I’ve made a habit of stating my academic background, not to brag, but to inspire. There’s actually nothing to brag about. I received my B.S. in Recreation, Sport and Tourism Management. The career path for me was working in parks and recreation, collegiate or professional sports, or the travel and tourism industry.
Now I’m working at an investment firm that manages ~$23B in assets. Specifically I’m building and supporting trading technology. This involves writing some code, managing systems, searching through databases, monitoring trading activity. Basically if something’s wrong with anything, we either fix it or find somebody to fix it.
That’s been me my whole life, either a fixer or a connector. But what does any of this have to do with recreation, sport or tourism management. Absolutely nothing. For full disclosure, I did participate in a one year graduate program in the business school to study technology management.
I can assure you that if it only took one year to have enough knowledge and information to break into technology and finance, then what’s the point of spending four years in college to begin with?
I digress, the point of this post is to give advice on pursuing a non-linear career path, or breaking into any industry with a non-traditional background.
My first piece of advice is to take risks. Making a career switch is always a risk. You’re comfortable where you have the most knowledge. Jumping into a different will make you uncomfortable because you won’t know as much as the next person. This solution to this is to study vigorously.
If you’re serious about what you’re pursuing and passionate about it, nobody will force you to learn about it. Spending all your free time devouring information on this subject. Asking questions from experts in the field or even friends.
That brings me to my next point. Networking. Taking risks is easier when you have safety measures in place. People you can take risks with. Being surrounded by so many entrepreneurs, and seeing the bold decisions they make on a daily basis. Decisions from signing up a new client to firing a friend.
When you’re around people who take major risks, you become more compelled to take minor risks. For me that was joining a start-up.
When making a career change, it’s easier to do so in a smaller company. One reason being is that there isn’t a major competition within the organization that could be detrimental to ones growth. It also forces you to work extremely hard to prove yourself.
The last thing I’d suggest is to find a mentor. I hate suggesting this because it’s so cliché, and it’s actually pretty difficult to find a mentor, but that’s a clear way to have access to information only someone who’s been in the industry for years could have.
The issue with this is when you’re breaking into an industry where there aren’t many people in your network, you have to get a little creative. For me this was going to events, presentations, reading books, watching videos and listening to podcast. I created a pseudo mentor by combining pieces of information from many different.
All in all, it’s the best thing to do is to take that first step. I want to do my part to inspire you to do so by creating an open line of communication for anyone looking to break into venture capital, start-ups, technology and finance. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and look for a video course, starting with entrepreneurship/start-ups in the near future!