Planning Your Tech Career

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

Some people swear by vision boards. They love creating the visual representation around what their life will look like. There are even workshops focused on vision boards. I don’t have anything against vision boards, I just don’t personally use them. I mean not in the physical sense. Most physical things don’t drive me. I LOVE helping women, especially moms, get hired in tech. It absolutely drives me. It motivates me. It inspires me! So the envisioning I do is to think about shifting the statistic of 20% of women in tech to 60% of women in tech. I visually see that number shifting with moms moving from lack of confidence into confidence. From a skills gap to conquering the skills gap.

When helping moms gain the skills and confidence to get hired in tech, I encourage them to visualize their destination. I guess you can think about it like a mental vision board. It’s so hard to think about being hired in your tech dream job when you are learning a new skill or even interviewing. It’s all you can do to think about that part of the journey.

The best thing to do, though to keep moving forward is to visualize your goal every day. What will it be like to sit in that desk in that cool hipster office space? Or work from home in your new desk set-up as you attend a virtual standup. What will your team be like? Who is your manager? What will it feel like to receive that first paycheck? Is it a physical check? Or does your bank account get a big boost on pay day #1?! It’s so fun to think about these things. So fun in fact that we tend not to do it because we are so busy doing — real work!

But you do have time to think about it. What about in the shower? How about when you first wake up? 5 minutes before you start your work day? While making your lunch? I don’t recommend sitting around all day visualizing and taking zero actions on your visualizations. Just ask my students! I encourage a LOT of action taking! I just believe in priming your mind for the goal you have.

The reason to prime your mind for your goal, especially if it’s to get hired in tech, is that that goal is hard to achieve. I mean the meaningful, flexible and high-paid work tech offers is definitely worth the “hard” but you will have to remind your brain of that. Every. Day. By reminding your brain why it is worth putting in all this effort, you are committing further to that goal daily and as such bringing closer to you as you go.

Some days will be hard. Some days will feel like you are not making any progress. Most days you will feel desperate to just “get hired already”. It’s okay to have all of those feelings, but they won’t help you move forward so by priming your brain to what end goal you want, you will start each day feeling empowered and motivated to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. It takes more than you can possibly comprehend at the beginning of your journey.

Here’s the great news! You can use this skill throughout your career. Once you get hired, you’ll feel a bit overwhelmed at first because of the new job, new environment and just all of the new. After about 3–6 months depending on how structured your job is your brain will begin to settle into the new work. You’ll be looking into what you can do better. How you can add more value in your job. You’ll likely have your first challenge at work because the honeymoon period is ending. You may even have a run in with a manager or supervisor.

The great news is that you have the right strategy to know how to handle this situation. I recently read a post from a mom asking how she should handle her boss who didn’t execute a 1-on-1 well and another from a woman who was ready to quit because her boss was “such a bad manager”. What should they do? How should they handle these situations? Well, the answer is by asking the right question. The same question we practiced asking when we first started out by visualizing our goals. What do I want?

What do I want?

What do I want for my career?

What do I want for my life?

What do I want for my day to day?

What do I want to visualize for myself?

Because your boss and co-workers can feel like a HUGE part of your career. The reality is, however, some are, some aren’t so don’t let them direct your life. Either you direct your life or someone else will. This goes for interviewers and hiring managers, as well. Don’t latch on to what one whom you had an interaction with in a very emotionally charged situation define your destiny. That experience does not define you or your goal. By visualizing where you want to go next or be next, you will bring up emotions that are stronger and more effective than those negative situations, allowing you to move forward on where you want to go.

Final thought. It isn’t easy to visualize where you want to go. You have to practice it. You also have to allow yourself to “try on” goals. Think about them. Write them down. How do they feel? If you continually build this habit, you will find you are perfectly capable of designing a new future for yourself, without anyone else directing the way. So practice it! Try on that new goal! Your tech career is yours for the planning!

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