Career transition to IT: Advice from 3 developers
One third (31%) of European workers have changed jobs in the last two years. While 41% in the US say they aim to completely transform the industry they work in. Most of the time, this means transitioning into the booming world of technology. Motivated by the opportunity for a better work-life balance, higher salaries and an attractive corporate culture, people of all ages and backgrounds are making a 180-degree transition into IT. Usually start over.
Although such a career change may seem risky and quite difficult, the following stories from three software engineers prove otherwise. All three are graduates of IT training Telerik Academy helping students and young professionals improve their digital skills or start a career as a software developer.
Stefan Petrov graduated from Telerik Academy with Java in 2019. He was 42 years old at the time of his apprenticeship and had more than fifteen years of experience as a mechanical engineer in various fields: from building megayachts to designing process systems for power plants and factories. Why should he enroll in an IT training program? His daughter was part of the Telerik school program for high school students and this sparked his interest in programming.
Nia Tsaneva is 26 years old and completed the program a few months ago. She has a degree in English but has never worked in a field closely related to her major. For some time she worked in customer and technical support, which sparked her enthusiasm for technology.
Velislav Tsenov is also part of the final cohort of Telerik Academy. After graduating from university, the 24-year-old from northern Bulgaria worked briefly as a management consultant at the energy company ROITI. “Coding and engineering have always been my passions – ever since I was a kid trying to feed a tape recorder soup,” he jokes.
Why did you decide to change careers to IT, how did you make the transition and what did you learn in the process – you can see in the interviews.
The recursive: When and why did you realize that you needed to make a career change? Why did you go into the IT industry?
Stefan: When I discovered my passion for programming at the age of 42, I consider myself a late bloomer. What attracted me to the possibility of the change was the fact that the IT industry is constantly evolving. This encourages IT professionals to grow within the industry. I like to think of my work as a software developer as a project with Lego bricks. There is great personal pride and sense of accomplishment in seeing different parts come together to form a useful product or tool.
Nia: While working as tech support, I became interested in how things happen on the other side. I started with online courses for beginners and found programming interesting for me. I had known the Telerik Academy for a long time and decided to apply there.
Velislav: I’ve already worked in part in the IT industry, but not directly. I worked with the DevOps team for one of our clients and learned a lot just by following the processes. I’m glad I ended up in a team where I worked with different interfaces and systems because it helped me develop a deep interest and understanding of technology.
What were the biggest challenges you faced and what did you learn?
Stefan: In most cases, a career change means a fresh start. Having worked as a mechanical engineer for fifteen years and now as a software engineer for three years, I feel that the scope of my professional experience has changed. The transition itself is a big leap out of your comfort zone. But what is worth keeping in mind is that staying in our comfort zone is not valuable in the long run as it prevents us from developing our skills.
Nia: I think I had the hardest time at the very beginning of my training, when I was first confronted with concepts that were completely unknown to me. I’ve learned that if I’m interested and determined to achieve something, I shouldn’t give up. Of course, the support of friends and family is also very important in this initial phase.
Velislav: I haven’t fully entered the software engineering work environment yet, so the biggest challenge for me so far has been making the decision to pursue an IT education. The most important lesson I’ve learned along the way is that when you encounter a difficulty, it’s very important to think about why you started and where you want to go.
Have your previous experiences and skills helped you in your new role?
Stefan: A career change to another field does not mean that you have to give up all your professional skills. The hard and soft skills you already have have value everywhere.
Nia: Definitely yes. On the one hand, my work as a technical support has helped me to find my way in the field and to learn some basic things. On the other hand, university has helped me be consistent in my studies and built my ability to focus for long periods of time, which is definitely required in the entire industry.
Velislav: My previous experiences have contributed significantly to my successful professional transformation. Working as a developer requires you to be able to work in a team – to communicate with colleagues and customers and to know how to prioritize certain tasks over others. Being able to communicate with many people in my previous position helped me build soft skills. Thanks to this, I can now work effectively on solving problems and get and accept feedback.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career change in IT?
Stefan: If you suspect that your current career path does not match your interests, passion and potential, try observing your skills. So you would see what you need to change and learn to make a successful career change.
Nia: Do it! There’s nothing to lose even if you find out during the workout that this isn’t for you.
Velislav: Be persistent.
And what is your current position? Was it hard to find and adjust to this job?
Stefan: I am currently working as a full stack developer (Java, Angular). Finding a job in IT wasn’t difficult for me and the Academy plays an extremely important role in that. I think my dedication and passion for learning helped me a lot.
Nia: I am currently working as a Junior Software Engineer at Gtmhub. The job search after the training went quite quickly, after an intensive week with several job interviews. Of course I still have a lot to learn, but I have wonderful and supportive colleagues who help me, which is very important for a junior.
Velislav: This week I start working as Front-End Software Engineer (Angular) at Gtmhub. I can’t wait to embark on this adventure and find out how one of the best software products in Bulgaria is built. The job search itself was relatively short, fortunately for me. I owe this to the Telerik Academy partner network of technology companies.
This article is part of a joint project between DEV.BG (The Bulgarian Tech Job Board) and The Recursive.