As you might have seen if you’ve been following me on Instagram, at the start of the year I embarked on a career change journey. After about 6 months of actively working on it, this summer, I finally landed a good opportunity and took the plunge. A couple of months in already, and I couldn’t be happier with the change.
I’ve spent the past 6 years working in tech. My roles were usually on the consulting and customer facing side; doing solution consulting, managing projects and implementations and customer success. While I enjoy client work and all the perks that come with it, for a while already I was craving the idea of having a specialization or a more “hands on” approach when it comes to building things, and not just consulting on them.
The career change
I had my eye on product management for a while. I was already exposed to the role in my now previous company, and decided it’s a good way to “specialize” a little. Funnily enough, product management is still very much a generalist role. However, I love that I get to solve problems not just with slide decks but with actual features and products. I still do my fair share of decks, but I am very happy that now I finally have the opportunity to try it out and dive into it.
I handed in my notice sometime in July, and gave ample time for the handover. Having spent years working with clients very tightly, I wanted to make sure I can have as smooth and documented of a handover as possibe. And oh boy, I did. The last 2-3 weeks at the old job were intense. With some clients not being so welcoming of change, I had to do extra handover work and reassurance. In a nutshell, I spent my last weeks speaking a lot and recording a lot, hours and hours of handovers.
As I reflect back on it, I realise that despite setting a lot of boundaries with my work life – and especially in the past year – I still cared a lot about my work. The offboarding time reminded me of how much I care; because even in those last days I wanted to make sure everything is properly done. I guess some things never change. Nonetheless and however intense they were, the last weeks also served as a great reminder of the great work I did with clients and the relationships built, which was a great note to leave on.
The career change break
Overall, I have to say that I’m pretty happy about how I’ve lined up my summer and my offboarding. In August I had two weeks off to do a German course (that I used my educational leave for), and then I also kept 4 weeks of paid time off to take right before starting the new job, so I could really disconnect. Last time around when switching job, I finished with one company on Friday, and started with the other one on Monday. This time around, I definitely didn’t want to make the same mistake. In between jobs is a great opportunity to take a little more time off without any guilt (which anyways we shouldn’t feel guilty about).
My month off was a total bliss. I spent the time finishing up some courses, reading, visiting many cafes and some museums, travelling home for a week and just enjoying the time. What a blessing the four weeks off were. If you are currently thinking of switching jobs and can afford to do it, make sure you plan some time off in between jobs. A great way to do it is to use any remaining paid leave; this way you don’t give up any paycheck. If you can prolongue that with additional (unpaid) in between jobs time, that’s even better.
How’s the new role been so far
Life as a Product Manager is good so far. I’ve been spending a lot of time learning. Learning about the business, the market, the products, the processes and really everything. Already before starting I built a pretty hefty list of things I wanted to learn and do in my first months, so I’ve been having a busy start (Side note: My app of choice for taking notes these days is Notion. I also talked about why I love it so much here. It’s just perfect for organizing all the new knowledge I am acquiring in the first months. ). Here I talked more about my takeaways/impressions from the first four weeks on the job. While now I am already taking on some smaller projects, I am still spending a lot of time meeting people, which is my priority for the first few months.
With the change, I am also heading back into the office. My new company adopted a hybrid work model post-Covid (not yet in place), meaning that I will be in the office two days a week and three working from home. For now and being new in the company and to the role, I am trying to go into the office two days a week. Even though it’s not required I’m quite excited of having the opportunity to meet people in person. I have to say that (some) of my office clothes are also quite grateful for it and for now the change feels good.
All in all, I am still very much excited about the career change and the new adventure I’ve embarked on. I am absolutely thrilled with how it’s going so far. Truth is, I can only hope it stays this way and keeps on giving. Reflecting on the career change journey, I have to admit that despite working on the change quite relentessly, I still had moments of doubt. I thought it might not be for me or it might get too uncomfortable; especially because by the end of it, I was very comfortable at my last job.
Anyways, for those thinking of changing jobs or careers and feeling afraid of it, I would say, don’t worry because that fear is natural. And not only that but the opposite to comfort is not just discomfort. It’s also growth and excitement and new people, and a whole lot of opportunities. From my experience, the grass can definitely be greener on the other side. As long as you plan it a little and take your time to understand where you’re heading to.
Any other career change or job change experiences around here? Would love to hear from you and how you’ve navigated yours.