Published Jan. 10, 2020
Entering a new industry can be daunting, especially coming from other – often times more traditional – industries. As an industry that is often reliant on references and experience, it can also be hard to get started as a career changer. Some good things to know for fols doing the switch this year anyways.
You might already have a very fixed dream about where the journey is supposed to go: That cushioned job at Google, complete with catered lunches and incredible benefits, or maybe rather join a visionary entrepreneur as the first employee of the “next big thing?”. Maybe some better benefits, reasonable working times and a great office environment is exciting enough for you – as long as you can do what you love. Those are all great goals to have.
The truth is: We won’t be able to give you end-to-end advice on how you can enter an industry in this article, as the term “industry” is so widespread, especially in Tech. Whether you’re going for an ambitious big tech job or an exciting role at a new venture – the requirements are extremely different.
If you were not aware of these layers and possibilities in the tech industry, it may be a good moment to step back and talk to a professional. The change is best done when there is a clear goal, and somebody from the industry might be able to work out one of those with you.
Career changers are often tempted to whipe out their CV and start from scratch. What many don’t realize: You’re often ending up with less attractive credentials than before!
The special thing about the tech industry is that not a lot of businesses are serving the tech industry itself! That means that, by coming from a diverse background, you’re more likely to have interesting opinions and views on certain problems. That’s why the tech industry is a popular workplace for former journalists, veterans or even construction managers.
Instead of brushing your past experience under the rug, make it more prominent! Sell it as an exciting story, showing that you have more to offer than a few video courses on your back. A good CV is your first contact point and having a story to tell is a great way to stand out!
Career changers from more traditional industries are often tempted to go for a certain certification or course that offers a certificate. What happens is that people often have a long list of educational accomplishments on their CV – certificates from online courses, workshops and college lectures – but still don’t get invited to interviews.
The truth about the tech industry is that certificates don’t count here. There are other forms of validation, and a piece of paper is none of them. So instead of enrolling in another course and spending another bit of money, do the following:
All in all, great work will always impress hiring managers more than having invested 40 hours into a specific course and getting a certificate for that.
Internships in most other industries are hard, and usually only something that’s normal for students. While this is the case for many companies in the tech industry too, many internships offer a fair way to get your first piece of experience, with many companies offering upwards of $45,000 per year for interns, and top tech companies paying upwards of $90,000 per year, even outside of tech hubs.
Caution, though! There are bad players out there too who will try to get you for cheap labour and make you work insane hours for low pay. Just know that internships in the tech industry are not just something for teenagers, and the pay can actually be quite decent!
What changes is the commitment, and that makes it interesting to you too: If you have a small track record of employment, it’s a risk to bring you on. An internship is the perfect opportunity to look at your progress over a three month period. If it doesn’t work out, you got some experience. If it works out, you have a job!
Last but not least, don’t get into the habit of studying for the sake of studying. At some point, you should get your name out there and start trying things out. You are not burning any bridges and it’s better to do it earlier than later.