How to Break Into Technology
It's possible to have no college degrees and break-in
“Fake it until you make it”
- Learn some hard skills that are easily hireable
- Don't: Compare, Envy, be careful not to be something else someone wants/needs
- Tell people what they want to hear
We are well into the digital age, and the rate at which it is growing is exponential. More and more manual and industrial jobs are taking losses and wages are getting depressed. Nobody likes working a dead-end job with no chances for development. It may be time to consider a career change. While Silicon is the mecca of the tech world and a stalwart of the US economy, most cities across the nation incentivize technology companies to plant their base and generate employment. Plus, the jobs are lucrative, and there’s a ton of options for work-life flexibility. There’s a ton of opportunity in technology. Here’s some advice that can open the doors to the tech world. And according to Two Roads, with 30% growth annually, there are more jobs than can be staffed.
The first thing to note is that you don’t have to be a coder to break into the industry. While basic knowledge and literacy in industry-standard languages will obviously help, there’s a number of career paths where you can meaningfully contribute. Besides technical jobs, there’s customer service, sales, and business development. Marketing and strategy roles are also high in demand. Other viable jobs include recruiting and HR. There are actually three times more non-technical jobs in tech than technical. That said, I think it's good for everyone to learn the basics so get to know a bit of HTML and CSS.
The next thing to understand is that there’s a far more diverse crowd of technology companies than the big dogs - Apple, Google, Facebook, IBM - and you may like them better. You have to choose the right company for you. Some factors necessary to consider include the size of the company. Do you want to be a small fish in a big pond or a big fish in a small pond? You may also care about who the company serves. Do you want to add value to other businesses (B2B) or to interact with people (B2C)? Ultimately, you need to decide what you think will make you the most excited to get out of bed every morning, not just think of the shiny, house-hold name.
Step 1: Rely on What You Know
You are qualified. You’ve developed many skills through both your life and professional experiences. We call these soft skills and they include teamwork, grit, communication, research, timely completion of projects, and problem-solving. I promise you’re well versed in many of these but for job application and interview purposes, you need to find and tell examples in which you’ve displayed these attributes. You should explain why your stories are relevant to the job you are seeking. HYPE YOURSELF UP. Confidence is key. Employers want to see that you believe in yourself. Sure, there’s a line between conviction and arrogance, so be careful, but don’t be afraid to be proud and even show off a bit.
Step 2: Learn Some Skills
There’s plenty of resources available, both online and offline, that can teach you the cornerstones of technology. These are skills that you can put on your resume to impress recruiters plus prepare you for day 1 on the job. HTML and CSS are three languages that are worth learning. These are foundations of the internet. HTML and CSS are basically the foundation of the internet—used to format, design, and develop web pages. HTML gives content meaning by defining its purpose within the webpage: making it into an image, paragraph, text block, or another form of information. CSS works with HTML, designating fonts, colors, sizes, and more to add some style (see what we did there?).
They’re simple languages to learn and a proficient understanding of them can be learned within 2 months. With these skills, you can format, design, and develop web pages and web designers are high in demand as more and more companies and people want their own websites. Plus, you can translate many of these coding skills to languages you will want to learn as your career develops like Java, C++. and Python.
Step 3: Certifications
Recruiters read hundreds of applications a day. Many of them look the same and it’s critical to get your resume to stand out. Certifications can help pad your resume and lead recruiters to reach out with a request for a phone screen or first-round interview. Certifications from CompTIA or Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator is far more cost-effective than earning another degree. Other certifications can be found here. Not only do certifications demonstrate that you are qualified, but they also speak to your initiative and ownership to make your career.
Step 4: Check out your Local Startups
According to a report done by Fortune Magazine in 2017, the percentage of hopeful entrepreneurs starting their own businesses is the highest it’s been in four years. That makes it a great time to get in on the ground floor with a tech startup.
Often, small businesses will hire employees with less experience as they work to build their business, and are willing to take on someone who is ready to learn and grow with them. Working at a startup also gives you the opportunity to learn a lot on the job and become part of a cohesive and exciting team! Take advantage of the high number of startups popping up across the nation, and you could get a tech job even if you don’t have much experience.
By their nature, startups disrupt and innovate. This means that their culture welcomes more informal paths to employment and leadership. They often go against the grain with regard to traditional minimum qualifications. They’re most interested in your willingness to learn and grow with the company. Plus, more and more startups are popping up around the country. People are growing old with traditional 9-5 jobs and entrepreneurship is a far more attractive option. You may have to work without high pay or any pay at first, but the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a high potential organization is often worth its risk.
Changing career paths is understandably daunting. But I guarantee you it’s not out of reach. The keys to getting into tech are really no different than anything else you strive for in life: grit, tenacity, and persistence. You are the captain of your own fate and with ambition and creativity, you’ll find yourself in all the places you could’ve dreamed you could be.