There’s a reason so many people choose to work in finance: It’s safe, it’s mostly secure, and there’s a pretty straight path to a finance company from business school, if you play your cards right. But if you want to still leverage your finance background while challenging yourself outside of the industry, it can be tough to figure out where to go.
It’s not as easy as sending out your resume and interviewing for positions in tech companies. There are fewer parallels than you might think between finance and tech, and as such, sometimes it’s hard to prove that you can make the leap. The good news is there are so many tech companies and startups that are willing to take on people with “unconventional” skills — in fact, it’s a really exciting time to be involved in the tech industry.
If you’re looking for suggestions or tips for how to get involved in the tech industry from a finance background, these suggestions based on my experience might help with a smoother and more successful transition:
Take advantage of companies that allow you to network and build relationships with startups: Companies like BuiltInNYC, AlleyWatch and NYC Tech Alliance exist primarily for the purpose of helping people network, connecting companies with talent while keeping new recruits informed of the changes and advancements. As Maria Katsis, CEO of BuiltInNYC, explained in an email interview, “In each market there was a burgeoning tech scene, and yet there was no good way to connect with one another and tell the city’s collective story.” These companies can provide entrepreneurs with a centralized resource that allows them to connect in ways that their resume might not allow them to, given their finance experience. A company like TechNYC helps grow the industry by attracting talent and jobs, keeping companies aware of who to hire, how to hire, and where to hire.
Network with your finance connections and more: You know better than anyone else where your strengths lie, and what better way to start your foray into a new industry than by leveraging that with your colleagues and friends? You never know who might know someone who might know someone — and when you need to reach out after establishing yourself in the finance world, they’ll probably be happy to return the favor. For example, Charlie O’Donnell is an influencer and networker who organizes gatherings of high-level entrepreneurs and lets anyone schedule time with him via “office hours,” where he opens his calendar so individuals can request a one-on-one meeting to talk about their ideas.
Stay involved in the most up-and-coming news: The Wall Street Journal and New York Times’ technology sections provide a good overview of some of the most important and relevant stories in the tech world, and all of them will be useful as you make the jump. Also great as a resource? Business Insider, which has found a niche by reporting on technology, finance, business and stocks.
As I know from personal experience, it can feel like it’s hard to succeed in a world that’s dominated by people who are passionate about technology, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for you and your finance knowledge. Some of the most successful startups and companies have been started by people who were originally in finance and made the move to technology. It’s important to find a job that leaves you happy, fulfilled, and that takes advantage of your skills.