If you love working with computers, you may wonder if you should pursue a tech career. Tech is a competitive field, but it is also one with many opportunities. You can position yourself as someone who is well prepared before attending your first interview.
Tech is one of those industries where people tend to be passionate about what they do, and even those who have formal education tend to be self-taught to some degree as well. There is a lot you can do before or alongside your education. Teaching yourself a programming language, working on an open-source project and building a website or an app are all excellent ways to learn more and find out whether you have the aptitude and appetite for this career path. This will also help you start to familiarize yourself with the tools, which change quickly in the tech world. Knowing what they are and how to use them before you walk into a job interview will help you stand out compared to other candidates.
Going to College
Most jobs in tech require a college degree. You should do research to find out which ones offer the types of programs you are most interested in. For example, different schools may have particularly strong programs in robotics or video game design or cybersecurity. You should also figure out how you will pay for it. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid can help you determine what type of federal aid you are eligible for. You can supplement any federal aid with a loan from a private lender, or you can get all of your student loans from a private lender if you are ineligible for federal aid.
Networking and Exploring Job Roles
You should get to know as many people as you can. Attending professional conferences, following and interacting with people online, joining student organizations and talking to your classmates and professors are all excellent ways to network. You can also ask people at companies you’d like to work at if they would meet you for short informational interviews. As long as you promise to keep these short, such as half an hour over coffee, many people are amenable to taking a little time to chat with you. You may also have access through your school to alumni and mentors.
Develop Your Soft Skills
You’ll be entering a world where you are competing with a lot of people who have tech skills similar to yours. What many of them won’t have are what are often called soft skills. Soft skills are things like communication, relationship building and leadership qualities, and these are the abilities to take you to the top. Contrary to what you may have heard, it’s also absolutely possible to learn them. Take classes in subjects like philosophy, English and psychology that teach you ways to think and write critically that may differ from what you are learning in your STEM classes. You should also take advantage of opportunities to work within any student organizations on campus that are related to your interests, even and perhaps especially those that have nothing to do with tech.