Career Change into IT-Project Manager: Krzysztof Koltan

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The process of changing profession of Krzysiek Kołtan to a project manager in five months was not easy at all. This required him to break his thought patterns and get out of his comfort zone. In addition to the traditional path of sending a CV (response of 5-6 interviews per month), he found mentors from whom he learned completely free of charge and established relationships with decision-makers in companies. To this day, he receives cooperation offers from them because networking does not have to be a short-term goal but an adventure that lasts!

Klaudia and Łukasz Jarych – CareerChange2It: Krzysiek, you are one of the people we supported during the transition to IT Project Manager as part of our flagship program. You have been very proactive and have planned the process perfectly. You have successfully transitioned into the IT industry in only 5 months! Heartfelt congratulations! Today, we’d like to talk about the lessons and thoughts from the transition process and your current role.

Krzysiek Kołtan: During the process of changing the industry, you need to have an open head for non-standard ways of looking for a job. The biggest challenge was to change your habits to standard ways of looking for a job and reach the hidden market. Currently, I have taken up the position of IT Project Manager in a company developing software for the TSL industry. You could say that I changed my industry twice on one occasion. I am very satisfied with the current challenges I face and the opportunities to develop my competences. Change of profession was one of the best decisions in my professional career.

CC2IT: Why did you decide to change the industry and the choice fell on the Project Manager in IT?

Krzysiek: The choice was quite simple. I have a lot of transferable skills due to the fact that I have led many small and large projects. In addition, my entire professional life has revolved around technology. If I had to choose a position from IT, the IT Project Manager was the closest to my previous experience.

CC2IT: If you had to say what 3 things helped you the most in changing your industry, what would it be?
Krzysiek: Let me list it:

  • Support of loved ones in my decision
  • The right mentor who boosted my motivation to act
  • Changeover plan (conventional and unconventional methods)

As you can see, I mentioned two factors closely related to motivation. The worst thing you can do is give up during the changing professions. The factors that increase motivation and acceptance that this decision is good are the most important. Once we have it, there is nothing else but to make a good plan and act.

CC2IT: In our “Changing the Industry in 5 Steps” course, we mention that the second step in this process is to get a mentor who will be a partner in change, inspiration for us on the one hand, and on the other hand will tell us what the specifics of working in a given industry are. Tell me, did you have a mentor and what value did he bring to the changeover process? Or maybe you completely skipped this step and acted differently?

Krzysiek: The mentor is a very important person in this process. If you want to switch to IT, I can say with a clear conscience that finding a Mentor is not difficult. There are many people with vast knowledge and experience who want to share it. The mentor will help dispel your doubts, motivate you to act and answer your questions. Questions often arise after recruitment interviews. It is worth treating each recruitment interview as a good source of information in order to prepare better for each subsequent one. I had a dozen or so interviews myself before I got my dream job.

CC2IT:: Changing transition is a process that requires regularity and appropriate scheduling. Tell us how you prepared yourself to acquire substantive knowledge
(e.g. the tools you used).

Krzysiek: Although you might suspect that I have used some digital tools, I will surprise you. The best plans are created on white cards.  Nevertheless, I used techniques such as a mind map, created a Q&A from interviews, or planned a strategy for acquiring mentors and reaching decision-makers in companies via LinkedIn. By leading the process step by step, I managed to finalize it.


CC2IT: Step 4 is to put knowledge into practice to enter a new industry. How did you highlight your already gained experience and skills to convince managers that you are the right person in the right place?

Krzysiek: It’s not easy in IT. Although I ran projects with multi-million budgets from many recruiters, I heard what you will hear and you: “You have no IT experience and we are looking for someone with IT experience.” My advice is simple. Don’t worry, it’s also a kind of experience. If you see that the recruiter is about to say it, or has already said it, ask questions. What could I do in the future to be a more attractive candidate for this position? Exactly what knowledge do I need to meet this requirement? etc. Always emphasize your experience, which may be useful in a new industry. You managed teams, you have soft skills, you have led projects in another industry, etc. Talk about it and don’t be ashamed of it. Show that you know your worth and have skills that can come in handy in a new workplace.


CC2IT: At a certain stage of transition – already as a formality, you need a CV. This is usually a chronological resume. In the case of changing industries, it is much more beneficial to present your experience in it. How did these resumes co-created with us work for you?

Krzysiek: For a very long time, I felt uncomfortable thinking about such a CV, or even creating one. It was a big mistake. The resume I created with you did the job. When the CV was prepared to show transferable skills and specific experience, I had 5-6 interviews per month. Previously, the response was practically negligible. Nevertheless, the action took place on two fronts. On the one hand, a well-made CV and a traditional route, on the other hand, planned activities in reaching decision-makers in companies.


CC2IT: In your process of changing the industry, when we talked, you said that the greatest discovery for you was networking and reaching decision-makers from the industry. What did this step look like for you and were there any results (invitations to talks already in the IT industry)?

Krzysiek: It was amazing. My first messages to people from the IT industry were very stressful. I have never looked for a job in this way, let alone mentors. If you are wondering whether to go this way, I recommend it. In this way, I met many interesting people who increased my knowledge in a given area. Even today, I get interesting cooperation offers from people I met through networking.


CC2IT: And a hint, because our customers often ask about it, how did you break the ice to make contacts with complete strangers on LinkedIn? Was it difficult for you?

Krzysiek: I think it was one of the most difficult things in the whole transition. I only broke through because I had people around me who were cheering me on. It is very important that your loved ones support you in this process. My wife understood how important it was for me to start a new chapter in my life. It was she who helped me break through in terms of networking.

CC2IT: Krzysiek’s golden advice for people who are thinking about changing their industry is…

Krzysiek: There is no golden advice that will guarantee you a change of industry. It all depends on whether you learn to break patterns and there will be people around you who will conquer motivation in moments of doubt. It certainly does not hurt to set up a change plan and have an open mind. Remember that success tastes better the harder it was to achieve.