How to Kickstart a Career in Tech
15 min read
A career in tech is a career without boundaries. From web development to product design to project management to app development, the range of job roles and opportunities in the tech ecosystem is huge.
You might think you're not good enough to have a career in tech -- but give yourself a chance. You can do it.
The truth is you, don't have to be a genius to work in technology. And in this article, I'll explain how you can kickstart your own career in tech.
Do Your Research
Technology is a very broad field. This means that there are different areas in tech that require certain skills. In order to discover the right role for yourself, you need to do some research.
You can start by researching the major areas in tech below:
- Web Development
- Mobile Development
- Product Management
- Technical Writing
- UI/UX Designing
- Product Design
- Data Science
After reading through the resources listed above, you will have a better idea of the major areas in tech. With this knowledge, you can go ahead and explore the area that you found most interesting.
You can either do this online using your favorite search engine or by asking someone in tech (if you know any).
If you decide to follow the search engine route, ask questions targeted at what you want to discover. For instance, if you want to learn about the benefits of technical writing, your question should follow this format "What are the benefits of becoming a technical writer?".
If you want to know about the skills required to be a Data Scientist, then your question should follow this format "What do I need to know to become a data scientist?" or "How do I become a data scientist?".
To be honest, it is almost impossible to not find information about the different areas in technology online.
If you decide to ask someone in tech, always be polite and go straight to the point. Instead of saying "Hi" and waiting for the person to respond before asking your question, you can follow this format:
"Hi Rita, my name is Edidiong and I have been researching different career paths in tech. I have read different articles online but I wanted to also hear your opinion as well. How did you know web development was the right career for you? I'd totally understand if you can't respond because of your busy schedule but I will be glad if you do."
You might think that this was a pretty long message, but it covered the most important things: your name, what you need, the research you've done already, and that you understand that you are not entitled to the person's time.
Decide Which Path to Take
After carrying out the necessary research, you need to take a moment and decide on the tech career path you want to pursue.
Perhaps you've read about product design, but you've never had an eye for designing or using colors effectively. Then maybe you also heard about program management and it made you excited because you've always loved managing people or events.
And maybe your friend in tech also told you about the benefits of being a web developer and you were impressed. But you are not sure yet which tech role to pursue because they all sound good.
Here are some tips for things to think about when trying to make this decision.
Think about your current (transferrable) skills
Before you decided to kickstart a career in tech, you were mostly doing something else that you found interesting. Let's assume you loved painting.
Anyone who loves to paint understands a lot about colors -- so that means product or UI/UX design might be a good fit for you. The goal here is to try to connect your current skill or hobbies to your proposed tech career path.
Just get started -- no matter how that looks
Choosing an initial tech career path doesn't mean that's what your career will always be about. My point is, it is totally fine to start out as a technical writer and switch to mobile development later.
For instance, I started out as an android developer but eventually switched to web development. So go ahead and get your feet wet before you narrow down to exactly what you want.
Go for passion, but be practical too
It is important to know that choosing to pursue a certain tech role because you are passionate about it is great. But it's also ok to choose a role because you believe the opportunities are better, even if you are not very passionate about it.
So, I'd recommend that you do a mixture of both: choose something you will enjoy doing and become so good that you get tons of opportunities.
Find Tools & Resources Online
Remember how I said it is almost impossible not to find resources about tech online? Yes, I wasn't joking.
It's so amazing that you can also find really insightful resources to kickstart your career in tech for free.
For instance, freeCodeCamp is a platform that empowers people from all over the world to learn how to code for free. I personally used it while learning how to code and it was one of the best resources. 😃
To find these tools and resources, search for them on Google by using keywords and phrases like where can I learn how to be a (insert tech role) for free?
If you have the funds to acquire paid tools and resources, go for it. If you prefer one on one sessions with a tutor, then you can pay for that, too. 🤑
Simply put, finding the resource is not an issue. Choosing the right resource is the key thing here.
So, how do you choose the right project? I'll tell you!
- First, think about your preferred way of learning. For example, do you prefer reading or watching videos?
- After choosing your preferred learning format, make sure you choose a resource that has some structure. By structure, I mean a plan or curriculum that will educate you about the necessary skills step by step until you understand.
- Ask questions or read reviews about the resource.
- Do a quick test run to see if this resource is the right one for you. Does it have the right format, good examples, pictures, and so on?
This is very important because choosing the wrong resource or tool might make you give up easily because you won't enjoy the process or understand what you are trying to learn.
Just Start Learning
The secret of getting ahead is getting started. - Mark Twain
Yes, I had to share Mark Twain's quote because it is something we all need to remember when we are about to take up a new challenge.
Deciding to kickstart a career in tech is great, but putting in the necessary work to learn is even greater.
Think about it this way: you did your research about different roles in tech, you chose your preferred tech career path, and you found the right learning resources. But now you don't want to put in the work and learn? No!
You didn't spend all that time and effort to give up at the most important point.
You have to start learning.
Set up a schedule that works for you. For instance, learning for at least 30 minutes or 1 hour every day. If you have more time, then spend more time learning. Your growth will be tremendous.
Once you have a good foundation of knowledge, start building basic projects.
Most people think they need to know everything about a particular programming language or tool before they start building a project. But most times, this only results in watching tutorials for months.
The truth is that building projects lets you improve your coding skills in ways you can't imagine. It also gives you something to show off in interviews when you are telling your interviewers about your tech skills.
Here's a list of beginner-friendly projects ideas:
- 9 Simple App Ideas to Learn Android Programming (With Tutorials).
- Project ideas to help you improve your coding skills
- UX Design Projects for Beginners.
- 21 Interesting Web Development Project Ideas For Beginners .
- 500+ Product Design ideas in 2020.
- 7 Websites To Find Front End Projects For Your Portfolio.
- How to find blog content ideas effortlessly?
Most people think you have to be super smart to start writing and sharing knowledge. But I completely disagree. As much as we write to share knowledge, we also write to document what we've learned.
Our brains don't have the capacity to remember everything we've learned, so writing it down on your blog will serve as a reference point for you in the future. It can also help someone who is also trying to understand that concept you just learned.
In my case, I created my blog with Hashnode because it is super fast, has a strong community, and allows you to map the blog to your domain. I'd recommend you use the same platform for creating your first blog.
After you've gotten comfortable with writing, you can now submit your articles to the amazing freeCodeCamp publication to reach a wider audience and give back to the tech community.
Writing is a great way to digest and process the information you take in. It gives you access to so many opportunities and can also help you make your mark in the tech ecosystem.
Writing changed my life, and I believe it will be of great help to you and your tech career. Start blogging now.
This is the most important step in kick-starting a career in tech. It's highly unlikely you'll achieve great things if you're not consistently trying to improve on your chosen tech skill.
Consistency forms habits that become almost second nature. So if you code or design for at least 30 minutes every day for a month, you will become better and better.
It is not compulsory to stick with the 30 minutes scenario above -- just find out what works for you, and be very consistent. Only then will the sky be your limit.
Kickstarting a career in tech is definitely doable if you follow these steps. And I strongly encourage you to try, because of the diverse opportunities that come with it.
Anybody who is willing to learn can start a career in tech with or without any formal knowledge from school. Just go ahead and start.
Yes, it may not be really easy, but there are so many supportive tech communities willing to help you through.
I hope you learned a thing or two from this article. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a DM on Twitter and I'll be happy to answer every single one.