The Later In Life Geeky Career Leap

I began working in video games well over a decade into my career.  I was only capable of doing this after I stopped being a programmer and started being a project manager.

That sounds backwards to quite a few people, I'm sure.  I went from a young and hip programmer to a manager and THEN went into one of the geeky industries par excellence.  Actually, it's a great idea for your career – making the geeky leap later in life, at certain critical points in your career.

In my case, simply, as a programmer my specialties were not ones that would get me into gaming, and I frankly didn't think much of it – a database and inventory system developer is not exactly what companies were looking for.  But as I became a project manager, I developed (and had developed), skillsets that were transferable to other industries – knowledge of coding, project management, communication, documentation, and more.  As I evolved in my career, I evolved in ways that opened up new opportunities for me.

Now I wasn't disappointed – I've been in IT for some 14-15 years, and most of it has been a total geekfest.  But as I began charting my evolution, I also saw what options it brought me.

Consider a few things:
* If you're well along your career, is what you're doing now – or what you COULD do – transferrable to a more geeky job/industry?  Are you a manager, marketer, advertiser, analyst, tech writer, etc.?  Are you senior in your position?  Take time to look at your options and abilities and how you can transferr them – you may be surprised as I was.
* If you are starting your career out, consider how you will develop as you go along your career.  You may not be able to break into social media as a budding programmer – but what about 3 years from now when you implement social media for your current employer, or 5 years from now when you're promoted to senior programmer?  Chart your course and do your research, and you may find a career or industry change will work well for you in the years to come.

As a general rule, I find most people "move up" in their jobs every 5 years, give or take 2 or 3.  In other words they are promoted, can move to a different job higher up, get a title change, etc.  Those opportunities to move up in your career or change job types are also times you can consider an industry change – if you get promoted to senior programmer, that carries more clout when you try to, say, go work for Electronic Arts or Gaia Online.

So you don't have to do the perfect job now – maybe you can't – but if you're senior enough to have a more mobile skill set, if you're young and can look a decade into the future, that leap may come.  Do your research and be ready.

– Steven Savage