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5 ways to break into a tech career

by Rebecca Acree, on Mar 18, 2020 4:02:13 PM

Before I landed my first tech job, I always assumed the industry was made up solely of software engineers, of technical geniuses who were all but born knowing how to code. I never thought it could have a place for me, someone who could barely tell Javascript from Greek. 

But much to my surprise, I discovered that you don’t need a STEM degree to land a great role in tech — the industry relies on the skills and expertise of all kinds of people, not just coders! Read on to learn about non-traditional ways to break into tech. 

Pick up some new skills

If you are interested in a technical role, but didn’t major in a STEM field, no need to worry. It's never too late to develop some technical skills! Coding bootcamps are an increasingly popular way to learn software engineering, data science, web development, and more. These bootcamps are designed to teach you everything you need to know to land a technical job, and some even come with hiring guarantees after graduation. They are a financial investment, however — if you’re looking for something more affordable, there are some great self-taught classes out there at online learning platforms like Khan Academy, Udemy, Codeacademy, and the like. 

Pursue non-technical roles

If coding isn’t up your alley, that’s okay! There are still plenty of opportunities for the not-so-technically minded among us. Tech companies are businesses like any other, after all — they need employees with a variety of skills to operate. Sales, marketing, finance, HR, and other non-technical roles are in high demand, too! This is especially true of bigger, more established companies, which tend to have more robust business teams.

Brush up on your industry knowledge

Fortunately, you don’t have to already work in the tech industry to learn about it. There are plenty of blogs, newsletters, podcasts, and books covering the latest and greatest in tech. Adding some of these to your regular rotation will help you get familiar with big names and trends — knowledge that could come in handy during an interview. The Axios Pro Rata newsletter, This Week in Tech podcast, and The Upstarts by Brad Stone are great resources to get you started. 

Network your way in 

Scan your network and look for any potential connections in tech. Chances are, you already know someone in the industry, and if you don’t, you know someone who knows someone. Reach out via LinkedIn or email to invite them for coffee, and use that opportunity to learn about their experiences in tech. How did they break in? What advice would they give to someone looking to get started in the industry? They may even be able to refer you to a potential job opportunity!

Consider smaller startups

Lastly, don’t forget to consider smaller startups. While they won’t be able to match the extravagant perks of the bigger companies, they might be more likely to be willing to take a chance on someone without any tech experience. A young startup is a great way to get your foot into the door and gain extensive hands-on experience — and who knows, it may even become the next big thing!