Written by Kirsty Cameron
‘It’s funny because I don’t think of myself as being in tech. My role and skill set is very much about communication, building relationships, making sense of things and making things happen but looking back I realise I have been involved in a digital role in some shape or form for nearly 20 years!
Being a military spouse I have found that I have had to be creative in terms of ensuring career progression and development (haven’t we all?!) and my journey has spanned a number of roles and industries. I’m an agile practitioner and have a background in product, project and programme management. The term agile refers to ‘an iterative approach (to project management and software development) that helps teams deliver value to their customers faster. My first job was (literally) stuffing envelopes, then an admin assistant in a design agency in London and that was I guess, my first springboard into the creative services industry and ultimately into the digital/tech route. I worked hard, I watched, I tried, I learnt, I failed (often) but I kept going. I was fortunate enough to have generous bosses and mentors along the way and learnt to always look for how I could add value at every opportunity. But how does this relate to you and how to get into a career in tech? I’d say upfront I am no expert and there are SO many options and routes into tech careers. Also I’d say that there are technical roles vs those roles that require a level of digital expertise (ever on the increase in the world we live in). Recognising how we use digital and technology feels increasingly important and in reality we’re all going to need to upskill ourselves to keep pace with the world as the way of work changes. If you are thinking about getting into a digital or tech role consider the following:
Do you want to work in a specifically ‘technical’ or ‘digital’ role e.g. a developer, a systems engineer, a User Experience designer? If you’re not in one of these roles already then you’ll need to upskill.
Or do you want to take the skills and competencies that you already have and add a layer of digital skills over this? E.g. I am a project manager by training so I can project manage a range of things but have chosen to focus and thus build my skills in the digital sphere. Not all roles are pure ‘tech’ — so much of my role is about building relationships, planning and delivering.
Start where you are: a good place to start is your existing organisation — are there people who are in digital or tech roles who you could approach to ask about their responsibilities and skills? Take it a step further and ask if you could be involved in a project they’re working on. Volunteer yourself for a role, ask for mentoring and show a willingness to learn.
Speak to friends, family and colleagues: ask them if they’re in digital or tech roles, talk to them about how they got into their role, how they keep up to date with the rate and change of digital. Ask them if they’re hiring.Think about the kind of roles that you’ve heard about that appeal to you. Do research (loads of it) — the more you read the more you know, the more you can spot trends and opportunities too. List out your passions — by identifying what you feel you are good at, the skills and passions which bring you energy you can start to identify roles, and organisations, which might suit you. Explore support for spouses — increasingly there are funded opportunities within schemes which support increasing access for women in tech which are aimed at military spouses. Keep a look out for these as they are often linked to organisations who are very understanding of the military spouse lifestyle so moving on in a few years, or transferring to a different office is possible. Search for people on social media (eg. LinkedIn or Twitter) who might be doing these roles/are leaders in their field. Follow their social feeds — in addition to posting useful content about their area of specialism they often post links to courses/webinars/events that are useful networking opportunities as well as job ads. Reach out on social media, engage in conversation (but remember to always consider adding value and give back generously — if someone has helped you out, when someone reaches out to you, see if you can help them out) Curate your own research and reading lists — there is so much information out there — find and follow/join networks that are relevant to your interests. For example, I follow various agile practitioners on social media (LinkedIn and Twitter work for me), I follow areas of interest on the likes of Medium and numerous other online resources. Create job alerts for the kind of jobs you think you’re interested in — this way you can see what is out there but also the skills required which will help you in building your own skills for the role that you want. Finding a mentor and a peer support group is a real enabler to securing a role you want. Remain open, flexible and curious. You’ll have to keep learning — the pace of change is fast and change is constant. Believe in yourself — you’ve got this! At DOT PROJECT our focus is on tech for good in the social, public and education sector so if you’re looking in this sector for roles then have a look at the following: https://www.escapethecity.org/ https://charitydigitaljobs.org/jobs/ https://www.techforgood.global/jobs/ https://www.hiretechladies.com/partners/ https://remoteok.io/ https://jobs.theguardian.com/jobs/charities/