Okay, so you’re interested in tech but how do you get started? This is a question I get all the time. Where do I begin? How can I be more successful? Do I have to go to school? Don’t worry, I have answers. When I say breaking into tech, I don’t mean a how-to on Kool-Aid Man-ing through the wall yelling, “Code yeah!” and then expecting everyone to be excited to see you there. I’m going to lay out a methodical plan that’s 1) going to take time 2) take effort and 3) require some networking.
And I know a lot of you may already have careers in tech and you’re already hovering over the delete button— but hang on just a sec. This not only involves you but helping people trying to get into the industry is a place where you honestly have a lot to gain. So just keep reading.
For my active listeners— a podcast version:
For the Master Plan:
To those of you that went the college/bootcamp route, congrats you’ve already got a head start. If networking is at the core of how you’re going to land your next job (spoiler alert, it should be), bank on those commonalities and communities you’re already subscribed to. Reach out to people who are already in your network and stay after it. You already have the skills, but you have to keep making those connections. Here’s an example— say you follow someone successful in the industry on Twitter. You both went to the same college and got the same degree but you think they may be able to help you further your career. Whether it’s a trauma bond or alumni nostalgia, you’ve shared an experience. So when they post about how terrible your football team did— just comment, like or interact with the post. And there you are, someone who didn’t exist to them at all and now there you are with your lil’ virtual presence. Keep this up with lots of people, and then shoot them a message asking for a chat (more on what to say in a sec). Worst case scenario, they don’t respond. Best case, you’ve established a great connection by not just being another random person sliding into their DMs.
Okay so those of you who took a different path:
No College, No Bootcamp, No Problem
So you decided to take the hard road. Don’t worry, I can break down what to do really simply. But, just so you know, you trying to start your career just became your full-time job. Here’s what your day should look like:
Wake up, and open your socials. This is the time people are most active online.
LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok— all of them. This is your time to engage, like, comment, and DM— let’s make connections
If you feel like you have nothing to offer because you’re new in your career, you’re wrong. Ask people about themselves and their specific expertise. We’re all on socials because we want to be seen and heard, right? There’s a HUGE difference between, “Can you help me” and “Will you tell me more about how I can leverage (something) more efficiently."
Girl’s gotta eat.
Time to start studying. Or better yet, scheduling and having all those calls you’ve landed through networking.
Anatomy of a Good DM
Name one person that doesn’t like this.
Ask a specific question
Ask them about something you know they like to talk about.
A specific amount of time you’d like to talk to them
Throw “a second of your time” and “just 5 minutes” out of your vocabulary. We’re giving people exact amounts.
Here’s an example that would work for me: Hi Taylor, I look forward to reading your newsletter every week, especially when you’re talking about how to break into tech. I’m new in my career, and am looking to learn more about how I can better leverage my content on Twitter and LinkedIn. I would love to set up a 7 minute call with you early next week.
See that wasn’t so difficult.
Okay last step in the plan. If you’re a Junior DEV, get out there and build something. And build something publicly. Make sure that you have a presence online where you can ask questions and get feedback from people. If you’re passionate about something, people are going to care about your content. That’s worth so much more than perfecting a skill that you may never use.
If you’re moving into tech from another career, think about pitching and developing a tech solution that could help your old job. You’ve got some skills and the knowledge, combo them. If you have an app/website/whatever on the ground and running, think about how impressive that will look during your next interview. If you see a gap in a business, approach them with a solution that you can develop. You never know where these connections may lead. To you guys already in the tech world, here is where you may be able to grab some personal gain. Sure you might have to hop on a couple calls and give some advice, but the lens of a younger or newer person in the industry is invaluable. They’re going to see problems, solutions and perspectives you may never get from those guys higher up the ladder.