#CareerCon2019: Three Keys to Help ‘Silicon Valley’ Your Career
You don’t have to work in the popular technology region in California to have your career experience the growth associated with the area
Home to many start-up and global technology companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google; Silicon Valley is widely associated with growth and innovation. So much so that aspiring tech founders and professionals consider the southern San Francisco Bay Area of California as something of a Graceland, Hollywood, or Mecca, where finding themselves working or conducting business there is an achievement in itself.
Understandably, Silicon Valley isn’t the easiest place to get to, but, with that said, it also isn’t the most necessary when building a career in the tech industry. Speaking at the first ever CareerCon held at the end of last July at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City, Cardinal Digital Co-Founder and CEO Natalie Nguyen, herself having spent time in Silicon Valley, shares that the place can also be a mindset.
Know what you want and how much you’re willing to risk for it
According to Nguyen, to Silicon Valley your career is to first know what you want (i.e. is it really the career you want), because it’s at this point when be able to best commit to your goals and go deep into expanding your career.
“Figure what you want. This is important, because if you do it inaccurately, you’ be stuck with something you don’t want. Ask yourself the hard questions. Not just about what work you like to do, but what lifestyle you want to keep, what is the risk appetite you have.”
Indeed, the founders of successful Silicon Valley companies risked a lot to start, and continue, their companies, and it stands to reason that professionals also acknowledge the amount of risks they are willing to take for the career/s they want.
Find out what you’re good at
As much as you should consider your interests and desires, it is also important to include the things you are good at in your career considerations. This, Nguyen shares, might even be the most important aspect of your career, as it is what it will mostly be built on.
“After figuring out what you want, figure out what you’re good at, and knowing both will lead you to the career that is for you. Because what you’re good at is what you have to offer, especially in the beginning when you have little experience or (other) skills to speak of, and also embodies the potential you have.”
Startups that succeeded in Silicon Valley, and elsewhere, often had nothing more than a great idea to offer when they started, and like them, what you’re good at is what you leverage when taking the initial steps towards your career goal/s. These can range from your eye for detail, your analytical or negotiation skills, creativity, knack for problem solving, design skills, medical training, and the like.
Connect and Establish Community
Like the start-up community, you can also Silicon Valley your career by taking on a new business’ mentality of offering product or services (or in this case your time and/or skills) not in exchange for monetary fee (at least not yet), but rather for experience and or exposure.
According to Nguyen, Companies starting out and still making a name for themselves do this to raise their brand and product awareness, and can be the same way that you get to learn many things you need in your chosen industry.
“Offer to do free work, because as companies are willing to take free labor, they’ll also be training you.”
In addition, Nguyen says that like new businesses, it is good to connect with others in your chosen space or industry to know more about the inner workings of the market, how you can bring value to it, and to meet possible mentors, partners, and colleagues.
“Stay curious. Ask why you’re doing something, how you can make it better. Reach out to people who are in the roles you want, and ask about how it’s like to be working in that job.”
She also says to not be worried about appearing too put together for the sake of seeing others as competition instead of allies.
“Have a positive attitude. Having people hear your strengths and weaknesses is not easy, but being pessimistic about it won’t make it easier.”
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