Transitioning from one role to another is relatively less difficult if you move within the same domain of expertise (e.g. Android Developer to iOS Developer, Front-End Developer to Android Developer, etc.) But when you change domains, you face a far greater challenge. That said, it can be done, and today we're going to see how!
In this article, I'll share my experiences, challenges, and learnings on my journey from Android Developer to Product Manager/Owner. Although I'll be talking about how I changed career paths within the context of these specific roles, the principles of how I went about it and what I learned are applicable to anyone wanting to transition to a new career.
Why I Wanted to Change Roles
When we want to move to a new career, it's often because a new situation illuminates an affinity we have with our desired path. In my context, I worked as a Mobile App Developer for Android for around four years, and during that time, I wore several different hats. I was required to think about projects from business, development, and management points of view because for several years, I was part of small start ups. This gave me the opportunity to gain a good grasp of the product side of projects, and I became very interested in the process.
It wasn't until I moved to a large organization where the team was more structured with the Agile Scrum methodology and everyone had their specific roles that I realized I am more inclined toward the role of Product Owner than Developer.
I had seen coworkers transition roles, and though these switches were mainly within the same domains, it was good to know my organization supported career transitions, and I began researching my desired career path seriously.
How Did I Approach My Career Change?
I started by reading several scrum.org books to learn more about the role. I also talked with my manager and shared my interest. He was really supportive and suggested that I make a move by going through an IT Business Analyst role, as it is more associated with the Product Owner role and would be a good way to make a smooth transition. All of this was just the beginning; much of the real work still lay ahead.
What Did I Do to Enhance My Skills?
We all know that actions speak louder than words, and it was time for me to put my plan into action. I began to study for, take, and pass well-reputed certifications like Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO I). I selected this particular certification because it does not expire and didn't require any mandatory training. I also took part in my company's internal rapid prototype project, working as a PO/BA for five weeks. I really didn't want that project to end, which just served to validate my interest in the role.
Openly discussing my goals with my manager led to an acquaintance with the director of BA and PO, and he suggested that I go through the BABOK guide from IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis). I became a member of IIBA and researched another certification titled Entry level Certificate for Business Analysis (ECBA). I started preparation for this course as well and passed it on my first try. Again, this course has no expiration date, so I knew I wouldn't have to pay renewal fees.
All told, I passed two reputed certification courses and held an apprenticeship role for 5 weeks.
What did I learn from this process? Change often occurs when we actively work toward it and voice our goals to people who can help.
Where Am I Right Now?
As you've most likely surmised, I currently hold a job as a Product Manager at Avenue Code. But make no mistake -- the path wasn't easy. I received several rejections before getting the chance to interview.
Out of the hundreds of applications I submitted, I earned three face-to-face interviews. One of these was within my organization, and it did not work out. I received positive feedback from the other two interviews, however, and I chose to accept an offer at Avenue Code.
The most important takeaways are: keep working to gain knowledge of the field you want to go into, never stop learning about it, and be prepared for rejections since you're competing against candidates who already have experience in the domain. So be realistic, control what you can, and keep preparing for a potential interview. It only takes one breakthrough to achieve success!
Interested in more content like this? Check out Building a Career Path through Programming Books.
Ready to see what else is out there? Check out Avenue Code's open positions:
Aalap Patel is a Product Manager/Senior Business Analyst at Avenue Code. He brings 10 years of IT experience in a wide range of technical positions, including QA and Android Development, and he has acted as a Product Manager for the last 2 to 3 years. A Product Management enthusiast, Aalap holds PSPO 1 and 2 certifications. In his free time, he enjoys "Netflix and chill," and watching cricket.