by Abdullahi Fawale
Short answer? Apply to AltSchool Africa.
It’s the perfect avenue. Within 12 months, you would have learnt a highly sought-after tech skill and obtained a top-rated diploma. The knowledge and experience gathered during the program adequately prepare you for your first tech job.
Ready to begin that journey? Get started HERE.
You’re reading this for one of two reasons:
1. You’ve made the decision to switch careers and you have your eyes set on the tech space. You’re now on the lookout for key pointers on how to start.
2. You’re yet to decide on transitioning though you’ve been giving it a lot of thought. You however seek more information in the hope that you get all the clarity and green light you need.
A third possibility could be that you know someone who is at that phase of their life—yearning for a career change and real opportunities for growth. This piece answers some of your questions about pursuing a career in tech and how to transition.
Before we dive in, what is your “Why”?
The tech space undoubtedly holds a myriad of opportunities for skilled talent worldwide. Global ecosystems continue to witness exponential growth. In Africa, solution-driven startups keep springing up & raising rounds to help drive growth and expansion.
Tech news platforms are often inundated with announcements of funds raised by startups which sometimes run into several millions of dollars. More jobs are getting created. Top tech talents are being enticed with juicy compensation packages and then poached. Junior employees are now taking up more responsibility and securing promotions. It’s Career Christmas!
However, it’s quite easy to get distracted by this zeitgeist. Away from the exciting announcements and fascinating Twitter conversations, the growth and successes of these tech ecosystems are powered by the blood and sweat of deeply passionate and hardworking people who put in their absolute best to make things work.
In other words, working in tech is not a walk in the park. Your “why” mustn’t be influenced by the current ecosystem zeitgeist, but by a genuine readiness to learn, contribute and grow.
You also must define what you want to do going forward. Are you looking for core tech/code roles (e.g Software Engineering) or no-code roles like Product Design, Product Management, Product Marketing, Technical Writing, Customer Success, Recruitment etc,?
Have you looked into what it takes to be successful in this new path and are you ready to give what it takes?
Answer these questions as truthfully as you can. Don’t worry if you fear your answers aren’t convincing enough at the moment. You can always look up more information on these roles to guide your final decision.
With that said, here are 5 Proven Tips to Help You Transition Into Tech:
1. What transferable skills do you have?
A sizeable number of people that transition to tech do so by leveraging their previously acquired skills—though these skills are mostly no-code or non-technical. For instance, a Customer Service Representative at a local bank could easily transition to a similar role at a FinTech startup. A journalist or creative writer could try out technical writing and pick up really fast. Human Resource Managers/Recruiters in conventional companies would easily settle in as technical recruiters after a few months of training. The list goes on.
What you should do is identify the skills you already possess and see what roles those could get you in tech. If you have your eyes set on an entirely different role (one that doesn’t align with your current skills), check out the skills required for that role and how to go about acquiring them. Then go for it.
2. Search for opportunities in industries where you have prior experience
This is in many ways similar to what we discussed above—about seeking opportunities in tech where your previously acquired skills are a match. Say you’re a Risk & Compliance Officer at a local bank; you can work the same job at a FinTech startup. A seasoned chartered accountant can head the Accounts & Finance unit at a tech startup. Medical doctors could, for instance, work as consultants at HealthTech startups offering home services. Product Managers can easily function across numerous industries. Conventional journalists and content creators could niche down and focus on reporting/producing content on tech and so on.
3. Take courses & write a certification exam
One of the sure-fire ways to transition to tech is to learn the skill(s) required to function in specific areas of interest. A great way to achieve this is by taking online courses, registering for and joining boot camps and writing certification exams. Thanks to the internet, there now seems to be unlimited access to information allowing us to learn on our own.
The democratization of the internet has also brought about a rise in the number of digital platforms that help people acquire knowledge and learn new skills. Within a few months, you can go from being a complete outsider to becoming an entry-level professional, anywhere in the world.
This is where AltSchool Africa comes in. At AltSchool Africa, you can learn some of the world’s most sought after tech skills and earn a top-rated diploma within 12 months. The school runs a number of coding and no-code learning programs that are stand-alone specialisations under its School of Engineering and School of Product respectively.
For instance, when you apply to the School of Engineering, you will have to select a specific area of specialisation among the following:
- Frontend Engineering
- Backend Engineering &
- Cloud Engineering
However, for the no-code School of Product, you can choose to learn either Product Design, Product Management or Product Marketing.
Is it possible to land a job in tech by just taking courses without certification? Yes. However, earning a certification badge from an institute of repute certainly opens more doors and gets you in much bigger rooms.
4. Be on the lookout for Internships
Many careers that began as internships have blossomed into highly successful vocations. Some of the most revered, most admired professionals today, started out as interns and managed to build their careers into the success we currently know them to be.
Internships offer great learning opportunities and direct pathways to getting your first job in tech. Not only do you get the opportunity to learn directly from much more experienced professionals–you could also be on your way to getting your first offer of employment. This, of course, is dependent on how well you perform during the period.
5. Network. Network. Network
The opportunities you seek aren’t coming to pay you a visit in the comfort of your home. You have to get out there and grab them. Your social capital will, to a large extent, influence your career trajectory.
Who do you know? Who do they know? What do they know? What do they do?
Understanding the power of networking and actively making time to build connections will help you grow personally and professionally. So, here’s what you’ll do:
- If your LinkedIn has been inactive, it’s time to power it up: That is a good place to start. Find people doing great work in your preferred field and connect with them. Genuinely engage them in conversations and keep an open mind during these discussions.
- You could also look up startup founders and hiring managers in companies you have an interest in: Try to connect with them and send a properly worded message. Briefly introduce yourself and why you’re reaching out. Remember to be courteous.
- Attend tech events: These events are the perfect place to network as attendance is primarily physical. You can walk up to stakeholders, politely introduce yourself and tell your story. If you’ve completed all the necessary training and are now in search of a job, that would be a perfect place to pitch to startup founders and execs too.
- You should also consider volunteering: A good number of startups are in the business of building communities and organizing events. Due to the workload which sometimes could get overwhelming, these startups seek to onboard volunteers to help out on a project temporarily. In some cases, volunteers are paid a stipend for the work they do. In reverse scenarios, they aren’t. However, monetary benefits shouldn’t be your primary concern here. Your focus must be on learning as much as you can, gaining insights into the workings of the space, identifying key players and expanding your social circle.
Volunteering, when done right, puts your name on the lips of persons that have the capacity to get you your next job.
- Join Tech Communities: As the ecosystem grows, stakeholders are beginning to appreciate the power of community; the need to bring key players and intelligent outsiders together to look inwards and map out strategies for continued growth.
One of the strategies designed to ensure said growth is the creation of smaller groups or communities dedicated to knowledge sharing, resource sharing, mentorship and access to opportunities. The primary targets of these communities are entry-level & intermediate professionals who are then guided by more experienced tech talent. Members of these communities often have a shared sense of responsibility to help each other grow.
There are communities for everyone. So, whether you’re a Software Engineer, Data Analyst, Product Manager or Technical Writer, there is a place for you.
On a final note:
It is very much possible to transition into tech within one year. As a matter of fact, some have managed to make the switch in just a few months. Bear in mind that if you must transition and do it fast, you will have to simultaneously employ more than one of the methods mentioned above. For example, you could have direct, transferable skills but you may have to network and volunteer to access even bigger and better opportunities.
These methods also aren’t set in stone. You could come up with other creative, honest ways to move several steps further and get to work.
In the meantime, let’s circle back to where we began:
A quick guide on How to Transition into Tech in 1 Year?
Apply to AltSchool Africa
Applications to the School of Product are currently open.
Ready to begin that journey? Get started HERE.