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Millions of Americans pivot careers amid pandemic, many turn to tech industry

tech jobs
Posted at 12:40 PM, Mar 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-01 14:40:02-05

Recent surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center show 66 percent of Americans out of work during this pandemic say they have or are seriously considering changing their occupation or field of work. That is millions of people looking to pivot to more in-demand or more meaningful careers.

An industry many people are switching from is the hospitality industry and they’re moving to tech. The hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit during this pandemic. In January, another 61,000 people in the industry lost their jobs, adding to hundreds of thousands that have been unemployed for many more months.

“I was in hospitality for 14 years,” said Alison, who was most recently a director of food and beverage at a hotel in Seattle, Washington.

In March of last year, Alison had to lay off her entire team. She later lost her job, too.

“To be honest with you, it was really kind of a traumatic experience. There were a lot of tears, and as a leader, there was a lot of keeping it together and then going home and crying,” Alison recalled.

After helping her team get on unemployment and going on it herself, she spent the next six months applying to more than 200 jobs. Only two responded to her applications, but ultimately, it didn’t work out.

“It felt like an impossible job market,” she said. "Eventually, I was like, ‘This is a lost cause.’”

In August, she made the decision to pivot during the pandemic and switch careers. She made the choice to move from a career in hospitality to a new one in tech. She enrolled in the Ada Development Academy, a nonprofit tuition-free coding school for women and people who identify as LGBTQ.

“Just seeing the power that technology has to make an impact, but I have always enjoyed critical thinking. I have always enjoyed logic,” she said of her decision to go into the tech industry.

She says she was also drawn to the job growth and stability the tech space offered. Tech industry jobs are, in fact, among the highest in demand right now and for the foreseeable future.

According to industry reports, through the pandemic, the technology industry expanded by 2.3 million jobs, and so far in 2021, there have already been more than 150,000 new job postings. The most demand has been for software and web developers. That’s exactly what Alison intends to become.

“I have definitely felt emotional about how hospitality is not going to be a part of my life anymore,” she said. “But I feel like my whole life has changed now just from getting in this program and finally changing my career. I feel like I have added years onto my life.”