Originally published in Forbes – March 23, 2021
When the Mosaic internet browser, the forerunner of today’s Safari and Chrome browsers, made its debut in 1993, it changed the world. For the first time, people could navigate the internet in a simple point-and-click manner. Similar technology now pervades just about every aspect of our lives. As Marc Andreessen, the technology entrepreneur who built Mosaic, has said: “Software is eating the world.”
Rather than see this as a threat, perhaps it’s time to see this as a golden opportunity to jumpstart your career. No matter your age or what you’ve studied in school, the tech field may have an opening for you.
A new jobs frontier
The surge of technology in our lives has led to all kinds of new career paths that didn’t exist even just a few years ago. In fact, this year the jobs site Glassdoor reported that some 22 of its 50 best jobs are tech-related.
Not only do tech jobs typically pay better than average, they also provide workers with added flexibility with their schedules and access to generous benefit packages. Perhaps just as importantly, tech jobs—unlike those in other sectors like hospitality and entertainment—have seen a surge in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And yet, most people assume they just aren’t qualified to apply for jobs like these. Consider a recent survey conducted by Stride, Inc., in partnership with third-party research provider Qualtrics, of more than 1,000 Americans ages 18 to 65+. More than 50% of the respondents believed that tech jobs are either too tough to land or require significant schooling or skills they don’t have either the time or the money to pursue.
Lowering the barriers to entry
What many people don’t realize is that acquiring the skills to land a job in tech has never been easier. “The vast majority of Americans assume that it takes several years of education to learn how to build the technology we use every day,” says Anthony Hughes, the CEO of Tech Elevator, a Cleveland-based coding bootcamp that has three locations across Ohio. “And they probably don’t realize that many coders don’t even have a college degree, let alone one in Computer Science.”
Hughes added that most people see jobs labeled “tech” and immediately skip past them because, even though they’re using new apps or pieces of technology every day, they don’t understand the technology behind them.
With his hands-on program, which doesn’t require any prior coding knowledge and has a myriad of financing options, Hughes is hoping to lower the barriers for more people to consider careers in tech. Tech Elevator’s approach is especially primed to help people re-enter the workforce in a post-pandemic economy,
“Just because you missed the chance to study computer science doesn’t mean the door to these great career opportunities is closed to you now,” says Hughes. “We need to be more intentional and encouraging to individuals to take the first step, to take a free online course, to understand the broad array of exciting career opportunities that exist in tech.
“When this happens, more people will start to see these careers as viable and lucrative possibilities, no matter their educational background.”
A golden opportunity for Gen-Z
A tech career offers incredible opportunities for younger workers, particularly members of Gen-Z who have grown up with technology as part of their daily lives. This generation has also been hit hard by the pandemic, especially Gen-Zers working in hospitality and food service industries, where the unemployment rate among young people is disproportionately high.
Not only do tech jobs offer young people the kind of job flexibility they crave—such as the opportunity work remotely from just about anywhere with an internet connection—and they don’t have to take on thousands of dollars of student debt to get started. There’s also the chance to embrace a sense of teamwork and camaraderie in their work.
“Many think that people who code stay inside their own bubble and stare at a screen for hours at a time,” says Tony Phillips, the CEO of Galvanize, a multi-campus science and engineering boot camp based in Denver, Colorado. “But the reality is that there is actually a ton of collaboration involved. In the industry, this is referred to as ‘pair programming’ and it’s something we implement in our classes to help students learn to code collaboratively.
“Working together to solve complex problems in teams is a great way for young people to develop the soft skills they need to succeed.”
It’s never too late
The key lesson for young people, some 35% of whom are already thinking about a career change, it that it’s never too late to consider making the shift into a new career in tech. “Instead of focusing on the barriers to entry,” Phillips told me, “we need to change the mindset and explain that coding is mostly creative problem-solving. You’re given a challenge, and you get to figure out how to creatively solve problems.”
That’s true even if you’ve been pursuing a different educational path altogether.
Seth, a Gen-Z graduate of Tech Elevator, experienced this firsthand. “I went from working at a coffee shop part time and gigging as a freelance performing musician with an incomplete bachelor’s degree in music, to landing my first job as a Software Developer in about 4–5 months,” he says. “And all during an unprecedented global pandemic.”
It’s time for more workers of all ages to make Seth’s discovery: that the barriers to a tech career are lower than they ever imagined—and the rewards, infinitely higher.
To learn more about Tech Elevator, visit techelevator.com
To learn more about Galvanize, visit galvanize.com
To learn more about Tallo, visit tallo.com