From drinking until 5am with Argentinian accountants, to coordinating marketing and PR at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and organising international real estate conferences, I’ve explored my fair share of industries.
When I first joined the team at The Inside Story, I had no experience of the pro audio industry whatsoever – but what I did have was an existing working relationship with Founder/MD Barney, a fairly impressive list of local business contacts and an almost scarily eager determination to learn and grow as a writer.
Here’s the thing – changing industries doesn’t always have to mean starting from the bottom all over again. There’s far more to being a good team member than knowing that particular sector inside out – it’s being open to learning and evolving as an individual, knowing your strengths and leveraging your skillset, making connections, asking questions. Here are my four top tips for navigating an industry change and how to make it work for you:
- Work your network – if you’re looking for a change in industry, you gotta wield the almighty powers of LinkedIn. Switching up your career doesn’t have to mean a drop in salary or less responsibility – seek out contacts who might know someone in your sector of choice, make connections, be open about your goals and forthright with your strengths. Industry knowledge can be learned, being your brilliant self can’t. WORK. IT.
- Be coachable – once you’ve got that shiny new job and spent the appropriate amount of time celebrating in the pub, immerse yourself in getting to know the sector and more specifically, what your new employer brings to the table. Be open to learning as much as physically possible from your new colleagues – in my first few weeks with The Inside Story, I carried a notebook everywhere so I could note down anything and everything that might be useful later on. It’s not going to happen overnight, truly knowing and understanding the industry and your place within it will take time, but you can start building those foundations as soon as the offer letter lands in your inbox.
- Ask questions – be inquisitive, be curious, offer to sit in on meetings and phone calls just to listen and learn, ask about what your colleagues do and what their key relationships are within the organisation. Spend time exploring the company files, researching clients if applicable and familiarising yourself with previous projects. Be the ever so slightly annoying one asking ALL the questions and trust me; your future self and your teammates will thank you for it.
- Put yourself out there – offer to take on tasks or projects that force you out of your comfort zone, go on client meetings, suggest training courses that could boost your skillset. Have yourself a baptism of fire, if you will – challenge yourself and you will reap the benefits later down the line. It’s so valuable to experience as much as possible in those first few weeks where you’re not only working to create a good first impression, but you’re also trying to learn a whole new industry and its quirks.