The 8 Golden Rules of Pathways

20 december 2023

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Your Guide to a Successful IT Orientation!

This text is undoubtedly the most important one you’ll read throughout your Pathways journey. Perhaps you’re genuinely curious about how to make the most of Pathways. Or maybe you’re participating because a career professional recommended it. It’s also possible that you see Pathways as a stepping stone to getting admitted into a Techgrounds Academy program.

Whatever your reason, you now have a unique opportunity that could change your life forever. Sure, you could breeze through all the modules in an hour and a half, just to say you’ve done Pathways. That’s your prerogative. But why not grab a nice drink, settle in comfortably, and start with an open mind? Dive into every domain, even those that might seem dull at first. At worst, you’ll broaden your T-shape (you’ll learn more about this later). But in the best and most likely scenario, you’ll find your future. That’s surely worth some effort, right? So, let’s start with these golden rules. They’re here to help!

Golden Rule No. 1: There’s No Wrong Choice in IT

With 10 domains and 181 IT functions, the biggest pitfall for Pathways participants seems to be the fear of making the wrong choice. Understandable. You’re looking for a job where you work with joy every day and, let’s be honest, earn a good living. But remember: your IT career probably won’t start with your dream job. Every step you take is a step forward, even if it doesn’t seem perfect right away.

Every Choice Takes You Further

So, don’t think in terms of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Every choice you make gives you new insights and skills. We’ve seen numerous participants who thought they made a ‘wrong’ choice, but this experience turned out to be indispensable for their later success. We’ve also seen participants who were sure their choice was perfect, only to move to a role they found even more enjoyable within a year.

Explore, Choose, and Switch

Five years ago, AI was more science fiction, and today, with ChatGPT, Bing, Gemini, and Bard, it’s a daily reality. We both don’t know where IT will be in 5 years. Maybe you’re the person who will discover and develop it. But you’re not there yet. In IT, it’s often about trying something on your journey and then discovering what truly suits you. The beauty is, once you know the different paths, you can easily switch or adjust. That’s why it’s important to study ALL domains and understand what they entail. Who knows, you might end up there after all.

Focus on the Journey, Not the Destination

In IT, your career path is not linear. You might start in tech support and grow into cybersecurity, or begin as a Salesforce admin and end up… wherever you want. It’s not about where you end up, but the journey to get there. So, it’s also unrealistic to choose an advanced role and expect to start there. When you choose IT and a domain, your career begins with an entry-level position, where you’ll learn a lot.

Ask yourself what you need now and what’s achievable. Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk didn’t start in the roles they have now. So learn, gain experience, and seize opportunities. Through your growing knowledge and experience, you’ll eventually get to where you want to be.

Golden Rule No. 2: More Than Technical Content

With Pathways, you’ll gain a basic understanding of four programming languages, but it’s not a technical training program. Pathways goes much beyond teaching technical skills. It’s a journey of discovery, helping you not just to find a great IT job and training provider, but also to uncover the start of your career path. While mastering technical hard skills is achievable with dedication, your preferences and soft skills determine how successful you can be.

Discover Your Passion and Ideal Work Environment

During Pathways, we explore with you not only which IT function suits you but also the type of work environment and company culture that appeals to you. Do you want to work in a large corporation or prefer a start-up vibe? Are you looking for a job with flexible hours, or does a traditional 9-to-5 suit you better? What soft skills define you and determine which roles fit you? These are all questions we’ll answer together.

Stories from Alumni

Our alumni come from diverse backgrounds and interests, and their stories show how they started sustainable careers in IT with their unique desires and soft skills. Take Bianca, a math teacher who couldn’t stand all day due to back problems, or Lalinka, a Salesforce specialist who struggled to find a job post-study due to her wheelchair. Then there’s Guillermo, a cloud engineer who hopped from one temporary contract to another at Schiphol, seeking a permanent position. You can read more about their experiences on our blog page.

More Than a Job, a Lifestyle

Pathways teaches you that a career in IT is more than just a job; it’s a lifestyle. You choose to keep learning for the rest of your life and remain curious about the latest developments in your field. It’s about finding a work-life balance that suits you.

Golden Rule No. 3: Reskilling is Not a Solo Journey

Stronger Together: The Power of Peer Learning

Reskilling is an adventure you don’t have to embark on alone. Finding a learning buddy or being part of a study group can make a huge difference in your learning process. In the first weeks, you might run on willpower and adrenaline, but inevitably, you’ll face challenges and tough moments. That’s where peer learning, learning ‘with and from each other,’ becomes invaluable.

The Strength of Collaboration

By gathering buddies around you, you create a supportive network where you can grow together. Sharing knowledge, solving problems together, and motivating each other during tough times are just a few benefits of peer learning.

Success Stories of Peer Learning

We’ve seen numerous participants who, by forming study groups or finding a learning buddy, achieved their goals faster and more effectively. For instance, there was a group that set up and executed a complex IT project, which would have been a huge challenge individually. Another example is a duo that helped each other prepare for job interviews, resulting in successful job offers for both.

Growing Together

Remember, reskilling into IT is a journey you take with others. By embracing the power of peer learning, you not only enrich your own learning experience but also contribute to the growth of others. So, make sure to gather buddies around you for this journey together.

Golden Rule No. 4: Orientation is a Journey, Not a Sprint

Take Your Time: Patience and Perseverance

Dear Perfectionist, take a deep breath and give yourself time 😀! It’s completely normal not to understand or know everything from day one. You don’t need to make a definitive choice about which IT domain suits you best in the first week. Allow yourself the space to grow and explore.

Maintain Your Boundaries

It’s important to respect your own limits and not rush. By giving yourself time to thoroughly understand all 10 domains, you’ll better absorb what you learn and naturally discover what truly fits you. The answers to your questions and the direction you seek in IT will come to you in due course. Sometimes, the lightbulb moments happen on the last day of training, or even a week later. So, let go of the urge to find the ideal job right away and focus first on discovering IT.

Tips for Sustainable Learning

1. Set achievable goals: Start with small, manageable goals and build from there.
2. Be curious: Stay open to new ideas and approaches.
3. Seek support: Don’t hesitate to ask for help when needed.
4. Reflect regularly: Take time to look back at what you’ve learned and how far you’ve come.

Remember, a career in IT is a continuous journey of learning and development. It’s not a race to the finish but a path of ongoing growth and discovery.

Golden Rule No. 5: Focus on Knowing, Not Just Doing

The Difference Between Knowing and Doing

Within Pathways, it’s crucial to understand the difference between ‘knowing’ – grasping the basic principles and theory – and ‘doing’ – executing practical skills. While ‘doing’ is about applying skills directly, ‘knowing’ involves understanding the foundations upon which these skills are built. This knowledge is essential for deep understanding and long-term success in IT.

Enhancing Your Pathways Experience Through Knowledge

By focusing on ‘knowing’, you get more out of your Pathways experience. You develop a deeper understanding of IT concepts, which is vital for making informed choices and finding your path in the IT world. This approach not only helps during training but also in your future career, where a thorough understanding of IT principles is indispensable.

Knowledge as the Foundation for Growth

Participants who adopt this approach find they are better equipped to solve complex problems and devise innovative solutions. Knowledge gives you the tools not just to execute but to innovate and lead in your IT career.

Golden Rule No. 6: Take Charge of Your Pathways

Pathways is all about self-discovery and self-direction. The Pathways team provides information, direction, perspectives, and points of reference, but not ready-made advice.

By the end of Pathways, you won’t need a helping hand to determine your next steps.

Your Role in the Orientation Process

Orientation coaches, external experts, and workshop facilitators are there to provide insights and different perspectives. They help you explore the world of IT, but it’s up to you to determine what suits you best. This approach encourages you to actively participate in your own learning process.

Independence and Personal Responsibility

This approach emphasizes the importance of independence and personal responsibility in your learning journey. It’s up to you to seize opportunities and make the most of them. Orientation coaches won’t chase after you if you approach Pathways lackadaisically. Not just in the learning process, but throughout your entire IT career, you won’t be handheld or spoon-fed. Pathways lays the foundation for becoming a proactive, independent IT professional.

You Determine Your Path

By taking control, you not only develop a deeper understanding of IT but also learn key skills like self-reflection and decision-making. These are essential skills that will aid you in your future career. The Pathways platform is constantly growing and updating, so you can continue to use it in the future.

Golden Rule No. 7: Employability and Your IT Portfolio

Build Your Portfolio from Day One

Employability in the IT sector starts during your time at Pathways. This is your chance to build a portfolio of your experiences and projects. This portfolio is not just proof of your skills but also a crucial tool for discussions with future employers. Ensure you archive all your work well and can present it easily when preparing for job interviews.

Networking and Professional Attitude

Be aware that during various sessions and projects at Pathways, you can already catch the eye of potential employers or scouts. Therefore, a professional learning and working attitude is essential. Networking with fellow students, coaches, and guest lecturers can also open valuable doors for your future career.

Tips for a Strong Portfolio

1. Document your projects: Keep a detailed record of the projects you’ve worked on, including your role, technologies used, and results achieved.
2. Reflect on your learning process: Add reflections on what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown during each project or module.
3. Be ready to share: Ensure your portfolio is available both digitally and in print for interviews and networking events.

By actively working on your portfolio and maintaining a professional attitude during Pathways, you lay a solid foundation for your future career in IT.

Golden Rule No. 8: Develop Core IT Skills

The Core of IT: Self-Directed Learning and Collaboration

Pathways emphasizes self-directed learning and the acquisition of essential skills for every IT professional. During Pathways, you’ll learn how to effectively learn independently and grow with others. You develop a ‘learning mind’ and toolset that are crucial in the rapidly changing world of IT.

Practical Application in IT

You’ll learn how to upskill yourself through learning platforms, how to earn certificates, and how to collaborate on projects and with which tools. These skills are not only useful during your time at Pathways but also form the basis for your ongoing career in IT.

Ready for the IT World?!

Pathways is your dress rehearsal and the first step on your path to a career in IT. You’re at the start of an exciting journey. With the skills and knowledge you acquire at Pathways, you’re well-prepared to claim your place in the IT world. Embrace this challenge and discover what IT has in store for you!

Key takeaways