Episode 20: Career change perspective with Andrew Miller


September 24th, 2019

43 mins 45 secs

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About this Episode

How do you go about considering and executing a job change? Liz & Kat talk with technologist Andrew Miller about his thoughtful process: when to leave, what to go towards, playing to your strengths, taking sabbaticals, and activating your network.

Andrew is a technologist based out of South Carolina. He started as a consultant, implementing IT systems, and then went into pre-sales consulting. He then joined the fast-growing Silicon Valley startup Rubrik where he managed a team of other technologists. After taking some time off, he is now working for Pure Storage, another Silicon Valley leader.

When Andrew evaluates a job change, he looks at the risk vs the reward. He wants a job where he cares enough to do good work, but not so much that he loses himself in the job. This is a challenge for people who work in an area that they're passionate about!

His moves have been around finding himself under stressed in a role, and lthen looking at himself and seeing if he can adapt to this environment that's causing the stress. If there is something he can’t change, and the job is turning him into someone he doesn’t want to be, he makes a change.

Big tip: make sure you’re running to something vs running from something. Always have a positive motion pulling you forwards.

We talk with Andrew about taking a break between jobs. We usually recommends against it, unless you’re someone who can do it without the stress of the unknown. We talk with Andrew about how he structures his sabbaticals. Andrew mixes personal development, family time, and travel. His sabbaticals allow him to pause himself and focus on his family and wants to take time with his kids to get to know them in each age. That kind of a break, despite the uncertainty, is an opportunity that Andrew takes advantage of.

For personal development, he reads a lot. He likes What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There and Strengths Finder tool and book to help you figure out what you’re good at.

Andrew also connects with his network when on break: he lunches and coffees with people who he would like to see more. He also asks for feedback.

There’s an agenda to sabbatical: get things done and re-engage when you are ready. Make a plan and put together your must have list through reflection, education, and meeting with your board of advisors.

Liz asks about financial security, and Andrew talks about saving for sabbatical. He looks at the total financial impact, and being on the same page with your partner in terms of the financial effects of a sabbatical. The more your personal identity is centered around your job, the harder it is. Being a whole person, with a full life outside of work, helps with that.

How Andrew makes his must-have list: #1 is practical: location, travel, and salary.; #2 is good people and technology he believes in “enough”. He reaches out to people at the company to see what it’s like there.

Tip: If you reach out to someone about a company and they don’t respond, listen to that silence….

As he's doing his search, Andrew writes notes on his white board, and uses it to reflect on roles to make sure he’s on track.

When you’re networking, you learn about what’s coming up. Sometimes with a new role or a small company, there might not even even be a job description yet, or the job description is really broad. You need to figure out what they want, how you fit, and the company may even be willing to change the role to be a better fit for you if they want you on the team.

Andrew asks questions during the interview process to evaluate roles. He tries to keep it in conversational mode vs interview mode. He asks what success looks like on different timelines. He also asks concerns at the end of each conversation.

He looks at jobs that will be a stretch, but also that use his current skills. And, if you get an opportunity and feel like you’ll regret turning it down, that’s a good indicator you should go for it. Know yourself, your strengths and what you want to bring to a role.

Once he gets the offer, how does Andrew negotiate, especially when on sabbatical? Talk with peers and do online research around pay, but also tell them where you were. Tell them you’re interviewing, and this is what you’re talking about. Be transparent with the companies you are interviewing with about where you are in the process.

Andrew approaches his career like the thoughful and thorough engineer that he is. Thanks, Andrew, for sharing how you are managing your successful career!

Andrew Miller's Twitter: @andriven