How a senior manager at Amazon made the mid-career switch to tech and why she still encourages others to do the same despite recent layoffs
Jareen Imam, an Amazon worker, says that despite recent layoffs in the tech industry there is still plenty of opportunity to get into it if you are looking to change careers. "I think a lot of people view the tech industry as this impenetrable, monolithic thing, but it's really not," Imam said. "
Jareen Imam, 34, had been working in journalism since college. But two years ago, she eyed Amazon for a change in career path.
"I thought to myself, we have very few moments in life where we can challenge ourselves to do something different," she told Insider. "I said, 'if I don't make that change, I might not ever have the courage to do it.'"
She took the leap — she went from her position as director of social newsgathering at NBC, where she'd been for more than three years, to senior content and editorial manager at Amazon, where she's been ever since.
" stories sound like Imam's, especially involving millennials and Gen Z who are rethinking their relationship with work, quitting their jobs and seeking careers that are more lucrative, more fulfilling, or simply offer more flexibility.
And many younger workers can relate to the draw to tech. The salaries are
, and the companies have been known to
Their workers in terms of perks or benefits. A potential early-pandemic
also highlighted the widespread investments of the industry. Tech
a big share of Gen Z workers changing careers over the last few years, and on social media, people have expressed intense interest in switching over since 2020. On TikTok, for instance, the hashtag #breakintotech has over 181 million views.
But a rude awakening over the past year has disrupted the tech industry.
Tens of thousands
of workers were laid off across more than 150 companies over the past few months, including major names like Twitter, Microsoft, and Meta. Although a tight financial climate coupled with the outsize hiring in 2020 are responsible, these cuts will likely leave lasting damage on the reputations of the companies, experts
Insider's Sawdah Bhaimiya and Rebecca Knight last month.
Danny Allan, chief technology officer of Veeam software company, stated that employees and job seekers remember how companies acted during economic downturns.
But as someone who made the jump herself, Imam would recommend that those who are interested in switching to tech not be discouraged by the current climate.
For one thing, she encouraged potential career switchers to expand their outlook on what tech can be: keeping in mind health tech and fintech for instance, as well as smaller companies opening up projects for tech workers. The current crop of laid-off workers, for instance, only make up a small part of the industry, and almost 80% of laid-off tech workers found new roles within three months of searching for a new job, according to a
from November. More than half of of laid off workers ended up landing roles that paid more than their previous ones, according to an
Revelio Labs, which provides workforce-data providers, conducted a survey of laid-off workers.
"I think that folks right now who are looking to transition to tech might feel fearful of it because of the layoffs that are happening, but in reality, tech is more than just a few big companies," Imam said. "Some of the most innovative stuff actually happens with smaller, mid-tier companies."
And that's true at non-tech firms as well. Workers with experience in Web3, AI, and cybersecurity are still highly sought after, and demand for them is higher at non-tech companies than at tech firms,
She added that it was important to remember that many of the companies implementing mass layoffs are overcorrecting for the wealth of hiring they did three years ago, and that the current situation "doesn't mean that there aren't opportunities to switch over to a great tech job that will better fit your lifestyle. I think it's all about just being a bit more creative about where you're applying and what kind of jobs you're looking for."
"Tech helped me to set better boundaries for my personal and professional lives"
Not only would Imam say that a career pivot to tech is doable right now — she'd add that it could be worth it.
She worked in news for more than a decade, she said, and described herself as very "time poor," often giving up weekends and hours after work to pursue projects.
"You were convinced that it's for the greater good, so you have to sacrifice your own life for work," she said. "I think moving over to this job and tech has helped me set better boundaries about my work life and my personal life."
Imam said that she has enjoyed learning more about media in a new environment.
"There was a lot I didn't know," she said. "It was good for me to see all the different things I should learn about when it comes to advertising technology. And I felt like it really helped me understand different ways media can also make money."
A few years into her career switch, Imam reflected that transitioning from one field to another was humbling.
"I was doing a lot of filling in knowledge gaps," she said. "I think the most successful people that make transitions from different industries are the ones that recognize that there's so much that they can learn."
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