Taking the leap into the tech industry, whether you’ve just finished studying or are making a big career change, can be scary. These are my favourite pieces of advice from learning new skills, communicating with your team and being kind to yourself.
Get Comfortable, Being Uncomfortable
Unlike other industries, the tech world is always changing around you. If you have learned SQL in your Bootcamp or University classes it doesn’t stop here. You will be faced with new syntax, changes to the language itself and potentially a new language to learn in your first role.
You will never ever know everything about your tools, and that’s ok. What’s important is that you embrace it rather than trying to chase perfection.
Learning How To Learn
Because the tech world changes so quickly it’s more important to learn how to learn. Gaining the skill to learn how your first language fits together allows you to be in a better position to learn the next one. Learning by memorising syntax means you will find it much harder when things inevitably change.
It’s tempting to spend hours and hours watching videos while you are getting to grips with something new. It may seem like you are making progress but it’s pretty passive learning. To take this further, get started building as soon as you can. This real-world experience, working on real-world projects is the better way to get ready for professional tech life.
It’s not as easy as watching videos or doing tutorials, but all the frustrations will help you become accustomed to the reality that things take much longer than you think.
Once you do get started working on real-world projects, they may not end up being finished. This is absolutely ok. Even in your professional life, some projects just don’t get finished. Timelines change, other projects take priority and sometimes the Project Manager just puts things ‘on pause’.
There is no shame in parking a project you’re no longer interested in, or if there is a roadblock you just can’t get past. You may come back to it later, or not. But you definitely learn from each project even if you don’t finish them all.
Prioritise and Plan
Taking on side projects and extra learning is admirable and worth your time. But, you need to have a plan. Working all hours of the day and night will kill your enthusiasm and leave you burnt out. Make sure you are making time for enough sleep, time to relax and give yourself a bit of a break.
I make good use of my time by working on a project for as long as my laptop battery lasts. It helps me keep focused on the task and not drifting off to scroll around the internet.
Get Involved with your Community
Being a Developer or Analyst is more than writing code and sitting behind a computer. You will be working with others on projects and talking to all kinds of different people. If you are not already active in your community, the best way to start is going to Meetups. These are organised by community leaders who are happy to help you make connections with others.
Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
While you are making connections and listening to presentations it’s easy to start comparing yourself to others. Everyone is on their own journey and you’re seeing the end of someone’s project. It may have taken months, been put on hold, had multiple bugs, and many many frustrating moments. This is the time to learn about how far they have come, not worry that you aren’t quite there yet.
You Bring a Unique Point-of-View
If you are a career switcher it’s easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to others. You are coming into the industry with a unique point of view and are not throwing away everything you have achieved so far. If you are working in retail, hospitality or customer services you are bringing communication skills and patience. If you have been in business, marketing or any kind of office-based role you come with experience running meetings, collecting requirements and how to juggle multiple tasks.
Start a Blog
Because you bring your own point of view blogging is a great way to share it. You’re reinforcing your learning or understanding of your chosen technology or tool. So even if you only get a handful of views, you have still done something worthwhile.
Communication is important in every job, but more important when communicating technical information. When approaching anyone, no matter how technical you think they are, keep the jargon to a minimum. Don’t assume they know everything about your project or are up to speed about the tools you are using.
Be Kind to Yourself
If you take nothing else from this post remember to be kind to yourself. Your journey is as unique as you and there is no need to pursue perfection. You’re doing great.