3 Key Learnings from My First 3 Years in TechFeatured

3 years ago, I moved across the country to pursue a new career opportunity. I was a new grad, I knew no one, and I was terrified. Now, three years later, I am about to move into my third role with the company. Reflecting upon the past three years, there are certainly some lessons that I think anyone new to tech (or new to the professional world) could find helpful.1. Growth isn’t linear, and it looks different for everyone. My first role in tech was in software sales. I thought it would be a great transferable skill-set to build, and I was right. However, I learned pretty quickly that it wasn’t what I wanted to do long-term. I was doing ok at it, but it just didn’t feel like the right fit for me and it didn’t really excite me. While this was an important realization to come to, it made me feel pretty lost. I had to quickly learn that everyone’s professional journey is different and that comparison wasn’t going to be helpful for me. Some people may find the perfect role for them right out of college, but many don’t. Many have to try out a few different roles before they find one that they click with. That is perfectly okay, and in fact it’s quite normal. Don’t beat yourself up if you start your career and realize you want to do something different. Don’t let your ego stop you from exploring something new. 2. Your job doesn’t have to be perfect to be satisfying. I eventually moved into a new role after discovering that sales wasn’t for me, and it led to another important realization. I realized that career moves often aren’t chosen because you think the next job will be a “perfect fit”. Rather, it will be a positive iteration on what you were previously doing. Realistically, it can take a long time to find what you’re truly passionate about and good at. Expecting your next role to be exactly what you want to do could set you up for disappointment. I now view each potential career change as an iteration, and I ask myself questions like, “Will I learn valuable skills that wouldn’t be as easy to learn in my current role? Will I be working for a leader who inspires me? Will I be challenged? Will this give me a leg-up on my end goal?” If the answer to these questions is yes, I consider the option, even if it isn’t what I originally envisioned as my next career move. 3. You don’t have to work all the time. When I first started my career, I had major imposter syndrome. I didn’t think I was as smart as the people around me, and so I decided I would need to work extra hard to keep up. I got into the office around 8am everyday, would leave around 5:30pm, take a break for dinner, and work for a few more hours. I felt guilty when I took time for myself, and (not shockingly) I eventually burnt out. This burnout taught me that what I had been doing wasn’t sustainable, and I needed to figure something else out if I was in it for the long haul. What this took, more than anything, was a mindset shift. I had to remind myself that I am smart, that I do deserve to be here, and that I do deserve to take time for myself. I also let my lead and career coach know this was an area of focus for me, and they helped me put some useful strategies in place. I now feel like I work much smarter, and I’m more productive during work hours because I take time to recharge. Starting your career is tough (especially in a fast-paced industry like tech), but the growth that follows is more than worth it. I look back on the past three years with so much gratitude, as it has transformed me into a smarter, stronger, more resilient human being. I hope you remember to be kind to yourself. And I hope you remember that it’s totally okay if the way you work, or the path you want to take is different from others’. Never forget that your uniqueness is your strength, and the company you worked for hired you for a reason.Emma is a life-long learner with a keen interest in organizational behaviour and personal development. She is Marketing Operations Manager at Shopify, having previously held roles in the company within sales and executive support functions. Her day to day now consists of cross-functional collaboration that aims to identify key opportunities to improve efficiency and effectiveness in a rapidly scaling team.
Wonderful summary - it took me many years to be OK with career growth not being linear and equally as long to become comfortable with speaking to my experience during interviews in a way that holistically ties everything together.
Great write up Emma, and a good reminder that we all need to walk our own walk :)
Hi Emma,Reading your story has been mind blowing! for me:) I am from Nicaragua, lived and went to school in the states for communications and a masters in public health. For a long time, I thought I wanted to be a sports journalist and ended up decided on a career in research. After 12 years in the USA, I had to go back home and start all over again because my work visa was denied. Couldnt get a job in public heatlh in Nicaragua and ended pursuing the communications path again and ended up loving it. I am now transitioning into wanted to have a role in tech industry and tried to figure it out