Career 2.0: Restarting in Tech after a Sabbatical

Career 2.0: Restarting in Tech after a Sabbatical
Restarting the career after sabbatical in Technology sector is challenging but not impossible. You need to work on certain things. Authors tells here in the article what and how to overcome this career gap?

Change is difficult for everyone and with the entire world automatizing and the digital age coming onto us like a rollercoaster, restarting a career after a break of a few years may feel unsettling. Therefore, you may not only have a gap in knowledge about your field, but it also creates a dent in your general understanding about work ethic, work culture, and certain digital aspects.

Getting a job after a career gap might be intimidating, and it can also appear to be a lot of effort. You may have taken a career break for a variety of reasons: perhaps you had an elderly parent to care for, or your children were too little, or perhaps you had the opportunity to pursue your passion or travel around the world. Restarting your career, for whatever reason, can feel daunting at first.

How has tech evolved over the years?

Technology changes every day, and to keep track of it is undoubtedly a struggle. Even for people outside the tech world, keeping up with just the upcoming technology trends can be exhausting. To imagine people having to catch up with years of innovation “in” the tech world, is daunting, to say the least! And in such a scenario, if you have been out of the workforce for a couple of years or a decade, the nerves can be real!

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Carol is a software developer who studied at a top university, got placed at one of the top tech firms, and secured the highest package of her batch. Five years into her job, she decided that she wanted to take a break from work to look after her newborn twins. And now that her kids are old enough to look after themselves, and have got busy with school, she thinks of getting back to work. But the mere thought of joining a tech company again seems a little terrifying to her. Despite years of experience, she understands how technologically and mentally exhausting it could get – but she puts on a brave front and goes all in!

Now that she is all in, let’s talk about a few challenges Carol or anyone else who’s restarting their career after a break, might face:

Fast-paced work cultures

The last decade has been an eye-opener in a lot of ways, with a lot of social awakening and cultural changes. Right from the way people dress to the hierarchy of positions and people in those positions, everything has changed. If we draw a comparison between now and the early 2000s, you will notice how tech firms back then, were focused on streamlining communication for work through increased bandwidth for consumption of heavier media – something that’s as common as it can get now.

Catching up with an all-new work culture, work ethics, meeting new people, and socializing again may feel a little nerve-wracking, but you can also look at upskilling yourself to keep up with your teammates. This whole transition can often put a lot of pressure on you, personally as well as professionally. 

To think of Carol, we are sure how she would feel baffled over how Google threw in the towel on virtual reality storytelling in 2019 itself, and how Augmented Reality is now making its way through school-level learning for kids.

Keeping up with the digital age

When we say digital, we don’t only mean social media or digital platforms – we also mean the technology used by tech companies to connect with their employees. Physical servers have been replaced by virtual ones; things that used to take hours of teamwork can now be done with a single click – but to understand all this can be slightly challenging.

Adapting to WFH / Hybrid Model due to COVID

COVID was the final shove for humans into going online, completely. Since it was impossible to stop the whole world from functioning, and of course, important to ensure the world keeps going on – everything was shifted online. Right from banks and schools to emerging startups and MNCs, everyone went online and adopted the newest technology to keep up with the demands of the changing world. Meeting rooms moved online, job interviews are being taken over zoom calls, and new talent is being hired from across the world.

So, how does someone like Carol feel confident about her skills?

Keeping up with the developments in technology

What worked a decade ago MAY NOT work in tech anymore, as it has evolved. And as Darwin had rightly said, it is survival of the fittest, which is why adapting, and evolving is the only way forward. Like Marc Andreessen predicted, software engineers have never been more in demand, which is why being up to date with the latest technologies and languages like Python, Java, and Ruby, is beyond necessary. Cloud computing is now being used to replace manual paperwork and is the most sought-after tech to bring in cost optimization and efficiency. But we are sure things are growing even as you read this.

However, here, let’s take a moment to note that adapting to the newest technologies isn’t a challenge one cannot overcome.

Managing your mental well-being as you step foot in the office after a sabbatical:

Catching up with an all-new work culture, work ethics, meeting new people, and socializing again may feel a little nerve-wracking, but you can also look at upskilling yourself to keep up with your teammates. This whole transition can often put a lot of pressure on you, personally as well as professionally.

Here are a few things one can do to smoothen the process a little:

Keep an open mind to learn

This is the first step in the process. Avoid unnecessary procrastination, while also voicing out the right questions, and most importantly – have the mindset to push and be pushed out of your comfort zone. Quit doubting your potential; you have the potential to learn everything – all you need is an open mind, so keep at it!

Networking

In any industry, especially tech – professional networking goes a long way. Tech companies allow you to interact with people all over the globe while giving you a chance to travel to those places, too. When you have taken a break from your career, starting by reaching out to old acquaintances can be a clever idea. Using social media platforms such as LinkedIn can come in handy when networking, especially when you don’t have access to a physical network.

To think of Carol, we are sure how she would feel baffled over how Google threw in the towel on virtual reality storytelling in 2019 itself, and how Augmented Reality is now making its way through school-level learning for kids.

Unlearning

You may also need to overcome mental blocks to be able to survive in the tech and corporate world. The importance of unlearning is that it humbles you to become a better person to work with, allowing you to learn things faster and without any personal dilemma. After all, unlearning is the highest form of learning.

Up-skill yourself

No number of contacts, goodwill, or confidence can get you what knowledge can. Whoever said knowledge is power was completely right as nothing beats education.

To sum up…

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I prepared to invest 8 to 9 hours a day at work (online/offline)?
  • Are the skills I possess enough to join the competitive job market? PROBABLY NOT!
  • What are the latest trends in my field of interest?
  • What are those inevitable domain-specific skills and competencies I must develop before joining the job market?
  • What certifications and courses are required to make me an eligible candidate for any employer?
  • Most importantly, am I ready to unlearn existing skills to accommodate newer technologies and work cultures to fit right in?

If the answer to all these questions has been positively answered – you have taken the first step in the right direction to RESTART YOUR CAREER IN TECH. The next step is – to take ACTION!

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Sakshi Pal

Head of Human Resources, Techwave

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