Landing a job in the IT has now become a dream of many. Everywhere you go, you can hear people talking about how they want to be programmers, or just being jealous that programmers are so “well-off”. And because the myths surrounding working in the IT industry are spreading around, it’s now common knowledge that no tech skills equals no tech job. And because tech is not going anywhere and needs more and more people, some people are tricked into thinking that they desperately need to learn how to code in order to be able to look for job opportunities in the IT.
But guess what. It’s not true.
According to 2015 research published by Break into tech, there are 3x more tech jobs for non-coders than for programmers. How’s that possible, you might ask? The answer is simple. The code is great, but it’s not a business on its own.
It’s not all tech
We can compare the functioning of a software house to how an automobile company works. It’s not just the factory. Before the car can be manufactured, it needs to be designed, the design is tested, accepted or rejected. There are numerous specialists involved in the project and they decide what elements and what kind of materials will make this particular car better than any other. Then, the elements are made and assembled. The car goes through a long process of preparation before it’s ready to go into the streets.
It has to be marketed, too. Graphic designers and teams of marketing specialists work on the best advertisement to showcase the wonders of this piece. And if you’re interested in buying one, a sales representative tells you all about why you need it. That’s just a few of the elements that there are to car manufacturing, and it’s not reserved to this industry only. Any product or service that you can purchase has to go through many steps before it is delivered to you. This means that IT does need programmers, but it also needs business professionals, specialists in sales, marketing, communication, design, administration, finance, human resources, and many, many more…
Is it possible to have a well-functioning company without all these roles? You may try. But would Ferrari ever become Ferrari if it were only a group of engineers?
OK, let’s assume that Ferrari actually decided to rely solely on their engineers to build a fancy and perfectly functioning car. This will work. But who hired the engineers? Who tells them what to build exactly? Who gets people to buy the final product?
In a small company, it may be possible to have a versatile team who can do it all, but if you want to scale, you have to assign roles.
So what are some of the possibilities for non-technical people in the tech world?
1. Project Management
Project Managers are heavily involved in the development process but they don’t need coding skills. They gather the requirements, break projects into tasks and assign these tasks to the right people. Then they hold daily stands and other team meetings to keep track of the development and make sure everything is going in the right direction. They’re also responsible for a large share of communication with current clients.
2. Business Development
Though some may say that BD is just the same as sales, it’s a different department. Briefly speaking, Business Development will get involved in many activities and initiatives that are supposed to make the business better. This may mean increasing revenue, business expansion, building strategic partnerships or making strategic decisions.
As we’ve previously explained in our article on DevOps, Operations (or “Ops”) is the department that makes sure everything is stable. An Ops position will require you to gain some technical skills in order to collaborate effectively with the development team.
The Research team is there to look up the stats and other data crucial for current company undertakings. It will then brief the rest of the company on the market trends or demographics. In short, the Research department is a group of pros at doing what we’d have to do ourselves. And they do it more efficiently.
5. Human Resources
Quite obviously, somebody has to interview and hire all the people in the company. Preparing documents and contracts, going through CVs, meeting candidates – these things need to be taken care of, too.
Marketing is sometimes seen as not-so-important. But is it really like that? Marketing is there to watch over the right balance between demand and supply, making sure that the company has things to do. New clients have to be reached, branding has to be done. The marketing team creates content and campaigns that help new customers find their path to the company.
When a new prospective customer arrives, the Sales department takes care of him. They are involved in negotiations and then they close the deals. Sales help the customers find the solution that’s best for them and sign a contract that should ideally be perfectly satisfying for both parties.
Number matter a lot in every business. Finance and accounting are there to take care of the company’s financial data. They’ve got the budget covered.
Receptionists, office managers, assistants. Never think they’re unimportant. Without them, the world is ending. They’re needed in every company as they make everyone else’s job easier.
Some companies cooperate with freelance designers, some choose to have them on site. It’s great when the team has someone who can support them with UX design, designing marketing materials, etc.
These are just some of the non-technical jobs in the IT industry. The list could go on, as every company adjusts the department types and sizes to their individual needs. Whatever your education or experience, you can find a place for yourself in the IT. You just have to know what you want to do and why you want to do it. And just before you actually embark on this new adventure, make sure you know what every mortal should know when stepping into the IT world.
But what if you want to change your career path and become a programmer? That’s not mission impossible, either.
Is coding only for engineers?
It’s a common assumption that in order to be a good programmer, one must graduate from a technical university or at least complete a course on how to code. Sure, good education helps and is always valuable in the workplace, but the tech industry, unlike many other, values raw talent as well.
Is IT an area reserved exclusively to computer science graduates? Definitely not. It is appreciated when someone has extensive knowledge and understanding of a variety of concepts, but it’s not unprecedented for a total beginner to join the tech world and change their career path drastically. What many IT companies are is a collection of curious individuals. In our office, you can find people of many different talents and professions. We have a former butcher, a psychologist, a teacher, a physical therapist, an Uber driver… All are now programmers. The education doesn’t matter, either. Civil engineering? Chemistry? Social studies? They all sound great to us. The tech world has a reputation of being open to everyone and, as a matter of fact, it proves to be like that.
Skills and experience can be easily gained, but you need something that will make you stand out. You need to be smart and a fast learner if you want to get a chance to learn new skills on the job.
Are you worried that you’re lacking the experience?
Well, let me explain.
The IT world is not just machinery that needs well-aligned elements to function. It’s more of a community. The fact that you have some technical knowledge is definitely a big advantage but having none doesn’t cross you off the list. Many companies have an internship or even a pre-internship programmes dedicated to those willing to learn. Talents are not left unattended. If the interviewer decided that John Doe has what it takes to become a good programmer, it will happen.
What’s also important is that you remember that technology is not a mystery at all. It seems complicated, that’s true, but everything is understandable. Technology has been rapidly changing over the years, and programming is not what it used to be in the past. We don’t rely on low-level programming languages and we don’t have to write everything from scratch, line by line. There are plenty of resources that help to discover what will work, and an abundance of libraries and frameworks that make work easier. Of course, I’m not trying to say that programming is a piece of cake, it surely isn’t. It requires a problem-solving attitude, the ability of abstract thinking, as well as determination and patience – sometimes you’ll be fixing one thing over and over again before it starts working. If you’re starting from a point where you already have these, awesome. If you don’t, though, focus on developing these skills along getting to know new technologies.
Additionally, with the dedicated programmes, the training of prospective employees is mostly done informally through observation, collaboration, and hands-on tasks. What it means is that any smart person with good learning skills can apply for a technical position. Just don’t expect to become a junior developer on day one. It’s quite natural that you lack the skills and the experience when you’re just starting your first technical job. Nobody expects you to suddenly know everything about coding when you show up for your first day at the office. IT companies are willing to invest in developing their employees when they see their potential.
Before you land your first tech job
Are you convinced that you want to join the tech world? Great! Here are some tips for you:
1. Learn something on your own
There’s a lot you can learn without anyone’s help. Use the online resources, such as massive open online courses, to learn the basic skills. This will undoubtedly help you during any job interview. If you don’t know where to start, read our article: How to learn programming.
2. Know your motivation and express it
You’re starting in a new industry and without having much experience, you need to find different things to rely on. Make your resume stand out, focus on your strengths. You need to know what you want to achieve in the new area. Be sure you’re prepared to answer questions about why you want to start with the IT in the first place.
3. Don’t expect too much
The IT has a lot to offer, with numerous perks for employees and really good salaries, too. There’s just one thing: you won’t start making big money right away. Don’t expect your employer to give you unlimited holidays, private healthcare, gym membership, gifts, and high salary all at once. All the benefits will come eventually, but expect your salary to be lower than what the internet tells you is the “normal” wage. Normal wages vary, and you’ll be gradually earning more when you master your skills.
Even though the technology industry is more and more popular, it can still scare people off. But don’t you worry! It’s not that scary at all. As a matter of fact, IT companies love diversity and appreciate people’s unique skills and characteristics. They set an example for other companies in how employees can be treated and they really focus on making people feel happy in the workplace. If that’s not a dream job, then I don’t know what a dream job is.