Working in the tech industry is a dream for many. It is an exciting industry to work in, and many of the jobs in tech are well-paid, with some skills highly in demand.
It is no wonder that so many people want to move into the industry, whether it’s because they’re in a job that’s currently under threat of layoffs, or they want to do something different.
However, how do you move into a whole new industry when you still need to work full-time and support yourself? If you are willing to put the work in, there are ways you can move into tech without quitting your current job, so here are some things you can do to work towards this change.
1. I was reading up on the industry.
Moving into a different industry can be daunting, so it’s essential to do as much research as you can before taking the plunge.
You should read tech news sites daily, follow tech-focused social media accounts and blogs, and generally immerse yourself in the tech world. This will help you understand how the industry works, what kind of skills might be needed in the future, and what opportunities are available.
2. Getting to know people in the tech industry
Another way to get involved in tech before you join the industry is to network and meet others who already work in tech. This can be useful, as you can hear what it’s like in tech, and perhaps get a job shadowing opportunity or internship out of it.
Some of the ways you can meet people in the industry include:
- Going to industry-specific networking events
- Attending the big tech conferences or training days
- Finding networking events through your college
- Researching any local groups for those in tech
Networking at this early stage is an excellent way to get the first step on the ladder, even if you are still considering your career options or studying.
3. Tech roles may already be within your reach.
‘Tech’ actually covers a vast number of roles, from social media to programming, so there may already be opportunities for entry-level tech jobs within your grasp.
If you already have a full-time job, the business you currently work for may have tech-related openings, and you may be able to get a department transfer so you can work in a role that’s more relevant to your interests.
While you’re unlikely to get into the role of your dreams this way if you still need to work full time, then doing a low-level tech job will at least give you a bit of experience and opportunities to train, so you have some income while you take the next steps.
4. Tech careers usually require a college degree.
You may well have heard of famous people in the tech industry who dropped out of college or taught themselves IT skills, then become industry leaders, but these cases are rare.
Unless you have exceptional skills and talent, you’ll likely need to get a degree to get started in the tech industry.
While you may be worried about juggling a degree and work, you may be surprised how much more flexible colleges are nowadays for non-traditional students.
Options such as part-time and online learning have made it so that anyone with the determination which is willing to put in the effort could potentially get a degree.
Computer science is the most common degree choice, and while it’s a challenging major, it’ll put you in a good position for entry-level jobs once you graduate. This degree will vary from college to college, but in general, you’ll learn about:
There are usually a lot of different electives to choose from too, which can be useful for those who want to get into a specialist role.
If you already have a degree, then you may want to consider studying for a master’s in computer science at Wilfrid Laurier University, which you can do online. Having a master’s can give your career a boost and allow you to apply for better paid, more specialist roles when you graduate, so many people find it worth the effort.
5. Intern while earning
Career changers will often assume that they can’t take on an internship, as they perhaps see them as unpaid roles only suitable for college students.
However, unpaid internships are falling out of favor, due to the fact they can reflect poorly on the companies that offer them, so paid internships are becoming easier to find.
While this may mean a pay cut, paid internships can be extremely valuable in the long term, as they’re more likely to lead to a paid position at the end of it.
If you can’t find a paid internship, you may be able to find one that fits in with your full-time job. Some people switch to shift work or take paid time off so that they can squeeze in an internship, and while it’s tough to juggle both, it can be doable and get you the experience you need.
6. The value of your existing skills
While you may not know a programming language or how to fix a server, those who have previous work experience will often have skills that are relevant and useful to the tech industry and can already boost your resume.
You should not underestimate the importance of soft skills to employers. Any work experience in any industry will involve teamwork, time management, and people skills, which can already put you ahead of someone fresh out of college.
When you’re trying to break into tech, take stock of the skills you already have to offer, so your application has a better chance of success.
It can be hard work switching to a whole new industry when you still need to pay the bills. While it can take some time, you can break into tech by developing your career in your spare time, and with online learning and flexible internships, you can gain the experience and skills that you need to land your dream job.