Tips on Getting Started in Tech Without Prior ExperienceFeatured

Two years ago, I quit my job at a digital marketing agency. I was unhappy with the routine and looking for career growth. I sent my resume to hundreds of companies, one of which was a Silicon Valley tech startup.At first, I didn’t think I was qualified for the job. I graduated college with a degree in Mass Communication, meaning I was on the prowl for mostly writing jobs in any work environment.So you can imagine my surprise when I actually got the job as a Content Strategist—only they didn’t give me that position. They opened a new role in the Marketing Department specifically for me.It was overwhelming during my first day, especially because I had no clue what anyone was doing. I didn’t even fully understand my role in the company. I was afraid to ask, thinking maybe if I did they might figure out that hiring me was a mistake.If you’re starting a career in tech without prior experience, don’t worry. It might seem overwhelming at first, but you’ll get the hang of it eventually.Here are some tips to help you navigate your way through starting a career in tech based on things I learned the hard way.Accept the jobIf you’re lucky enough to get hired by a tech company, go through with it even if you don’t have any or enough experience.Everyone starts somewhere. Allow yourself to learn the ropes of the job and take one step at a time.It might even help to remind yourself that you probably wouldn’t have been hired if your employer thought you were 100% incapable of doing the job.Ask questionsIf you’re unsure of how to do your tasks or projects, it’s okay to ask someone else about it.You don’t have to pretend to know what you’re doing! The point is to make sure you get the job done. If you’re stuck in a rut, ask for help.Nobody’s going to judge you for asking questions, not even your boss. In fact, your willingness to learn something new shows when you ask questions, even if there are a ton.Be open to constructive criticismSometimes, you’ll have to deal with countless revisions and on some of those days, it won’t be easy to keep your spirits high. Don’t take it personally, though. Constructive criticism is not a comment on your ability to perform a task (even though sometimes it might feel that way).Feedback is part of any job, whether you’re in the creative, tech, or any industry. It’s all about delivering the best version of your work possible.Changes will always be present, especially as you iterate or optimize projects according to experiments.Learn to adapt — and do it quicklyTech startups are fast-paced environments, and I mean really fast. Priorities can change swiftly, and it can be pretty overwhelming. You might even work on a project that might not be relevant next week!Most of the time, you might not get a say in the change of pace, so just brace yourself for when this happens and roll with the punches. Over time, you’ll get used to it. You might even like the pace!Take a breakA 9-to-5 structure doesn’t really exist in startups, so time can either fly by quickly or drag until forever. But because startups are fighting to survive every single day, the workload can take its toll on you, more often than not.Even though there’s so much work to be done, there will always be space for breaks. Mental health should still be your first priority, so when it’s time to take a step back and breathe, do it.I used to work from 8 AM to 7 PM, because I felt like I couldn’t fit all my tasks in eight hours. I would do it everyday because everyday I felt I wasn’t doing enough. In the long run, it taught me two things.Firstly, organize your tasks at the beginning of your day. List them according to priority, so you know which one you can put off tomorrow in case you can’t finish them all today. There’s always tomorrow.Secondly, don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re trying your best and you’re new to this. Take as many breaks as you need.ConclusionI had to learn these things the hard way when I first started. I don’t regret entering the tech industry even though I thought I wasn’t 100% qualified for the job because in the end, I realized I had come so far from when I began.Of the many things my job at a startup taught me, realizing that I could achieve anything I set my mind to was probably the most important.So go ahead and accept that job offer. You’ll meet some of the most brilliant minds at work. You’ll also learn so much about the tech industry, about people, and even about yourself in a small space of time.
Excellent advice! Thanks for bumping my memory.
Any idea what stood out in your resume to your employer? I don’t really have any tech experience, and it shows in that I don’t even get the time of day from employers in tech...
I hear you. After I quit this job, I applied to many other tech companies thinking they would hire me even after my first experience, but as it turns out the industry is highly competitive. I guess there were 2 reasons I got the job: 1) sheer luck, which I know is something people don't really want to hear, and 2) I had some relevant previous experience that the company needed at the time (they needed someone to do email marketing).But keep trying! I think you'll come across a company that will be looking for what you can bring to the table.
I'm sure the company saw your potential and the passion to learn. Your content reflects your willingness and openness to challenges and new discoveries! Thanks for sharing your content, it's inspiring and motivating!!
Thank you for taking a chance on me, Lenzy! <3
All good advice! 🙏 hope you enjoy your new job!
Hi - I also broke into tech after several years of non-tech experience. What worked for me was networking shamelessly and getting referrals directly to hiring managers. Its a sad fact but applying online hasnt taken me far with tech companies.
Yep, that’s exactly been my experience too. Finding people on slack channels has been an interesting challenge. Thanks for your feedback!
Thanks for sharing! I like all of your pieces of advice and felt a similar way when I got a job in tech last year. Very fast pace, things change quickly, and I had sooooo many questions (lots of unknown acronyms). But people usually want to help out. ◡̈ I personally like to organize my to-do’s the day prior, so I can jump right in the next morning. I almost always need to push stuff to the next day.Have you worked with new organization tools that are easier or harder to stay organized with in such a fast pace environment? I’m using all G Suite tools and it took awhile to feel comfortable with staying organized (but now I love it!).
Perhaps too late to the party, but Trello is so great for managing things! I used that for our daily scrum and my personal board too.
That's great! I like organizing my to-do's the day before too, sometimes.Oh yeah, I had to learn how to use a lot of project management tools. My favorite one to use is Notion, and I think it also took me a while to fully explore its capabilities. I also reeeaaallly like G Suite - very helpful and versatile!
Fantastic advice! To pile on, when I started in tech I found the best way to keep myself grounded and not get too overwhelmed by what I didn't know was to focus on what I did. I was hired for an expertise (comms in my case), and so I'd regularly remind myself of my strengths and experience in my field (even though it felt a little different from what I used to do). I was upfront with colleagues that this was my first tech job, so I asked questions regularly while also being confident (at least outwardly ;) ) in my decisions related to my expertise. I found that the overwhelming "tech stuff" ended up being much easier to absorb than expected and was starting to speak the language before too long. In general, most startups are looking for super smart people willing to identify and jump in and solve problems. Remember your value, your expertise, and your smarts and don't hesitate to share them with your colleagues!
I love this. I actually worked with somebody in the company who had no experience in startups but was hired because of her extensive comms experience!Also I wanna say how comforting it is to hear that you're hired for your value and expertise as opposed to how much you know about tech in general. :)
Your post brings me back to when I joined a tech company 6 years ago. All very good advice. In addition, what helped me was to start reading TechCrunch, just to pick up the terminology (I also moved from abroad, so largely felt out of touch). From the perspective of a hiring manager in a fin tech company, I look for interesting, diverse backgrounds. I need critical thinkers and go-getters, not necessarily someone with tech experience. So my advice is to highlight your abilities through your achievements.
Oooh I started reading TechCrunch too when I started working there. Thanks for the advice! As I mentioned somewhere above, it's really comforting to find that some hiring managers value your talent, expertise and your willingness to learn something over your experience in tech.