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Are you considering starting out in a new career? Maybe you heard that this industry you are considering is such a great field to work in, or maybe, you have developed an interest in this new area and hope to build a career in it; but nobody really tells you how. It could also be that you are just getting into the workforce or you are trying to transition from one career/field into another. One question that is most likely on your mind is, “how can I start out in this new career?”

At different times in our lives, we have found ourselves at points where we had to start out in a new career. It could be in the form of a new phase, a new role, a new technology to pick up, or even an entirely new field. This phase could seem really confusing and overwhelming, just thinking of how to go about this. Knowing what you need to do per time and how to make the process easier could help.

In this article, I will be sharing tips that could help you start out in a new career. While most of the resources and examples in this article might be related to getting started in tech, because that is the field that I currently work in, the tips in this article can be applied successfully in any field. Now, let’s get right into it.

Ten tips to start out in a new career

  1. Research possible routes and roles in that area: The first tip I’ll be sharing to help you get started in a new career is that you read up on possible roles in your desired field and routes you can take. You can do this by looking at job postings by organizations in the field, searching for people on LinkedIn and looking through their experiences, reading articles, watching videos, listening to interviews, looking for roadmaps, like the one I shared here to get started in data science, and speaking to people in your network.

    Some fields are broad and you need to know the specific area you hope to get into so that you could tailor your learnings accordingly. Tech is one good example. Technology is broad, fast-paced, and applied widely in various industries. However, within technology, there are many distinct areas, such as product management, software engineering, design, etc. It will not be beneficial if you say you want to get into tech without narrowing it down to a specific area. It is also totally okay to explore different areas before deciding which you’d like to focus on. This is why this initial research step is vital–it helps you discover possible areas and routes, and you can make an informed decision based on your personality, goals, and current situation. 
  1. Find out what you need to learn and craft your path: Now that you have done the initial research and decided on the area and route to take, you need to craft your path. As I mentioned in the previous step, you might have looked at roadmaps and the journeys of people already in that field; however, that is their journey. Yours is unique to you, and you need to intentionally drive your journey.

    If you’re transitioning, there might be some transferable skills that you might have picked up from your previous career(s), or if you are just done with school, you might have some skills from your school coursework. You don’t need to overlook any skills or feel less confident. The applications of these skills in the new career might be different, which you can learn/pick up with time, but the fundamental principles are the same. 
  1. Devote time: Consistency pays off, very highly. It is not just about intensity, but more about consistency. If you decide to put in 10 hours into working on your career switch, but after that, you don’t do anything or take any steps for the next two months, you might not get the result you’re hoping for. On the other hand, if you could put in the dedicated time every day, no matter how little it seems, it adds up and after a while, you’ll start seeing results.

    Your output every day might not look the same. One day you might apply to five roles, another day it might just be a newsletter you look through, another day you might just be able to take one module of that course you enrolled in because you are exhausted, and all that is totally okay. You might not see results immediately, but cumulatively, you’re making progress.

    You also have to prioritize and de-prioritize accordingly to maximize time–a very scarce resource in our lives. There would always be something else to get done, but if it is important to you, you might have to turn down some other obligations to make time for this and make sure you are not stretching yourself too thin. In this article, I had previously shared some tips that could help you manage your 24 hours better, they could really come in handy here.
  1. Work on projects: Some of us have the tendency to fall into what is known as tutorial purgatory. I believe tutorial purgatory is one of the major setbacks that people trying to get into a new career face. In tutorial purgatory, you constantly have this feeling that you don’t know enough, that you’ve learned enough yet, and you keep going from one course to the other, without actually applying all the knowledge you have acquired up to that point.

    While courses are good, they are curated. You cannot learn everything you should know from watching a course, reading a book, or attending a class. You have to work on practical projects, face errors and bugs yourself, and work to fix them, and that’s how you learn more. I understand that working on personal projects cannot be applied in every field of life; however, you can find a community to work with or volunteer at or apply to an internship, or mentorship program to get this hands-on experience.
  1. Share your knowledge: As scary as it is, it is important to put yourself out there for many reasons. Sharing your knowledge actually helps you understand what you have learned better, it helps build your confidence as well and could be a door to a lot of opportunities. Many opportunities I have gotten, from people in my network and even strangers, were simply because I had shared something previously, and I came to their minds when they needed to recommend someone for something in that area.

    Sharing your knowledge is also a way of helping people, which is a good thing to do. Don’t overthink it, or belittle yourself, because you’re new in the field. There is going to be someone coming after you or even someone at your level or even a more advanced level, who can benefit from the knowledge you share. It could be that they gain a better understanding, clarity, or just a new perspective, from your sharing. You could also benefit from it. Sometimes, I could forget how to do something at the moment, but then, I remember that I had written an article about it sometime and I reference my article for help.
  1. Network: You want to try as much as you can to build your network. Not in a selfish way, but also offering value to these people. It also does not have to be people ahead of you, or supposed “mentors”. As much as networking vertically (people ahead of you) is beneficial, networking horizontally (your peers and people on your career level) is also really useful. Use your already existing network, in different capacities, and work continuously to expand it.

    You can network offline at in-person events, by volunteering, and online via various social media platforms like LinkedIn, and Twitter, by dropping valuable comments on posts, sharing resources with your commentary on various social media platforms, engaging with articles on blogs, etc.
  1. Ask for help: Related to the previous point of networking, you don’t necessarily have to go out there to acquire 50 new people in your network. There might be someone you already know, say you attended school together, who might have some experience or know some people that could actually help you in some way.

    This is also why networking horizontally is also very useful. You could be facing an error or be blocked in some task from an online course and someone that is taking the same course as you could actually help you in fixing that. It is totally okay to ask for help. However, this does not mean that you should totally depend on anyone and hand over your growth responsibility to them, without putting in any work. It also does not mean that you should not respect people’s time. People have a lot going on in their lives at the same time, and not everyone can respond to you in time. It does not mean you should get disrespectful because of that, as you are not entitled to their time or resources.
  1. Give yourself grace: Learning a new thing is hard. Please allow for down days. Some days you might feel dejected or frustrated, but it’s okay to take a break. Do something different that gives you immense joy. Speak to people that you love. Get some air, and give it a try again after a few days. However, it is better not to take extended breaks, more than a week, because then it might just feel harder to get back. 
  1. Apply for jobs: Even if you feel that you are not ready yet or good enough, apply for that role. Not only because you actually do not have to meet 100% of the job requirements to get an interview, but also because applying for roles, and subsequently interviewing, could reveal your blind spots. Maybe there is a technology you haven’t learned but is needed, or you might think you know it, but you struggled to explain it to the interviewer or apply it. Then, you’ll know that you have to brush up on your knowledge of that.

    Applying for jobs can also help you build your network ahead of time and also build your confidence. You can get to have conversations with recruiters or hiring managers to understand what they are looking for in a candidate and optimize your skills for that. I think interviewing is a skill. One can build it over time; and what better time to start than now? It is a great way to build confidence and get feedback on your performance, both based on your hard skills and soft skills (posture, composure, time management, efficient communication, etc.) exhibited in the interview. 
  1. Look out for opportunities to switch careers internally: In this article, I wrote about how you can make an internal switch from one role to the other at the same organization. If you currently have a career, this is something that you can consider as well. It is something that I have done multiple times at companies where I’ve worked at.

    For some companies, you might have an interview for the new role. That is fine because an interview is a great opportunity for you to have a conversation, and pitch yourself, your skills, and the work you can do in this new role. Some companies also allow managers to recommend you for this new role without an interview, based on your skills and performance so far, in your current role. Whatever the process might be for the organization you work at, this is something you can explore. If there is no direct role for this but you see a business need, and how this new career you want to pivot to can solve this problem, feel free to pitch it to your manager regardless. You can create a role for yourself. 


In this article, I have shared ten tips that you can apply if you are in the process of starting out in a new career. I hope this is helpful to someone who is just getting started or transitioning and feels confused or scared. 

If you are currently at this phase, I wish you success in making this big move. Reading this article is already a good step to take. If there are any other career-related topics you would like me to write about, please suggest them as a comment below or send an email to me at contactaniekan at gmail dot com.

Thank you for reading.


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