Making a career change inherently means that my past professional background and experience in the pharmaceutical industry will differ from the backgrounds of most of the people working in design at say an agency or firm. Maybe these people have formal degrees in the associated disciplines or the industry has in essence turned them into lifers by way of years of experience. It’s easy to let this fact intimidate me as I continue my work, meet people and speak with prospective employers. Sure, there will be some people who look at a background that seems radically different than theirs as a hindrance…but I actually look at it as an interesting strength.
Imagine a team comprised of all amazingly bright people, but completely homogeneous when it comes to professional background and training. A team such as this is perfectly great and will probably produce great results. On the other hand, a team comprised of capable people with diverse backgrounds can not only produce great results but can also benefit from different perspectives, ideas and ways of thinking. It has been proven and studied that innovation and new ideas form quicker in an environment where team members contribute in their own ways and can offer unique points of view.
I argue that my background and training will offer a fresh perspective. Yes, there is a caveat to all of this - A diverse background alone is not enough to make someone a great candidate and magically boost a team’s strength. It is important that the prospective team member prove that he/she is able to transfer skills, have a solid understanding of the business, ability and healthy desire to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible. They must also have a desire and passion for the work at hand.
I don’t look at my professional background as "different" in a negative connotation, it’s a unique strength and I am excited to add my perspective to a team and have the opportunity to learn as much as possible.