Starting your tech career can seem daunting, especially if you’re transitioning from a different field or if you’re pursuing your very first career. Additionally, the tech industry is still male-dominated as women hold only 25% of computing roles in the US and 45.2% of science and technology research roles in Latin America and the Caribbean. Regardless of what the industry currently looks like, there is always room for more women in tech. So, here are a few tips to consider when trying to start your tech career.
Do your research. Before jumping into a tech role, you should explore different areas of technology and pursue the one that interests you the most. Sometimes, we may be eager to get started, and we choose to settle for any role, but it’s important to take your interests into consideration before starting your career. A technology career should be rewarding, and since technology is a broad industry, doing some research will help you to discover which path best aligns with your interests. You have to learn about the possibilities and decide if the duties of a software engineer, cybersecurity specialist, data scientist or technology consultant would be suitable for you. Here’s a short list of tech career options that currently exist. These are just a few examples of technology roles, but there’s a wide array of career paths that you can choose from based on what you like and what you want to be an expert in.
Practice makes (almost) perfect. When you figure out which path you’d like to take, seek opportunities to keep learning and exploring that path because technology is not stagnant. There will always be new discoveries and inventions, so you must keep abreast with the latest developments in your field and stay sharp. Take the initiative to work on your own projects, read books, watch YouTube videos, participate in bootcamps/training sessions and just keep practicing as often as you can. It’s also helpful if you work on projects that excite you. If the projects feel more like chores, you won’t be motivated to do them, so feel free to be creative. You can also participate in competitions such as hackathons which present real-world use-cases that you can build projects for. In many cases, practice serves as a substitute for years of formal experience and education, so it’s one of the most important things to do when you’re trying to get your foot in the door.
Show off. Once you start practicing, build your portfolio. You should have a collection of your projects that show off your skills so that potential employers or clients can see your work and trust that you can do the job. There are many routes you can take to build your portfolio including GitHub, a personal website, LinkedIn and more. Pick one or more methods that suit you and keep adding to your portfolio as you learn new skills. It’s also necessary to create a good resume that showcases your strengths if you are seeking employment. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and market yourself professionally.
Leverage your soft skills. For technical careers, you’ll need more than just tech skills. Your communication skills are just as important as you may have to work with non-technical employees, communicate ideas or explain any software issues to others. Additionally, if you have good presentation, conflict resolution or documentation skills, you can use them to complement your technical expertise and stand out from the crowd. If you are organized or if you have strong leadership qualities, all of these will come in handy as you start your career and think about your long term advancement. Networking is another useful skill that helps beginners to find opportunities. Don’t be intimidated by others who have been in the industry longer than you have. Instead, you can reach out to them and have discussions or even ask questions that could help you to get started. Many of us in the tech space are introverted, so this can seem very frightening, but talking to others who are already where you would like to be can help you to find guidance and potential opportunities that you would not have had otherwise.
Personal Branding. What is your personal brand? This is something to think about as you start marketing yourself as a tech professional. Are you someone who wants to use technology to help the less fortunate? Do you want to work in a niche industry? Do you prefer to have the freedom to use your creativity in the projects that you work on? Ask yourself what you would like your brand to be and find communities or organizations that can help you to build that brand.
Getting started in tech might seem difficult if you are completely new to the field. As you work on your craft, there will be great days where you feel like you’re on top of the world, and there will be days when you might start doubting yourself. It’s important that you never compare yourself to others because everyone is on their own journey and we all have to start somewhere. The 5 tips in this blog, along with perseverance and self-confidence are the keys to taking control of your tech career.