Five ways to start a career in technology

| December 21, 2015 | 0 Comments

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Thinking of embarking on a career in technology? It’s a vast world with many exciting options and directions, but it can sometimes be difficult know where to start. Here are five aspects to consider.

Begin early

At the start of 2014 Silicon Valley investment guru Paul Graham made a statement that caused controversy, regarding women underrepresented in his portfolio of companies:

“They haven’t been hacking for the past ten years… If you go look at the bios of successful founders… they were all hacking on computers at age 13.” The statement was clarified after being attacked from leftist journals as a sexist statement, but if anything it was more ageist than condemning women.

But that doesn’t mean it’s untrue; those who excel and create and innovate in tech industry rarely decide that they want to enter the industry at 25. Most have a computer science degree or similar, and before that they participated in groups and classes in secondary school or after-school clubs, and before that they were getting their hands on Raspberry Pi. The lesson is this; the earlier you start the better – but it’s not terminal…

Teach yourself

If you choose to take another degree path in a completely different discipline such as English, history or geography, but discover during that course that you’ve seen a tech role that appeals, then why not do your research outside the classroom? There are many case studies of people who learned to code or create in their own spare time, using every spare hour of the day to fulfil their lust for technical knowledge.

In a recent talk for 80000 Hours, four experts spoke on their diverse paths to a career in technology, such as Matt Clifford, who studied Ancient History at Cambridge before doing a degree at MIT and eventually starting his own entrepreneurial business.

Explore your options

Jobs in coding, marketing, SEO, development, marketing and other technological fields often overlap significantly. A successful agency will boast staff adept at all of them; in fact, it will probably have individuals adept at two or three of each. They won’t be standing still – they’ll be learning and looking at ways to improve.

For the first few months of whatever career path you take, absorb as much knowledge as you can from all disciplines and directions. Learn about a range of jobs, not just yours. Know as much as you can about your industry; read up, take courses, and keep alert.

Network

Finding the right connections and opportunities should be your mission from your teenage years – meet people, reach out to them, read about them, engage with them.

One networking tip above all: many people who have made a successful career in technology, or indeed any profession, have engaged a mentor from an early age who knows their way around business and people. They can put you in touch with the right people to get your business off the ground or help you with funding, and even if you’ve no intention of turning entrepreneur they can give you stellar career advice.

 

Think ahead… but don’t base everything on your predictions

Last month the Bank of England’s chief economist Andy Haldane predicted that 15m people could lose their jobs to robots in the third-machine age. He said: “Technology appears to be resulting in faster, wider and deeper degrees of hollowing-out than in the past.” However, the same complaints and gloomy predictions have been raised many times before, from the Luddite era of the early Industrial Revolution to the first time that production plants were used to build cars – and they never really come true.

Therefore, even if you see a trend in technology that seems like it can’t possibly happen or get any further, tread carefully. Big challenges can be overcome and it’s wise to keep abreast of the technology world by keeping an eye on upcoming trends. Imagine a world where Myspace is dominant, and Facebook is nowhere – that’s only a decade ago.

 

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Category: Sci Tech

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