Leaping into the tech world: tips for changing careers

Haley Coppins
Dec 19, 2018 · 3 min read
Viviane Chan is an iOS Apps Developer at CBC. (Ashar Shoaib/ CBC)

Viviane Chan’s iPhone changed her career in a really big way. Viviane, now a CBC iOS Apps Developer, was formerly a building architect. She cut her teeth meeting with clients, finding solutions and overseeing projects from design through to construction.

But there was something special about the small device she held in her palm that inspired her to change course and find a new path for herself.

“I realized that this device was going to create profound changes to our perception of the physical and public spaces — that it was going to change our behaviour and the way we access information,” she recalls. “The shift towards handheld technology was so fascinating for me; I wanted to be part of it.”

When Viviane began her career change, she had close to no experience in coding. She did a lot of self-teaching by reading books and blogs, accessing courses on lynda.com and raywenderlich.com, and taking an iOS Bootcamp at Lighthouse Labs.

Since shifting gears, Viviane has settled into a role at the CBC where she received technical guidance from a mentor who helped her immensely. You can see some of Viviane’s recent work on how she built an augmented reality prototype here.

We’re highlighting Viviane’s path because while her situation may be unique, her advice is universal. Here’s Viviane’s advice on changing careers, in her own words:

Recognize when you need to move on

You need to be passionate about what you are about to do, and you need to be ready to make significant changes. For me, the choice was easy; I felt that I had accomplished what I wanted to achieve in my previous career and was ready for a new adventure.

Be aware of financial challenges

Financial stability plays an important part of a career change. You will have to take into consideration the cost of continuing education and loss of income during the transition phase. If you were mid-career, you probably were making a certain amount of money and it may take some time before you can get back to the same level. You won’t make a lot of money in technology until you gain a certain amount of experience and level of skill.

Understand your work-life balance will be turned upside down

I’m a mom of two girls, which keeps me quite busy. I spoke to my family and told them that I was going to be unavailable for four months, learning and job seeking. It was important for me that they understood that I was going through a life transition and that I needed their support, but that this was going to be temporary. I am immensely grateful for my family to have stepped up and supported me during that transition. Looking back, I am happy to have set an example for my kids — showing them that women can pursue exciting tech careers and have a family. You can achieve anything you want with focus and hard work.

Be prepared to be uncomfortable

You may have just quit a job where you had a nice paycheque, along with comfort and respect. Now, you’re going to be the person in the room who knows the least. It’s weird and awkward at this stage in your life, but at the same time, it’s temporary.

Accept the prospect of failure

You are making a drastic change. It is something new and there’s no guarantee, but you need to be okay with that. You may fail, or you may succeed. At the end of the day, the struggle is real, but it’s also temporary. If you persist, you will overcome your challenges and achieve your long-term goal.

CBC’s Digital Products is packed with people who have found their way to us in interesting and sometimes surprising ways. If you’re interested in learning more about our open positions, you can read more here.

CBC Digital Labs

Telling stories about who we are, what we are doing, what we are learning, and how we are making decisions as we work to create the best possible experiences for Canadians in digital spaces.

Haley Coppins

Written by

CBC Digital Labs

Telling stories about who we are, what we are doing, what we are learning, and how we are making decisions as we work to create the best possible experiences for Canadians in digital spaces.