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6 Transferable Skills To Help You Change Careers From Retail and Hospitality To Tech

October 15, 2020

Blog — Is Coding For Me? 6 Transferable Skills To Help You Change Careers From Retail and Hospitality To Tech

5 min read

Sennah Yee

Marketing Coordinator

Juno College

Feeling uncertain about what your retail or hospitality job has to offer? Maybe COVID-19 has played a part in this, or the nature of the work itself simply isn’t bringing you happiness. No matter what your reason, pivoting to a career in tech may be what you're looking for!

While learning to code may seem like a big change compared to what you may be doing now, the good news is that you’ve already got lots of transferable skills that will help you on your journey into tech! Here are 6 skills that will come in handy during your career transition:

Quick and Creative Problem-Solving

You’re likely used to thinking quickly on your feet, whether it’s working retail during Black Friday, or working at Starbucks during peak rush hours. Knowing how to solve problems in a fast-paced environment will help you thrive in tech. You'll have more experience with keeping a cool head when working under pressure, be more flexible when new problems present themselves, and be equipped to come up with creative solutions with what is at hand.

“Your customer may come in and ask for a certain price point, and you have to solve that within a certain time limit,” says Claire Valant, who graduated from Juno's Web Development Immersive Bootcamp after working in the paint department at Home Depot. “That's a really transferable skill to tech: being given requirements and resources, and having to solve the problem within those constraints.”


Whether it’s brewing coffee while telling a customer the soup of the day, or counting someone's change while answering the phone, chances are you’re no stranger to juggling many priorities simultaneously. This translates well into world of tech, where time management and organizational skills are essential to completing projects in a timely manner. As a developer, you may be tackling different projects or debugging a multiple issues at the same time. This may come more naturally to you, given your past experience in retail or hospitality.

People Skills

You’ve likely met hundreds of different people during your retail or hospitality job. This has equipped you with valuable interpersonal skills: you know how to interact with people's unique personalities, needs, and communication styles. You may also feel more comfortable while networking or job searching!

"As someone who’s always been kind of shy and awkward, working in hospitality served me really well," says Haley Bowes, a Juno Bootcamp Alum who previously worked in various restaurants in Toronto. "Especially when meeting new people, working in hospitality was definitely a crash course for me in putting myself out there."

"My hospitality experience was especially handy when I was starting off in the tech industry. I was networking, interviewing, and having to think really quickly under pressure." - Haley Bowes, Juno Bootcamp Alum

Attention to Detail

You know that the extra time and care put into folding clothes neatly, placing napkins in a certain way, or adding a smiley face to a customer’s receipt makes all the difference for their experience. This dedication to detail while keeping the big picture in mind will bring you great success in tech, where clean and efficient lines of code are a must - and where a missing a semicolon while coding can be the difference between a website functioning beautifully and not at all!

Teamwork and Community

Teamwork makes the dream work across all industries, and tech is no exception! Your past experiences with working in a team, no matter how big or small, will come in handy as a developer: you’re already familiar with collaborating with teammates and different departments, and working together towards shared goals. You understand that a positive work environment plays a key role in delivering great results.

Juno's CEO and Founder Heather Payne shares an important lesson about teamwork and community from her own days working in hospitality at a McDonald’s:

"I was 16 and had been promoted to manager. One day when I came into work, I didn’t say hi to a co-worker, because I was always really intimidated by them. My manager immediately stressed that as a manager, it was my job to build this team’s culture and say hi to everybody, no matter what. I took that lesson so hard, and it helped me go forward everywhere else in my life! If I’m in a leadership role in any way, it’s my job to make sure I’m including everyone. It’s an interesting example of a lesson that you simply may not learn in an office job."

While working in tech may not feel as public-facing as working in retail or hospitality, you can still find a strong sense of community and support both within your classmates, your team, and the larger tech community.

“You can work in a silo if you want to,” says Haley - and it's true, tech is a great option for those looking for more flexibility and independence in their careers, whether it means working remotely or on a freelance basis. “But if you want community, you can find it pretty easily. And going to Juno, it’s like, bam! There you have this whole community!"

Empathy and Respect

Working in retail or hospitality can cause you to have increased empathy and respect for others - you understand the hard work and dedication that happens behind the scenes, which can make you more empathetic for those in the same position. For example, you may be more understanding and patient when someone gets your order wrong at a restaurant, or when you have to wait a few extra minutes to be seated.

Putting the customer first is also a key transferable skill, especially in tech where the end goal is to create a smooth, positive experience for the user.

“Having empathy for the customer and end users is something I still have on my resume today that carries from my retail experience.” - Claire Valant, Juno Bootcamp Alum

Juno Alum Rojhan Paydar used to work as a manager at a restaurant, managing 40 employees. Today, she works as a Software Developer at Mintbean, and finds that she's brought a lot of her soft skills from hospitality into her role. “In my team, I can sense when somebody’s not having the best day mentally, and I’ll check in on them privately," she says. "I’ve had some of my team members say how special this is, because we don’t often think to do that. These are really important skills to bring over to a team, because it boosts morale and creates a better environment for everybody."

You're set up for success!

These are only some of the soft skills that every good web developer should have - and you've already got them from your experience in retail or hospitality! While changing careers is a big decision, remember that you're not starting from scratch, and that you've already got a great foundation in place.

Ready to make a move?

You've got the soft skills - we can help with the tech skills. Check out our free Retail/Hospitality to Tech Career Transition Guide on how to get started:

Download Free Career Transition Guide

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