wasn’t the case for me. Family members always worry about your future and they might make you feel unsure or guilty of your choice even without wanting it. Sometimes even people who are not your close friends can make comments on your career switch, telling you that was the worst decision ever. 

Calm down. Breathe. Prepare in advance a short and polite answer. It might be something like “Thanks for your care but I really don’t want to discuss my decision”. Be ready to have such conversations multiple times. That’s how people are, be patient with them.

I want to wish good luck to everyone switching careers. I hope that you’ll succeed and that my advice will help you.

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