Shifting career? Build a strong foundation

THE WEEKEND WARRIOR
yeru.ebuen@gmail.com

I recently receive a direct message on my LinkedIn account where a young man currently working as a content consultant wanted to shift or change job and align himself into marketing, strategy or business development job in the tech industry.
He was asking whether it is the right decision and was trying to gauge the pros and cons to gain insight on the possible challenges he might face as he pursues this change.
While I usually refer these kind of questions to professionals, especially those working in Human Resources, I realised that from an experiential stand point, I have a few things to share.
Fresh from university, I started my career not quite sure of what it is I wanted. What I knew was that I wanted to write, travel and inspire people along the way. I’ve always wanted to share knowledge, whether it is in a classroom setting or in corporate, it didn’t matter. I have the yearning to one day, publish my own books and help others find their own passions in life and pursue it with gusto.
I ended up working as an entry level customer service associate. The BPO industry was booming then in Asia and I was trying to ride the wave. After a year, I shifted to technical support, realised it wasn’t for me, so I looked for another job and tried my best to align with media work and marketing.
I’ve made several career shifts in a span of a decade. I was tech-savvy, outspoken and confident, and as a millennial, I was one of the cliches. It was easy to jump from one job to another with all the things in my arsenal. My bottom line, I was looking for a company that would value me for my contributions and I will be recognised for my impeccable work without needing to say the things that I’ve done or becoming a backscratcher.
Reality being a reality, it’s not always easy to standout. Every year, fresh batch of competitions arrive — hungrier, meaner and more motivated than I was. The influx of foreign workers also became another challenge. With their Ivy League degrees and impeccable track records, it was a dog-eat-dog world and keeping up became exhausting.
For most companies, and this is where many people can relate, the backscratchers always get promoted first. They are without talent, but because these people are always excellent in scratching someone’s back, they get ahead without even putting up a sweat.
For most, this becomes a de-motivating factor. In my fourth company, I was doing 80 per cent of the job while the backscratcher does the 20, but for some reason I stuck to it.
But it was in this job that I had the epiphany of sort. It was when I decided to finally grow up and take responsibility of my career and my choices. Without complaints, I did the job.
I created my own checklist of the skillsets I need to have. By then, I already made up my mind that as a career, I wanted to be a full-pledged digital media and corporate strategist. I studied Adobe Suite because I need to have an insight into a designer’s mind. I believe this is important for branding and marketing. I accepted projects that allowed me to use the skills I learned into practise.
Then I ventured into video editing and production. I started from scratch. Working for a company that supports employee initiative, I created a media group which took charge in the creation of corporate films and informational videos. It helped the company save millions without any financial gains trickling down on me. Still I did it.
Then I trained for Branding and Marketing, worked my way to become a brand ambassador and learned the know-how of the marketing trade. I did it for the fun of learning. I was collecting skills and I was building a better foundation for myself so I didn’t have the time to complain.
With a great portfolio and experience, finding an even better job have gotten easier.
To shorten what is already a long narrative, my answers to the young man’s questions are these. Before shifting to a different career path, make sure that you have all the right foundation.
This means that investigative work is necessary. If you want to shift to marketing and business development job, ask yourself, where does your current job overlap with this new venture and what are the skills you are missing? Talk to industry experts, ask what tools it is they are using and learn the necessary characters, values and experience. Try to perform them and apply them to your current work or find an opportunity to use them whenever you can.
But this young man is already doing the investigative work, so he is in the right path.
He also asked, “What do you see as the pros and cons in shifting to “marketing, strategy or business development job in the tech industry?”
In Oman, the government has already started putting focus on tech, this can only get better in time. The pro is that more jobs and opportunities will be opened for this sector and if you are going out of Oman, you would have no trouble as tech is a sector that would just keep on growing and expanding.
I really don’t see any cons in shifting from a consultant career to where you wanted to be. In fact, you are adding skills to yourself. The great thing about knowledge, you don’t lose what you already have, (maybe forget it a little bit), but you can just keep on adding to it.
As for the challenges, there will be plenty. Primary of these is stiffer competition and the people you are competing against have worked with this sector for years. You would have to bring yourself to their level, which means you have to put in a lot of work to make yourself better. But don’t be afraid of the challenges, they are everywhere.
Focus on adding value to yourself and know your worth. Remember that whatever you can think of is possible. It’s just a question of whether you have the will to do it.