The question is, what are my transferable skills? What do I bring to the table? This is what this blog post is going to be all about, how to bring a unique set of skills to a field you have never been part of, and to use that for your advantage. Can I even do this?
I will start with how I brought unique tools to a field I never thought I would be in. Supply Chain Management. I studied math, engineering, and computer science in college. I learned my way around software and hardware and electronics for years before stumbling into this realm of Supply Chain.
At first, the Supply Chain was a giant, complex, dynamic beast. Slowly, I learned the intricacies of how all the pieces fit together. I pieced together the legacy systems in play, the timing, the variants in numbers, and the many other facets of Supply Chain Management. I was able to accomplish this because of my unique background, the math whiz, the computer guy, the smart one, as they put it.
What made me so special in the Supply Chain was that I leveraged the knowledge of my past experiences. I did order parts once. I did ship parts. I did label them and scan them and plan for them to be bought. I just never knew the back end, how it all ran. As a Supply Chain professional, I got to see how that worked. Here are a few tips to be successful:
Be the part. Seriously, be the part and follow it through the supply chain. Do not take your eyes off of any movement of this part. If it get’s handed from the scheduler to the mechanic, note that. Then from mechanic to planner, then the shipper, then the truck driver, then the warehouse, then the long term supply, then the repair shops, etc… You get the point. Once you are the part, you can’t lose.
Leverage your knowledge. Most people in the Supply Chain did not come from a technical background. If you have the know how, automate your job. Reduce human error by automation. Eliminate wasted steps. Follow that LEAN process.
Pick up the phone. Metaphorically and actually! Do not be afraid to ask a friend, co-worker, or supervisor questions. Ask lots of questions. Doing this step, and feeling comfortable doing it, is what a “mature” professional does. Keep at it and learn as much as you can and you will soon find that you are now the expert. You will find that your peers actually didn’t know the answer either.
Teach them. Teach everyone around you all bits and pieces you know. This will re-enforce your own knowledge. Do not be afraid of them becoming more promotable because you just gave them knowledge. Know this little secret, you are going to learn MORE later. What you tell them today is old news. Learn something new today and you are again, ahead of the game.
Those are some simple steps to take to get ahead with a new career path, or even starting out. So, how do I plan on using my Supply Chain Management skills to help me get a tech job as a Developer, Machine Learning Engineer or Self Driving Car Engineer? I’m diving right in, that is how. Let me describe some of the steps I have already taking just to learn some of the trade.
Jump right into programming. Almost immediately I started Udacity course called Self Driving Car Engineer nano-degree. I read the reviews. I read the chances of getting placed in a job. I read the requirements. Seems a bit difficult but I think I have the programming skills (stored in my head from years ago) to get this done. Let alone, I didn’t know a lick of Python when I signed up, oops!
Don’t believe the first source. Research! Time is valuable and if you are doing the wrong thing, you have to pivot to what is relevant immediately.
Learn what Slack is and join some tech channels.
Join meetup groups from the Meetme app. Find the tech meetups near you and go. Don’t go to all of them, just go the ones that are active or networkable.
Talk to everyone about your passion and what you want to do. Don’t sell yourself short either. Embrace it. Do not lie. I have told almost everyone I meet out and about that I am trying to break into this field of machine learning and self driving cars. Turns out, some of them will know someone or perhaps, is someone doing that same exact job.
Update resume - over and over and over again! Never ending! I had a giant government version resume that was long and boring. Create a modern template and put yourself out there on one or two pages max.
Teach on YouTube channels.
Watch as many lectures on YouTube as you can. Find Podcasts about your field. I found so many tech related podcasts it’s awesome! Run them at 1.5x speed if you can (or 2x like me).
Most of all, get to coding.