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The Best Ways to Get into the Tech Industry

The Best Ways to Get into the Tech Industry

Working in tech is a great industry to be in if you’re looking to work remotely or in another country. With the majority of tech firms offering remote working or having offices all across the world, it’s an awesome opportunity to work flexibly.

The cool thing about the tech industry is the variety of roles that you can apply for within tech businesses. From creatives to HR, to sales and marketing, to management, there’s a whole host of options out there if you want to work in the wonderful world of tech – it’s not just coders and tech bros! 

Not sure how to break into tech without having a ton of experience or without having a tech-minded brain? From my experience in the tech world, here are the best ways to get into the tech industry. 

Start at the Bottom

If you want to break into a new industry, you’ve got to be prepared to start at the bottom. Trying to get into a new industry is difficult, so you’ll probably need to build up your experience and your connections within the tech world. 

Whether that’s starting off as an intern, in a position that you’re not crazy about, or beginning your tech life on a temporary contract or maternity cover.

Many industries, including the tech industry, prefer to hire from within, so if you can get your foot in the door, you have a much better chance of climbing the ladder to your dream role in tech. 

Look at Transferable Skills

You’ve probably heard the term transferable skills a lot if you’ve been searching for a new job. Basically, it’s just looking at the work experience or academic experience you have and picking out the skills that apply to the job you’re going for.

For example, if you’re going for an admin position but haven’t technically worked in admin before, use work or school examples where you’ve been organized, had good time management, and solved problems. It applies to the role and shows you have the skills to get the job done.

Whether that’s research skills from your degree, customer service skills from hospitality or retail work, or organizational work from admin jobs, you can always find a way to make your experience work for you.

This is especially important if you don’t have a ton of actual work experience in tech – if you can show that you have transferable skills it’s going to go a long way to help your application. 

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Work Your Contacts

As the saying goes, it’s not what you know, but who you know. If you have any contacts in the tech industry, ask them about any vacancies and what it’s like to work there. You can also ask them what new skills or qualifications will help give you a leg up on the competition. 

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If you don’t have existing contacts in the tech world, hit up LinkedIn or go to real-world networking sessions. Connecting with people online or in person is a great way to see what kind of jobs and businesses are out there, especially in the area where you live.

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Learn a New Skill

If you know what kind of role in tech you want, but know that you’re not qualified yet, then you’re going to want to learn a new skill. Whether that’s bookkeeping, coding, web design, graphic design – whatever – take steps to teach yourself those valuable skills.

man coding in a cafe

You can look at online self-taught or video-led classes on sites like Udemy, Coursera, or Skillshare, or you can look for local community college or night school classes in your area that fit the bill.

If you want a particular job in tech that demands you have a certain skill, there’s no getting around it, you’re going to have to learn that skill one way or another! 

If you’re not sure what kind of job in tech you want, have a look at what kinds of roles are in demand. Check out tech industry-specific job boards and see which roles always seem to have vacancies.

It might be that there’s a surge of demand for coders who are proficient in a particular coding language, or that sales are booming in a certain region, so having a second language is helpful.

If you’re not sure what role you want to do, learn a new skill that’s in demand and on the rise – that’ll make you a commodity!

Be Flexible with New Locations

Although a lot of tech companies operate on a remote model, it might be that you have to be in a certain time zone or that you’ll have to come into a central office every couple of weeks. If this is the case, you might have more luck with vacancies if you’re open to relocation. 

a girl standing in Berlin, Germany
Maybe you could end up working for a big travel tech company in Berlin like me!

Depending on the business and the role, you may be able to negotiate some kind of relocation package as part of your joining agreement. This is obviously much easier if you’re single or don’t have a family, giving you more flexibility to move. 

A lot of big tech firms have multiple offices all around the world, so you might find that while the company has a branch near you, the department or role that you’re applying for may be elsewhere.

This is a big benefit of working in larger tech firms, as you can try out living in new countries and normally this includes visa sponsorship!

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Build Your Network

Off the back of working your contacts, you’re going to want to build a network. This is especially important if you’re in a sales or management style role where it’s beneficial to bring your contacts with you to a new role.

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If you’ve got a little black book full of useful influencers in the tech world, or even a list of potential clients that you have an in with, that’s a huge bonus. 

These don’t need to be best friends of yours, if you go to networking events or meet virtually on LinkedIn or Instagram and get talking about the industry, you may have an in there. Build your network, both in person and online.

Recruiters look at your digital preference, so if they can see you’re engaged in the industry and know some cool people that might be of use to them, this may just swing the application in your favor.

Get Some Work Experience

This is the most basic advice, but honestly, it’s one of the best ways to get into the tech industry. If you can get a week or two of work experience at a startup, you’ll learn about the ins and outs of how similar organizations work.

The reason I say startups over larger corporations is that by and large, they have longer grad schemes and internships (more about those later), with much more rigorous application processes.

If you’re unsure about what you want to do, but know that you want to work in tech, people who work in startups tend to wear multiple hats. The chances of you being the office coffee runner in a startup on work experience are unlikely – there’s normally too much to do.

As it’s normally a smaller office, you’re likely to see a lot more departments and get a real feel for how they work together. This should help you get a taste of the different roles and give you an idea of what role in tech is for you.

You can also get quick jobs to build up your portfolio and CV on Fiverr or Upwork.

Get Creative

The tech industry isn’t all coding, IT, and data analysis. Sure, there’s a lot of that too, but there are always huge amounts of creatives in any tech organization. Writers, videographers, editors, graphic designers, advertising, social media, and marketing.

a woman typing on a laptop

The list goes on. If you’ve got a creative streak, but like the idea of working for a tech business, this is totally possible.

These also tend to be pretty big, international teams in order to hit multiple marketing demographics, so there is a good chance that you’ll be able to work in an international office, if that’s something you’re interested in.

Take the location out of your job search and see what’s out there!

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Build Your Portfolio

Whether you’re a creative, a techie, or a project manager, you’re going to need to come to an interview with a portfolio. These don’t necessarily need to be work projects or paid work – if you don’t have a ton of experience, try mocking up some samples that might work for the company you’re applying to. 

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Alternatively, you can try doing some voluntary work for local small businesses or charities in return for credit or a reference. This will really help boost your portfolio until you can demonstrate enough experience to get a job in your desired field.

Freelancing on Fiverr or Upwork is also a really great way to do this and build up experience. You might not be able to charge premium rates from the get-go, but you will be able to build a steady stream of client reviews and projects that you can use for your portfolio moving forward.

Try Internships or Graduate Schemes

I’ve briefly spoken about work experience, and internships and grad schemes are similar with a few more hoops to jump through. Now, the majority of the internships in tech are paid, and honestly, if they’re not, I’d avoid the company, especially if they’re three months or longer.

Free labor for months on end for exposure is not sustainable, especially if you need to move to a new city or simply just be able to pay your rent. If it is a paid internship, ask about the number of interns who go on to get a paid, permanent position at the company afterward.

The same thing goes for graduate schemes. The clue is in the name, and you need to have recently graduated college, but they are great gateway schemes into a lot of big companies.

Be aware that the application process can be pretty intense with more and more grads applying to work in tech each year, but if you meet the criteria, it’s a solid way to get into the tech industry. 

So, there you have my best ways to get into the tech industry. Obviously, these are methods that anyone can use (no nepotism necessary here!), but some take more time than others. If you want to get into tech, it’s a competitive market, but it’s always growing.

That means there are constantly new roles, companies, and opportunities out there – you’ve just got to get yourself in the best possible position to take advantage of them!

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