How to Get Into Tech
How do you get a job in tech from scratch? Let’s get straight to it.
Below we’ve provided instructions on how to break into tech. Obviously, these instructions are guidelines so if you feel the need to deviate from them, please do! But overall, the nine steps given are how we and many of our colleagues and connections secured our first tech jobs.
- These instructions assume little or no tech training / experience so far. If you do have anything under your belt already, skip to the steps that will advance your existing skill set or alternatively, use this as a guide to develop some new tech skills.
- 80% of the effort happens before you even begin applying for job roles. This is because you’ll need a minimum level of knowledge for most tech jobs and the time you spend training and practicing will be essential in proving your enthusiasm for a career in tech.
- In terms of time scales, we are talking about months here. Not days or weeks. Equally, don’t let it slip into years. All of the below can all be done during evenings and weekends so certainly don’t feel the need to commit yourself to it full-time. However if you can, that will of course speed things up.
- Overview of Tech
- Develop Direction
- Beginners Training
- Evaluate Direction
- Intermediate Training
- Broaden Knowledge
Read on for the instructions to complete each step.
1. Overview of Tech
Welcome to step one in your tech journey! The aim here is to simply introduce yourself to the main areas of tech and understand what sort of jobs are on offer.
If you’re not sure what exactly tech is, we can help you out. Here, we’ve given a very brief explanation and overview of the tech industry.
Next, start reading broadly about the main areas of tech. If you’re unsure where to begin, start with these four essential topics. They include technologies such as artificial intelligence which frequently make headlines in mainstream media as well as topics such as DevOps which you may not have heard of but are critical behind-the-scenes of modern tech. If anything sounds especially interesting, use the links provided (as well as Google) to go into more detail.
Finally, turn to your favourite news outlet to get some opinions and insight into the latest tech developments. What have we recently managed to achieve with artificial intelligence? Have there been any major cyber attacks this month? What is the latest concern about the Internet of Things?
If you come across anything unclear or confusing, contact us and we’ll be happy to help you out!
2. Develop Direction
Be warned, this is frequently the hardest part of getting into tech. Developing a direction might take a few goes. Likely some guesses. And you’ll certainly get it wrong once or twice. However this is no bad thing; there is a huge amount of overlap between different areas of tech so even if you spend hours studying something that you later decide is not for you, we guarantee that it will not have been wasted time.
Ideally you will have developed an idea of the area(s) of tech that particularly interest you from step 1. More than one area is great, but as we move through the next steps, focus on just one at a time.
If you’re still unsure which direction you might like to try, do our tech personality quiz to get some tailored suggestions.
And if after that you still aren’t sure, then we’d recommend beginning with general Development. It means there will be an initial emphasis on coding (which is a skill that anyone working in tech should have at least some familiarity with) but if you decide it’s not for you, don’t worry! Coding is not required in many tech jobs.
So now, you should have one area of tech that you’d like to try learning about more seriously.
3. Beginners Training
Time to start developing your technical skills. We have created Learning Paths for each of the main areas of tech, designed specifically for people without a computer science degree background.
Whilst they will introduce key topics for each area, you will need to do some more research and reading of your own to develop a better understanding. For this, follow external links provided in the Learning Path or simply Google key concepts.
In terms of technical training, each Learning Path includes a training section. For some areas of tech, it will be pretty obvious. For example in Development, you’ll need to start learning a programming language. For Cloud, you will want to spend some time with one of the major cloud platforms.
Now is the time to learn lots. Enjoy what you are learning. And take as long as you need.
Follow the suggested structured courses to make sure you get the fundamentals covered, but also don’t be afraid to explore anything else that you come across. If you stumble upon some instructions on how to setup some network attached storage using an old computer, go for it! These weird little side-projects are extremely powerful, both for your own knowledge and for selling yourself to companies.
Don’t worry too much about industry recognised qualifications for now. That comes later.
4. Evaluate Direction
This is more of an on-going step, but take the time to evaluate the training and learning you have done so far.
Are you enjoying learning to write Python code? Does the idea of millions of unused data records scare you or excite you? How do you feel about the maths behind machine learning?
There are so many varied areas of tech that if you don’t like one, just try another! Systems and Infrastructure, for example, could not be more different to Data Science. And Web / App Design does not have that much overlap with Cybersecurity. Your main reason to get into tech should be because you enjoy the work and the possibilities (not to say there aren’t many other awesome reasons as well).
5. Intermediate Training
So by now you should have some know knowledge and skills in an area of tech that you enjoy. And hopefully you are looking forward to getting your teeth into some more advanced training and tools.
Whereas before, you may have been focusing on theory and fundamentals, try now to spend time with software and tools that are actually used within businesses. Structured training courses are still a good idea for this, especially since things are likely to get a bit more complicated.
Sometimes it is simply not reasonable to gain experience with a particular tool simply because it requires a full-sized business behind it to work (e.g. much of Big Data, Cybersecurity, Systems and Infrastructure). But even if you can spend an hour playing with a demo or just trying out the UI, it will still prove very useful.
Finally, it is at this point that industry recognised qualifications are sometimes worth considering. For the majority of people, they are not important or required until you actually join a company. But in some cases, they may be relevant. So read our guide to certifications here.
This step is all about demonstrating what you’ve learnt, where possible. For some areas of tech such as Service Management, you will be somewhat limited in what you can create by yourself. For other areas of tech such as Data Science, this is arguably the most important step when trying to get into tech.
If you have been learning about Web / App design, it’s now time to try launching your own website or application. You will find many tutorials available online for whatever tool you want to use to achieve this. If Cloud is your thing, then it’s time to try creating a cloud application. Perhaps you can even combine this with Web / App Design for hosting! For wannabe Data Scientists, find a dataset, clean it, analyse it, and visualise it. This might even overlap with Big Data work.
For all other areas, hopefully you’ve got an idea of the kind of mini-project you can do. If you’re unsure or in need of some inspiration, as always you can turn to Google or let us know and we’ll help you out.
Repeat only where required.
If you love what you’ve done so far and want to go further, then do.
If you love what you’ve done so far but also want to build up some additional skills to compliment your main skill set (we would highly recommend doing this), then start again from step 2. You might not need to go all the way to mini-project if it is just supporting knowledge.
If you’d like to try a different area of tech all together, then jump back to step 2 and go for it! You’ll be quicker and more experienced the second time around. None of the time spent learning so far will have been wasted.
8. Broaden Knowledge
The aim here is to avoid a common pitfall that many people trying to get into tech fall down. Don’t get tunnel vision.
If you are absolutely set on becoming the world’s best full-stack developer, you’ll still need to have some awareness of cloud technologies, how a website is built, what the ethical implications of artificial intelligence are, and much more.
So be sure to maintain broad tech knowledge whatever area you are interested in. Glance over the latest tech news. Spend a little time understanding core concepts in other areas of tech. Maybe try a tool that you would normally have no reason to use. It’ll make you a better all-round technologist.
There’s also a good chance this broad tech knowledge will help you during interviews and assessment centres. Hypothetical scenarios are common and shallow knowledge of a wide range of technology topics will often be assumed.
Congratulations! You’ve now done 80% of the work required to get into tech. Admittedly this final 20% of searching, applying, and interviewing for jobs can be an arduous process but you should be feeling confident given what you have now learnt and built.
The trickiest part of tech job applications is often knowing what kind of job roles are commonly on offer. A Google search will return an overwhelming number of job roles, all being described as very common and absolutely essential within the industry. So in case you haven’t seen this page already, check out our simple guide to real, entry-level job roles within tech.
Lastly, when you arrive at the point of CVs, applications, assessment centres, and interviews, demonstrating enthusiasm for tech is absolutely critical. Since tech is such a remarkable sector to work in, there are thousands of individuals trying to get into tech jobs and many, perhaps including yourself, will have very similar skill sets to each other.
So assuming your hard-skills are up to standard, it’ll be your genuine interest and willingness to learn new technologies that will set you aside. We cannot emphasise this point enough. Remember the reasons you decided to break into tech in the first place and let this motivation and self-starter attitude shine through!
If you need any additional support or advice, send us a message and we’ll help you out!
Concerned about not having a computer science degree? This is why it is actually an advantage.