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How to get into tech

Friday, February 14, 2020

A career in tech is full of possibilities – from manufacturing to computing through pharmaceutics and engineering. Technology is fast-moving, endlessly innovative and financially rewarding.
A recent study from the British Chamber of Commerce found that three out of four UK businesses reported a digital skills shortage. This means salaries for the right people are going up. According to the Tech Nation Survey 2017, the average salary in tech is now just over £50,000 – 44% higher than non-digital jobs.

Aside from those who have completed a four-year degree in IT, there are other pathways you can take when changing careers and to get into tech. In other words, anyone can dive into a career in tech who is looking for a challenging project.
We have listed some of the ways you can get into tech.
Explore what type of role you’re looking for

Before diving into learning new skills and building a portfolio on what you have learnt, it is important that you take time to research and understand what roles exist in the tech industry. If you feel excited or are passionate about a certain career, the extra motivation will help you when making the transition. You may not get your dream job straight away, so be prepared to work hard. Getting into the tech industry with no or little experience is about working your way up and excelling in early roles.

Learn tech skills

Learning tech skills is an essential thing to look at when trying to get into the tech industry. Before searching for courses, it is beneficial to figure out what type of field you would like to enter. Tech is an umbrella term, covering everything from IT, designing, and electronic engineering to pharmaceuticals and computer science. Identifying specific skills for the job role you are interested in is strongly advised as skillset can vary greatly from one job to another. 
Although studying a four-year degree may not be on the cards, there are other resources, education and training that are easily accessible to help you learn new skills.

To get you started, you could search for a Google Garage in your area. They offer free short courses, both offline and online - from coding to the basics of machine learning. It won’t teach you all you need to know but it will give you the basics. Most importantly, it’s a great way to test out whether you’d enjoy doing this longer term and more in-depth.

 

Apprenticeships are a great way to get a head start in your future career and earn money at the same time. You’d learn practical and theoretical skills tailored to a job role and would get a recognised qualification at the end.

Many companies are realising their value. Apprenticeships are available at levels ranging from NVQ Level 2 right up to honours degrees and beyond. “The new degree apprenticeships, in particular, are really set to shake up the way we bring people into industry,” says Colin Bannister, head of presales, northern EMEA, at global tech company VMware. “You can get a recognised degree without any of the debt and, in the intervening period, work and earn a salary.”

Another advantage is that after training and teaching you all there is to know about a job for a minimum of 12 months – it is more than likely that the company will offer you a permanent position on completion of your apprenticeship.  

Check the The Growth Company: Education and Skills website, they offer apprenticeships ranging from Design Engineer to IT Assistant through Data Analyst.

Finally, it is always worth reaching out to others in that field to see what programmes and courses are helpful.

 

Take on technical mini projects

The best way to get yourself into technology is by throwing yourself in the deep end and starting to tackle mini projects. You can find mini projects online or set yourself goals that you need to complete. These mini projects can be completed in your spare time or alongside your current role. Building your experience and developing your knowledge within the tech industry will help you to build your portfolio for when you start to apply for jobs. These mini projects can be in a field where you want to develop or if you want to gain some experience in other areas of tech.

 

Once you’ve identified what skills you need to learn, you could invest in a textbook that’ll include case studies, mini projects and theoretical knowledge. Alternatively, there are tons of tech-specialised website that provide mini projects and resources for students and hobbyists, check EletronicsForu and Technology Student.

If you find yourself a mentor (see section below), they should be able to give you practical exercises, supporting you in the process and showing you best practices.

 

Look into getting a mentor

Working with someone who is already tech savvy and has experience in the field you’re looking to get into is a great way to develop your skills. Sometimes it can be difficult to teach yourself everything online and you’re bound to have questions that you want to ask, so having a mentor is perfect for those moments. Ideally you can arrange dates to meet with your mentor, or you can speak more regularly over the phone. Find someone who you can learn from, and also let them learn from you.

You can find a mentor by attending tech networking and social events (see section below) or by posting on LinkedIn or Twitter. You could even search for tech specialists in your area and message them directly – see if they’d be interested in having a chat around a coffee. They might not have the time to become a full-time mentor but could signpost you to the right organisations/people or give you valuable tips.

 
There are lots of great schemes out there that can help match you with a mentor, like MentorSET - a paid-for mentoring scheme to help women working in STEM. They provide independent mentors who understand the challenges faced and who can provide support and advice. Free options include, Horse's Mouth - a social network for informal mentoring, Tech Manchester – regularly organises events connecting start-ups with mentors. Check Manchester Digital website for the next Talent Day event - the largest digital careers fair in the North and a must-attend event for anyone looking to work in the digital, creative and tech industries. Tickets to Talent Day are completely free of charge and are open to anyone looking for a career in digital or tech. It’s also a good networking opportunity.

 

Network
Making connections is really important when you’re trying to break into the technology industry. Attending meetups and conferences is a great way of getting yourself out there, it doesn’t have to be awkward or difficult as you can attend meetups aimed at those who are new to the industry. Meeting like-minded people is also another way to gain more skills, expand on the ones you already have and even teach others what you have learnt already. Networking also gives you a feel for how different companies operate and implement tech skills into their businesses. Check websites like Tech Manchester,  Meet Up, Stem Women Place Tech and pro-manchester to find a tech group near you.

 

 

The technology sector can offer a lot of employment opportunities. However, it has become apparent that several tech companies have trouble finding tech talent. It is often that when looking for a new job you will come across countless tech jobs which you may feel are out of your reach. But a tech career is easily attainable for people from many different backgrounds, sometimes you just need a little help on where to start and we’re here for that.

Get in touch today for one of our expert recruiters to help you achieve your career goals.