Breaking Into the Tech Space: A Beginner's Guide
If you want to start your career in the tech industry, but don’t know where to begin, it can be hard to get your foot in the door. Many people try to jump right into app development or coding, but these positions are often filled by people with extensive experience and aren’t usually an option for beginners.
However, there are plenty of other tech jobs available – you just need the right training! Read on to learn how to break into the tech space so you can land your dream job and start off on the right foot with your new career.
Understand That There Are Different Ways to Break-In
The tech space is a big and often overwhelming place, but it doesn't have to be. When you’re just starting out, it can be helpful to think of entering tech in terms of small steps.
If you’re trying to figure out how to break into tech, first decide what type of role or job you want: front-end developer? UX designer? Then ask yourself where your current skill set falls short (C++? or Linux?). If your goal is a more specific role than I want to work in tech, try reaching out via social media or cold emailing people who do what you want to do. I'll dive deeper into this in the next article.
Choose Your Path
The tech space is vast and intimidating. Luckily, there are several different paths to get started, with varying levels of time commitment. The most obvious choice for beginners is a free web development course offered by major companies like Google or Microsoft.
Other free offerings, including Codecademy and Treehouse, teach programming languages like Python and Ruby in as little as four hours of video content. Then there’s Udacity, Coursera, entry-level, ingressive for good, SheCode Africa, Empower Her Community, HerTechTrail, Zuri, Enyata community etc., online learning platforms that also offer dozens of full-fledged classes taught by instructors at top universities around the world.
Build Skills, Build Connections
The tech industry is competitive and can be intimidating to newcomers. However, it’s important to remember that not only is there a huge demand for technically skilled individuals, but also a large community of fellow developers who are willing to help each other out.
It may take some time before you get your first break—whether it’s landing an interview or finding a freelancing gig—but investing in your skills and reaching out via social media is always a good place to start. Then all you have to do is make sure they know how awesome you are!
If possible, getting face-to-face with like-minded professionals is crucial; networking events (both online and in-person) can provide opportunities for collaboration, team building, and new skills development.
Start small, work hard
Some aspiring techies try to learn everything at once. While it’s important to understand how things work and to get a strong foundation in some of the key concepts, you should avoid getting overwhelmed. For example, learn HTML or CSS before moving on to other languages or frameworks. They provide valuable skills that you can use when learning something new.
You don’t have to master all of them—in fact, you shouldn’t try—but knowing what each language is used for will help you find your niche in tech (and make it easier for people who are hiring developers to understand your strengths). When building websites and applications, breaking up large tasks into smaller ones is crucial.
Start From Where You Are
Don’t let your lack of experience or a fear of making mistakes hold you back. If you want to work in tech, it all starts with learning as much as you can about it and continuing to educate yourself throughout your career. The fastest way to become an expert is to dive in and learn as much as possible—don’t be afraid of getting things wrong along the way.
After all, people have been learning since they were born; we’re all still figuring things out. Starting from where you are now puts you ahead of everyone else who hasn’t even begun yet! It’s OK if you don’t know what something means, ask someone. It will take time for everything to click into place, but don't give up until it does.
You might feel overwhelmed at first, but if you keep moving forward and focusing on small steps instead of big leaps, you'll get there before long. And remember that everyone was once in your shoes—many successful professionals started their careers without any experience or connections, so there’s no reason why that shouldn't be true for you too! With some persistence and perseverance, anyone can break into the tech space.
Observe, Learn, and Act
Every industry is different, and your introduction to it will likely be different from anyone else’s. For those just starting out in tech, I recommend observing from afar before making a move. Don’t just jump into it blindly; learn as much as you can about it and make sure you understand exactly what interests you.
The bottom line is that there’s no right or wrong way to start your career, but there are many smart ways of doing so! So do some research and don’t get too bogged down with how-to. Learn by doing!
Once you feel comfortable enough with your knowledge, try taking small steps toward an introduction—whether that means networking at local events or participating in hackathons—and then see where things go from there.
Just remember: be patient with yourself; mistakes are okay along the way. Remember why you want to pursue tech, and always stay true to yourself.
Know When to Ask for Help
When learning a new skill or trying to learn something new, it’s easy to get frustrated. And while taking a break every now and then is good for your health, you also shouldn’t feel like you have to plow through every problem on your own. That said, when you do reach out for help, try asking specific questions and keep things focused on what specifically isn’t clear.
It can be tempting to want an answer to everything all at once—but that doesn’t usually lead anywhere. Asking questions, one at a time can keep things more concrete—and possibly even (dare we say) more fun? If you don’t know where to start, there are plenty of free resources online that are worth checking out.
One of my favorites is Stackoverflow—you can ask literally any developer questions and find answers from people who really know their stuff. Another great resource for beginner-level information about coding and web development is Free Code Camp. These types of sites will provide introductions to lots of different technologies without overwhelming you with information from day one.
They're especially useful if you're interested in diving into multiple areas because they'll give you exposure to many different ways of thinking about programming, not just one particular language or technology stack.
Have a Vision and Write it Down
The first step in breaking into tech is to decide why you want to work in tech. If you’re like most people, it’s because you enjoy it and have a passion for technology. Before anything else, write down your vision of where you see yourself going with your career.
Write out all of your goals and what skills you need to learn in order to get there. Write out any personal traits that will be necessary for success. Be as specific as possible so that you can put together a plan on how exactly you are going to achieve your dream job. Make sure to revisit your plan every few months or so and make adjustments as needed.
As you gain more experience, more connections, and more knowledge about your industry, things may change! Keep an open mind about adapting your plans. Your initial goals may change slightly, but make sure that they still align with who you are as a person. Do not let others pressure you into changing everything. Once you have your personal vision written down, start taking steps towards achieving those goals. You will begin to make progress almost immediately!
When you’re just starting out, it can be tempting to look for a steady job. And there’s nothing wrong with that—everyone has to start somewhere. But remember, your career is yours, and no one will take better care of it than you. Take control of your career by keeping your options open, working hard, and never settling for a job that isn’t right for you.
Sure, being employed at a well-known company or in an exciting industry might seem appealing, but if you don’t love what you do every day, it won’t matter where you work. Do you want to work for yourself? That takes time and dedication; so make sure your career goals are realistic and achievable before taking any steps toward making them happen.