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Learnings from a Career Change

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Growing up in Bangalore, I was interested in languages, journalism, and the arts. Unfortunately, these were unpopular and jobs in those areas were discouraged.  Those around me consistently encouraged me to “take the safest route”. After years of hearing this, I began to believe that taking the “safe” route would keep me from making mistakes.  When it came time for post-secondary education, my teachers, parents, and peers encouraged me to study business because it was a “safe bet” and “would open up opportunities”.  So, I took everyone’s advice and earned a Business degree.  I began working as a Merchandizing Analyst immediately after graduating and soon discovered that I had jumped into a job that was fun, but left me feeling unfulfilled. After three years of working, I had become comfortable and stagnant.  There was nothing wrong with the job itself and I liked the people I worked with, but I couldn’t kick the nagging feeling that something was missing.

 

I decided to make a career change. Fast-forward to today. I have another degree, I’ve completed almost a year in the Graduate Development Program (GDP) at GALE, and most importantly, I’ve found my passion. Reflecting on my journey, I have gained some perspectives that I would like to share.

 

Take Chances

Leaving my Analyst role, moving to Canada, and going back to school was a daunting move and it definitely wasn’t the “safe route”.  But I knew I wanted to find a career that would allow me to use both my left and right brain. Through a job I landed during graduate school, I was introduced to the dynamic world of digital marketing. The first thing I learned in my journey was that taking chances leads to growth. If I had never taken that leap of faith, I would have never had the opportunity to find my passion.

 

Learn by Doing

Taking the “safe route” is somewhat ingrained in me.  I often find myself hesitant to speak up unless I am an expert on the topic.  However, during my time at GALE, I’ve realized it’s okay to not always be an expert. The concept of the GDP in itself is to learn as much as possible about four (yes four!) different domains in just one year.  Throughout the program you are constantly encouraged to share and contribute.

 

In the first two weeks of the Performance Marketing rotation, my manager asked me how I felt about helping with some Javascript related work. I am not a coder and had no idea what Javascript was, but something was nudging me to say “yes”. During my Communications rotation, I was tasked with organizing a photo shoot – another thing I’d never done before. Not only did I enjoy both projects, I was successful! Previously, I would have played it “safe” and avoided putting myself in a position where tasks like these were possible. Exposure to new experiences has taught me that the thought of doing something new is often more daunting than the act of doing it.

 

Be a “Student” Forever

You can easily get too comfortable. To avoid this, it is critical to continuously push yourself. For me, this means stepping out of my comfort zone and acting on curiosity. When I started at GALE last summer, I was invited to a training session on a UX design tool called Sketch.  Knowing I had a UX rotation down the road, I decided to attend. I expected the training to be for junior associates. Instead, I walked into a room of people across all levels, including people who aren’t even designers. I was amazed. GALE exemplifies what it is to be curious and “be a student” throughout your career.

 

With only two months left in the GDP, I am on my final rotation and my understanding of digital marketing is vastly different from when I began. My time in the Graduate Development Program has given me the opportunity to meet people with both broad and specific skillsets. By pushing myself out of the “safety net” of a traditional corporate position, I have learned more about myself and enjoyed the process along the way.  This program has enabled me to learn by doing and to always stay curious.

Maithri Swamy
Marketing Consultant, Rotational Program