A Guide to Building a Career in Tech at any age!

tech

You want to switch to a career in tech, but you don’t know where the heck to start?

First, go you! You are making a good decision because tech jobs are growing faster than ever before and it’s such a fun, exciting and fast-paced career to be in! 

One of the most challenging decisions to make is which career path in tech to choose. There are tons of tech jobs out there, such as Data Science, Software Engineering – Backend, Frontend, Full Stack, Mobile Engineer, Cyber Security, Dev Ops, Tester and the list goes on!

But maybe you are not interested in coding?

There are non-coding jobs like Product Management, Business Analyst, Technical Writer, User Experience Designer Tech Support etc. You don’t have to be an expert with code or ‘be good at computers’ to work in tech.

When I first started my degree, I honestly had no idea what career path to take when I was looking for my first big girl job, I was torn between the business side or coding.

It can take a while to really decide what field is best for you, so make sure you do your research and pick a specific area that you would like.

There are so many different ways you can start a career in tech! But you are probably wondering “where do I start…?

Throughout this blog, I will highlight tips, advice and areas for you to get started!

It’s never too late

If you think it’s too late in your life to make a career change into tech, let me tell you this – you are wrong, it’s most definitely not. If you want to make a change, go for it.

Tech jobs aren’t going anywhere, they will be here for a while, and no robots will not take over!

It is growing so much, every industry is tech. Think about it this way – newspapers are now digital, TV programs and movies are being streamed on Netflix, Disney +… It is hitting all types of industries.

Tech makes a huge difference in peoples lives, the impact it has on people is incredible.

It’s never to late to start a career in tech! There are so many people out there supporting you in the tech community – including me πŸ™‹β€β™€οΈ

Right head space

Stop telling yourself you cannot do it, you can! Get in the right headspace.

I’ll let you in on a secret… when I started in tech I was completely overwhelmed and I thought that I needed to know everything. There was so much stuff I didn’t know, and I heard new words left, right and centre. But it was all so exciting at the same time!

Learning as much as possible at the beginning can help you understand.

But please listen, It is impossible to know everything. Tech is growing so much, and it’s a lot to keep up with! If you don’t know anything about a particular area, then that is totally ok!

Find your area of expertise that you love, grow to specialise in it.

Ask questions

Get prepared to step out of your comfort zone, It will happen over and over, and it is exciting – learn to love this!

Ask as many questions as you possibly can and write them down, so you don’t forget about it. We’ve all been there before! Google will be your new best friend.

Don’t over-think, be confident – be yourself!

Learn new skills and see what you like best

Check out different courses, webinars and content online and see what you think will best suit you or what you are most interested in.

You don’t know until you try.

Maybe you are interested in building a website? Then check out an HTML, CSS and Javascript and learn how to build a website. Or you could be interested in UX design? then maybe learn how to use photoshop or sketch.

Here are some good online courses to try:

& so many more!

Learning the fundamentals at the beginning will help you understand fully what is happening. If you want to go into web development, start with HTML, CSS and Javascript.

Stay up to date

Tech is emerging everyday!

Staying up to date with the latest technologies in your specific industry will help you know what skills are in-demand.

Follow tech news and subscribe to online such as TechCrunch, Hacker Newsletter, Recode

Or if you like watching videos, The Verge and Wired is great! They condense complex subjects to give you a good understanding .

You can also read the latest research reports on Thoughtworks Tech Radar.

Identify your learning style

What kind of learner are you? Are you a visual, read/write, Auditory or Kinesthetic learner or maybe a combination of these? Figure this out as it will help you with the learning process.

We all learn differently, If you aren’t learning from an online course, try maybe written tutorials/blogs.

Honestly, I can hand on heart say you learn best by doing! If you want to go into Software Engineering, I highly recommend finding a problem that you can solve and start your own personal project.

For example; maybe a local business is having trouble with their outdated website, you could try to fix that problem for them. Or perhaps you want to budget your money a certain way, but no mobile applications out there do it the way you want it.

This will be a fantastic talking point for an interview too.

Certifications

After you find your passion, it’s time to get certified!

I must make this clear… You do not need to go to university to get a career in tech! I mean you can of course take this route if you prefer to.

Many people have got a job in tech without a university degree, and there are other alternative routes you can take, such as a Bootcamp/Apprenticeship with a company or teaching yourself.

If you are teaching yourself, the internet is full of resources that offer certifications, and there are online communities and webinars (mentioned later in this blog) to help guide you. (You will save yourself so much time and money this way!)

You can approach companies and show them your experience and see if they will offer you an apprenticeship role. If you are honest with them and explain that you are self-taught and want to keep learning, they will appreciate your honesty and see your enthusiasm. It may be for less at the beginning but the experience will be worth it.

When you are ready then you can apply for entry roles or even freelance!

Network with people in your community

Check out your local tech community and get to know people. An excellent place to find local meetups is on Meetup.com. There are so many different kinds of tech meetups, hackathons and conferences that could be happening in your local area.

It’s a great way to meet people, make friends and ask questions about anything you are curious about.

The community helped get me to where I am today, a big part of my personal/professional development has been down to the community. I met so many smart, helpful and wonderful people, and I thank every single one of you who I crossed paths with.

The community will support you and root for you all the way, and we love hearing stories about people moving into tech and want to try to help you as much as possible.

WWCode Connect Conferece

Online Communities

If you don’t have a local community or even find it hard attending events, there are also online communities! (This is especially useful during quarantine time!)

There are loads online, here are a few; Mind the ProductTechHub#FemaleFounders 

I found an article that lists OVER 400 online slack communities! Check it out here.

WWCode launched Track Communities last year. They include online tutorial projects, webinars, study groups, technical talks, speaker events, and an in-person conference! Check them out below and join their slack channels:

WWCode recently launched WWCode Digital βœ¨which lists remote events that hosted by track communities and different chapters throughout the world. This is super useful, especially with the current crisis (COVID-19) happening in the world right now. Subscribe here to the mail list for the latest updates and events

How awesome is the tech community worldwide? Bet you probably didn’t know there was this much support! πŸ’œΒ Shout out to all the volunteers, organisers, hosts, sponsors and everyone who make them possible!

Research any dream companies you would like to work for in your area or beyond

First, ask yourself why? Research them and see what interests you the most about them.

If you are making a career change, it’s important that you are doing it for the right reasons.

What skills and expertise do they look for? Make a list of these and close your knowledge gaps – learning is fun and google is your friend, this is not usually a fast process so remember that.

Build an online brand

If you don’t have LinkedIn then I really encourage you to get it. It is a great place to establish your voice in the tech industry.

You can also build your own website and have an online CV and be as creative as you want, this would be a good first project for you to work on if you wanted to go into web development!

If you go into development then I highly recommend setting up a Github or GitLab account so you can push your code and projects up so employers can see.

Find a mentor

Find a mentor in your local area or online that can help you with your career. You could find a potential mentor at work, tech events or online communities.

There are so many benefits of having a mentor, they can provide support and advice, boost your confidence and help you with any questions you have.

I have a few mentors who help me throughout my career – big thank you, you know who you are!

Set your goals

It’s time to set yourself SMART goals and enjoy the process. Try and put a bit of time each day to learn these new skills!

Discipline yourself (Consistency is the key)!

Grab a coffee, tea, water (whatever tickles your fancy) and start researching, learning and set your goals! ✨

I believe in you. You can do it! πŸ˜„

I’d love to hear your stories and journeys if you have switched to tech or are deciding to pursue a career! If you need any advice I would gladly help. Or reach out to the tech community!

In my next tech blog post, I will focus on tips for new developers. πŸ‘©β€πŸ’»πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’»

Stay safe,

Sapphire xoxo

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