As Career changes go, Stephen Smith has been through a big one. Smith is currently a test consultant with independent software testing and training organization Planit. Hes is responsible for managing a group of testers throughout a project and completes tasks such as planning the testing effort, providing estimates on time and resources required, and defining what needs to be tested. It’s a far cry from his earlier career as a merchant seaman.
Smith has been with Planit for nearly eight years, and says he made the changE because he was interested in ICT and wanted more stability in his working life.
“Between being a merchant seaman and my current role, I worked for friends and owned a few small businesses of my own, ” he says, ” However I saw ICT as a career path I could really sink my teeth into, and I wouldn’t be away from home for six months at a time.”
He completed a computing course with a local ICT training provider that also helps its students find jobs when they have finished the training. He also took advice from friends already employed in the ICT industry.
“A friend of mine advised me to find a niche within the industry,” he says, “He suggested I become an expert in a specific area of IT- somewhere with good employment prospects, In my first job after my course I got my first taste of testing, which would become my niche.”
Smith is a logical thinker and enjoys the technical challenge of testing, he also gets a kick out of helping businesses improve their software and give their users a better experience.
Working with Planit also gives him plenty of variety in the tasks he competes and the projects he works on. Planit has clients in many different industries including banking and finance, telecommunications and retail. ” One day testers will be testing mobile systems and the next they’ll analyst website performance for a large corporate.” he says.
While he uses many skills from his previous jobs, especially soft skills needed to deal with teams of people and the requirement for attention to detail, Planit has provided extensive on-the-job training and assisted him with further accreditation in software testing.
Smith’s advice to others considering a career change is to thoroughly think it through and spend the necessary time and money updating their skills. He also recommends researching training providers and choosing the one that suits them best.
“Acquiring updated skills is an investment in yourself,” he says, “Don’t just go for the cheapest option; some providers are more expensive but offer extra services than can give you an edge over other graduates.”
The challenging nature of ICT proved a drawcard, rather than a turn-off, for one career changer. Joely Scott-Thomas, regional sales manager for BMC Software ANZ-North, began her career with a chemistry degree from the University of Nottingham in the UK but soon realized she was more interested in sales and management.
After stints in sales at the UK’s largest sock manufacturer and publisher Time Mirror International, Scott-Thomas took on a role as sales rep for electronically delivered content at the Financial Times.
“It was a golden era since many companies were setting up instranets and wanting to leverage their corporate data,” she says, ” However, the problem they were experiencing was “how do we find the right information at the right time?’ I realized there were larger budget and bigger problems to solve by just selling the search engine software upon which the FT had based their content.”
As a result of this lightbulb moment, she was offered a role in sales by each of the top four search engine software companies but decided to move to Australia where she quickly joined BMC…