Seven Tips for Pursuing a New Career Outside IT

Life in IT can be thankless, but you don't have to suffer. A 25-year IT veteran turned professional coach offers advice on how she and many other technical professionals found fulfillment and fortune outside IT

Let's face it: Life in IT can be thankless. Your work often goes unnoticed, unless you do something wrong. You put in long hours, working evenings and weekends. Expectations are high. Users are seldom happy with results.

Believe me, I understand. I spent more than 25 years in IT, having started as a systems developer and ending as director of career development in a high-tech consulting company. As my career in IT evolved, I realized I enjoyed management and staff development more than technical work. After the IT downturn of 2001, I decided to begin a new career as a professional coach.

It's easy to tire of a career in IT. I've talked with dozens of technical professionals who say they are burned out or who no longer feel challenged by their jobs. Many more senior professionals are forced to consider a job outside the field after being laid off and finding it difficult to land a new job, either because their skills aren't in demand or employers don't want to pay for their experience.

You don't have to suffer in IT. If you've ever considered a career outside the profession, the following seven steps will help you make your move. They worked for me and many others, as you'll see.

1. Identify your interests: What do you like to do?

Tom Prince knew he wanted to do something besides sell CRM software when he was Siebel's vice president of sales, but he had no idea what. After he left Siebel in 2002, he and his wife Mary decided to investigate the possibility of opening a restaurant. They loved good food, dined out often and understood their local area market well. They partnered with Lorenzo Savona, a former general manager of two chic restaurants in the US, who had been planning to build a restaurant similar to the one Tom and Mary Prince envisioned. In 2004, they opened Tomasso Trattoria. Today, they also run Panzano Provviste e Vino, a market and wine shop next door to the restaurant.

"There's so much disillusionment in high-tech. You rarely get the feeling that you're selling people something they really want," says Tom Prince. "Here, we're providing something that people actually know and care about-something that people really want. Food affects their sight, their smell, their taste, their touch, all of their senses."

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