Tech career move is still a smart move: Amazon Senior Manager

  • Jareen Imam worked in news for a decade before moving into technology in 2021.
  • She enjoys a better work-life balance, she told Insider, which has been valuable to her.
  • Despite industry-wide layoffs, he says there are plenty of options for aspiring tech workers.

Jareen Imam, 34, has been working in journalism since college. But two years ago, she looked to Amazon for a career change.

“I thought to myself, we have very few moments in life when we can challenge ourselves to do something different,” he told Insider. “I said, ‘If I don’t make this change, I may never have the courage to make it.’

She made the leap — going from director of social news coverage at NBC, where she’d been for more than three years, to senior director of content and editorial at Amazon, where she’s been ever since.

Many “Great Reignation” stories sound like Imam’s, especially involving millennials and Gen Zs who are rethinking their relationship with work, quitting their jobs and seeking careers that are more lucrative, more fulfilling or simply offer more flexibility.

And many younger workers can relate to the draw with technology. Wages are often high and companies are known to spoil their employees when it comes to perks and benefits. A hiring boom since the early pandemic has also highlighted the industry’s extensive investment. Tech has attracted a large share of Gen Z workers who are changing careers in recent years, and on social media, people have expressed a strong interest in switching as of 2020. On TikTok, for example, the hashtag #breakintotech has over 181 million views.

But a rude awakening over the past year has shaken the tech industry. Tens of thousands of workers have been laid off at more than 150 companies in recent months, including big names like Twitter, Microsoft and Meta. While the tight economic climate combined with big hiring in 2020 is to blame, these cuts will likely do lasting damage to companies’ reputations, experts told Insider’s Sawdah Bhaimiya and Rebecca Knight last month.

“Employees remember and job seekers remember how organizations performed during the recession,” said Danny Allan, chief technology officer at software company Veeam.

But as someone who has taken the leap herself, Imam would advise those interested in turning to technology not to be discouraged by the current climate.

First, it encouraged potential career resellers to expand their horizons about what tech can be: keeping in mind health tech and fintech, for example, as well as smaller companies opening projects for tech workers. The current crop of laid-off workers, for example, is only a small part of the industry, and nearly 80% of laid-off tech workers found new roles within three months of looking for a new job, according to research by ZipRecruiter. since November. More than half of those laid off ended up in landing roles that paid more than their previous ones, according to an analysis of laid-off workers conducted by Revelio Labs, a workforce data provider.

“I think people who want to move into tech right now might be afraid of it because of the layoffs that are happening, but really, tech is more than just a few big companies,” Imam said. “Some of the most innovative things are actually happening with smaller, mid-tier companies.”

And that goes for non-tech companies too. Workers with experience in Web3, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity are still in high demand, and demand for them is higher at non-tech companies than at tech companies, the data shows.

He added that it’s important to remember that many of the companies implementing massive layoffs are overcompensating for the wealth of hiring they did three years ago, and that the current situation “doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to move into a great tech job that will be a better fit for your lifestyle. I think you just need to be a little more creative about where you apply and what kind of jobs you’re looking for.”

“Technology has helped me set better boundaries for my professional and personal life”

Not only would Imam say that a career shift in technology is possible right now—I’d add that it could be worth it.

She has worked in news for more than a decade, she said, and described herself as very “time-poor,” often giving up weekends and after-work hours to pursue projects.

“You were convinced it’s for the greater good, so you have to sacrifice your life for the job,” he said. “I think going into this job and technology has helped me set better boundaries for my work life and my personal life.”

Imam also added that she enjoyed expanding her understanding of media in such a diverse environment.

“There was a lot I didn’t know,” he said. “It was good for me to see all the different things there are to learn about in terms of ad tech. And I felt like it really helped me understand different ways media can make money as well.”

A few years after her career change, Imam found the transition from one field to another humiliating.

“I did a lot of filling in the knowledge gaps,” he said. “I think the most successful people who make transitions from different industries are the ones who recognize that there is so much they can learn.”

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