Is it Possible to Transition to a Career in Tech?
The tech industry continues to grow, and the good-paying jobs it offers — many with quirky, fun benefits and perks — can be attractive. But are they totally out of reach if you don’t already have a background working in the industry?
No, they’re not. With hard work and perseverance, it’s possible to make a career change and transition into the tech industry. Here’s how.
Look for Crossovers
Josh Lindenmuth is the CIO at Payce Inc., a mid-sized payroll and HR outsourcing firm. He says the company has a few people on its technology team who were previously in non-tech positions, including himself, and he recommends starting your move into the tech industry by looking for a crossover role.
“Technology teams typically have positions that are 50 percent tech and 50 percent business,” Lindenmuth says. “Examples include business analysts and quality assurance specialists. If you have strong skills in an existing industry, you can likely transition into a more technical position by first moving into one of these crossover positions.” Working on your education, collaborating on projects and working closely with tech employees at your current workplace can also help position you for a transition to tech.
Teaching yourself tech skills is an inexpensive way to prepare yourself for a move into the tech industry and a great way to demonstrate your motivation and ability to develop new skills on your own.
“My biggest advice to newcomers to tech is to consume information voraciously,” says Allen Cheng, co-founder of PrepScholar. “Find the top five books in your domain and the top five books about tech in general — I recommend 'Lean Startup' above all.” He recommends reading bloggers who do the job you want and going through their archives to learn as much as possible.
“After you're done, keep up the hunt for new information by branching out to deeper topics. Thousands of people have already made the transition you're planning — benefit from their expertise.”
Get Experience Where You Can
Alexander Wise, digital media analyst at seoWorks, didn’t start out in tech: He went to school for PR and took a single class on Web design. “I transitioned gradually to the tech side of marketing by intentionally positioning myself in roles that would move me toward working with websites,” he says.
Wise’s first jobs were in public relations, but he was able to get some experience in updating websites and social media pages. “By featuring this experience on my resume, I got my foot in the door with a digital marketing agency in South Florida, where I got a good mix of experience with traditional marketing and digital marketing, including a lot of hands-on work with websites, content management systems, and HTML/CSS,” he says. “I also got to learn a lot more about search engine optimization and UI/UX, which led me to my current job in search engine optimization and website consulting.”
The transition didn’t happen overnight, but rather evolved from cultivating experiences and strategically marketing himself until he got a tech job, Wise says. “I think this is true for most people who break into technology without having the background for it. You slowly build the experience until you know what you're doing and can call yourself an expert.”
Highlight Your Achievements
People who accomplish things in any position can be attractive to those hiring for tech positions, says Russ Schramm, head of talent acquisition for Philips. “We focus on meaningful innovation here and need people who can bring their own unique passions, interests and experiences to create a positive difference in the world,” he says. “So while any career transition can be a challenge, the impact someone has had, however non-technical, is what job-seekers should emphasize when transitioning toward the tech industry.”
Check out openings on Monster to find tech jobs in your area.