Starting Out in Tech: Taking your first steps

WorkingNation's Associate Producer and Project Manager Jaimie Stevens shares her tips on how to adapt to the digital world through stories of her own experience in building her tech skill set.
WorkingNation’s Jaimie Stevens.

So you’re looking into getting more experience in tech. I recently made that decision too.

It’s obvious that getting a background in tech will be beneficial, what’s not obvious is figuring out where to start.

It’s easy to get swept up in technology reviews, blogs, podcasts and everything else that gets thrown at you – but at the end of the day, how do you choose which path to take, and how will you know it’s the right one?

These are all questions this series of articles will help you answer, that’s why I’m here – to help you get your feet wet in the tech industry and give you the tools you need to find your place in it.

What’s good is you’ve made it to the first step: recognizing the importance of getting more experience in tech and embracing it as a potential part of your future.

RELATED STORY: How a coding class opened my eyes to new opportunities

This is not something that comes easily to everyone. In the 2015 Survey of American Fears, on a list of ten categories of fears ranging from crime to the future, technology came in second, behind natural disasters. People generally tend to approach big shifts in technology with anxiety. They are afraid of what they don’t have control over, and that’s practically the definition of technology.

Just like you can’t function in modern society without some knowledge of tech, the same will soon be true for the majority of jobs. The fear of technology eliminating jobs and the need for human labor is a completely reasonable fear.

Illustration of Luddites smashing a loom. Image – Wikimedia Commons

In the early 1800s, the Luddites smashed machines that they said would put them out of work. They just went right ahead and set those weaving machines on fire.

Wouldn’t that be great, if saving your career just involved drop-kicking your computer into the ocean? You know it doesn’t work that way anymore, which is why you’re reading this article.

It’s time to learn to work alongside the robots to make yourself irreplaceable in the workforce. So you’re over that hump, but the fact that you don’t know what’s next is can cause some anxiety.

It only took a short while after starting my job here at WorkingNation for me to realize that lifelong learning and constant upskilling were the best ways to ensure that I’ll have a job in the future. Even though there can never be an absolute guarantee that jobs will be available, a background in tech definitely helps.

Once I made the decision to get into tech myself, I realized the overwhelming amount of material that’s available for people getting started – and I still had a million questions! We can start off with the big ones:

  • What’s the best way to improve my coding skills outside of class?
  • What kind of common beginner mistakes can I anticipate and avoid?
  • What do people mean when they say “think like a programmer?”
  • What are the benefits of learning the programming language Python?

Trying to find the answers to my personal curiosities only created more work for me, when I was already balancing my classes and job. That is what inspired this series. Let me be the person who gets those answers for you, while you focus on figuring out which path is best for you.

These articles are meant for beginners. If you’re considering a coding boot camp, a postsecondary computer science degree, thinking of taking a few coding classes to complement your current job or just looking for general experience with the overall tech landscape, this series is for you.

Maybe you see the tech world out there and just want a piece of it. If you’ve identified the tech vernacular, but you don’t know what it’s saying yet. This series is for you.

Whether you live in a big city or small town, these articles will still be beneficial for you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in the working world for a long while or barely any time at all. Technology is everywhere and connecting everybody. It can show you that you have no limits.

Regardless of your status, location or age, look at it this way: the tech world is your oyster.

You have every opportunity to establish yourself in an entirely new capacity and open up doors for yourself. Here is your chance to redefine or at least add some clarity to what you’re working toward.

What an exciting time and place to be in. You can get those tech skills faster than you think, you just need to know the how and the what. The only thing you should fear is the fear of learning and I’ll show that you had nothing to fear at all.

Join the Conversation: Have any questions about starting out in technology? Share them with Jaimie and the WorkingNation team on our Facebook page.