A torrent of inspiring young people in recent years have shown that there’s a real drive to change the trajectory of history. At the same time, the awe-inspiring pace and power of tech make the sector an appealing space in which to drive that change and shape the future. Thus, it makes perfect sense for young people today to get up to speed in a field that affects and will continue to affect virtually every type of career path. And the good news is, the options young people have for getting into tech are more plentiful and varied than ever before.
Here are some things millennials and members of Gen Z can do to build up careers in tech.
Take on Tech Projects
There are several reasons to undertake projects with a tech emphasis: becoming a genuine self-starter, learning appropriate skills first-hand, practicing collaborating with others to achieve goals, and much more. Even failed projects are a great way to learn your current limitations, and will ultimately help you to hone your skills –– and possibly finish subsequent projects you can use to pitch yourself to an employer, or even launch a startup.
For anyone not sure what might be achievable, or how to pursue a beginner project, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has been a bulwark of the efforts to get young people building things, even going so far as to open a project showcase for anyone aged 18 or under.
Focus on Transferable Skills
Conveniently, many key skills that warrant pursuit when considering a tech career are useful more widely. Notable among them are analytic, problem-solving, and communication skills.
School subjects and extracurricular activities will help you develop these skills. Math and information technology courses will naturally be helpful, but you can also consider social sciences for critical and analytical reasoning, or dramatic arts, model UN, or even sports and glee clubs for verbal communication. There are myriad ways to develop these transferable skills; bear in mind that not all of them involve sitting in front of a screen, but any of them might be useful as you set about pursuing a career in tech.
Pursue the Right Degrees
It’s true that college is not the only route into tech. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jack Dorsey famously all dropped out, as did the founders of Uber and Dell. But many more in the tech world have completed degrees; YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki even has three!
The most obvious choice is to go straight for computer education. Specifically, careers stemming from a degree in computer science cover a broad spectrum in modern tech, from web or AI development to data engineering and even wider STEM jobs –– the majority of which now have computing components. This is because CS makes up the core of hardware, software and other relevant knowledge like legal compliance.
That said, there are also degrees more tailored to a niche, which may be preferable to some as the sector expands to include more specializations. Taking a college path to studying cybersecurity, for example, can provide someone with industry-standard certifications employers are going to recognize, plus the structure and feedback a university can guarantee.
Apply to Join an Employer Training Program
Often it’s the first step that’s the biggest hurdle toward building a stronger resume. One way to get a foot in the door is via the programs that big tech companies like Google, Amazon and IBM have invested in, which involve on-the-job training precisely aimed at jumpstarting tech careers. And it’s not just those companies; plenty of others are running apprenticeships nowadays as well.
Aim for Jobs With Learning Progression
In a fast-moving sector, good employers will include training to develop employees, and will be happy to know that people applying to join a team want to learn. Yes, it might be a good idea to start with a support technician sort of job to begin with, but if the learning stops it might be time to shop around. Prioritize opportunities that are designed specifically to help you advance through roles and responsibilities in tech.
Clearly, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, and one method of building a career is not necessarily better than the next. At the core of the journey is a push to keep developing both “hard” and “soft” skills, keep trying out different things, and never settling when there’s more to learn.