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Transition into tech, career advice from a self taught techie

by | Mar 25, 2022

Growth in tech continues to be rapid and resilient. Tech is one of the top growing industries as companies push to adopt more digital technologies. Tech activity is also more widely distributed, resulting in more tech job opportunities nationwide. Individuals with digital skills have become the most in-demand members of today’s labor force. 

Tech is an exciting and rewarding industry to work in, but getting started is daunting. Take it from a self-taught Techie; I experienced many trials and errors. Before diving into tips on making the transition smoother, I want to share a little story about my career journey.  

From the start, tech was never my thing! I got my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. When I moved to the United States, I had to study again and get an Associate’s degree in Computer Science. I learned to code but never really understood until I started teaching myself. I did this by enrolling in an online course on programming after graduation. 

After teaching myself to code, I had to land a job. I failed a lot; I had bad interviews, barely slept trying to understand technical terminologies, researched companies, and learned how to improve my communication skills. Still, I was determined to learn, practice, and create. I published my work and marketed my skills on LinkedIn. Recruiters reached out to me in no time, and I landed my first position. 

Landing your first position is one thing, but elevating your career is another part of the journey. I understood this, so I continued to build on my skill-set to help advance my career. 

Remember, no journey is smooth. I went through rough patches, and you might too. But don’t let that discourage you; learning to overcome obstacles will only help you grow more. 

I’ve put together six practical tips to help you start your transition to tech and make the process easier. 

Get clarity.

Clarity is the first step towards making any decision or goal work. Make sure that you want to be in tech and ask yourself these questions:   

  • Why do you want a career change? 
  • Why do you want to be in tech?  

Be honest with your answer. Understanding your motivation is important because it will help you stay focused and disciplined. Some professionals begin a career in tech for financial security; maybe you’re passionate about tech or looking for a change. 

Decide what tech career/role you want. 

Technology is so vast, and there are numerous roles to choose from. I see people struggling with this decision the most, so if you get stuck, ask yourself:   

What are you passionate about?  

  • Logic and Programming 
  • Math, Statistics, and Numbers 
  • Writing and communication (You don’t need to code to be a digital marketer
  • Designs and Creativity 
  • People Skills (Sales roles exist in tech as well!)
  • Setting project timelines and organization (Project Management roles might be a good fit for you!)
  • Analysis and Studying patterns 
  • Problem Solving and Research (Data runs the world, explore the field of data analytics)

This exercise aims to help you figure out what role you may be interested in and understand that not every position in the tech sector requires coding experience. So, do your research and evaluate the roles commonly attributed to these skills.

career journey

Learn the skills you need for the role you’ve chosen.

Like me, you can take courses online or go back to traditional schooling and earn a degree. Fortunately, though, many tech careers don’t require you to go back to college. While a college degree is still relevant and required for most corporate jobs, it’s not necessary. If you already have a college degree in a non-tech field, you can go get a more advanced degree in a technical field but it will be costly and require time.  

I suggest attending a boot camp, learning from free resources, or enrolling in a certificate program. The benefit of registering in boot camp or program is the opportunity to engage with and troubleshoot any issues you may have with an instructor. 

Apply for internships or apprenticeship programs.

Internships allow you to gain experience and get noticed by potential employers. Including internships or research experience on your resume will help you stand out to recruiters because tech can be competitive.  

Another option is a tech apprenticeship program, which will offer hands-on training and career opportunities for people transitioning to tech with no computer science degree. These programs provide a salary, mentorships, and upskilling opportunities. 

Apprenticeship programs I’d recommend include the IBM Apprenticeship program, Pinterest’s Tech Apprenticeship Program, Google’s Tech Apprenticeship Program. These programs are divided into apprenticeship tracks and don’t all require coding experience. Google includes six tracks: Digital Marketing, Data Analytics, Information Technology, Project Management, Software Engineering, and UX Design. 

Begin to build personal projects to give your portfolio a lift. 

This is very important as it helps to show off your skills and convince recruiters you know how to execute projects. It is also another top way to get experience without actual employment. 

 Protip: If you want to transition to tech as a digital marketer, create a portfolio online. If you want to transition into project management or Salesforce roles, consider a stepping stone job to fill out your resume. For advice on how to transition to a data analytics role, check out the last page of Pathstream’s Beginner’s Guide to Data Analytics; tip three explains how to build a data portfolio. 

Network! 

Once you position yourself to stand out, you’ll be in high demand, but you need to stay informed by networking. Things change rapidly in technology, and no one person can know it all, so it is important to talk to as many people as possible when transitioning. Here are steps I recommend to keep you informed on how to navigate the tech world and stay relevant in it: 

  • Join tech communities and groups for support 
  • Use sites like Eventbrite to discover tech events happening near you
  • Reach out to professionals who practice in your area of interest on LinkedIn 
  • Social Media is also becoming a place to network, so use it wisely (Instagram, Facebook, Clubhouse) 

Protip: Join communities based on what career path you choose to follow. Github and freeCodeCamp are great places to start if you are into web development and coding roles. For Graphics designers, you can find, Talk Graphics. For blogging communities, there is Dev.to

Ready to start your transition to tech?

I hope you found these tips practical and that this article helps make the transition to tech more manageable. But if I can offer one more piece of advice to succeed in tech, put in the actual work, and stay strong. 

If you want to transition into tech and don’t have the coding experience, consider looking into Pathstream’s Certificate Programs. They offer programs in four different industries: digital marketing, data analytics, project management, and Salesforce administration. Each program will help you build a strong theoretical foundation and master digital skills with hands-on labs and projects.

 

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