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How to get started as a newbie in technology?

Tisha
Recent Masters in IT graduate with a bachelors in Economics working in Cyber Security and passionate about not just the tech but also the people angle to security!
・5 min read

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Firstly, who am I?

I am a first-year Master of Information Technology student from a slightly different career path. After getting a bachelor’s in Economics and working for over a year, I decided I want to change my career path and pursue a degree in IT. I have always been inclined towards IT but somehow ended up choosing a different path for my undergrad, but even then, I always found myself coming back to it and that’s why last year I finally decided to stop being a Boomerang and pursue a Masters in the same.
Being a beginner myself, I understand making a career change is not an easy feat, so I wanted to share some tips that make sense to me and I feel which might help you make your career transition a little smoother.

1. Get inspired

I feel we can be a bit better at everything we do, it if we have the right dose of inspiration. That doesn’t mean reading inspirational quotes all day long is somehow going to make you a kickass programmer. What I meant by it is, it will prepare you with the right mindset to start with.

If we have people like us to look up to, it is easier for us to relate and see ourselves in that position. Especially if you are a newbie women entering in technology, you might sometime question your skills in relation to your gender mainly because of the low percentage of female figures you can look up to when you consider the field of technology. Don’t let this deter you!

Dig deeper and you’ll find women played a key role in the early stages when programming was just emerging as a field. In fact, the first computer programmer Ada Lovelace was a woman. So why would you even for a minute believe you’re not cut for it?

2. Accept the Steep Learning Curve

Coding is not easy. It is often frustrating and doubting yourself and your ability is given. You need to understand you are learning a language to speak to machines, they can’t read your facial expressions and guess what you’re trying to say, if you can’t form coherent sentences that they understand. It is going to do exactly what you ask it to, this might seem like an obvious statement, but you’ll be surprised to see how many times you mess things up because you’re not thinking how the machine will understand what you are saying. I feel the moment you start realizing and start thinking this way is the moment you start falling in love with programming.

So, the earlier you accept that you won’t be writing magical codes overnight and that as learning any language it takes time and practice to be good at it, the better the journey gets.

3. Be part of the community

I have lost count of the number of times I have started to learn to code and quit mid-way mainly because I was doing it alone and didn’t have a support system. So, if you’re not enrolled in a degree and you don’t have a community of people who are in the same journey as you, it will be very easy to give up when the going gets tough.

In these cases, attending tech events locally, having a presence online, will give you more confidence and hold you accountable and anyway, learning is more fun when you have people to do it with.

Check out the #womenintech #100daysofcode #codenewbie #womenwhocode on Twitter and Instagram and you’ll find so many inspiring people on this journey with you. Also, signup on Meetup app and I’m sure wherever you’re you’ll find tech events around you that you like, if not why not go ahead and start one?!

4. Follow a curriculum

Technology is quite a broad field with new shiny stuff popping out every day, that will probably entice you and end up convincing you to pause what you started with and try a different and probably ‘better’ thing that’s ‘in’ the market. Even though it is hard to resist temptation, it most definitely is a wise choice to make especially when you’re just starting.

Not just the new technologies even when picking up your first language, it is so easy to sink into the vicious cycle of googling and researching the best/beginner-friendly language to start with, I think I have read a post about almost every language justifying how it is the easiest and best language to start with.

So, in this case probably the best way is to first figure out, what is it you want to work with websites, apps etc., and learn the technology that is best suitable for that. E.g. FreeCodeCamp is a good option to start with if full stack development is your end goal. In the end, the first language you learn, whatever it is will be the hardest. It is better to stick to it and learn it efficiently rather than try and be a jack of all trades.

5. Accept your achievements

If you have lingered around contemplating a career in technology for a while, you might have come across the term 'Impostor Syndrome’. Wikipedia defines it as ‘a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud"’. This is a very common feeling, especially when starting out.

Every time, I solve an algorithm challenge or code a functionality that works, I have this feeling that it just happened this time, somehow by fluke and I’ll probably not be able to do it again.

It is so important in that case to reason with yourself and just accept your achievements, trust your abilities and the fact that you know how to do it. This is something you will need to work with quite often, and I am not sure if it goes away, I haven’t really met someone who doesn’t face impostor syndrome now and then, but you’ll get better in dealing with it. (I feel with this point, I’m trying to convince myself more than anyone here)

6. Keep going

In the end, like with everything the key is persistence. There are so many people out there who have succeeded in this journey just because they were consistent with their effort.

At the point I am today, the end seems so far in terms of the level of coding skills I wish to attain but again it is much closer than where I was a year back.
So,trust in yourself and keep going! 😊

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