If you majored in computer science, programming, information technology, or a related field, the odds are good that you have a job, and it pays well. While such rewards are certainly nothing to sniff at, it doesn’t mean you find the work you do as stimulating as you’d like. There’s more to a meaningful career than money, and if you work in tech, you can often achieve your version of that more. Whether you’ve been working in tech for three years or three decades, here are six ways to reboot, upgrade, and otherwise improve upon your tech career.
One relatively simple and non-stressful way to re-energize your career is to simply cross-train at the job you currently have. Whether you spend all day writing code or you oversee the physical hardware that keeps your IT company humming, talk to whoever is in charge of your schedule about picking up some additional skills. Companies are often pleased as punch to have employees who can offer a variety of services, so they may bend over backward to assist you on your quest. It’s possible you may find your career entirely revamped without ever looking for a new job.
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2. Get a Graduate Degree
Going back to school to get a master’s degree isn’t a choice to make lightly, but if you truly want to give yourself more job options and learn more about your industry, it’s a surefire way to boost your career. There are also scores of ways to get your degree without having to totally change your current lifestyle. Look into an online software development degree or other online master degree in computer science. The flexibility of an online degree will give you the space to keep working full-time, and you can pace your coursework more easily, too.
3. Found a Startup
It’s true that founding a startup is easier said than done, but if you have a really solid idea and even just a single investment connection, it could be your ticket to an entirely new and exciting career. Hammer out the details of your idea, find a couple people willing to work for peanuts in the hopes of striking gold, and find an initial investor willing to fund your prototype app, service, or product in exchange for stock options later. It can be a strange path to go down at first, but if you’re willing to do the legwork, it can pay off mightily.
4. Go to Work for a Startup
Don’t have a good idea or the stomach to raise capital? Don’t fret. The chances are good someone you know or someone within your network is beginning a startup. If you have any skills at all, they can probably use you. Working for a startup can be very exciting. It can also be incredibly difficult work involving long hours.
Make sure you’ve done your homework regarding how much you’ll be paid and how long you can sustain yourself given a heavy workload. Also, choose well. Not all startups are equal, and whether it’s the founder’s personality, the merit of the idea, or the work environment itself, only you can decide what conditions are good for you — and what conditions aren’t.
5. Find a Mentor
Sometimes, you can know that you need to make a career change, but you might not know what that career change should be. If you’re feeling restless, but you’re unsure about making a move, reach out to someone you trust and look up to about mentoring you. Ideally, a mentor will be someone able to guide you according to your own desires and values toward the choices you want to make. Therefore, don’t ask someone in your current company, since helping you find a new path could produce a conflict of interest. Instead, seek out someone whose career has been revamped — even if the person you choose doesn’t work with computers or IT.
Are you taking advantage of all the networking opportunities that exist for you — both in-person, in-company, and online? From meetups and conferences to meet-and-greets and local business networking organizations, spend time with new and like-minded people. Whether you find out about a new job opportunity or just connect meaningfully with other human beings, networking — if you don’t use it for blind self-promotion — can prove invaluable to anyone looking to reboot a tech career.
Don’t wait any longer. Whether you go back to school or hunt down a mentor, start the work of improving your tech career today. Who knows? In a year’s time or less, you may find you’re the happiest you’ve ever been in your work.