Soooo you’ve decided to get into tech. Congratulations! I want help. I’ve been fielding a ton of questions from folks having trouble getting started. That’s okay! From the outside looking in, the tech industry may look like there are barriers on top of barriers to get in. Not true. Alright, it’s not a cake walk but it’s not entirely impossible to get there.
Here are 5 things to consider when making that leap.
1. Know what you don’t want
When I first decided to learn how to code, I was really nervous. I was coming out of a sales role at an IT company and had NO experience. None. But at that IT company I realized what I did not want. In that office, it was incredibly stressful. I was the youngest in the office. I was one of two Black people in the office. One of three woman in the office. And the only Black woman. #STRESSSSSS
So when I was figuring out what I wanted to do after I was laid off from that position, I fashoooo had a checklist for what I did not want. First, I did not want to be in a 100% sales and account management role. Two, I did not want a major commute. Three, I wanted to make more money (honestly, this should have been #1).
What are you waiting for, make your list!
2. Recognize that the tech industry is not a monolith
Programming is a shiny and cool thing that somehow pulls people in (…that probably have no business doing it). And that’s OK! There are a ton of roles in the tech industry. Including not only programming, but technical writing, product management, developer advocate, user experience / user interface (UX/UI) Design, the list goes on.
For me, I really liked the idea of being able to create something and share it on the internet. My first
hello world application had me so PSYCHED. I wanted to create more and be able to work on projects that mattered personally, that I would be proud enough to show off. And best of all, I could do so from the privacy of my home. It filled all of my boxes.
Take some time to research the tech industry ecosystem
3. Do some research
Now that you’ve looked into the ecosystem — it’s time to do a deeper dive. Look into choosing something to specialize in. You don’t have to just pick one. Maybe a top 5 roles that you could see yourself thriving in. And then do some more Google searches. Look through online forums like quora, facebook groups, etc. to learn more about each respective role. As you go on something will click, and you’ll want to go even deeper. Or, I assume so, this is how it happened for me.
When I decided to learn how to code, the rabbit hole was diving deep into the different sorts of technologies I could choose to specialize in. I did a ton of tutorials. Seriously, a ton. But, as a new developer, I didn’t understand how the different technologies worked together. It was both frustrating and exciting. I eventually chose to go on to study at Dev Bootcamp, but that’s a another story.
Anyway, dive deep. I would limit the time researching each subsection to about 30 minutes to start. If it interests you enough, keep diving. Otherwise, move on to the next thing.
4. Talk to someone
Seriously, find someone to talk to. And for my introverts — writing counts too. People love helping people. Well, at least I do. But generally, I think the sentiment is out there. When you can’t think of anyone in your immediate network, use LinkedIn/Facebook/Instagram/Twitter ALLADAT. Seriously. For example, if you’re considering becoming a designer, go on these platforms and search a the hashtag #designer. You’ll find a bunch of people that WANT to be found for that hashtag (otherwise, why would they tag it? 😉). Hit them up.
It can feel weird reaching out to people. And you might not know what to say. But, you’ve done some research. You have an idea of what you want. Start there. I recently wanted to learn more about IOS development, I messaged three people in my network and said ‘Hi, I want to learn iOS development, do you have any resources you can point me to, to get started?’ Yes, you’re gonna want to fluff that out a bit more! Ask them for a 15 minute conversation, a 30 minute coffee break, or just keep it in the email. Ask them about themselves, how they got into the field, what their morning routine looks like, it can literally be anything (well almost).
Go for it.
Okaaaay, it’s not that simple. You have to make a plan. Here’s what went into mine:
- Map out the # of hours I’d put towards my learning each week (I was doing 80+ hour weeks dedicated to learning how to code). Mind you, I was very unemployed when making the change — be realistic.
- Build networking into that plan. What good is studying if you don’t have the network to get a job afterwards. Join online groups, slack groups, meetups, etc. I tried to attend 1 event / week. Didn’t always happen but I. had it in the books.
- Schedule your downtime. If you don’t schedule it, you won’t do it.
- Read up on the industry. Sites like CBInsights, TechCrunch, Hackernews, etc. are a great resource to learn more about the tech ecosystem.
For those of you that want to start coding — sign up for my newsletter here: http://bit.ly/codewithfayehayes
I’m going to go into even greater detail on what it takes to get started, learn to code, and thrive in the industry. Plus additional resources I come across along the way. If anyone has Q’s, feel free to reach out at faye[at]fayemyrettehayes.com.