Working in Digital: Making the Leap Mid-Career
For many, the prospect of changing careers or joining a digital company can be a rather intimidating and overwhelming process. During these moments of self-examination and vulnerability, imposter syndrome has a tendency to creep in (even before the search for a new opportunity begins!), and oftentimes, your inner dialogue is clouded with doubt and non-verbal thoughts like:
“I’m not enjoying my current role, but I don’t know what else I could do.”
“I’m interested in a career in this particular field, but I don’t think I know enough about X to get my foot in the door.”
“I don’t want to rebuild my career from scratch.”
Last year I decided to change careers to digital strategy after more than seven years in creative production. It taught me not to be afraid to forge a new path and make the most of every new opportunity.
Before joining PMG, I was leading a team at a creative production agency and had been working for that company for several years, having become confident in that field and my particular role. One night, we were meeting colleagues from other agencies we worked with when a member of the PMG team suggested that I should come and work with them. My immediate thought was that, as appealing as that team and agency were, I didn’t know enough about digital media to be a true asset. Although I felt that I had somewhat plateaued in my role, I was comfortable there and wasn’t necessarily looking to change jobs, much less my career. While it’s not uncommon for people to experience some level of burnout and fatigue, the idea of doing the same thing elsewhere didn’t tempt me personally.
As time passed, I kept revisiting the conversation with PMG employees and came to the realisation that this was my chance to do something different. By joining PMG, I would be able to learn new things, discover a totally different part of the industry, but with the added benefit of working alongside people I knew, and who knew me. I applied, the recruitment experience kicked off, and before I knew it, I was PMG London’s newest team member.
The onboarding experience was chock-full of training sessions from all the marketing channel experts across the business, followed by job shadowing opportunities with my coworkers where I could ask questions and see how best practices were applied to client work and new projects. Throughout my first 30 to 60 days, team leaders were constantly checking in, asking how I was doing, and encouraging me to ask as many questions as needed.
Remember that you’re not starting from scratch, you’re starting a new chapter. While at times it felt like I was back to square one, there were plenty of opportunities from the very beginning for me to apply the skills I already possessed. From project management to decision-making, problem-solving, and executive communication, there were plenty of transferable skills from my previous roles that helped me adjust to my new career in digital advertising, and I have no doubt that the same is true for any experienced professional.
Never stop learning. In many ways, your primary responsibility as a new employee is to be a sponge, soaking up as much information as you can. While I learned plenty of new acronyms, best practices, and standard operating processes during my first few weeks, I found that by taking notes and asking to listen in on meetings outside my role, I was better able to understand how my job related to what others were working on and vice versa.
Be humble, but also kind to yourself. If you are starting in a new field, you need to appreciate that there is a lot for you to learn, and the source of that knowledge might be people who are more junior than you are or training materials that are really basic to that domain of expertise. It takes time to learn a new industry, so don’t expect yourself to become a seasoned expert in a matter of weeks, and don’t get discouraged if your pace of learning isn’t as fast as you’d hoped. There will be bumps in the road, but it will only make this new challenge you’re taking on more rewarding.
Go the extra mile. While my team was coaching me in everything I needed to know, I also knew it would be just as important for me to learn in my own time. I began by asking my coworkers for newsletter or book recommendations, podcasts to listen to, and thought leaders to follow on social media. By keeping tabs on breaking news and industry trends, you’ll be surprised by how fast you can catch on with your new career field, as well as seeing how your day-to-day translates into the bigger picture.
One year into becoming a digital strategist at PMG, I can genuinely say that I’m incredibly happy with the choice I made. The process of learning new things is an exciting change of pace, and I could not have asked for a better and more welcoming place to start my new career in digital. What could have easily been a difficult and discouraging experience during one of the arguably most difficult times in the twenty-first century was made manageable, exciting, and fulfilling by the patience of my colleagues and a truly supportive leadership team and company culture.
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Interested in making the switch to digital as well? Head over to the careers page to see our open roles.