You want to make the transition from your science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) role into a “business” role. Before we get to the “how”, let’s talk about the “why”.
No career path is easy. You’ll face obstacles along any journey you take. So if you’re choosing the business side because you think it’s easier than STEM, you’ll be disappointed.
Here are some more compelling reasons to consider the switch:
- You’re too far removed from the business. This is how I felt. I almost felt like a contractor. The business would send fancy technical problems over to us, and we’d do our best to solve them. Rinse and repeat. I didn’t get to see how our customers used our products, or how our marketing or sales teams positioned or sold those products.
- Your role is too tightly focused. The beauty of a STEM background is it offers a unique qualification. You have skills few others have. But that might steer you in a direction where you’re solving the same problem, over and over. You and I…we recognize patterns. To other folks, it looks like we’re doing different things. To us, we’re working through different instances of the same problem. The “business” side can be less structured and less predictable.
- You would bring more value outside of technology. Maybe you think you’re a ho-hum scientist, engineer, technologist, or mathematician. Maybe you think you can bring more value in another part of the business, where you can bring your STEM skills to bear on non-STEM problems. I caution you to not sell yourself short. Don’t run away from STEM simply because you think you’re not good enough. Be careful with this reason.
- You don’t see an upward career progression. In some cases, the STEM career track can be limiting. It depends on how your company is structured. If your technical career would keep you in the lab, or behind a computer, you might want to transition to a more dynamic path. Also be careful here. Maybe you can have a meaningful conversation with Human Resources (HR). Don’t assume everyone knows what you want if you haven’t actually shared it. No one is going to look out for you better than you.
There are tons of reasons to stay in a STEM role or make a transition to the business side. Some of these reasons are short-sighted and will leave you unsatisfied. Others are profound and are nudging you in a more fulfilling direction.
I can’t tell you which reasons are weak and which are strong. You need to do that for yourself. Consider the “why”. Acknowledge the push versus the pull, where the push is what’s pushing you away from your current role, and the pull is what’s pulling you toward a new role.
In future posts, I’ll cover the details of how to make this kind of transition. You’ll be in better position to address the “how” after you’re comfortable with the “why”.