Tech executives share their most valuable career advice

For job hunters, it’s important to be creative, trust your gut and always be persistent

Navigating the tech industry is no easy feat. Whether you’re a recent college graduate or have decided to set off on an entirely new career path, entering the IT field can be intimidating. 

The process of landing any job can lead to incredible amounts of stress and uncertainty. To get through such times, many job hunters seek career advice to help motivate them to hold steady in their pursuit of a career in tech. 

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of tech executives willing to share their most valuable words of wisdom. 

Be creative in your career pursuits

There’s no denying the coronavirus has impacted today’s job market. For recent college graduates and those looking for a career in tech, it’s more important than ever to be creative in your career pursuits. 

With jobless rates up nationwide, it’s also important to remember that the career you envisioned for yourself may differ greatly from the path you take.

Michele Trusolino, CEO and co-founder of graduate recruitment app Debut Careers shared her career advice, explaining, “Often it is not industries that thrive, but companies who redefine how that industry is serviced.”  

For Trusolino, “Every industry is now a ‘tech industry’ and they need the highly sought after skills to push the boundaries.”

Trusolino’s advice is spot on. Today, nearly every company falls into the tech industry in some shape or form. For job hunters, this is a good thing because it leaves room for creativity in your career pursuits, especially during times of uncertainty. 

Think about it this way — if you have experience coding or are a cybersecurity whiz, you could use your skills at a myriad of companies across a number of industries. Be open to broadening your horizons by pursuing job openings at companies that may not fit neatly into the tech segment. Tech skills are valuable and most companies will be more than willing to put those skills to good use, regardless of the industry they’re in.

Trust your gut and take risks

Looking for a new job can be stressful. According to a 2017 Career Builder study that surveyed 5,016 candidates from the U.S. and Canada, 73% of job seekers said job hunting was one of the most stressful things in their life. 

Don’t let the stress of finding a new job hold you back, though. As Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has said in the past, “In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks."

There will be times when those stressful feelings point to a larger issue. As Tim Cook put it in his commencement speech to Auburn University graduates, “Intuition is something that occurs in the moment and, if you are open to it, if you listen to it, it has the potential to direct or redirect you in a way that is best for you.”

Be open to change and try something new

When I started college, I studied K-12 education. I dreamed of teaching classic literature to high schoolers. I couldn’t wait until the day I had my college diploma in hand and could share my love of literature with America’s youth. Looking back, I had no idea what I actually wanted. 

After a month of student teaching, I quickly learned that being a teacher wasn’t for me. In the end, I graduated with a degree in professional writing and political science. Since graduating, I’ve worked in tech, health care, manufacturing, human resources and spent some time as a butcher.

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I’m not the only who’s shifted gears in college or worked in various industries either. In fact, people choose to set off on new career paths all the time. According to a 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of baby boomers, individuals born between 1957 and 1964 held an average of 12.3 jobs between the ages of 18 and 52. 

As Bill Gates shared in a 2020 commencement speech, “The important thing to remember about career paths is that they don't have to last forever, and when I was in my 20s, I thought I'd always worked in software. I never saw myself working in philanthropy or on global health at all, let alone leaving behind my job at Microsoft to do it full-time. As you get older, your interests and your skills will evolve. My advice is to be open to change. Don't be afraid to try something new.”

Gates’ words serve as a good reminder that being open to new career opportunities can pay off. Gates would know, as he began his career as founder and CEO of Microsoft and now leads the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  

Persistence pays off in the long run

Embarking on a new career path can be an arduous process. No matter where your career takes you, understand that persistence pays off in the long run.

Eva Peris, CMO and co-founder of Wanted tells graduates, "Do not give up. The more you understand your professional journey and personal goals, the more you'll be able to convince a recruiter that you're the right fit for the job. If things take longer than expected, [keep] yourself updated through internships or freelance work…the right job will come soon.”

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt shared his advice with Virginia Tech’s 2015 graduating class, telling them, “Be persistent. When someone says you’re thinking too big, say ‘I don’t think I’m thinking big enough.’ Challenge them. Be smart enough to not listen to people who push you down. When someone says the odds are too small, be dumb enough to give it a shot.” 

Whether you’ve just graduated from college or are considering a career in tech, there is a wealth of advice to take into account. From commencement speeches by tech executives to one-on-one interviews with some of the industry’s most well-known leaders, there’s no reason not to use such words of wisdom to your advantage.

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