Making a career change into the tech industry can be very intimidating for a lot of people.
The vast amount of information you need to learn, and the speed it develops at, means that it can be really difficult to know where to start.
I know this because before I joined tsf.tech (it’s been a month already!), and before my career in tech, I was a teacher for 10 years.
In this blog, I’ll be explaining how I got into the tech world. I’ll discuss some of the challenges I came across and give you some real-world advice on what you need to think about if you want to get into tech too.
Where to get started?
Everyone will have their own personal reasons as to why they want to make the switch into tech.
For me, I always enjoyed problem-solving and applying technology to make people’s lives better. I had been tinkering around with little bits of programming while I was teaching and eventually I started to enjoy the coding a lot more than the teaching!
It was time for a career switch for me.
But it was hard to know where to get started with tech. One option would be to teach myself, but that could mean struggling for years to try and learn everything.
The other option, which I think is one of the quickest ways for people to get into tech, is to attend a coding boot camp. Places like this can teach you in a couple of months what it might take you years to learn on your own.
Go with Northcoders!
If you are looking for a coding boot camp, I’d recommend looking at Northcoders. They are probably one of the best coding boot camps in the country.
It’s not the easiest to get into, but once you are in you will spend the next four months learning something new every day which is fantastic!
It’s a very intense learning experience (Mon–Fri for 14 weeks!), but one of the great things about Northcoders is that they get you doing peer programming right from the beginning, which is a great way to learn.
This process is great for people just getting started as it takes something like coding, which could be quite solitary, and turns it into a more social experience. You have somebody to talk to, to bounce ideas off, and that makes the work fun.
It takes a lot of work to get started, but when you are in a coding boot camp like Northcoders, you are actually building something which is rewarding.
When everything comes together it makes you forget about all the times you’ve been pulling your hair out!
Choosing your path in tech
The next hurdle is making the decision about what to learn and what path to take.
It can be really tempting to get swayed by all the nice new technologies out there but try to keep it simple and, whatever you do, don’t start with AI or machine learning!
How to look for new tech roles
Once you have got the basics, you can start looking on the job boards for a new tech role. However, always take the job descriptions with a pinch of salt and don’t let their requirements put you off applying.
Often, job boards will list a load of required skills on a junior position that are really for a mid-senior level role which will look for experience with things like Node or Python.
You can always get started on these languages by using things like freecodecamp.org which give you a fantastic grounding and you can see if you enjoy them or not.
But some people might not have the logical mindset for coding, and that’s fine too! Getting into tech doesn’t mean you have to only become a programmer. You can move into the project management side (like James at tsf.tech) or take on more client-facing roles within a tech company.
A lot of the people at tsf.tech are very technical but also understand the project management process and how to approach clients.
So, even if you looked into tech, tried it and realised it wasn’t for you, that’s not a bad thing because that technical literacy is really important. There aren’t a lot of people out there who can do something else and talk about technology, so you can use that in almost any other job you go for.
Deciding where to work
Another really important thing to consider when looking at getting into tech is deciding on what kind of company you want to work for.
I’ve always really enjoyed working in smaller organisations where you can make a difference. In a big organisation, it can be easy to get swallowed up and go about your work unnoticed.
Also, with a large company, you might spend months in a new position not actually getting to do any programming. They have their three-month induction processes of learning how to do things which can be frustrating for some people.
When I joined tsf.tech, I got thrown into a project on day one which was brilliant!
It’s all about personal preference. If you don’t mind taking the initiative and trying to work things out for yourself, then a startup or a small organisation is great. You can get exposed to different parts of the business and you won’t be siloed in one area.
So, if you are looking at getting into tech, I’d say just go for it! Start simple by learning some of the basics and get yourself into a boot camp to get some hands-on experience.
Then, you can decide what part of tech you like the most, and follow that path.
I hope you have found this useful. If you have any questions or would like to hear more about how to get into tech, check out episode 11 of our podcast “From the Factory Floor”, where myself and James go into more detail. Alternatively, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.