Career Advice

No Computer Science Degree? No Problem

The stereotypical image of coding is often pounding a keyboard eight hours a day, sipping Red Bull in a cubicle. But the reality is that life in tech can be far more diverse and exciting.

Tech roles usually involve problem-solving and reducing complex ideas and processes into efficient, bite-sized pieces. Solutions aren’t achieved by workers toiling away alone, but by teams socialising and working through action plans. Certainly, work is accomplished solo, but tech departments aren’t vacuums.

With that in mind, it’s easy to see how so many different people could be great fits for a tech role. For example, artists and musicians make great coders. After all, they understand firsthand how to take a concept and bring it into reality. What’s more, tech jobs are often flexible. As developers move up to higher-level jobs, many remote tech roles are available, appealing to specific personality types and lifestyles (like working parents).

Why Consider this Route?

In fact, there are advantages to going into IT with an uncharacteristic background. If you think about it, different degree subjects develop different skill sets and ways of thinking. Many companies appreciate potential employees coming from a range of backgrounds (no degree, different degree, no experience) as each individual brings their own benefits.

Myths vs Facts

MYTHS:

  • You need a four-year degree in computer science to get into IT.
  • You need a technical degree to get an entry-level tech support job.
  • The things you need to know to excel in a technology job are only taught in college.
  • IT hiring managers care more about your educational credentials than anything else.

FACT:

  • If you search for job listings in areas of IT like web development, cybersecurity, software development, mobile app development and help desk support on top job posting sites like Indeed and Monster, you may notice a pattern in the listings’ qualification sections:

Transferable Skills

IT jobs aren’t reserved for math geniuses who prefer to work alone in dark rooms. The stereotype you might have in your head about who’s well-suited for a technology job couldn’t be farther from the truth in most cases. The skills you already have could help you get into IT.

Not a calculus whiz? You don’t need advanced math for a large majority of IT jobs. You just need a growth mindset and the wiliness to learn new things to help yourself and other people better harness the power of technology.

And if you’re a people person, you’re in luck. A big portion of tech jobs require you to work on teams or help colleagues figure out solutions to their technology problems. If you aren’t a people person, you actually might struggle in IT.

Communication, creativity, problem-solving and attention-to-detail – all skills you may already have – give you an edge if you’re switching careers into IT. As mentioned, most careers in information technology require you to work either on a team or with colleagues to tackle technology issues. This is where your transferable communication skill will make a difference.

Getting into Tech with No Experience

As you have little experience, you don’t know whether tech is suitable for you. Involve yourself in tech projects at your firm while keeping your current role or do so in your spare time!

  1. The first step: acquire some tech skills. You may not be able to go back to school for a full-fledged degree, and the next best thing you can do is to find out about courses that teach the most useful programs. Ask people who know. Check out online programs. Learn HTML, JavaScript, PHP, Python, or whatever you are comfortable with.
  2. Look at startups: Traditional tech companies are not always the best route for you. Try start-ups, which require people with well-rounded personalities and useful skills such as good communication skills. Of course, by this time you should have taught yourself some tech skills.
  3. Find a mentor: Someone who is tech-savvy and willing to help can be your mentor. A mentor can not only impart his/her skills to you but also help you settle down in the field.
  4. Follow your passion: Read all you can about developments in the sector. Attend seminars and conferences to listen to experts in the field.

If you are a senior professional already in a non-tech industry, you need to accept that you may be considered only for a junior position in the tech sector initially. But eventually, after you have made a name for yourself, you will be given a senior role.

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