Five things you didn’t know about working in tech

Louise Fenn 5th July 2021

In this hyper-connected world, we rely on technology for almost everything and the pandemic has only accelerated the world’s digital shift.

You think tech, you might think…hardware, like your laptop. But tech is behind everything we do. You wake up to your alarm on your phone, check the weather before dressing for the day ahead, order breakfast through an app, use contactless to catch the tube – all of these everyday tasks have been scoped out, prototyped, engineered, tested and released by tech teams.

And that’s just the consumer side of technology.

For organisations, technology became less about gimmicks and more around business continuity – with companies adopting a digital focussed mindset in order to compete in the digital age. This shift was predicted by CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, back in 2019 when he said that “every company is now a software company”. These words painted a very real reality of how businesses were evolving and ever since, we have seen a rise in the demand for technology skillsets. We’ve also witnessed organisations proactively strengthening internal teams rather than relying solely on outsourced options.

What couldn’t have been predicted is the pace of innovation since March 2020.

Whilst the demand for tech skills is certainly increasing, the availability of these skillsets has not yet caught up. The BBC reported that earlier this year, the UK was ‘heading towards a digital skills shortage disaster’, reporting that the number of young people taking IT subjects at GCSE has dropped 40% since 2015 whilst demand for AI, cloud and robotics skills is soaring.

A survey by Gov UK also revealed that half of businesses (46%) have struggled to recruit for roles that require data skills. This tech skills deficit will reportedly cost the UK a whopping £120 billion by 2030 (L&W).

Now, to somebody looking to make the jump into this exciting world, this abundance of opportunities could seem daunting.

Whilst the challenge of learning a new coding language is enough to make some question a career move, it can also be hard to look beyond stereotypes at play. You might picture everyone sitting on exercise balls, listening to heavy metal rock and avoiding any sort of social interaction – and then remember you hate exercise balls, heavy metal and love people…

I recently stubbled over this infographic by Toggl, which I think gives a great flavour of the stereotypes in tech.

Fortunately, the reality is much different from that.

So, what don’t we know about working in tech? Let’s find out…

 

1. You don’t need to be a ‘computer geek’

Sure, a love for technology is a must, but one of the greatest misconceptions when considering tech as a sector to work in is that you need to be a brain box with a degree in computer sciences. We’d be lying if we didn’t say that some form of structured training and experience is helpful, but for entry level positions, it’s not the be all and end all.

There are plenty of other career paths into tech that don’t require a coding degree, 15 years’ experience in industry, the deed to your house and promise of first child.

For some, a love for tech comes from the very first Raspberry Pi gifted to them on their 8th birthday, or the dismantling of their home computer to see how it all works – before quickly putting it back together again before Dad gets home. Whilst ‘trial and error’ is a process we support, there is an abundance of free learning online so you can get to the fun stuff quicker. YouTube, MeetUp, blogging platforms or any other community offering free technology training are just the tip of the iceberg, and are brilliant for finding hands-on tutorials, step by step instructions and cheat sheets for getting the most out of your tech of choice. It’s then up to you to put in the hours and practice.

Apprenticeships are another popular choice for people that love to learn on the job and don’t have prior tech experience. This method allows people to get hands on whilst gaining a qualification.

Summer internships and work experience are great for those at the beginning of their careers or wishing to apply their skills whilst studying. They are the perfect opportunity to get a flavour of the industry and build connections within the sector.

Perhaps you have a little experience under your belt and you’re looking to accelerate your learning? Then something like the ECS training academies and graduate programmes could be for you. The training academies are great for individuals with some form of formal training, perhaps someone that has worked in the industry for a while and now knows the field they would like to specialise in. Whilst graduate roles are great for a recent graduate, looking to kickstart their career.

The world of tech is always changing, so even individuals with countless years in the industry do regular training to keep their knowledge relevant and to ensure they’re using best practices. If this sounds like you, check out our upcoming training here.

 

2. Transitioning into tech from non-tech is easier than you think

It’s right there in the title, transitioning into tech is easier than you think. Forget those stereotypes that suggest techies are unsociable and unwilling to teach others – this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Tech is full of individuals eager to help you in your understanding and get you on the right path for you. Besides the open-source and Meetup communities, you just need to look at ECS’s mentoring program or any of our internal 2,567 slack channels – each offering support, guidance and most importantly, a creative space for those in the technology space.

Rather than take our word for it, check out Jillian Ellis’s blog – a recent ECS Academy graduate – where she talks lessons she learnt from switching careers.

 

3. Coding isn’t the only tech role!

You think tech, you think coders. But just like any business, there’s a variety of different individuals backstage working hard to keep the show going.

Obviously, you have your software developers. But then there’s your sales consultants that are liaising with clients to sell the software. We have our UX designers focussed on the customers’ experiences. [agile coaches, quality assurance, testers, marketing/comms…]

 

4. Failing fast is encouraged

If you’re familiar with ‘Agile’ ways of working, you’ll have likely heard the phrase ‘fail fast, fail often’. Now, for those who have successfully completed the UK public school education system, failing is something we are taught to fear. And yet, without failure, society would never have achieved success.

Edison had 10,000s of attempts before holding up the very first lightbulb to the world.

Dyson worked through 5,126 ‘failures’ to invent the bagless vacuum cleaner. And let’s not forget Alexander Fleming’s timely vacation and lack of cleaning that led to the discovery of Penicillin.

You obviously want to make a good impression and showcase your talent in a new role – show them why they hired you… but if you are to truly test the limits of your software, you have to be prepared to watch it fail.

Each failure helps not only you, but the team succeed faster the next time. Get stuck in and don’t be afraid to fail fast and fail often…that’s exactly what the tech industry wants.

 

5. We don’t spend all day playing ping pong

Sadly not. That would make us professional ping pong players, which is a completely different ball game – see what we did there! What we do have is a big focus on flexible working and wellbeing.

Flexibility is the umbrella term used to describe any role that breaks the traditional norm of a rigid 9-to-5, five-day week structure. Many find that flexibility helps them to feel they are avoiding the ‘rat race’, leading to increased job satisfaction. In fact, a business case by the CIPD showed that nine in ten employees consider flexible working to be a key motivator to their productivity at work (89% – even more than financial incentives at 77%). The tech sector itself is well known for offering flexible working opportunities, with Work Place Insight revealing that four in five employees that work in tech say they work flexibly to some degree.

The Smarter Working Initiative also reported that ‘employees in the tech industry have the best work-life balance across UK industries, being the most likely to feel they have enough time for hobbies and seeing friends and family during the working week’.

So, whilst the tech industry doesn’t spend all day playing a tiny game of tennis, you can expect a better work life balance – and we think that’s a better deal.

 

So, what have we learnt?

Tech is everywhere, is always changing and will continue to be a HUGE part of everyone’s future.

Don’t panic if you’re not a natural whiz with computers, your tech dreams don’t need to end there!

There is so much support available for those moving from non-tech to tech, and from one tech role to another.

Surprise surprise, you don’t have to a coder to succeed in the world of tech.

Fail fast and fail often. Innovation won’t happen without it.

And last, but not least, tech could give you that work life balance that you’ve been searching for.

So…has tech piqued your interest? Check out open opportunities at ECS here.

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