Let’s face it, the “whatever your major is, will be the career path you’ll be affixed to for the rest of your life” mindset is gone. It’s absurd to think about the number of times that I have heard this saying throughout my childhood.
Back in 2016, I got my license to practice Radiologic Technology, and today, I’m a junior software product manager.
Okay, let’s take a step back. At the time, I was on the edge of my seat deciding whether or not to take the risk and switch careers. Believe me, I was very anxious and scared, but we all have to take risks.
Buckle up because I’m going to share with you things I did that made a huge impact.
1. Get the right experience
“Get your foot in the door.” we have all heard this phrase. When I finished my internship at the hospital and graduated, I realized that I was not enthusiastic about the role and that I wanted to be in the tech. space to make an impact. What role exactly? I had no freaking clue.
I did my fair research and took a leap of faith. I got a sales role at one of Apple’s retail stores. During my time there, I didn’t only focus on what my customers truly want and need, but I’ve also joined an internal team that was responsible for working on store-wide projects.
After almost 2 years, I left Apple and joined a software company in Boston as a customer support representative. During my time there, I did what a support representative does for their customers- build empathy and help them get the most out of the product. Additionally, I invested time in identifying areas of our processes that had friction and discovering solutions to make it better and positively impact business metrics. It did.
One Saturday morning, I woke up and the first thing I did was opened LinkedIn. The first post that I saw was an article by Lenny Rachitsky titled “How to Get Into Product Management (and Thrive)”. At that moment, I knew what I wanted to be, and so I began buying books, an online course, and sculpting my resume.
2. Sculpt your resume
Have you ever heard of the word “Anamorphosis”?
Here’s a definition that I got from Wikipedia, “Anamorphosis is a distorted projection or perspective requiring the viewer to occupy a specific vantage point, use special devices or both to view a recognizable image”
Metaphorically, everyone is a form of art. An anamorphic one. But here’s the thing, a recruiter or an HR person spends about an average of six seconds on a resume. Oh, and make that less since they’re most likely busy and going through a pile of it.
You get the point, during those precious 6 (or less) seconds, you need to show the recruiter or HR person what your image is. Here’s an example, you can’t say “Delivered acute and ambulatory nursing care for newborns.” on your resume if you’re applying for a sales, marketing, design, or even a pastry chef role. It’s good to know but it won’t matter.
I did this and had 2 versions of my resume. One for a customer success management role, and one for product management.
Your resume should look good to display beautiful artwork and capture attention. Once you do that, the rest of it should tell a story.
Pro Tip: Keep your resume’s format simple and clean. Enough with the “cool” designs. It won’t look professional and probably won’t even pass the standard system qualifications. It’ll vomit.
3. Apply & Interview. Repeat until you don’t have to
Next, get yourself out there.
Your artwork (resume) is worth nothing if you don’t gain feedback and improve on it, nor will anyone perceive your value.
Let me see, I think the number was around 40- these were applications that I’ve sent out, and I got about 6 companies to respond back. Yeah, it’s rough.
I got through the interviews. Some offered me the job which I declined, and some ghosted me. Both of these scenarios are not as bad as some would think because it taught me two things.
- I declined a job because I either didn’t like the role or the company culture.
- I got ghosted because I would probably end up hating it there or it’s just not the right fit.
This allowed me to be more self-aware and truly stand up to continue finding the perfect one for me. I didn’t stop learning and applying. Until one morning, on my way to my 26th-floor office, I received a phone call. After that, I paused. I then called my family and my partner screaming “I’m going to be a product manager!”.
I was filled with fear and doubt, and making a decision like that wasn’t easy. It was risky. So in order to mitigate that, I had to start somewhere- even a small step to help validate my decision to take a leap of faith.
That’s it. Get your foot in the door, show your audience your work & the side they want to see, and communicate your value.