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3 Common Barriers to a Successful Career Change–and How to Work Through Them

By Laura Lewis

Woman shakes hand with interviewer

Termed, “The Great Resignation,” a mass exodus of workers leaving their jobs is just one of many sweeping workplace changes sparked or heightened by Covid-19. If you’re hoping to become one of those workers, you’re in good company, as the rate of Americans now looking for a career change has held steady at around 55% since July 2021.

As a result, employers of all industries are offering incentives like improved health benefits, remote flexibility, and higher salaries to attract new talent. But job availability doesn’t always translate to job opportunity–and those looking to switch careers entirely tend to face a different set of challenges.

At Cal Poly Extended Ed Tech Bootcamps, we’ve heard from prospective students across the country that - while they know online tech bootcamps are proven to jumpstart careers - the difficulty comes with putting together a viable plan to make it happen.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the most common barriers to a successful career transition paired with the resources, tips and tricks, or accessible tools to succeed despite them. Whether you’re just thinking about it or already making moves, read on to learn how to overcome roadblocks in your career change journey–or at least help you better understand the process.

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Career Change Barrier: Not Knowing Where or How to Get Started

The Plan: Make It Personal

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the steps needed to make a successful career transition, especially if those steps include learning new skills.

Between hundreds of conflicting Google results, aggressive targeted ads, and advice from friends, how do you know which learning path or program is right to get you the skills you need?

If the sheer amount of resources out there feels daunting, start by taking a step back. Consider the things you already know: your skills, goals, preferences, day-to-day schedule, etc. A personal lens helps you narrow your options and define actionable next steps. Focus on real-life results and testimonials of others, too–particularly those with similar backgrounds who’ve successfully made the leap. Make a list of the questions you need answered to make an informed decision and browse specific program reviews on LinkedIn, Google, and tech training blogs like Career Karma. Then, reach out directly to the programs you’re interested in to get personalized answers to any remaining questions.

Career Change Barrier: Education Is too Expensive

The Plan: Find Your Return On Investment (ROI)

Practically every barrier to career transition can be traced back to the finite nature of time or money–or both. No one can tell you the absolute best way to invest your most precious resources, but just as in the step above, you can determine if an investment is worthwhile for you, and how to work toward it.

This is done by calculating your ROI for any given career education or training program. You’ll want to collect info on a program’s schedule and format options, their associated costs and class times, and typical results you can expect from your investment.

Pay close attention to an institution’s employment rates and reputation, plus industry need, salary information, and the higher end of time-and-money-investments needed to determine its worth. Then, calculate your current day-to-day ROI and compare them.

With all this information on the table, you can now front-load your most important current investments to help create time for new ones. From there, it’s just a matter of using that time to research and consider the best financial plan to support your career journey.

Career Change Barrier: Imposter Syndrome

The Plan: Defeat It!

Because feeling like an outsider is a universal experience when you’re starting a new chapter, it’s often overlooked as just another part of the process. When that feeling progresses to imposter syndrome, though, giving up may seem like the only solution. Instead of giving up, our Career Coaches at Cal Poly Extended Ed Tech Bootcamps recommend looking for or creating a support system.

Cal Poly Extended Ed Tech Bootcamps Career Coaches swear by student advocacy and support to help students combat imposter syndrome. That’s because - while imposter syndrome is a personal barrier to career transition success - it also truly takes a village to overcome it.

You can seek student support even before you decide on a bootcamps or other educational programs by immersing yourself in online communities of potential industry peers. Try forum sites like Reddit or follow career blogs and LinkedIn profiles to keep track of current events, or apply your Google search terms to Twitter and Instagram to make a direct connection. Online communities are full of prospective students on the same journey, so even just observing these conversations can help you align and realize your objectives.

We’re all almost too aware of the reasons not to do something. Less apparent, though, are the smaller, actionable steps we may be able to take to reach our goals in spite of both real and imagined barriers. Remember to build and conceptualize your plan around the resources available to you now, then approach those you still need (like direction, time and money, and a renewed mindset) the same, methodical way.

Looking for a career in tech? Learn about Cal Poly Extended Ed Tech Bootcamps student outcomes, career coaching services, and alums network to help decide your next steps.

Learn coding skills for free.

Take our free prep course, Intro to Coding, to get started on your tech journey.