Don’t Let These 5 Career Change Myths Hold You Back

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How old were you when you chose your career path? 

Likely it was some time in your early 20s — when you chose your university or college major, started looking for full time work, or maybe just felt societal pressure to make a decision about what career you wanted to pursue. 

Whenever it was, you’re likely a different person then you were at that age. You know more, there are new career options and your interests might have changed altogether. People evolve, and it’s okay for your career to evolve with you. 

But a big change comes with obstacles, both internally and externally. 

“I’m not good enough”

 “It’s financially impossible” 

“I don’t have the right connections”

…these are some of the lies we tell ourselves that get in the way of making a positive change. We get it, change is scary and hard. But you know what’s more scary? Staying in a job you don’t like. That’s why it’s time to put those anxieties aside.

In this blog, we’ll walk you through some common career change myths and actionable steps to help you overcome your fears.

Myth 1: You need to start from scratch

Myth 2: You need to make a drastic change to be happy

Myth 3: You’re too old to change careers

Myth 4: You’ve failed at your current career

Myth 5: Your new career need to be your forever career

Myth 1: You need to start from scratch

Truth: Starting a new career rarely means you’re starting from scratch. Even if you’re making a drastic change, there are a lot of skills you can take with you from one career to the next. 

Let’s look at an example. Say a construction worker wants to switch into digital marketing. Those are two drastically different industries and your first thought may be that there’s no overlap. But if you look closer, you can find valuable transferable skills like: 

  • Problem-solving
  • Communication and organization
  • Teamwork
  • The ability to learn quickly
  • Understanding of technologies

So when you switch careers, you’re not starting at the beginning — your building on the skills you already have and also bringing a new perspective to the work that’s highly valuable. After all, a team of people from the same background with the same specializations isn’t as effective as diverse thoughts and opinions.  

So instead of thinking of a career change as completely starting over, here are some things you can do to leverage the experience you already have: 

  • Identify the transferable skills you’ve built. Write down how they’ll help you succeed in your new role. This will be helpful for your own confidence, as well as promoting yourself in job applications and interviews.
  • Explicitly call out those skills. When applying for new roles, call out those skills and position your range of experience as a strength rather than a weakness. 

Myth 2: You need to make a drastic change to be happy

If you’re not happy in your current job, it might feel like the only way to find something you love is to go back to the drawing board — get a new degree, make a whole new network of contacts, or completely change industries. 

Truth: In reality, you may only be slightly off from the path you want to be on. Before you burn your laptop and quit your job, consider what it is that you’re missing  and ask yourself the tough questions

Are you looking to start something totally new, or do you simply need to make a slight shift? This shift could include learning a new skill to work on different projects, asking your manager if there’s an opportunity to move departments, or taking a course to brush up on a topic of interest.

Here are some tips to figure out what kind of change you’re looking for:

  • Ask yourself: What gives me energy and what drains me? This is an important question to ask to understand what you enjoy doing and how you want to develop. You may find there are only a couple of projects you’re working on that drain your energy. What do they have in common? How can you do less of those activities? 
  • Shadow people. Are there jobs that sound really cool to you? Shadow people in those roles, or ask for an informational interview, to get a better sense of what their day-to-day looks like. There may be things you like and things you don’t like — getting a better sense of what excites you will help you better navigate your own career.
  • Take advantage of your company’s learning budget. If you’re fortunate enough to have a learning budget at your current job, try taking some courses to develop skills in areas of interest. 

Myth 3: You’re too old to change careers

Truth: We don’t know who needs to hear this, but you are never too old to change careers.

In fact, there are many studies that show a “headstart” can actually undermine long-term development. Plus, this AIER study found, out of the older adults trying to switch careers, most were successful — and the majority of them reported feeling happier. 

While it can feel more daunting to change careers as you get older, you’re definitely not alone in the jump. You don’t have to take our word for it. Some of the most successful people switched careers at what is deemed to be a “later” age. 

Famous cook and TV personality, Julia Child, worked in advertising and didn’t publish her first cookbook until she was 50 years old. 

You may have heard of the iconic fashion designer, Vera Wang, who didn’t start in fashion until she was 50 years old. Prior to that she worked as a journalist and figure skater.

Taikichiro Mori became the richest man in the world, after leaving his career as a professor in his mid-50s to found a real estate company in Tokyo. 

All that being said, change is hard at every age. Here are some tips for making the switch if you’re feeling like it’s too late: 

  • Tap into your support system. Ask the people around you for help. For example, if you’re making the transition when you have a family, you may need support picking your kids up from school, or watching them when you have a job interview. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s harder when you do things alone. 
  • Lean on your transferable skills. With age comes experience. Even if it’s not the exact experience you need for your new career, it will come in handy. Don’t hide the skills you’ve developed, highlight them.  

Myth 4: You’ve failed at your current career

Truth: Quitting gets a bad rap. 

In reality, sticking with something that you don’t enjoy or isn’t supporting your growth, is much worse than quitting. Changing careers doesn’t mean you’ve failed at your current career — it just means you’re ready to be challenged in a new way. 

In fact, staying in a career that’s not serving you is arguably the easier route. Moving careers takes a lot of courage and strength. Leaving your current career isn’t a failure. On the contrary, It’s a huge achievement. 

Here are some tips to help you stop looking at switching careers as synonymous with failing:

  • Reframe the narrative. This one sounds simple, but how you talk to yourself and to others about career change will influence how you feel about it. Make sure your framing it as an achievement rather than a failure — because it is.
  • Make a list of all the benefits of switching careers. The above point might be easier said than done. Putting all the benefits into writing gives you something to refer back to if those doubtful thoughts start to creep back in. 

Myth 5: Your new career will be your forever career

Truth: You don’t need to choose between two careers and stick with them for life. Instead, think about how each job will help build skills that can translate into other industries down the road.

Moving careers can feel like a big decision — and it is. But don’t let it feel too big to approach. 

No decision needs to be forever. 

To make the decision seem less intimidating, try taking these steps: 

  • Set goals. What are your high level 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year goals? Understanding the direction you’re trying to go will help you get a grip on how you see your life evolving. For example, maybe a 5-year goal is to be financially stable. That doesn’t mean you’re going to stay in your new career forever, it means your new career is a stepping stone on the way to that stability. So set goals, but also keep in mind, they’re allowed to change as you do.
  • Break down your goals into smaller steps. Adding smaller objective to help you reach your larger vision makes them feel less daunting and way more achievable. 

Source

Go for what you want 

The moral of the story is: sometimes, it’s okay to leave a situation to find something better. 

Changing careers doesn’t come with an age limit, it doesn’t mean giving up or being a failure. Rather, it means recognizing the situation you’re in, and that there are alternatives available to you.

You spend the majority of your time at work. So make sure you’re doing something you enjoy, something that gives you energy and that you feel proud of. In the words of writer Annie Dillard, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” 

For more on how to switch careers, check out our “Landing Work You Love” ebook.

3 Things we Learned from HR Leaders at the Talent Acquisition Institute ‘22 Event

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The month of May is traditionally associated with new beginnings. In many parts of the world students graduate in May, moving onto their next level of education or into the workforce. How fitting, then, that last month, we attended the Talent Acquisition Institute event in Nashville, Tennessee from May 15th to 17th. Across the street from the conference at Vanderbilt University, just a few days earlier LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman delivered the university’s 2022 commencement speech.

The Talent Acquisition Institute event represented the opportunity for a new beginning for the over 70 talent acquisition leaders who had come together for the opportunity to share experiences with each other through this unfathomable era that has been dubbed the great resignation. Most importantly, it brought us all together to learn from some of the top talent acquisition minds in the industry about what we can–and must–do to adapt with these changing times and build a robust workforce of the future.

We learned so much from the leaders and my colleagues, not only about the shared challenges we are all facing when it comes to filling talent needs, but about the employment landscape as a whole. These are different times in talent acquisition, this is a different workforce, and it demands of us a different approach.

Here are three great takeaways from the Talent Acquisition Institute Event:

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Goals Remain Elusive

Creating a more diverse workforce in 2022 is not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. People not only want to know that companies are setting DEI goals and making promises to intentionally cultivate a more diverse workforce, they want to know specifically how they are achieving them. The sad reality is, many are not. This is not for lack of want, it’s for lack of imagination. While talent acquisition leaders are being charged with new diversity hiring goals, few really know where to start and are floundering to actually achieve them.

Leaders at the Talent Acquisition Institute event reiterated what we’ve been noticing here at General Assembly. Talent Acquisition leaders are working from an outdated playbook that has them posting on hiring boards, social selling, and promoting on their own sites in a rinse and repeat cycle that is as unimaginative as it is unproductive. Pair that with the problem of “kitchen sink” job descriptions that list too many skills, and the fact that businesses are weeding out candidates because they don’t check a “college degree” box even though they may have the actual set of skills that would best equip them to perform that role, and, well, it’s no surprise we’re not finding the right people for the right jobs.

A new opportunity: 

To truly create a more diverse workforce, businesses must commit to making a change in the way they seek, attract, and retain talent. For starters, take the time to craft job descriptions that actually describe the job. Simple, but effective. Break free from the habit of relying on old-school measures of success (ie college degrees) and shift your mindset to be skills-based (can this person do the job). This means considering talent with non-traditional backgrounds and eliminating or de-emphasizing the requirement that applicants have a college degree.

Most businesses are not currently reskilling to fill much needed junior tech roles

While all of the leaders we spoke with were dealing with a tech talent shortage and were actively looking for new and innovative ways to fill their most important digital roles in software engineering, data, and UX design, few had embarked on reskilling efforts, internally or externally.

Charles Darwin once said, “​​It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”

The employment environment is changing. Talent acquisition leaders must adapt. If they don’t try something new, they are going to continue struggling to bridge the ever-widening talent gap. It is not hyperbolic to recognize that hiring managers missing their goals today may result in businesses failing tomorrow. Consider that Korn Ferry warns in 2030 the talent shortage could result in about $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenues. Similarly, IBM predicts that due to automation, 120 million workers in the world’s 12 largest economies may need to be retrained.

A new opportunity:

Companies need to create real opportunities for reskilling and talent mobility to avoid mass displacement. However, it’s important to know that not all reskilling efforts are created equally. Leaders need to ensure they choose a vendor who acts as their partner every step of the way. Seek to choose a partner who has a strong background with the results to show it, as well as a vendor who has expertise in the entire talent supply chain– sourcing, screening, training and onboarding.

The Great Resignation is Real– and it isn’t slowing down

While the news cycle tells a different story of the Great Resignation nearly every week– what we heard in the room at the Lowes Vanderbilt Hotel from my talent acquisition colleagues is that in the United States, we are still very much in the thick of it.

Even though we’d all like to believe that the Great Resignation is drawing to a close, many talent leaders expressed that this is simply the next normal, admitting they would just need to adapt to it. To that end, they are focused on doing the best they can to develop a solid bench of talent to have at the ready.

A new opportunity:

While developing a stable of talent during a talent shortage can feel like a near-impossible task, focusing on skills-based hiring and removing limitations such as required college degrees provides a roadmap to developing a more robust pipeline of talent.

When it comes to retention, leaders voiced a commitment to  improving their culture and creating opportunities from within their existing workforce. Reskilling and upskilling provide opportunities for bored or disenchanted employees to gain new skills and build career mobility. Leaders recognized the imperative to invest in existing talent in order to retain them. Which is valuable not only considering the talent shortage, but the return on investment by retaining that employee’s institutional knowledge.

Although the event in Tennessee was brief, it was inspiring to gather with talent acquisition leaders and recognize that we are in this together, and that together we can create a new path forward. We had an amazing time meeting leaders at this year’s Talent Acquisition Institute and are already planning ahead to next year!

If you are a talent acquisition leader feeling frustrated and defeated, you are not alone. We hope these insights help you create a new approach to talent acquisition and retention, and if you want to learn more, get in touch.

Your complete guide for getting a tech job without a degree

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Working in tech means good pay, flexibility, and a chance to solve big problems and advance The tech industry also has a reputation for an having an “it” factor. Known for hip offices, perks, and collegiate atmospheres, it can seem from the outside like a party you aren’t invited to. 

Especially if you never went to college.  

We’re here with some good news: the exclusivity is ending. According to research by LinkedIn, 72% of employers think that bootcamp graduates are just as prepared and likely to be high performers as candidates with computer science degrees. Another 12% think that bootcamp grads are more prepared and more likely to succeed than traditional job candidates.

Yes, you can find a job in tech without a degree. We’ll tell you how. 

How do you get into tech without a degree? 

As the tech industry has grown, the talent pool hasn’t kept up with the labor demands. This means that recruiters are more open to alternative qualifications in hiring. 

That doesn’t mean it isn’t competitive, though. If you’re a candidate without a degree, here are three things you can do now to build your qualifications and get ready to start your job search.

  1. Map out your transferrable skills. While you might think that the service industry or teaching have nothing to do with the job you want in tech, you’d be surprised to see how many soft skills transfer. Map out your skills like project management, troubleshooting, or customer service and articulate how they relate to the job you want.
  2. Enroll in a tech bootcamp. Bootcamps are designed to fast-track career changers into the job they want. Bootcamps teach the most relevant tech skills in intensive formats, with instructor support and career services. 
  3. Build your network. It’s all about who you know. Fortunately, this is within your power to change. Start attending industry events and meetups, join online groups, and reach out to friends or acquaintances already in the industry for an informational interview. 

4 things that matter more to tech recruiters than a degree

Once you’ve started reskilling and learning how to talk about yourself, you’re ready to start your job hunt. If don’t have a college degree or haven’t held a professional position before, this process can be intimidating. 

Push away the imposter syndrome and lean into your different background as a plus. Strengths that employers cite liking across bootcamp grads include discipline, grit, diversity, and recent industry-relevant training. Here are four areas you can focus on that tech recruiters will notice:

Technical skills 

Whether it’s programming or UI design, you should have technical skills in at least one area to get a job in tech. Multiple programming languages or hard skills will make you more appealing to employers. 

Some companies use a technical interview or coding challenge to analyze a candidate’s tech skills. Others rely on your portfolio and what you say in your interview to assess your needs, so remember to highlight these in your interview.  

A portfolio of work samples

Employers care more about what you can do than your formal education. The tricky part is documenting your work and telling your story in a way that highlights your accomplishments. Create a simple website or portfolio page that shares about you, your professional background, and several samples of your work.

Being a self-starter

In the workplace, you need to problem-solve and improve skills on the go. Especially in tech, employers want team members who won’t just sit around waiting for someone to tell them what to do. 

Demonstrate your desire to learn and get better. Use your nontraditional background to demonstrate your self-discipline and ability to manage competing priorities. If you attended a bootcamp while working full-time or taught yourself skills on your own, talk about it. 

Communication skills

Even for technical roles, communication skills are important. You’ll need strong written and oral communication skills in order to collaborate with coworkers or clients. You can demonstrate these through your cover letter, portfolio, and how you conduct yourself in the interview process. Think of a situation where you’ve had to manage a complex communication or collaboration challenge, and share about that in your interview. 

If you don’t consider this your strength, put aside extra time to practice answering common interview questions. Write down your key accomplishments and run through a practice interview with a friend or mentor. Ask someone to review your resume and portfolio to make sure that it’s clear and free of typos. 

Entry-level tech jobs that don’t require a degree

So, what kind of job can you land without a degree? Here are the top entry-level jobs you can find in tech.

  • Digital marketing specialist. Digital marketing specialists design and implement digital marketing campaigns for channels including social media, PPC, and other paid digital advertising.
  • Marketing analyst. Marketing analysts analyze user research, industry data, and market conditions to determine pricing and product opportunities for a business.
  • Data analyst. Data analysts have been named one of the fastest-growing career fields in the U.S. Data analysts analyze data to help businesses make decisions for a known problem. 
  • Web designer. Web designers create designs and wireframes for how a website should look and flow.
  • UX designer. UX designers research user behavior and create the user flows, visual designs, and information architecture for websites, apps, or software. Learn more about why you should become a UX designer
  • Junior developer. Junior developers are entry-level coders who write and debug code for apps, websites, or other products. 
  • Web developer. Web designers write code to build websites.  

Companies that hire bootcamp grads

According to Career Karma, the employers hiring the largest number of bootcamp grads are Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Here are the top 10 companies hiring bootcamp grads:

  1. Amazon
  2. Google
  3. Facebook
  4. Microsoft
  5. Freelance/Self-employed
  6. JP Morgan Chase & Co.
  7. IBM
  8. Apple
  9. Accenture
  10. Booz Allen Hamilton

According to Career Karma, all of these top employers hired more bootcamp grads in the last few years. Amazon more than doubled the number of bootcamp grads it hired between 2019 and 2020. However, look outside of big tech for job opportunities as well. Many enterprise-level companies including retail, finance, defense contractors, and professional services have large tech departments with ongoing hiring needs. 

Highest-paying tech jobs without a degree

A 2020 Course Report study found that the median salary of coding bootcamp grads jumps by a massive 63% after graduation—from $40,000 to $65,000. You could pay off a house with the extra quarter of a million dollars you’d make in the next decade. 

And that’s just the starting salary. After some time in the tech industry, you can move on to higher-skilled positions that pay more. Here are a few high-paying positions in tech that bootcamp grads can hold with a little experience under their belts, with median base pay from Glassdoor. 

Software developer ($94,672). Software developers write, modify, and test code for use in software development. 

Full-stack developer ($98,185). Full-stack developers are in demand for their ability to manage both front-end and back-end development. 

Software engineer ($101,946). Software engineers apply engineering principles to program development and data management.

Data scientist ($104,568). Data scientists manage data collection and analysis and predictive modelling to interpret big data. Learn more about a career as a data scientist

Product manager ($108,375). Product managers usually come from a developer or designer background and manage the team and workflows of product development. 

No matter your area of interest, there’s a job out there for you in tech even if you don’t have a college degree. 

First, do your research to find a career track that’ll suit your strengths. Upskill through a course or bootcamp that offers mentorship and peer support. Build your online portfolio and practice interview talking points about your transferable skills. 

Put these ingredients together along with a little patience, and you’ll find the tech job of your dreams. The tech industry will grow for decades to come, meaning there’s room for everyone. 

4 Questions To Ask Yourself To Be Your Own Best Career Coach

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If finding a great, new job sounds challenging, the thought of transitioning careers altogether might feel downright insurmountable. There’s a lot to consider!

Folks will often engage a career coach when they need some extra guidance working through personal goals, professional development, and the job search process. At GA we have a team of skilled Career Coaches who play a pivotal role in our students’ job-seeking journeys. 

The value of a coach lies in their ability to listen carefully and ask you open-ended questions that spark insights and encourage self-discovery. This gained knowledge helps you navigate from where you are now to where you’d like to be.

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4 Ways to Evolve Your Hiring that Pay Dividends – Even During the Great Resignation

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Across this series, we’ve examined the opportunities that the Great Resignation opens up for businesses — from sustainable cultures to value-aligned employee loyalty, this Great Realignment enables a variety of corrections to the old, flawed ways in which we’ve worked. 

Recruiting is no different. In this post, we’ll discuss how leaders can take a fresh approach to talent to fill their open headcount with skilled and loyal new talent.

Competition for Talent is Fierce. And broken.

The world of work has evolved dramatically in recent years, but recruiting practices have not kept up. As resignations outpace hiring, leaders continue to scratch their heads, wondering why they can’t fill their open roles. The answer is simple: they insist on fighting over a pool of talent that is too small. 

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Have You Considered Exploring a UX Design Career?

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Did you know that UX designers are one of the most in-demand talents in technology today? With 87% of hiring managers saying that acquiring UX designers is a top priority. Even top job sites like Indeed and Glassdoor have ranked UX design as the fifth most in-demand role in tech. 

But is a UX design career the right fit for you? To find out, keep reading. 

WHAT IS UX DESIGN? 

The origin of user experience (UX) was first defined by Don Norman, Co-Founder of the Nielson Norman Group, in the 1990s. According to Norman, “user experience encompasses all aspects of the end-users interaction with the company, its services, and its products.” 

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Is a Data Science Career a Good Fit for You? Here’s What You Need to Know.

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So you’re thinking of a career in data science, but you’re not sure if it’s the right fit for you.  Here is your data science guide, where we break down what data science is, day in the life of a data scientist, tips from GA’s data science alumni, career opportunities, and much more. 

WHAT IS DATA SCIENCE? 

According to Berkeley, data science is the ability to take data, understand it, extract value from it, visualize it, and communicate the findings. The term “data science” was coined in 2008 when companies realized the need for data professionals to analyze immense amounts of data. 

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The Evolution Of Marketing Skills Ebook: Why Marketing Has Always Been About Change and Learning

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Marketing is moving at a blistering pace. In the past two decades, digital technologies have supercharged the industry’s evolution and propelled it into a moment as rife with challenges as it is with opportunity. 

Today, businesses and marketers are in a never-ending race to catch up with a flood of new channels and a growing set of tools. All while fielding a crowded market and swaying consumer needs. The dizzying pace of change in an industry that’s becoming increasingly digitized and data-driven is swelling skills gaps and leaving many on the verge of falling behind

The good news? Change is not new to marketing. It’s what defines it. Marketing’s evolution can be chronicled through disruptions and innovations. And marketers have long thrived on their ability to adapt on the fly and leverage new mediums, trends, and technologies to move forward and push the envelope.

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LOWER THE BARRIER TO ENTRY: 4 WAYS TO ATTRACT MORE DIVERSE JUNIOR TECH TALENT

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If we’ve learned anything from the “Great Resignation,” it’s that today’s workforce is fed up with the status quo. Beyond the ongoing flexibility debate over work-from-anywhere or work-from-the-office, today’s talent is laser-focused on diversity. Motivated by purpose alongside (and perhaps even more so than) money, today’s tech talent is tired of companies who say that diversity and inclusion, work-life balance, and empowering team cultures are important to them. They want to see the specific and tangible benchmarks in place to measure a company’s DEI progress.

If businesses want to attract more diverse junior tech talent, they need to move beyond talking the diversity talk, to walking the inclusion walk. The good news? Building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce isn’t only good for a company’s reputation, it’s good for a company’s bottom line. In a recent McKinsey study, one-third of companies that improved DEI efforts over the past five years are now financially outperforming their industry peers. 

Considering that the US Labor Department reported in March that there were 2 positions open for every employee, diversifying the workforce isn’t only vital at the recruitment level of talent management, but crucial for employee retention overall. One of the top reasons employees have cited for leaving their jobs is a company’s failure to fulfill promises to improve DEI efforts. There’s a veritable chasm between employer perception and employee reality when it comes to cultivating workplace culture. Just look at the Accenture study which found that while 68% of leaders felt they created an empowering team culture, only 36% of employees agreed with them.

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4 THINGS WE LEARNED FROM TOP DATA LEADERS AT CDO APEX EAST EVENT

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Recently the Chief Data & Analytics Officer (CDAO) Apex East gathered more than 40 enterprise data leaders from businesses like Unilever and Walmart. Since data analytics is one of the fastest-growing fields today, we were excited to attend and learn more about how leading enterprises are creating data-driven cultures and implementing emerging technologies like AI and machine learning (ML).

While the event covered important technical topics ranging from data quality to data lakehouses, the biggest challenge facing data leaders wasn’t on the formal agenda. Almost everyone we spoke with echoed the same theme: recruiting, training and retaining data talent is becoming increasingly difficult in today’s hot labor market.

We spoke with multiple data leaders about how they are getting creative and innovating to solve their talent challenges.

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