Technology along with many other industries has this illusion you can only work in it if are from a certain background. I am sure you won’t be shocked or maybe you will but women are woefully underrepresented in the tech industry across the western hemisphere. There are many reasons for this; it can range from girls being told at a young age that they can’t work in the tech industry from the macho culture that currently exists in certain tech companies. You only have to look at the news in the last couple of years to realise that tech companies are suffering from a big issue of sexism, from Uber allowing certain male executives to retain their roles while creating a bullying sexual harassment culture. In Google, there was a company-wide walk out in retaliation to the little that was being done around sexual harassment. Tech industry, also, has a whole has a shocking attitude to maternity leave, which has resulted in many women leaving the industry because of it. Now, I have got the bad news out of the way, I want to tell you why you should work in the tech industry.
PWC carried out a study which indicate that females don’t want to work in this sector because they find it too male-dominated. Unfortunately, this is true but I believe that in order to change this, then we all need to be part of the change and make that change happen.
I want to get this out of the way. Working in technology pays really well, especially if you work in the cybersecurity area, artificial intelligence, robotics and cloud computing. All, of these sectors, have seen a massive surge in companies wanting to develop in these areas and not be left behind. But, there are not enough people to fill the roles required. As, you will be aware that the formula of too many roles and not enough people usually results in higher salaries.
It’s not just about money but there are also many other perks within tech spaces. I have worked with a company that provided breakfast free along with fruit every day. Believe, me you will appreciate a free breakfast when you’ve not had any time to eat in the morning.
In my career, so far I have worked across the public sector, retail banking and consultancy. I am not saying all of these roles have given me a buzz but working in the public sector has meant that I have got to be part of products that are going to have a big impact on the general public. I know by using these products, it is going to save the end users time, and stress. So, not all technology roles are designed to generate more money for companies. There are many organisation that you can work for, that want to make a positive impact on the work.
By working in the tech industry, you will be at the cutting edge of innovation. The company that you work will want to develop in a way that keeps them ahead of their competitors. You will be using new technology every day. For example, every time I move to a new team I am always using a new technology to help build products. You could work for an e-commerce company that may want to explore augmented reality to help sell their products to customers.
The great thing about the technology industry is that I can work from anywhere in the world, as long as I have my laptop with me. I have worked in the UK, while developers in my team have been based in Poland and India. You don’t need to sit side by side with your team in order to do your job, you can code, develop requirement from wherever it is most convenient for you. So, if you have a young child and you need to work from home then most companies will be fine for you to do that. As I have recently finished renovating my house and I needed to be home for deliveries, I just worked from home to make sure I was there. My company was fine with me doing, as long as I was available when needed and was able to do my work.
Regardless of what role you pick for yourself, you need to be creative when it comes to building a product. You need to be innovative with your solutions and ideas.
I am sure, you were expecting this in here but you need to have an analytical mindset when you are working in the tech industry. You need to be able to analyse a problem and work out the best way to communicate this in logical steps.
This is not going to surprise you but you need to be able to communicate with a wide range of people who may or may not have a technical background. It is very rare you get to work in isolation away from everyone. You need to feel comfortable communicating in a different format and making sure your voice is heard. Don’t worry if you are not comfortable with doing this straight away, this will come with time.
This is the most important skill that I think you need to have. As technology moves at a rapid pace you need to feel comfortable about pushing yourself to learn a new language or technology. If you are unable to do this, then you will be left behind.
Hopefully, I have got you interested and intrigued about working in the tech sector. So, I guess the next questions is how can you get involved. There are many different routes you can take, it is impotent to recognise that there is not one path to get into the tech industry.
So, the first area I want to talk about is not very exciting but I think it is vital that you get involved in local or virtual technology meet-ups. By going to these events not only will you meet new people but you will also get to learn from your peers. My favourite tools for doing this are either Meet-ups or Eventbrite – you need to search for local technology events near where you live.
By going to meet up not only will you be able to build up your network, but you can also very quickly decide if that is the area that you are interested in. The events are usually free, so the only thing you to have pay for is your travel there. Also, most of these events have free food- which is a win for me.
If you don’t know what they are – Hackathons are events that usually take place over 24 hours were a large group of people together to solve a problem. It usually involved in creating a new product, so you don’t need to have an advanced level of technical skill set. I have been to a few, where I have played the delivery manager role, making sure that the team was on track to develop and deliver the product within the time slot.
They are usually sponsored by large companies and are a great way to learn from your peers and showcase. As everyone is starting from scratch when it comes to solving the problem, it is a great way for you to develop team building skill set. If you don’t want to get involved in an event that is sponsored by a large company, there are many hackathons which are involved in solving a social problem, so you are not. I have been involved in one, which was looking at how we could use data to solve the homelessness crisis.
If you want to get more practical experience in understanding how the code works, then I would recommend becoming a GitHub contributor.
If you are not familiar with Github:
‘`GitHub is a development platform inspired by the way you work. From open source to business, you can host and review code, manage projects, and build software alongside 36 million developers’
The great thing about becoming a Github contributor is that it is really easy to install the tool. This blog by Anne Bonner brilliantly breaks down the task of doing this. All of the organizations that I have worked for, have used Github. So, therefore if you are at the beginning of your journey it is a nice way to feel comfortable using a tool at your own pace.
Once, you have an account you can easily join any open source project that takes your fancy. Most of the projects you will need to sign up for the mailing list once accepted you can then join the team. You may find it easier at the start to volunteer to review documentation – this is one of the most important product but always overlooked. If you chose to focus on this area, then you can get familiar with the programming language, the source structure. Once, you start to become comfortable with the product you can start making commits.
I know it is not easy but if you live in an area where there is not an active meet up community then you can create your own physical or virtual network. If you do not currently work in technology/ Digital industry then the easiest and quickest way to build your network is via social media. I know, Twitter receives bad press and rightly so but it is a good tool to build a network. I have also noticed that there is quite a lot of technologist that are on Instagram.
If anyone is interested in building their network this work, just contact me and I can recommend people that you can follow.
If you want to learn about a particular tool that is associated with a certain supplier for Example Amazon Web Services then Amazon offers free digital based courses on that area. It is the same for Microsoft who offer a similar offering for their product; Azure. One, thing to note the courses are a good introduction to the cloud-based solution and once you tried them you can then determine if you want to get more training in this area. The courses are very detailed and go into the depth that I think makes them great for a beginner. I personally believe regardless of your role in technology you should learn about cloud technology, as every web-based companies will be using this technology.
If you want to dip your toe into actually learning to code, then there are a free low-cost website that you can use. Most of the self-paced coding tools usually have a product that you can build as you follow video tutorial. My personal favorite is Team Treehouse ([https://teamtreehouse.com]- you get to build a product while following video tutorials but there is also a forum where people can ask questions. Most of the tutors from this company are on twitter, so you can directly ask a question. The difference between this tool and something like Udaemy ([https://www.udemy.com] is that you have to pay a monthly cost, where you can create your own track library while with Udaemy you pay a one-off cost. There are many other tools you could use in this area that do the same thing as Team treehouse or Udemy. All of these tools require you to be self-motivated and discipline, which I have to be honest I struggle with.
If, however, you want to go intense and learn a new programming language within a short period of time, then you can get involved in boot camps. I always looking at coding boot camp as the same being physical boot camp minus the exercise. You are expected to work at pace and be very self-motivated. The aim of the boot camp is to get sometimes years worth of learning down into possibly 15 weeks. Before we continue I need to make you aware boot camps can be very expensive, so they are not the right option for you if you are not sure the tech industry is for you. However, there are some that are funded by large organizations. For example, Sky has a 15 weeks evening boot camp that you can apply for. This boot camp is funded by Sky technology. From my understanding, Amaliah have had a partnership with 23 Code Street who is a coding school for women, they offer boot camps and if you can’t do a boot camp then they run webinar courses.
I am hoping all the above, have given you some ideas on how you can get involved in the tech sector. If you have any questions or observation, let me know at @rohelaraouf on twitter.
Rohela is based in the UK. She has worked across the technology sector in various roles. At, the moment she is working as a Business analyst consultant for the public sector. In her personal time, she is fighting the battle with her sister to bake the perfect cake.