If you’re interested in all things IT, then you may want to work in a tech career. As you’ve probably seen in the headlines, tech is a hugely growing industry and has a shortage of skilled people, so there can be many well-paid, interesting roles in this sector. However, moving into tech isn’t as easy as you think. Some careers in this sector require a great deal of knowledge and experience, while the best roles for the big tech companies will be very competitive. If you’re thinking of moving into a tech career, here are some tips to help you make the change.
- Take stock of your current skills and experience
Moving into a tech role doesn’t necessarily mean quitting your job and starting over at a whole new firm. Many businesses now have their own tech teams, and it may well be possible for you to develop your current role and move into something more technical.
There can be several advantages to moving departments within your workplace, and most businesses encourage it, as they already know the applicant and what they offer. Look out for internal vacancies that are tech-focused but vaguely match your current skills and experience, then speak to your manager about what kind of training you might need to make a move.
If there aren’t opportunities in your current workplace, don’t worry. You may already have some skills or experience that would be useful in tech, for example, business or administration skills, that you can further develop.
- Look at different study options
While there are entry-level jobs in tech that don’t specifically ask for a degree, these roles are likely to be competitive and end up going to graduates. Although you can learn a lot of tech skills on the job, it really is worth considering going to college to get a solid base of skills.
While going back to college is a significant investment in terms of time and money, when it comes to the tech industry, it can pay off. Computer science graduates earn twice the national average in Canada, so it may be a good time to switch to this industry.
The good news is you don’t have to quit your job to study. The classic way to get into tech is to study a computer science degree, but nowadays, you can do this remotely and in your spare time. Therefore, many non-traditional students choose this route. If you already have an undergraduate degree, then it’s worth considering taking a master’s in computer science. This can take as little as 16 months, and again, could be completed at home so you can fit in other commitments, yet still give you a tremendous competitive advantage when going up for tech jobs.
- Identify what tech job you want to do
Tech is a huge industry, so it’s essential to research what kind of career you want to do. That way, you can decide which qualifications and experience you might need to gain, giving you a clearer path to follow.
Some common tech jobs that people go into post-graduation include:
- Web developer – creating code for websites and apps, you’ll need to know several programming languages and have excellent communication and teamwork skills
- Web designer – designing websites, apps, e-mails and more, this can be a creative tech role, requiring the use of Photoshop, Adobe, and other design programs
- CMS manager – formatting, optimizing and uploading content via CMS systems, this entry-level role is ideal for those who want to move into copywriting or editing for the web
- Data analyst – collecting and analyzing large amounts of data, you need to be analytical and able to identify trends, as well as present them to others
- Social media manager – if you’re interested in digital marketing, managing businesses’ social media accounts can be a good start. Not only do you create content, but you also need to be able to analyze data and see what works for the brand
If you don’t know precisely what you want to do in tech, don’t worry. Most entry-level roles require the same computer science qualifications, so when you study, you can identify where your strengths and weaknesses are and decide on a career based on what you’re good at.
- Look at skills shortages in the industry
Want the best possible chance of a well-paid job out of college? Try to gain skills in areas where there are shortages, or where there will likely be demand in the future. For example, if you click here, you can read about some of the challenges in mobile computing, from security to connectivity, which means there will be a need for people with specific knowledge in this area in the future. Read up on tech-related industry news, and you’ll be able to spot potential trends that could lead to career opportunities.
Some of the tech skills that are currently in demand include:
- Artificial intelligence (AI)
- Data engineering
- Cloud computing
- Data science
When you have opportunities to choose electives during your course, try to find courses that’ll give you the skills that employers want, as well as things you are genuinely interested in.
- Look at the tech job market near you
There are tech jobs available around the world, as well as remote opportunities, but you should also see what tech careers might be available in your area. Many fresh graduates move to the top tech hubs, where they can kick-start their career with one of the giants. For example, Vancouver is the home of Hootsuite, Amazon, Microsoft, Slack, and many more, so a few years spent in the city can be an excellent way to get lots of valuable experience.
- Start getting tech internships
Even if you haven’t started your studies yet, it’s never too early to get some tech internships and start building up your resume. The tech industry’s top jobs are incredibly competitive, and employers will want to see some big names or plucky startups in your portfolio, so it makes sense to get a tech internship as soon as possible.
To start with, you may want to look at job shadowing for a couple of days, where you basically follow someone who does the job you want to see if it’s really what you want to do. You can then look for more involved internships where you take on assistant roles and learn new skills on the job. Many paid internships can even lead to permanent roles within a business, so work hard and make a good impression, and you never know where you might end up.
- Build a portfolio from day one
You may think portfolios are only for creative careers, but they can be useful for those in the tech industry as they show tangible results from your work. It’s easy to build a tech portfolio, and there are lots of formats you can save it in, from a PowerPoint presentation to a website.
Hiring staff in tech can be difficult because it’s easy for people to exaggerate their skills or claim to have experience in areas where they haven’t done much. A portfolio shows precisely what you’ve worked on and the results you’ve gotten, as well as testimonials from those you’ve worked with, as an easy way to prove your skills and experience.
- Network and attend industry events
Networking is critical in any industry, and especially in tech, which can be quite tight-knit. People in tech will often hire those that they know through previous projects or people they have met at industry events, so some of the best jobs may not be found through listings. Even if you’re still a student, you can find networking events through your college or local groups, which can put you in touch with those already working in tech.
Industry events such as conferences can also be useful for those who are just getting into tech. There are often useful talks and workshops, so you can work on your skills, as well as social events where you can mingle and network. Many events offer discounted tickets to students or those just starting out, so you don’t have to spend a fortune to benefit.
- Brush up on your people skills
The stereotype of people in tech being anti-social or working alone is long dead. Nowadays, tech requires high levels of teamwork, collaboration, and social skills, so it’s essential to be able to demonstrate these skills at interviews. Take opportunities at college, such as working on team projects, and consider joining some social groups, so you can show that you work well with others.
There has never been a better time to choose a career in tech, as it affects so many areas of people’s lives. While it is a challenging area to study and requires many specialist skills, it can be a rewarding career path and allow you to work in different countries and industries, as well as earning an excellent salary for your efforts.