Flying in the clouds, to digital cloud.
The journey from aviation to software engineering. - Kimiko Lim
Reflections of Experience
After graduating from university, I tried my hand at a series of jobs. From serving as a waiter, to a promoter and an events coordinator, before eventually settling as an aircraft engineer, where I remained for 5 years. It left me feeling uneasy, unsatisfied and stuck. Knowing that something had to be done, I embarked on a path with decisions at every turn that eventually led me to become a full stack developer.
Today, I am a Junior Consultant at Mavericks Consulting - an IT consulting firm - and I will be sharing some tips and strategies that I’ve employed to accomplish a successful career switch.
Carrot and Stick
What took me so long? Why did it take 5 years before deciding that aviation wasn’t for me? A year after university, I had a small feeling that this isn't it. I told myself, “I’m still new, I lack the experience. I need to stick around longer to see myself progress.” A year turned into 2, and before I knew it, 5 years had passed with nothing to show for it. It was a tricky situation. Do I give up all the years of experience I’ve put in or should I persevere on and see what happens.
I fell victim to the it’ll-get-worse-before-it-gets-better paradox. The donkey following the carrot, a sunken cost fallacy. Of course, there may be good reasons to continue investing in something you believe in. But beware of doing so for the wrong reasons. Rational decision-making requires you to forget about the costs incurred to date. It has taught me a valuable lesson. No matter how much you have already invested, only your assessment of the future costs and benefits should count.
Antidote to Poisons
Your friend just bought a new car or just got back from an expensive holiday? Never compare yourself to other people’s highlight reels, especially on social media. Career switching can be daunting sometimes. Changing to a completely new profession in a radically different industry is no easy feat. It requires time and often comes at a loss of income. Whilst mentally preparing myself, I knew some sacrifices had to be made. I needed to knuckle down and pour in all my time and concentration into upskilling myself. That led me to convert the time I spent scrolling away in social media into grind time.
So whenever you find yourself looking for extra hours in a day, perhaps you could do yourself a favor and try out a social media detox.
Motivation is a finite resource
Have you ever told yourself, “I am going to try this diet.” or “I will start exercising regularly.” and feeling on top of the world and unstoppable. But then a week later, you start questioning why you are doing this to yourself. Does this sound familiar? Let me just start by saying there’s nothing wrong with you. This is why motivation can only take you so far.
The same applies when it comes to switching careers. Overcoming a lack of motivation and willpower requires lifestyle changes. You can fix it - but not overnight. Develop a system to get 1% better everyday. A real life example could be if I study for 1 hour today, I will study for 1 hour and 5 mins tomorrow. Or if tonight I read 5 pages, tomorrow I will read 6. You get the idea.
Develop a stronger identity and rid yourself of limiting beliefs. Make tiny changes incrementally to break bad habits while sticking to good ones to deliver bigger end results.
Between a Rock and a Hard place
Love yourself. That’s right. Everyone is always talking about the grind. Though most say “Put in the hours and you’ll be rewarded”, this may not always be the case. It depends on how you approach it. A career change to software engineering is a long process that could span over a couple of months, at least. To keep your brain in a “learning” mode over such a prolonged duration, one must first understand the brain’s happy chemicals - dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins. Do a quick Google search and pick activities to do on a weekly basis that can contribute to boosting any of these 4 chemicals. This will make you feel the longevity without the burnout. Thank me later.
I hope that this article has brought some value to those who read it. For those who are currently doing a career switch or thinking about it, know that no two journeys are the same. Find out what works for you, commit, give it everything you’ve got and keep going at it!