A lot of people ask me, “How did you do such a drastic career change?” First, I still feel like I have a foot in nursing while having a foot in software. Sometimes, I even feel like I’m on a long vacation from bedside nursing. Maybe one day I’ll look back and think of “Remember when I pushed Fentanyl like a fiend, and could draw up Etomidate in the blink of an eye?” At this early stage of career switching, I’m going to share what helped me through this stressful time of my life.
Sujak’s Tips for a Career Change
1. Recognize fear is natural
Fear is what prevents us from doing something completely dumb. Fear is good in the right amount. For a career change, a lot of the fear is based upon finance, leaving stability, and venturing into the unknown. Believe me, it’s good to think those things through. However, when everything in your being is telling you it’s time to leave or something must change, sometimes you have to dive into this pool of unknown. It is so scary, but often times, the risks are worth it even if they end up in “failure.”
Fear of failure is programmed into almost every human being. Failure can range from worrying about what other people think (perceived failure) or personal failure (i.e. making a personal goal and not reaching it). When making a career change, you fear making that jump and failing. I realized that not making the jump was failure. Deep down I knew if I did not follow what I wanted to do, I was failing myself.
Also, I hate the word failure, much like most people. Most of the time you learn something from failures. Whether it’s lack of planning, lack of experience, or just lack of the stars aligning, you usually learn something from failures. Getting back up is what matters because, well, that’s just life. Just gotta swing with the punches.
3. Being okay with not knowing
I had a good idea of what software engineers did. Did I/Do I know all the details of the career? The potential politics? The paths? The culture? Nope. Sometimes just riding along on the journey is part of it.
In another angle, I went from being at the top of my game to being at the bottom, beginner level. Everyday, I have to remind myself what it was like to be a new nurse and how I learned and grew over time. It can be frustrating to be limited by lack of experience, but I know that patience, time, and dedication will put me back to being a more experienced worker. This leads into impostor syndrome…
4. Impostor Syndrome
Impostor syndrome, according to Wikipedia, is “a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud.'” Sometimes, I feel like a big, fat fraud. Thoughts of “why did this company hire me?” or “I should know more than this. They’re going to find out how dumb I am” pass through my mind fleetingly. Sure, I can look at past accomplishments, but sometimes I can’t equate it to success because at this current time, I’m floundering like a fish out of water. I had these same thoughts when I was a new nurse. I know eventually I’ll gain enough knowledge and experience to not feel like an impostor (as frequently). Perfectionism at its best (sarcasm).
5. Resilience (or Stubbornness?)
I am very stubborn when it comes to challenges. If you say I can’t do something, I’ll say watch me. This is a great trait to have when you’re the new guy or gal. The ability to persevere through difficulty really makes or breaks you. It can be a long, frustrating road, but when you come out on top, it’s a great feeling.
So if you’re contemplating a career change, take some time to think about it, but I wouldn’t spend too much time mulling it over. If your gut says do it, dive in. It can be scary, but you’ve only got one life to live. Go get it.