I remember when I came to the US in 2015, I was super excited to come to the Silicon Valley and further my career in the tech industry. Imagine my surprise when I could not even find a proper internship. I was confused and frustrated because everything here was different from how I knew things (back home in India). The four years of marketing experience and an MBA degree that I brought with me didn’t seem enough to find a job. I even thought about changing my career course and explored other areas like product management, UI/UX design and coding websites. Though I learnt a lot from each of these areas, I didn’t quite take off. I realized that in order to be successful in the Silicon Valley, I will have to adopt the Silicon Valley mindset. And this is how my journey began.
Learn By Doing
I started by taking the newly introduced Udacity’s Digital Marketing nanodegree program. I loved the program because they make you do real live projects that help you learn tech skills as well as grow your confidence levels. While I was doing the course, I also reached out to people who were already doing projects and found little ways to help out. I learnt new tools, worked with new products and finally started understanding how things were done in the Silicon Valley. It gave me the boost I needed to get my foot in the door. Find a job description that you would like to apply for, evaluate your current skills with the description. Do you have them all? If yes, awesome! If not, start building out those skills by doing real live projects. Try and get an internship, even if it is an unpaid one. Experience does matter, working on cool projects with other people teaches you more than just tech skills, they teach you to communicate effectively and collaborate in a team. If an internship seems out of reach, take an online course or just do your own project. As you get your hands dirty, you will develop the skills and the confidence you need to speak in interviews. Document your projects and create an online portfolio that will help recruiters see all of the great work you have done.
Identify Your Strengths
All of us have strengths and weaknesses. Instead of focusing on my weaknesses, I focused on my strengths. I learn fast, pay attention to detail and try to have a strategic approach in the work that I do. I used these in my projects to make them simple and impactful. I consciously made an effort to keep my weaknesses in check and tried to make them as redundant as possible. It is a huge challenge to overcome your weaknesses but with conscious effort you can do anything. You don’t acquire these skills overnight, you develop them into habits. We all have strengths, you might have different ones than mine, but you do have them, so take the time to identify these strengths and focus on them. Your strengths can set you apart as an individual and give you a competitive edge.
Build A Personality
Why should anyone hire you? What makes you different from the rest of the crowd? It is important to stand out, especially in the highly competitive landscape of the Silicon Valley. Building a personality is not as tough as you might think, you have to just pick out a bunch of values that truly represent you. Entrepreneurship is one of the biggest assets that we could have. You don’t have to start a company of your own to be an entrepreneur, you can be one simply by embracing innovation and design thinking, no matter which position you are in. I also believe in taking ownership and leading the team whenever I have the opportunity to do so. If something does not make sense to you, step up and challenge the status quo. Make learning a continuous process. These things bring out a strong personality in you. If a resume is the face of your application, your personality is the face of your very being. It helps other people form the right perception about you and are therefore more inclined to have multiple conversations, leading to a better chance of getting the job. If you found the personality of an applicant boring, would you hire that person?
Gain More Perspective
The truth is that most of us have limited perspectives, boxed by what we know. We are often hesitant to get out of our comfort zone. This does not help us grow. When you are challenged by new perspectives, you see things in a different light. You might not like all of them, but it will push you to think differently and that’s how innovation truly begins. I started gaining more perspective when I started reading more, not just about different technologies, but about the industry in general, what different companies were doing and why they were doing it. Your mentors, your colleagues, your friends all bring different perspectives to the table. Why do you think people go to meetups? To meet new people, to talk about new ideas, to share opinions – all contributing to gaining more perspective on the world around you. The more perspective you have on technologies, on products, on companies and on industries, the more intellectual your thought process will become. This will have a huge impact on the way you are able to speak in interviews and help you to climb the career ladder quickly.
Share Your Ideas
We live in a digital world today. Having a digital footprint is just as necessary as owning an online portfolio. Recruiters want to know the kind of person you are, not just the work you have done and that is just a google search for them – picking up your social media profiles, your blogs, your projects, websites you are associated with and a whole lot more. Whether you like it or not, it is going to come up. So why not make the best use of it? We need to be expressive and be able to articulate our ideas well, not just for others but for ourselves as well. When I feel like I don’t know much about a certain subject, I do my research and then write a short paper on what I learned about it. This helps me simplify a complicated subject and I pass it on to others who might learn from it. You can also write to give your point of view on an interesting topic and ask others for their point of view. When you are doing a project, write about why you chose to do that particular project, what you accomplished and what you learned from it. Pick out a couple of social causes that matter to you like women empowerment and saving the environment from climate change, write about why these things matter to you. Sharing your ideas helps you to connect with other people and this in turn sparks innovation, ideas give birth to new ideas and who knows your next idea might be worth billions of dollars.
These five things are not the only things you need to get a job, you need to do a lot more, most of which you will have to figure out on your own. Building a career is not easy, you will have to work hard, you will have to struggle, you will face obstacles and rejections on the way. But when you successfully cross the bridge and come out the other side, you will be wiser and stronger than you were before. So be fearless and have an open mind to learn, the path to your success story is not far away.
Suhasini is currently the Product Marketing Manager at Movimento, an APTIV company.
Connect with Suhasini on LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/suhasinigadam/
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