Tech Advice October 22, 2019

Advice on Transitioning Into a Tech Career

This post may contain affiliate links (*).

Quick note: Once again, this is something I whipped up quickly and had to get out. I’ll circle back eventually to clean up spelling, grammar, and formatting errors. 

In 2018, I decided I was finished with the digital marketing industry and began making adjustments to transition into tech.

I had no idea how my skills as a project manager, digital marketer, and email funnel specialist would translate into a career in tech.

I can’t, yet, speak on my current position (I’m superstitious but will announce it once I start my first day) but I have successfully made the transition.

What I’m doing and how I did it doesn’t matter. I went through a ton of trial & error, wasted a bunch of time, and stressed myself out.

Instead, I’m going to share with you how I think you should transition into a tech career if you have zero to little technical experience. 

Decide You’re Ready for the Transition (Right Now)

As always, the first step is deciding this is something you want and that you’re ready to do it. 

All the excuses and negative thoughts running through your head aren’t real.

To be a success, in anything, you have to adopt and live the mindset of, “I can figure out and learn anything.”

You will stand out if you become a person who can Google, YouTube, knowledge base, FAQs, chat/email support before interrupting someone on your team for an answer. 

Build a Solid Foundation (30-60 Days)

I strongly recommend that everyone complete Google’s IT Support certificate

I’ve completed some of the courses myself and everything I’ve learned, I’ve seen it show up in coding, data science, DevOps, security, etc. 

It’s critical you understand how computers and the technology you’re using works. 

Also, by completing this certification, you’ll be ready to test for the CompTIA A+ certification which will help with finding an entry-level position.

Do not skip this step unless you already know the material (browse the course content to decide if you can skip it).

Your Goal: Build a solid foundation by learning the fundamentals. This will make learning and understanding new things easier for you.

Experiment! (30-90 Days)

Coding is discussed a lot as an entry-point into tech but it’s not the only way to enter the industry.

Below, I put together different segments of tech, websites you can visit to get started, and people you can follow on Twitter.

It’ll take a few months of experimenting to start to get a feel for what you might enjoy doing. Everything I listed below is a super, super simple explanation of those segments.

A lot of the people I listed below do consults where you can pay for their time to discuss your goals and interests, and then they’ll put together a study and career plan so you’re not fumbling around.

I’ve done consults, paid and unpaid (because #friends), with Tailor, Beez, Keheira, and Gia. I have read, and recommend, Keirsten’s book as well. 

Super Important: Before jumping in anyone’s DM’s below, make sure you watch this DM Etiquette class

It’s a free class that Josh and I put together after we, and many other people, kept receiving crazy, inappropriate, and rude DM’s on Twitter.

At the end, there’s a pitch for one of his courses (I’m not an affiliate & do not receive a commission) but I don’t think it’s applicable to anyone at this stage unless you’re interested in fast-tracking your way to building an audience on Twitter.

Coding/Development

  • Things you might do: building websites, applications, bots
  • Where to study:
    • 1 Year Plan For Getting a Mobile Developer Job*
    • I would start with free resources to determine if this is something you’re interested enough in to stick with. Start with FreeCodeCamp and complete their different certifications. This will help you start to get a feel for what you might be interested in. CodeAcademy* is also a personal favorite of mine.
  • Who to follow: #BlackTechTwitter, #BlackTechPipeline, #100DaysofCode, #CodeNewbie (these hashtags will have thousands of people you can follow), Jasmine, Pariss, Nick, Angie Jones

UI/UX/Product Design (I don’t know much about this area)

  • Things you might do: design, user research
  • Where to study: Pluralsight, Coursera, General Assembly, Udemy
  • Who to follow: Lenora, Jasmine, Nita

Project Management

  • Certifications to consider: ITIL, CAPM, PMP, Six Sigma, Agile
  • Where to study: Coursera, Udemy, CompTIA, Axelos, ASQ, Project Management Institute
  • Who to follow: Courtney, Mr. Benetiz, Myself

Data Science

  • Things you might do: analyze data, clean data, presentations, visualize information, analysis storytelling, machine learning
  • Where to study: Coursera, DataCamp, PluralSight, CodeAcademy
  • Who to follow: Ayodele, KP, Dikayo Data

DevOps/InfoSec/CyberSec/Cloud

Side note: If you’re a Veteran, make sure you’re also following Josh. He shares a lot of free and discounted resources for US Vets.

Remember, you’re experimenting. I HATED trying to learn JavaScript, so I stopped. 

That lead me to Python, which I love. And then I stumbled into Data Science, MySQL, pen testing, and DevOps.

You’re going to change your mind, hate some things, love others. Commit to being consistent in experimenting and don’t worry about learning everything and mastering it. 

Your goals: Experiment & be consistent in your learning. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Try new things and take note of what’s FUN for you to do and learn. 

Make sure to watch this DM Etiquette class before engaging with anyone on Twitter.

Pick a Focus & Pay for a Class (60 Days)

Pick one area to focus on for the next 60 days. I promise you’re not going to miss out on anything and the other things you’re interested in aren’t going anywhere.

Pick one course (from the “where to study” section) and pay for it. Yes, spend some money.

You don’t have to spend much, just spend enough where you’ll feel committed to complete the course.

When selecting a course, try to find something that will give you assignments and projects to complete. 

If you’re coding, you’ll want to upload your work to GitHub. If you’re not coding, upload your assignments and projects to your website and LinkedIn. Whenever you complete a course, add that to LinkedIn too. 

Even if you end up disliking the course or what you’re working on, you can at least train yourself to be more disciplined and consistent and you’ll have some work to show for your efforts. 

Your Goal: Pick one area to focus on for the next 60 days. Pay for a course, complete the projects, and upload them to GitHub. Bonus points for blogging about your experience.

Find a Mentor (Ongoing)

A mentor can help guide you in the right direction as well as give you invaluable information about pitfalls that you may encounter. 

For example, you don’t want to invest a bunch of time studying for and paying for a certification that won’t help your short and/or long-term goals.

The best way, in my opinion, to find a mentor is to pay for one. Some people charge for mentorship, some don’t. 

Usually, you can pay for a one-time call, they’ll help you put together your action plan, and then you continue having access to them for questions or things you stumble upon.

I’d focus more on who your feel your personality and goals mesh with over their price for a consult call. 

Remember, you could also be paying for access to their network and job opportunities that are referral-based.

Your Goal: Find a mentor! They’re invaluable for making sure you’re studying the right material based upon your goals and you can potentially get access to their network and job opportunities.

Network on Twitter (Ongoing)

If you’re in tech, you need to be hanging out on Twitter and building relationships. 

You can be anonymous or show who you are, that’s up to you. 

The important thing is that you’re connecting with different people in tech and getting your name out there.

Be yourself, be respectful, and be of value. Share what you’re learning. Contribute to the conversation by sharing articles, code, course sales, your blog posts, etc.

Your Goal: Build relationships and an audience on Twitter. It’s a great resource for help, knowledge, and opportunities.

Research Jobs (Ongoing)

It’s never too early to start researching different positions, even if you’re not entirely sure where you want to land.

You’ll start with skimming through everything and, eventually, as you learn and progress, you’ll start to narrow down your job interests.

By doing this, you’ll get familiar with required skills and certifications for the positions you’re interested in. Write those down and ignore years of experience. 

Pick 2-3 positions and adapt your study plan to make sure you’re learning the skills needed and earning the certifications required, when applicable.

If you need help with your job search, resume, cover letter, and/or LinkedIn, make sure to contact Brittany and Latesha (their career services come highly recommended). 

Your Goal: Start reviewing different jobs in tech so you’re familiar with what different positions do along with their required skills and certifications. Work with Brittany and/or Latesha to redo your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn and get additional career and interview guidance.

Areas I’m Personally Focused On

The areas I’m focused on, and feel will be quite financially lucrative are:

  • Cloud Platforms: AWS, Azure, Google
  • Data Science
  • DevOps
  • Security (Cloud, for me)
  • Penetration Testing (fun)

Cloud work is going to be huge, in my opinion. There’s so much that can be done with it and Amazon just signed a huge deal with the US government. Definitely take some time to research cloud platforms and the job market for those positions. I very recently became an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner and have started studying for the Solutions Architect Associate certification.

Additional Resources

Here are some extra resources from my friends on Twitter:

So, that’s all I’ve got for you. If I were to restart my journey into transitioning into tech, these are the things I would do: decide I’m ready to transition, build a solid foundation, experiment, complete a course with assignments and projects, find a mentor, network on Twitter, and research jobs. 

Remember, you’re most likely going to have to acquire a new skill set and that’s going to take time. 

If you have any additional tips, or people to follow, please comment with them below!

* indicates an affiliate link is being used and I may receive a small commission or credit. I will never recommend something I have not used and/or vetted myself.

 

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15 Comments

  • Reply MARK BERNADEL October 22, 2019 at 8:19 AM

    Great Article Ari!

  • Reply Jas October 24, 2019 at 4:03 AM

    This is really cool & thorough even though you just whipped it up. I’m a med student but I’ve always been interested in tech and how the two intersect. Your article gave me a great way to explore my interest with small goals instead of it seeming so overwhelming. It’s really intimidating when people tell you to just pick a language & start coding, but this was honestly a tremendous help. Thanks so much for this.

    • Reply Arielle "Ari" Hale October 31, 2019 at 9:21 PM

      Thank you, Jas! I was right in your shoes and everyone kept saying learn JavaScript. I personally feel FreeCodeCamp is a great start to get your feet wet and figure out what might actually interest you.

  • Reply Gozi October 24, 2019 at 7:45 AM

    I’m 18 and about to begin majoring in Computer Engineering next semester. I barely know how to code and have been wondering where to start. This article has REALLY eased my mind and has set me on the path I’m going to take now to make sure I have a broad skillset. In fact, I just added #BlackTechTwitter to my Twitter bio. Definitely recommending this to my friends. Good looking out!

  • Reply Christopher Gomez October 26, 2019 at 12:26 PM

    Thank you for writing this. I currently work in healthcare but want to transition to cybersecurity. Your blog post really inspired me.

  • Reply Lexi October 28, 2019 at 5:29 PM

    Hi Ari, I came across your blog page and would like to say thank you, it is very informative and descriptive. It has encouraged me to get into IT. Quick question- do you have any recommendations on getting into the IT field without a college degree? Interests are IT support, possibly coding or web design. Are there any specific certifications i can get? Don’t have the funds for a degree right now but open to any other options/suggestions. Thank you so much Ari I appreciate it! Thank you for blogging, informing & encouraging others 🙂

    • Reply Arielle "Ari" Hale October 31, 2019 at 9:20 PM

      Hi Lexi! I’d follow what I outlined in this blog post. You don’t need a degree to enter :). Start with FreeCodeCamp certifications and expand your studies in what interests you from there.

  • Reply Davin November 3, 2019 at 2:24 AM

    Informative as always!
    Great Article! Thanks for putting this all together.

  • Reply Mels29 November 20, 2019 at 12:36 AM

    Thank you Ari! I enjoyed this post. I am a linux administrator for a small devoop team. Not sure if I want to continue as a linux admin but I get lots of new opportunities from recruiters. Thank you!

  • Reply Mels29 November 20, 2019 at 12:57 AM

    Ari,
    The etiquette link doesn’t work.

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