Hi 👋, I have spent the last couple of months online, advising people interested in breaking into the tech industry how to go about achieving their goal, and frequent questions I get asked include;
- Do I need a Tech Degree to work in the Tech Industry?
- Am I too old to work in Tech?
- How can I get experience in Tech?
- How can I learn how to code and land my first tech job?
- Do I need to know how to code to work in tech?
And in this article, I would like to go into a step-by-step guide on how anyone interested in breaking into tech can achieve this. However, before we dive into the article, let’s look at some statistics and facts.
- The technology industry is a field with lucrative salaries and skills shortages
- According to research on Glassdoor, 43% of roles advertised by tech companies (around 53,000 positions!) are non-technical.
- The average pay for an entry-level tech role is £30k (UK) and $38k (US). These are all depending on location and your ability to negotiate.
- Now more than ever, many tech companies and organisations are trying to equip more people to join the industry through free or low-cost training programs.
- Diversity is at the peak of this transition process, so use it to your advantage. I am not insinuating you should position yourself to be a diversity hire, but focus on the fact that the Tech Industry needs diverse talent.
- It’s a generous industry, most people in the industry want to help.
With these stats/facts, I believe you should be very excited about the number of opportunities/resources available to you.
The dilemma of what “Tech” Role is best for you?
Tech is a general word thrown around to describe almost everything in the industry, and because of this, there are so many misconceptions of what part of tech you can fit into. You hear people saying things like “you need to be very good at math”, “you need a tech degree”, “tech is young, fresh, innovative” etc.
However, none of these matter, what matters is what you are interested in, and how you can show your interest when solving problems. Qualifications wise, some companies still require you to have a technical degree, however for several tech companies having any degree is satisfactory. Just remember to show what’s important to the role. Speaking of roles in the industry, its split between Technical Roles and Non-Technical Roles of which are equally rewarding and can give you the same job satisfaction.
So answering the question above; finding the right tech role for you involves a lot of research, questions, and your interest.
Another interesting way you could answer this question is, if you are currently trying to break into tech from another industry, why don’t you align your current skills and experiences with the tech parts of that sector? So, for example, if you have a nursing background you can try finding what’s available in Health-tech, or if you are from a finance background you can try Fin-tech? Considering where your current skill sets and interest lies will significantly help you make the right decision for you.
Here is a list of in-demand roles you can start looking at to guide you on what's available out there.
Non-Technical Roles (no coding): UI/UX design, Tech Sales, Engineering Managers, Product Managers, Business Analyst, QA Tester.
Tech Roles (requires coding): Data Scientist, Software Engineer, DevOps Engineer, Cybersecurity Engineer, Cloud Engineer.
This is a simple decision. You need to get familiar with the industry, what’s current, what you need to up-skill to get the job you want, which initiative is currently offering opportunities and what the industry experts are saying.
For example, Google Career Certificates have many courses that will prepare you for a range of tech specialities (from IT Support to Android Development). The AWS re/start program will train people to get entry-level roles in cloud computing. CodeFirstGirls Nano-degree is an organisation that targets women and trains them in 13 weeks. This intensive programme aims to place them in companies affiliated with the bootcamp upon completion. People have used these routes or similar to break into the industry and end up with good salaries and a better work-life balance.
It’s not necessarily the easiest shift, but you can do it. I believe the fastest way to break into the tech industry is to enrol in a Bootcamp/programme that's affiliated with a company where you can apply for entry-level roles after your training.
However, that's not the only way - you could be self-taught, or get a technical degree. Each of these routes has varying advantages or disadvantages, so you can weigh your options and see what is best for you.
What have you done?
It’s amazing to be a lifelong learner, but recruiters love to see what you have done with all your knowledge. To answer the question of ‘How do I get a job with no experience?’ you need to create your own experience. The trick here is to know what exact tools and skills you need for the job and create opportunities for yourself where you can exercise them. For example, as an aspiring UI/UX researcher, you can design a website/app for a local brand around your area, which could be paid or voluntary. As an aspiring Software Developer, you could build a real-world project that solves a problem in your life or something you have observed will be useful or can show your skills.
Building a portfolio and a wealth of personal experience you can talk about to recruiters, in your resume and interview, will take you a long way. I will leave resources at the end of this article where you can get inspiration for what to build.
Your network could land you the Job
The great part is, your network doesn’t have to be just people you know. LinkedIn/Social Media is a very great resource for reaching out to people for recommendations or referrals. Tech networking events is another great opportunity to meet people that are in roles you are interested in. If you are more introverted and shy, at this point you will need to channel your inner extrovert to help you have the conversations you need to get you the role. Some useful tips that can help you stand out to your network on LinkedIn are:
- Document your journey on your profile and talk about what you have learnt or built
- Engage with companies and employees of companies that you will like to work with
- If you have similar interests or backgrounds like attending the same university with someone in your network, that will be a great conversation starter when you send a personal message to their inbox to ask questions, advise or referrals for the job you are interested in.
Very bold moves I know, but rather than wait for an opportunity to come up, or for your cv to be lost in a pool of other impressive resumes, why don’t you beat the queue?
Join A Community
I love the community. With a community, you can avoid pitfalls, mistakes and get feedback on your tech journey. It’s such a great way to start your journey. Being in isolation can also get you similar results, but probably not as great as if you connect to a community.
Joining a community can either be local, online (Twitter, Instagram, Reddit) or both. Joining a community will help you learn what’s next, prepare you for what to expect in an interview, teach you the importance of negotiation etc. Access to a global community opens your eyes to a lot of things that you didn’t think were possible.
You can also contribute to your chosen community by answering questions, giving feedback and showing what you have learnt or built. This is most likely going to speed up your learning and create more opportunities for you..
Applying for Tech Jobs
Applying for entry-level roles also increases your chances, and my advice still applies even if you only have 60% of the skills listed. I usually recommend applying for jobs from your network. Find opportunities to talk directly with a hiring manager, tech recruiters or someone in a role you are interested in. This will give you an enormous advantage instead of applying to dozens or hundreds of jobs that you might not hear from.
When you are preparing for an interview, it’s good to remember that the job description you applied for reflects the skills and projects the role has done in the past year. The interview process will look at how you can show stated skills.
It’s important, to be honest during the interview and admit when you don’t know the answer to something, it will show you are teachable. It’s synonymous with the tech recruiting process to have interviews that are even more difficult than the actual jobs. Some will call it a broken recruitment process, however, until tech companies fix this process, come prepared to show that you are a suitable candidate for the role.
I have read many amazing tech stories of how they transitioned into tech and what stands out amongst these groups of people is their curiosity, passion to change their lives and ability to sell their existing skills to match the tech skills for the job. Use this article to create an actionable plan on what steps you are going to take to get into the industry, and hopefully, you reach your goals.
You may not get your dream job straight away (no tech role starts with 6 figures 😃), so prepare to work hard. Getting into the tech industry with no or little experience is about working your way up and excelling in early roles.
- Start Learning to code for FREE with: FreeCodeCamp, Udacity, CodeAcademy, W3Schools
- Join the #100daysOfCode using this Guide: GeeksForGeeks, 100daysOfCodeWebsite, A great resource for journalling your progress for the 100daysofcode challenge. A great way to keep track of your progress if you do not want to do it publicly.
- Build A Project That Will Get You Hired: As a beginner, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oluY633rkgI
- Noteworthy Bootcamps: CodingBlackFemales, CodeFirstGirls, General Assembly, Makers Academy, CodeWorks, SheCodes and so many more! This is really depending on your location, however some bootcamps may have an online option.