Given you are about to embark on your first job and launch what you hope will be a long and stimulating career, it’s ok to be hit with a case of cold feet. It’s a big commitment to tie yourself to one career path, and you may be wary of pigeon-holing yourself as a techie too early in the game. What if you decide it’s not for you? Does starting out in tech necessarily mean you’ll be stuck with it for better or worse? Will you still be up to your eyeballs in code well into your sixties?
We’re here to put your mind at rest. We’ve already covered how broad the sector is, the wide range of roles out there to choose from, as well as the ability to move not just upwards but sideways and diagonally within the tech space. There are definitely ways to transition gradually out of a more technical role into a less technical one but there are also ways to move completely out of the world of tech using the skillset you already have and transferring it to whatever your new passion may be.
Whether you’ve always thought of yourself as a leader or you only begin to realise you may enjoy the responsibility later in your career, management roles are a clear way to progress beyond the day-to-day technical tasks that your first few roles may involve. The first step would be to set yourself apart as a team lead and progress from there, and while you will still need your technical knowledge, you will be required to hone a whole new set of skills.
Management and leadership roles will require you to delegate tasks, train and nurture junior staff, resolve conflicts, ensure your team’s optimum performance and much more. At the very highest end of the spectrum will be C-suite roles like chief technical officer (CTO) and chief information officer (CIO) but the reality is that the more senior you get, the less roles are available and the harder they are to get hired into. For a lot of managers, there is a certain level to which you can get before you hit a ceiling. That being said, that level may be a well salaried one with a lot of satisfying job perks – so it’s nothing to look down at!
More and more businesses are looking to recruit people who have technical skills paired with a healthy understanding of business strategy. Refining your business acumen will only expand your horizons as you progress in your career. Working with data, being able to pull out metrics and present them in a way that is insightful and solutions-based will definitely give you a competitive edge and could set you on the path to occupying roles like data scientist or business analyst in the future.
Don’t worry – your technical knowledge will never go to waste, even if you realise you don’t want to make a career of it. The following are only some of the options available to you if you want to still make use of that knowledge but not work directly in a technical role.
There are many tech-related roles that could be mastered with some extra study. Being at the heart of an industry which is very focused on the end user and also famous for the value placed on design and aesthetics, you may hear the siren song of creativity beckoning you towards roles like user experience (UX) designer or graphic designer. These types of roles require specialised skills of their own but if you decide it is the way you want to go, you could take a few courses or go back to uni. If you find yourself working in a company with UX or graphic design teams, make use of those contacts and pick their brains about what they do and how they do it to help better inform your decision-making process.
As you know, pretty much every industry out there requires technology in some aspect. This means that you don’t necessarily have to limit yourself to working for a tech company just because you have a technical background. Changing industries but still working in tech or a tech-related role could give you a whole different experience. The healthcare, education, banking and automotive industries are great examples of spaces you could find work in that would seem a world away from, say, working at a software company.
Have you always wanted to be your own boss? Do you feel you have the drive and determination to strike out on your own? Starting your own company could be the way to go. A word of warning, though. it is never going to be easy and it is never going to be an overnight success. Being an entrepreneur requires a huge amount of commitment and motivation, the willingness to put in a lot of hard work over a long period of time, and – we’re just going to put it out there – maybe even just a little sprinkle of crazy. It isn’t a step to be taken lightly. Make sure you do a lot of research, soul-searching and number crunching before you leap because being an entrepreneur can take everything you’ve got.
Have you ever considered nurturing the next generation of fresh-faced tech superstars? Teaching could be a great option for someone who knows they no longer want to be a part of the rat-race of the tech world but still wants to use their knowledge for a noble cause. Becoming an educator does generally mean further study but it is a hugely rewarding profession. As someone who’s been through the education system and entered the professional world, you’ll be able to set students’ expectations so they know what to expect and can be better prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.
Technology is what propels us into the future. The field itself is perpetually evolving. The jobs that you will occupy as soon as you start your career may not have existed as recently as a decade or two ago – or at least would have looked very different to what they are now. In the same way, as the years progress, new innovations and discoveries may result in brand new jobs and areas of research and study being created. Fields such as robotics, artificial intelligence and augmented reality are already gaining ground in this respect and more are sure to follow. It may be a good idea to always keep your finger on the pulse of this incredibly exciting, virtually limitless field to see what new opportunities may lie ahead with your name on them.