Guest blogger Lisa Froelings is a business and productivity consultant with over 4 years of experience in human resources working for a major retailer in the country before she decided to build her own business. Her interests include technology, mindfulness as well as time management. You may connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Many people who lack a STEM background are intimidated by the tech industry. They picture highly technical jobs surrounded by highly driven and intelligent people that have dedicated their lives to niche technologies that are incredibly difficult to program and design for. If you want to get a tech job, they say, you need years of experience. You must be a specialist.
However, intensive training isn’t as necessary as you may think. Every year, people transfer from non-IT positions to technological roles within their current company or join a new company altogether. In fact, transitioning into tech will only get easier in coming years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics believes that tech jobs will increase by 22% through 2020. Considering that there is already a talent gap and businesses can’t find the technical professionals they need, there is plenty of room for new employees to enter the field.
Yet transitioning careers isn’t easy. It takes hard work, luck, and smarts, but there are a few things you can do to boost your chances of success and streamline the process. Here are 4 easy ways you can transition into a tech role in 2016:
1. Focus on the skills you have. Remember that technical ability isn’t everything. While tech companies have plenty of developers who sit at computers all day programming, there are even more financial advisors, sales teams, marketers, writers, customer service representatives, managers, and more. After all, it’s a business, not just a codebase. If you want to take on a tech role, consider first joining a tech company in a position similar to the one you have now. This experience can give you a better feel for how a tech company operates and the pace of the company while also adjusting you to working with technology products. If you’re unsure of what kind of tech role you want in the long-term, this option will get you in the door and expose you to what tech is all about and help you figure out what you want to do in tech.
2. Transfer within your company. The reality is that every company will soon have an IT department. The business will inevitably fail without it. The future lies with APIs and big data, automation and customer experience. What could be easier than taking on a new role with your current employer? Talk to your boss about your interests and see if they’re willing to transfer you to the tech department, even if just to work on a few projects while you keep your current position. All experience is good experience in this regard. Your knowledge of the company and relationships with employees make you an asset to the company, so capitalize on those advantages to leverage your way to gaining experience in your company’s tech department.
3. Teach yourself. If you’re serious about entering tech, then it’s time to take learning seriously. University is one option, but in all honesty, you will have more success teaching yourself considering how quickly the tech world changes. For example, if you want to be a software developer, online programs like Treehouse and CodeAcademy can get you started. Regardless of what tech position you want, sit down with experts in your chosen field and tech at large and get advice to direct your studies. If you’re interested in Photoshop designer, try becoming a freelance Photoshop designer and do a few projects on the side to build your portfolio. There’s no way to get those projects and job offers you really want until you prove that you have the knowledge and can execute a business’s needs.
4. Take a pay cut. This one stings, I know. Luckily, tech is a highly lucrative industry, so you can work your way back up to (and maybe even surpass) the paycheck you get now. But you can’t expect to change career paths and keep your salary in the beginning. Entering tech without much of a tech background means you will likely start at the bottom of the pecking order, and as you learn, you will move up. Accept the pay cut with grace, and you’ll find more companies will be willing to hire you, and you can start building the skills and experience you need to take your tech career to the next level.
Have you transitioned to tech from another field? Share your advice in a comment below!