How do I get experience doing a thing without a job ding the thing? By doing the thing anyway.
For design or coding there are two good places to start, and you probably should pursue both:
- How can the application of a little design or coding enhance your current job? Are there repetitive tasks that might be automated, information that could be brought together into a dashboard, metrics or research that might inform your work or the work of your team, places where quality might be improved through greater understanding or thoughtfulness? You can offer to do things, or just start to do them. You can learn a lot by applying new skills to something you already know about.
- What parts of coding or design can you try with what you already have, on your own time? I got started in design because I found desktop publishing tools fun to play with in college, and used them to make greeting cards, tee shirts, and to enhance my classwork. Playing with the tools in ways that scratched my own itches taught me skills that I could later apply to my work.
In re point 2 above, my daughter mentioned to me that she might be interested in filmmaking. I told her, “you have a phone, start making some films!” Getting started can be that easy. Your work might not be very good at first. That’s fine. Keep going unless you find you don’t like the process. Competence will come later.
Starting in management is a little different, but again I see two straightforward paths and it might be worthwhile to pursue both:
- Offer to help/take ownership of small moments in your job where coordination is needed, process change is needed, or a problem needs to be sorted out. This will give you experience talking to others to learn about a situation, proposing possible approaches, marshaling the effort of others, and delivering a result. This is managing! Managing in small ways leads to success managing in small ways, which leads to larger opportunities. The reward for good work is more work.
- Volunteer with charitable or vocational organizations and offer to help in ways that are more like 1 above over time.