A career is often portrayed as a linear path towards a clear goal. However, my wonderful colleagues Jani, Kimmo, Mikko and Milena will prove the opposite. Jani’s roles have included Analytics Consultant, Data-Driven Business Architect, Data Business Designer, and now Senior Consultant within data and analytics with technological partnerships on the side. Kimmo’s Master Data Management (MDM) team lead, technological partnership with Semarchy, international sales and now leading a team of data architects. Mikko’s Data Consultant with agile emphasis, international sales and recruitment, Data Engineer and Data Architect. Milena’s full-scale Data Engineer, scrum master and project manager. For all of them, their passion towards their interests is what has brought them where they are today.
At the beginning of their careers, none of them had their current role in mind. Milena had a vague idea of what kind of a job she’d like, but she didn’t know her current role, a scrum master, existed. The beginning of Jani’s career could be described as a search towards interesting topics rather than a specific role.
Multiple ways to find your path
You can plan your career step by step or just go with the flow. Kimmo and Mikko perhaps represent the far ends of this spectrum. Kimmo enjoys not knowing what the future brings and trusts that the next suitable role will come around the corner when the time is right. He will grab it when it does. Mikko on the other hand always has the next goal in mind. “Whenever I reach a milestone I stop to think, where do I want to go next? Setting a direction at each of these points is the key for me.”
Even if you didn’t plan your career from milestone to milestone, it’s beneficial to sometimes reflect on how you’re doing and let the career adapt to that. “At times you just want to spend more resources on meaningful things outside work. At Solita we have that flexibility” Jani describes. Also, Kimmo and Mikko have faced a situation where they needed a breather, let it be a hike in Nepal or a step back from the responsibilities. But, without the breather at the time they couldn’t have achieved what they do today.
What drives the change?
While a supportive environment will help when moving into a different role, the desire for change comes from within. Kimmo and Jani describe it as not wanting to stay put or get bored. One could also call it entrepreneurship or a need to understand the big picture. For Milena, it’s the will to develop and challenge herself. Jani further emphasises going towards your own interests: “I’ve learned to recognize what’s valuable to me and work towards that.”
Unfortunately, not all stories have (an immediate) happy ending. Jani and Mikko have experienced how jumping into the unknown didn’t quite go as planned. However, neither regrets trying out new positions. First and foremost it’s the process that counts and that you put yourself out there. In any case, you’ll gain experience and have stories to tell to your grandchildren.
Continuous learning also plays a big part in role changes and there are multiple ways to improve your skills: podcasts, seminars, learning by doing, and trying out the theory in practice. A certificate can provide you confidence in a new role and it also tells others about your skills, but a certificate is by no means mandatory. In addition, learning isn’t always about something new but also deepening what you already know. Milena, after a year of improving her technical skills, is now focused on mastering her current role as a scrum master.
Let go of the uncertainty
Going into a new role or stepping out of your comfort zone rarely goes without a chill down your spine. While all four have stories to share they also have plenty of advice to those who hesitate. Milena learned with Solita’s in-house coaching that being insecure about something isn’t bad: “Feeling insecure means I care about what I’m doing and that’s a good thing”.
“Every couple of years I tend to reinvent myself” -Kimmo
Jani has learned to recognize the things he can and can’t affect and focuses on the former. Kimmo adds that sometimes you need to take more risks, have courage and believe in yourself. In addition, what might seem like a completely different role can actually turn out to be the same job you already do but on a bigger scale.
You’re not alone
Milena has taken into use many of the services Solita provides for career development, like in-house coaching, mentoring, competence communities, and learning platforms. Not to mention co-workers you can learn from and spar with. It’s important to build your network in and outside the company so that you have people to talk with no matter the subject.
When you’re about to try something new it might be easier to do so in a familiar environment. Many things are possible if you express interest in them. “As long as it’s possible to try out different things, I’d like to try them at Solita” Jani concludes.
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Also check out other parts of Pauliina and Heidi’s blog series: The winding career paths – what is it like to change careers?