Welcome to Part Two of our series focused on career change! In our first post, we explored the concept of “walking the walk” as it pertains to career change, with the main idea being that it’s not enough to just learn the skills—you have to use them. Why? So that when a new career opportunity emerges, you’ve got evidence of your experience at the ready.
Let’s begin with an understanding of what we mean when we say it’s important to “talk the talk” in the context of trying to execute a successful career change. Basically, what we’re referring to is a mindset shift. You want to be a data scientist? Start acting like one. When people ask about your career, don’t say, “I want to be a data scientist.” Say, “I am a data scientist.”
But what if I don’t actually have a JOB as a data scientist?
That’s why we started this series with walking the walk! If you followed our advice, and started applying your skills in areas like internships, volunteer opportunities, and open source projects, then you have a portfolio, and you have experience. So you ARE a data scientist.
But what if someone asks me where I work?
Easy. You tell them about the project you just finished, or the one you’re working on, or the one you’re about to start. That’s how walking the walk supports talking the talk.
This is a really important concept to understand, because what we’re talking about here is networking, and this mindset shift is going to change how you network. Talking the talk means you’re not looking for jobs anymore—you’re looking for people. Because remember … you ARE a data scientist.
Jamaal Davis is a graduate of Udacity’s Digital Marketing Nanodegree program, and he’s now working as a Digital Coordinator for Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania. We met him in our first post, and heard how “walking the walk” helped him with his career change. When Jamaal joined us for a panel discussion about career change, he said something really powerful about networking that I want to share with you here:
I found my new job through all the community organizing I was doing. I heard that Google gave Goodwill a very big grant, and that they were looking for somebody to help manage their program. I reached out to a couple of my connections on LinkedIn, and they gave me the opportunity to come interview, and I gave a presentation. The very next day after I did the presentation, they called and offered me the job. But I think for me, it was the fact that I had such a good buy-in, that by the time I got there, they were already excited.
I had such a good buy-in. That’s the key phrase. What Jamaal is saying here, is that his connections already believed he was the one for the job. Because he was! Because he didn’t just walk the walk, he talked the talk. He didn’t WANT to be a Digital Coordinator. He WAS a Digital Coordinator! THEIR Digital Coordinator. The presentation was a formality. Thanks to his mindset, the job was already his before he even got there.
Talking the talk
Xi Palazzolo is a two-time Nanodegree grad who originally trained to be a veterinarian in China. Today, she works as an Advanced Analytic consultant in Detroit, Michigan, helping to develop machine learning algorithms for business clients. Xi joined Jamaal for our career change panel, and when discussing the idea of elevator pitches, she delivered in one sentence a near perfect enactment of talking the talk in action:
I say, “My name is Xi Palazzolo. I am a data scientist, and I like to use data science techniques to help my clients advance their business performance. I’m passionate about data analytics.”
So simple things like that, because calling out the things you want people to focus on is very important. Also, look into the mirror; look at yourself, and practice the elevator pitch. I think that’s a good way to introduce yourself and let people memorize you. What are the key things that you want people to remember about you after they’ve walked away from the meeting?
Let people memorize you. That’s it, right there. If you can get to the point where you’re ready to let people memorize you, then you have fully executed the mindset shift from wanting to be something, to being that something. And that’s what talking the talk is all about.
Stay tuned for Part Three, where we go deeper into networking!