How to get a job in tech/ digital (...or what worked for me)
**Update: I've now been in my job for nearly a year so I thought it about time I make a couple of changes to this post. Upon reflection, a lot of this advice is useful for graduates or those wanting to change their job regardless of the industry. I talk about several different things in this post, but if you don't want to read it all my advice constitutes of the following things:
#1 Free (or very cheap) online courses/ training
#7 Create something of your own
I can’t believe the moment has arrived where I finally have a job, let alone a “job in tech”, an industry I enjoy and am interested in. Something us ‘millennials’ or whatever you want to call us, have been told is an undeserved privilege. I’ve been hesitant to even mutter the words “I have a job” just in case someone takes it all away from me, which is a bizarre feeling, as I would usually describe myself as fairly confident (hello imposter syndrome). HOWEVER, I am HERE, and I am going to succeed. But along the lines of “it takes a village” I would not be in this position without the help of a special few and the support of this compassionate industry.
FURTHERMORE (Ella, you’re not at uni anymore, you don’t have to write in essay format) I have a couple of tips and tricks for those of you who are in the position I was last year (lost and confused) that have rendered me employed. I left all of the below feeling enlightened, supported, more confident and more empowered than I ever have before. I cannot emphasise enough how safe, inclusive and successful these spaces are and they’re yours for the taking!
#1 Free courses/online training Honestly, there are millions, some are great some are awful. Spend some time researching, look at people’s profiles on Linkedin to see what they’ve done, ask around, read reviews. But this is one of the reasons I’m so in love with the industry, you really truly can teach yourself a whole host of skills, usually for free! Below are a few of my favourites:
Sky’s Get into Tech
Code First Girls
Udemy (not free but v cheap)
These are the lifeline for job hunters, especially for those who aspire to work in tech. AS THERE ARE SOOOOOO MANY. They offer a wonderful starting point for networking, are usually open to all (including the ‘non-techy’), more often than not are free and give you amazing insights into many of the projects and career opportunities available. Many (or many of the ones I have been to) promote the much-needed push for equality and accessibility that the working world needs, but this is just one of the reasons I love events so much. You will meet people who are more than likely willing to help and guide you, learn skills in 15 minutes you didn’t think possible in a life-time and if you are really lucky, be presented with some opportunities that others may not (job application fast tracking, one-on-ones with role models, freebies, food, BEER). There are literally hundreds of these, and a simple search on Google or EventBrite is the best place to start. #3 Meetups Again, another invaluable resource, you can join as many groups as you like and attend as many as you like. Again, most are free and come with beer and pizza :))))) Similarly to the events you will be attending, you will meet inspiring, motivational and supportive individuals, perhaps just in more of an intimate setting. But don’t let that put you off, most of the MeetUps (unless very specific) are open to all, especially newbies. Trust me, there is a MeetUp for everything, and while they offer fantastic career and networking opportunities, they are a chance to meet like minded people and have a lil fun, which let’s be honest is more important.
#4 Twitter I was a Twitter-phobe until recently, mostly down to the sheer likelihood of embarrassing myself. But, you gotta do it folks. If not for anything other than following the inspirational people you’ve met at events and MeetUps. The benefits of sorting your Twitter out are boundless (networking, exposure, events, courses, job adverts etc.) I came across my most recent job on twitter because I followed a guy that spoke at one of the MeetUps I attended. I would not have seen it or known about it otherwise.
P.s. FOLLOW COMPANIES YOU’RE APPLYING TO, more often than not THEY CHECK. #5 LinkedIn Now’s your chance to connect with all the wonderful people you’ve started to meet, recruiters, your future manager, your professors, your uncle kn*bhead, old schoolmates you never wanted to see again, pretty much every man and his dog are on Linkedin. Your digital CV, your (professional ish) opportunity to show off, your chance to snoop on your role models. JUST.DO.IT. No arguing. Everyone, everywhere will check you’ve got a Linkedin (and that it’s up to scratch) and even if they don’t it’s a valuable resource for, you’ve got it - all together now, networking, events, courses, opportunities, job adverts etc. etc. Probably more important that Twitter, slap on a professional looking photo and you’re good to go.
P.s. You’ll hear this a MILLION times over, but when adding someone to your network, send them a lil message, everyone’s gotta feel special right?! #6 Shadowing
Or work experience. INVALUABLE, but probably the most controversial on the list, as you must be willing or ABLE to work for free, therefore, obviously it’s not for everyone or it CAN’T be for everyone. And rightly so. However, shadowing offers an one-of-a-kind insight into your potential future career. One that you will not receive from doing all of the above. This is more of a ‘warts n all’ approach, where you will learn the actual ins and outs of daily working life. I cannot stress enough how important this is, it’s all well and good being in love with the idea of coding or conducting user research or testing or hacking, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to be a little realistic. Recruiters love it, hiring managers love it, your future teammates love it, you’ll probably love it. Experience, even in the form of a couple of days, shows willingness, independence, initiative, backs up your claim that you actually want to be here and an ability to make things happen for yourself. Unfortunately (or not), these days, saying you like or want to do something is not enough, competition is at an all time high sis, it’s all in the PROOF. Not only that but it gives you a strong talking point in your interview, if you are a newbie (like myself). And maybe, just maybe, if the company has a spot, or more likely the funds, to accommodate you, you may even be offered a job. Regardless, your network will continue to grow, and if you are lucky, you will have developed a wonderful relationship with those you shadow (Hello Tejay, thank you a million times over). #7 Create something of your own Contrary to popular belief the tech/digital space is very very creative and regardless of what avenue you want to take, creativity is essential to success. Find your niche and create something of your own, no matter how small. A game, a blog, a design, a programme, a society, an event, a group or, hell you could even get yourself some qualifications. It may seem daunting now, but if you’ve been doing all of the above you will soon learn that with an equal mix of support and initiative (and IMO a cause) the world is truly your oyster. Again the tools are there (and for the most part, for free) and to most employers there’s no excuse. You need something to separate you from the crowd. Once again for the people at the back, it’s all in the proof! Make the most of the digital revolution peeps, not much is written in stone yet and the industry is SO much more malleable and accessible than many of the pre-existing ones. Ask for support, ask for advice on your projects, ask if you can take part, ask how they did it, ask what resources they use, ask if you can shadow, ask if you can attend whatever it is you want to attend and in my experience, you’re more than likely going to be pleased with the response.