This is a continuation of Landing Your First Job – Without a Tech Degree Part 1.
3. Consider Certifications
Certifications are a double-edged sword when it comes to getting a job. On the one hand, employers want to hire people who have advanced credentials, but those credentials often require applicants to have a minimum number of years of experience before applying. Holding entry-level credentials can serve as evidence of your skills and commitment, but not all employers are impressed by applicants who have an alphabet soup of certifications after their names but little to no experience, fearing that their knowledge is strictly theoretical, not practical. In fact, a recent Glassdoor study showed that big companies like Google, Apple, and IBM no longer prefer candidates with college degrees but candidates with relevant boot camp or vocational school experience (like ITProTV).
If you do not have experience in the field, then, approach certifications with caution. If you qualify for a credential and feel comfortable pursuing it, by all means, go for it. Otherwise, begin your IT certification training, and set a goal to take the exam once you have some verifiable experience under your belt.
4. Take Non-Tech Jobs in Tech Companies
It may seem counterproductive to take a job that isn’t within your desired scope, but going to work for a technology related company — or even in a non-technical job in the tech department — can help you build your skills and make contacts that will help you move forward. Another option, if you’re working for a non-tech firm, is to volunteer for tech tasks that no one else can or wants to do. Be alert to opportunities; if your boss mentions a website overhaul, for instance, ask to be a part of the project and offer your expertise.
5. Find a Mentor and Grow Your Network
Finally, don’t embark on your tech career alone. Working with an experienced mentor (or even a few mentors) will give you someone to learn from and bounce ideas off of — not to mention, you’ll have someone in your corner when you do finally start looking for a job. Build your network by staying active in online groups (LinkedIn is a good place to find like-minded individuals), and attending local meetup groups and conferences. You never know when you’ll meet the person who can open the doors to your new career.
Transitioning into a tech job without formal education requires perseverance and a great deal of commitment, but if you are serious, the rewards are substantial. Be willing to start at the bottom, take every opportunity you can find to learn, and eventually, you’ll have the job you want — even if you have a completely unrelated degree.