Travelling into Tech – a guide to alternative routes into a tech career

In the fast moving and diverse world of technology it can often feel difficult to navigate the road to those sought after creative and game changing jobs.  This feeling can be true for anyone within the tech sector but for those considering a career change into this industry or those starting out in their career, it can be even more challenging. 

As the Scottish economy continues to change and develop, there are new opportunities emerging across the country meaning career changers and new entrants to the workforce have a range of options.  This is an exciting opportunity for individuals and companies alike – the challenge for the technology sector is matching strong candidates with roles.  The number of roles can, in some areas, significantly outstrip the number of skilled potential employees.

For those considering a career in tech, the current job market presents an opportunity to learn new skills which will hopefully (normal caveats here about no role ever being guaranteed) lead to a dynamic and stimulating career in one of the country’s most exciting sectors. The question is, how do you get into the sector to start with?

Senior HR Consultant, Amy Thomson, gives her top 5 tips for anyone considering a career in tech.

Do your research.

This can’t be emphasized enough: changing career or taking on your first career can have a big impact on your life so always know what you’re getting into.  Look at different roles online, look at what jobs come up on job-boards and company websites most frequently.  Attend events and talk to people in the sector. Think about what you want out of a role – flexibility, home working, challenge, travel?  Make sure you understand your own desires and how the roles you are looking at will match up with these.  There is no point taking on a new role in a new sector if you are going to be hit with the same old problems which have caused you to start looking at different roles in the first place.

Get some practical experience.

So, you have thought about it, maybe done a little at home learning via YouTube or E-learning courses but now you should look at what it’s like inside a company.  Reach out to local technology companies, ask for a chance to intern for a few days or to job shadow for a day.  Think about the roles you want to learn about before reaching out to companies and be as specific as you can when requesting job shadowing. Companies are significantly more likely to offer you support if you are very clear on what you are seeking and what you’ll do during the internship so take the work out of it for the company! 

Joy Lewis, CEO of Adopt an Intern (AAI), not-for-profit specialists in inclusive recruitment with internships, returnships & permanent roles, had this message for those looking at getting practical experience:

“Job roles in big multinationals tend to be highly-structured, which may not suit everyone. Taking on shorter contracts/project-based roles/internships in smaller companies and startups will allow you to take on a diverse array of responsibilities, wearing many hats.  Such an experience could help you decide which direction you want to take your tech career.”

Look at the qualifications and experience needed for each role.

You’re already making a huge change within your life considering a sector which is new to you so make sure you are preparing correctly for that change from day one.  If you want to work in the gaming sector, understand what is needed in this part of the industry as this may be different to working within app development. Making sure you understand the requirements is key, particularly if you need any formal training. Once you know what you need to learn make sure you cross reference this with the training courses you’re considering so that your course delivers what you need before spending any time and money on the course.

Look at your funding options.

Formal re-training may be an option depending on what role you are seeking.  Remember to consider if you need a formal course beforehand: you can look on job adverts to see what, if any, formal training companies are seeking.  If you do need formal training, it’s time to think funding. There is government and local authority funding for further education and you may qualify for funding for your course. If not, then make sure you look into this with your education provider to see if they have any grants or alternative funding options.

Don’t think linear.

Formal training and education might not be the only route to that dream job in the tech sector.  Look at online training, working your way up inside a company, or apprenticeship programs. There is a plethora of options out there which may suit you and your lifestyle better than formal education.  

So if you are starting out in your career, considering a career change, returning to the workforce after a break or your just interested in the potential of a role in the tech service then remember – do your research, get some experience, understand the requirement, consider the cost and always keep an open mind when it comes to routes in.