Transition into Tech
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Why should you consider transitioning to a tech career?

For sure, you have your own reasons why you’re reading this and considering the possibility of transitioning to a tech career – and I’d love to hear all about them in the comments section below! Here’s a quick outline of the things that came out of my research as I first started to entertain this thought. These might help you if you’re feeling a little undecided, or just wish to confirm that you’re on a good track with your decision. Read on.

If you’re considering transitioning to a tech career, chances are you are in one of the following situations:

  • You’re a techie at heart <3. If this is you, you’ve always dreamed of working in tech and life just happened to guide you down a different path. However, you know full well that tech is where your true happiness lies – and you know there’s no better time than now to get on board.
  • You’re unemployed. Regardless of when you’ve lost your job, you’ve done your homework, you’ve taken the time to assess the opportunities out there – and now you now know that this is the way to go if you aim to do a 180 in terms of success and happiness (which some would argue are one and the same thing).
  • You’re in a job that’s menaced by automation, which has prompted you to realise that perhaps that’s where you should be heading too. If the future is all about computing – why not get on that train yourself?
  • You’re about done with crappy (and uncertain) pay; you literally can not take it any more and your research indicates that there’s a decent living to be made in tech and you’re like:
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  • You’re in a job that has you dying inside, little by little. You’re severely burnt out and live for the evenings, for weekends – and that’s bugging you because you’re NOT the lazy kind; you LOVE to work, just not…. doing what you’re doing now.
  • Or you are simply in need of a challenge. Ok, there may be more to it – maybe a little mid-life crisis (or mid-life enlightenment, as my wise cousin calls it)? – what’s clear is that you need to grow so badly it hurts. Or you’ve grown already and your current job just doesn’t do it for you anymore. Nothing personal :). You’re curious, eager and SO to explore a new path.

Whichever of these may be the situation you’re in, what’s sure is that you know you’ve got no choice; whether you don’t have a job, or feel your job’s going nowhere fast,  or you’re simply unhappy or broke, or whether you have decided it’s time to finally do what you were meant to, you know the answer lies in a career change.  #transitionintotech.

Well, in case you’re hesitating, here are some thoughts to consider:

First, look at the big picture:

It’s important to note that we live in the age of the 4th industrial – technological – revolution (great read, by the way) – and a massive, unprecedented one, at that. What this means is that, no matter how you look at it or how you feel about its omnipresence, technology will play a critical part in your future. Due to its disruptive character, it will impact the job market significantly.

The bad news, in this age of artificial intelligence, robotics, nano- and bio-technology, internet of things, 3D printing and quantum computing and many more – is that you’re either in the game, or you’re not. Or, as someone put it, you either run them or they run you.

On the flipside, the good news is that for all the disruption it causes, technology is also a major democratiser, and breeder of opportunities. It’s just that… well, these are not handed out to you – you have to roll your sleeves and go out and get them!  

…then realise things are changing, with or without you:

According to a World Economic Forum report (2018), ”nearly 50% of companies expect that automation will lead to some reduction in their full-time workforce by 2022, based on the job profiles of their employee base today”. What this is saying, basically, is that there’s a good chance that jobs in your industry, in your company might be on the chopping block. On the up side, though, the same report predicts that for the 75 million jobs lost to automation by 2022, some 133 million new jobs will be created. That is wonderful news, though surely, as always, these figures need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Nevertheless, the trend appears to be more than clear.

Now, we all know that governments have their priorities upside down (and that’s just me keeping things ‘general audience’ here) and, with few exceptions, you can’t really count on yours to cook up a policy for handling these changes in due time, so it’s really up to YOU. Talk to colleagues, to managers, read up on your industry and, if you find you’re in an industry prone to loss of jobs to automation or other tech-advances, aim to get a head start and reskill.

Don’t wait for the turbulences to begin. According to the same report, these new jobs will come to replace old, now-irrelevant, ones (yours?) – and the surveyed companies expected you to be picking up the new skills as you go. They indicated they might invest in reskilling key role employees – but not all. In summary, those not keeping up on their own will be let go as respondents clearly indicated it was very likely they’d look outside of the company to fill up the positions that would not be able to be filled in-house.

So hopefully you got this right, but just to be sure: there ARE and will be jobs to be had – but you’ll have to be ready for them. And you can only count on yourself to do that.

Finally, take a look at the tech job market:

There are, and will be, many jobs available …

The ICT sector is growing exponentially throughout the world. In the European Union, it is estimated that some 120 000 IT-related jobs are created annually, with a deficit of some 900 000 by the end of 2020. I’m saying that again, in case you didn’t hear it right: some 900 000 positions will go unoccupied because of lack of skilled workers. Over the pond, in the US, things look similar – as they do in other parts of the world. A recent report indicates that chances are automation will lead to the creation of more jobs than it will displace, with many companies indicating that they expect automation will lead to the creation of new productivity-enhancing roles.

… and they are not going anywhere (good medium to long term perspectives)

Remember just now when I mentioned that we were in the midst of the 4th industrial revolution? That’s basically to say that these technological advances are likely to continue and will shape our world, including the job market, for many years to come / for the foreseeable future (until our climate inaction comes back to bite us).

We are tempted to think we’ve seen it all – and how can we not when we see the amazing advances that surround us but, in fact, it’s likely we’ve only just seen the tip of the iceberg. Artificial Intelligence, virtual reality, automation, data and cloud computing are a game changer in just about every field; they have disrupted several industries and are expected to disrupt countless more. And it’s not just the professional realm that’s impacted; our education, health and entertainment are already in the trows of transformation.

(If you’re reading this on Sunday morning with your coffee – here’s a fun read on how Futurism magazine sees the future or, if you can stomach it, see FutureTimeline.net).

Also, tech jobs are well worth the time and resources you’ll be investing in your transition:

As this Stack Overflow study indicates, the money in the tech industry is not half bad (as also shown in this Glassdoor analysis – with 14 out of 25 best paying jobs being tech-related). Sure, the amounts will vary – based on job title, your level of experience, company size, location and so on – but it’s safe to say that if (IF) you decide to go down this path and are serious (SERIOUS) about it, chances are you’ll be able to make a decent living.

Since you’ve been around the block a few times, you know by now that money is not all. If you’ve been paying attention, you would have read plenty of articles about the rush in tech firms to offer good working environments and plenty of perks to their employees in the hope of attracting and retaining talent. So if this is what floats your boat, think pinball machines and fully stocked fridges, cool office design to yoga and meditation rooms, bringing your dog to work and having an office garden etc. (Now, to be fair we need to get our head out of… the sand…

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… and acknowledge the fact that this is often a function of where you choose to look; sadly, while you can find amazing perks in some companies, or here – you can also find some of the most dire working conditions – especially in the jobs shipped abroad). But it’s true to say that for the most part, small, ‘regular’ tech businesses aim to provide nice working conditions to their staff (here’s a balanced, pro / con, analysis). Also, if you’re more into working from home – that’s on the table too, with more and more companies embracing remote work as a regular practice. You know what else is on the table? Freelancing – aka being your own boss. All this to say that while hard work goes without saying, chances are you’d be having a good time while doing it – whether enjoying the perks of a tech office environment or living life on your own terms as a freelancer.

Finally, the really good news is that, for the most part, tech works as a true ‘meritocracy’, meaning that no matter how you went about building your skills, they are just as valuable. The same Stack Overflow study shows that a majority of tech workers are self-taught – which means that this is an environment that’s tuned in to the future and figured out it’s not the papers that demonstrate your competence. So just as long as you’re ready to prove your worth during the selection process, you can pretty much count on finding a job to suit you.

Ah, and I saved the best for last: if, like me, it’s meaning you’re after, you’re definitely in luck, as technology is likely to power all the best inventions in the foreseeable future, in just about every area of life – from medicine to education, from business to government, from entertainment to wellbeing, from transportation to communication, from art to science to pretty much every other imaginable area. Get onboard – find your tech career – and chances are you’ll find your meaning.

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