Each year, the United States honors Latinx Heritage Month to celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors originated from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. But like the dynamic community this heritage month honors, it moved forward.
Founded in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week, this event eventually evolved into Hispanic Heritage Month and then — more recently — Latinx Heritage Month. Latinx is a newer term that has gained popularity among scholars, activists, and millennials. The intent behind this movement is to create a more inclusive space for gender non-conforming individuals.
While Latinx aims to provide a space for everyone, it’s important to know that one term cannot possibly encompass all the diverse communities, nations, and identities this event recognizes. Listening is always the best way to start a brave conversation — just because someone is from a Latin country, it doesn’t necessarily mean they identify as Latino, Latina, or even Latinx.
Latinxs en Tecnología
It comes as no surprise to us that Latinx people make up the fastest growing demographic of entrepreneurs in the United States. While only 6.2% of all Americans run a business, Latinx founders accounted for 15% of American entrepreneurs in 2019. The same year, Latinx businesses in the U.S. created 3 million jobs and generated nearly $500 billion in sales for the economy.
While Latinx people continue to excel, they have so much more to offer our community:
The Stanford Graduate School of Business reports that Latinx-owned companies tend to remain smaller than white-owned firms, with average revenues of $1.2 million per year compared to $2.3 million for non-Latinx-owned firms.
The Kauffman Foundation found the U.S. economy would add 1 million employer businesses and nearly 9.5 million jobs if minoritized groups could start and grow their businesses at the same pace as non-minoritized groups.
The Aspen institute estimates that improving the business and entrepreneurship system for Latinx founders could yield an additional $1.4 trillion to the U.S. economy.
Our work is cut out for us. While Latinx people have made an unparalleled impact in our country’s economy and technology, there’s still room to move forward. Our job as educators is to bring these discrepancies to light so that we can foster real, measurable — and overdue — change.
But one thing is for certain: Progression never goes backward.
At General Assembly we are listening and evolving to become more inclusive of other cultures, languages, and communities.
Our team in Europe is running the first ever bootcamp cohort in Spanish. We’ve partnered with the Adecco Foundation to grant scholarships to 26 Spaniards with disabilities to help guide their careers toward technology with our Software Engineering Immersive.
Additionally, we’ve teamed up with Techqueria, the largest community of Latinx in tech, to support their Latinx Heritage Month Summit and create initiatives that build on our commitment to making GA a more inclusive place for our Latinx students.
The future of tech looks bright, mi gente. ¡Dale!
Check out our upcoming Latinx-themed events to stay engaged and learn even more:
These days you would be hard-pressed to find a business, regardless of its size, that isn’t investing in digital marketing to assist in their promotional efforts. Businesses must try their best to keep up with their fast-paced consumer markets and are challenged with staying in tune with the ever-evolving digital marketing technologies and strategies available to them.
As a result, digital marketing budgets are increasing by double digit increments year after year, projected to hit a total global spend of 306 billion by 2020, keeping the field of digital marketing both challenging and exciting.
What exactly is digital marketing, anyway?
Well, it’s not too far off from what you might think of as traditional marketing: businesses or organizations connecting with their audiences to promote their brands, services, and/or products, ideally bringing them closer to purchase as they span the customer journey. However, as consumers consistently spend more time online, marketers are shifting their promotional efforts to meet consumers where they are. Thus, digital marketing has come to the forefront, with marketing strategies spanning a variety of online channels such as social media, search engines, email, online publications, and other key business websites.
Today, the field of digital marketing is more interesting than ever and encompasses a wide range of knowledge and skill sets. It appeals to those that consider themselves creative types as well as those who are more analytically or technically minded. A digital marketing career includes a mix of desired skills to be successful in the field — such as data analysis, automation software expertise, and user experience design — as represented in the Altimeter State of Digital Marketing Report.
Digital Marketing Career Opportunities
While the skill sets required of digital marketing specialists are vast and diverse, it’s typically not expected that a single digital marketing role take on all of these skills. Instead, digital marketing careers are more commonly made up of a variety of roles and responsibilities that span areas such as:
Content marketing entails the creation and distribution of consistent, valuable, and engaging content — emails, blog posts, videos, ads, social media posts — to clearly defined audiences. It’s the content marketing manager’s job to decide what kinds of content will resonate most with key audiences and keep them coming back for more. Content marketing managers work with their team members to decide how to use or repurpose pieces of content to suit the various digital channels leveraged by the business, ensuring that the content created has a long shelf life and reaches as many viewers as possible.
Search Engine Marketing
While a solid content marketing strategy is important for digital marketers to develop, it’s just as important for them to optimize their content and websites for search engines, as search engines are primarily what people use to find the information they need. Digital marketers have put various search engine optimization (SEO) techniques in place to improve the ranking of their content on search engines like Google. SEO can be a full time job; it’s the SEO Manager’s job to ensure content and websites are optimized as much as possible and are adapting to the requirements of continually changing search engine algorithms, such as Google’s PageRank.
Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing takes SEO one step further, applying a lot of the foundational aspects, but offering content through a digital ad on the search engine that viewers click on to access. Advertisers are charged per each click on the ad, hence the name of the practice. Putting money behind these ads yields a higher chance that the ad content will be seen. PPC managersare hired to determine which keywords to associate with the promoted ads, how large of a budget to allocate towards the advertising campaign, and which content to promote as part of the advertisement itself.
Social Media Marketing
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are available for digital marketers to use to promote their brands, generate followers, and drive traffic to their websites for future lead generation. It’s the role of the social media marketing managerto determine which social media platforms are best suited for the company’s audience, what content should be shared at what cadence and time of day, and which topics will interest followers based on monitoring conversations through specific keywords, phrases, or hashtags. Social media is an exciting part of digital marketing for people new to the field to dive into, and its use cases and features are always shifting and expanding.
Email is another channel digital marketers can use to reach their prospects and customers. When done right, it allows email marketing managers to strategically send emails that rise above the noise of crowded inboxes and provide a relevant and personalized touch to their subscribers. Emails can come in many forms such as monthly newsletters, event promotions, educational product tips and tricks, and holiday discounts. Email marketing is often in place to point subscribers to a company’s website, with the hopes of driving further engagement or product purchases. Email is a tried and true digital marketing method that’s always improving and challenging digital marketers to do better, ensuring that email marketers stay challenged and subscribers stay informed and engaged.
As the options available to digital marketing professionals continue to evolve and campaigns become more sophisticated, so must the technologies that digital marketers use to maintain them. Enter marketing automation: the ability to utilize software to automate marketing operations that might otherwise be done manually. For example, marketing automation can allow digital marketers to set up processes on the back end of their various marketing tools to automatically send welcome emails to their new newsletter subscribers or schedule their daily social media posts. Marketing automation managerscollaborate with many of the above mentioned roles and are most effective when they’re able to fully leverage both their creative and analytical attributes.
The Earnings of Digital Marketers in 2020
Digital Marketing, no matter which direction you go within the field, is in high demand and the earnings that can be made are in direct alignment. According to Mondo’s 2020 Tech, Digital Marketing, & Creative Salary Guide, you can expect to make upwards of $60,000 USD as a starting salary in most areas within digital marketing, progressing (upwards of $110,000 USD in some cases) as you develop in your career. This of course varies across regions and disciplines, with more technical roles tending to align with higher earnings.
Plan for a Digital Marketing Career
Digital marketing is an exciting field to get into and is only going to get more exciting over time as technology continues to advance. Should you find yourself interested in pursuing a career in digital marketing, don’t be afraid to explore the various ways you can dive into the career path. You’ll find that there are a number of great resources you can invest in to get you on your way. Whether you just recently finished school or you’re switching careers, digital marketing holds un-capped potential that’s yours to take advantage of in 2020.
Hello intrepid data scientist! First off, I’d like to congratulate you; you’re likely reading this post because you’re preparing to interview for a data science job. This means I’ll assume that: (a) you’re the type of person that researches ways to improve and level up in your career, and (b) you’re reached the interview stage — congrats!
As a data science instructor, I’m often asked for advice on how to prepare for a data science interview. In response, I usually bring up three major themes. You need to:
1. Have a background that includes sufficient knowledge of the field of data science to fulfill the job’s tasks.
2. Have implemented that knowledge in some way that the community recognizes.
3. Be able to convince your interviewer of your knowledge and abilities.
1. Knowledge of Data Science
I’ve taken part in interviewing many data scientists and have also been interviewed. Through being on both sides of the table, I’ve seen that there are usually three-ish areas of knowledge that an interviewer is looking for: prerequisite knowledge of data science at large, which includes: mathematics, coding, databases, and the ability to communicate findings and insights; knowledge of the company and its vertical; and knowledge of the tech stack of that company.
If you’re reading this article with a fairly long time horizon and not trying to cram, then you can prepare ahead of time with the knowledge of data science at large by taking a look at this blog post which has a long list of curated resources. If you are reading this and trying to prepare for a data science interview on a short time horizon, this article and this article have a list of questions with answers to get you in the zone.
Knowledge of the company is going to come from research of that company. Read up on the company and if you have time, find second and third degree connections through LinkedIn or people you know and reach out. As a General Assembly alum, I’ve found it incredibly helpful to go to a company’s LinkedIn page, check out who the fellow alumni are, and connect through a LinkedIn message or offering to buy them coffee. Reading up on the company usually takes the form of doing research about the company itself (founding principles, place in the market, investment stage, etc.), but it also takes the form of looking up who you’d be working alongside if you started working there. What does the data team look like? Are there data engineers or other data scientists?
During a data science interview, your background will likely speak to your knowledge of the vertical you’re applying to. In the absence of that, some portfolio projects are a great second option to show your domain expertise.
Thomas Hughes, Manager of Data Science and Machine Learning at Etsy, shared this bit of advice on striking a balance between generalized skills, specific skills, and knowledge in a vertical:
“Companies who do not have much experience in data work generally look for candidates who specialize in their industry vertical. Since they don’t know what they’re looking for, they often will say, ‘I’m looking for someone who has solved problems similar to my problems, which I’m assuming means they have to be coming from my industry.’
More mature companies, with experience in the data space, recognize that many of the techniques are applicable across industries and don’t require industry specific knowledge, and furthermore, someone who’s deeply trained in a specific technique often adds more value than someone who’s just familiar with an industry vertical.”
Theodore Villacorta, Executive Director of Analytics at Warner Brothers, shared with me that, “regarding vertical, your background matters less; it’s more about skills to get data from a database and how you can perform with it.”
Lastly, you need to be fairly well versed in the tech stack that the company primarily uses. Villacorta offers: “Since knowledge of one of the two main open source languages is a strong requisite, along with the ability to use the corresponding SQL packages for those languages, it might be a great idea to showcase those in a portfolio piece. Most organizations have some form of SQL database.” At minimum, be prepared to answer questions about any tech stack that the company uses within the realm of data science and especially be prepared to answer questions about any tech that your resume lists. I usually like to do two things in preparation, to get an idea of what’s being used: first, I’ll head to stackshare.io and see if the company is listed. Second, I’ll look at the skills that current employees list on LinkedIn.
2. Community Recognition
The second piece is the community piece, especially if you have plenty of time before the data science interview. Community is purposefully a fairly amorphous term here. You can attend in-person events like meetups or conferences, or you can also have a community of coworkers, or a community of social media followers. I suggest laying the groundwork naturally. Networking can feel uncomfortable, but finding people you genuinely like being around in this field is usually pretty easy (didn’t anyone tell you that data scientists are the coolest people in any room?). If you don’t find a community that you’re into, try building one: set up a talk featuring other data scientists. Think like a starfish here, not a spider. You’re trying to create interactions and connections that continue to build new interactions in your absence; not interactions and connections that fall into a void once you’re no longer making them happen.
3. Convince Your Interviewer
In your data science interview, you need to convince the interviewer of your capabilities of both areas above. Interviewers are looking to make sure that you’re someone that generally fits into the puzzle board of other employees that make up the company culture. Show them that you’re great at the community thing through past coworkers or your involvement in open source projects online, engagements with people on Twitter, your writing style on blog posts, and the like. As Villacorta mentions, “For everyone, regardless of how cross functional of a role, I think it’s important to find someone who has an ability to collaborate, share resources…I’ll usually ask behavioral questions like ‘tell me a time when…’ in order to get a sense of a candidate’s abilities in this area.”
Hughes explains, “Senior level positions generally need to be providing leadership and influence over non-technical stakeholders. So they need experience explaining how the work they and their team is doing is valuable in non-technical ways.” Demonstrating your knowledge in an interview comes down to staying open. You’ve done the studying, now just get out of your own way.
I like employing the beginner’s mind here. Take every question in as though you’re uncovering the answer alongside the interviewer. In other words, think of it kind of like an archeological dig, rather than a tennis match. When you get an interview question like, “what’s a P value?” you can respond with, “are you curious about calculating and interpreting P values in the context of hypothesis testing in a project? Because I had a great project I worked on [insert teaser to a project here]… or are you looking for a definition?” This gives your interviewer a ton more fodder to work with and opens you up to answer questions in the Situation, Task, Action, Results (STAR) format, especially as it relates to former projects and jobs.
Regardless of where you are in the interviewing process, know that there is a position and great fit for a company for you somewhere. I think it’s helpful to consider the process of interviewing through the lens of a company — they’ve been looking for you! Don’t let your own ego get in the way of letting a genuine interaction take place during the data science interview. Interviews aren’t something you’re “stuck with” having to put up with on your march towards another job. In fact, they can be incredibly rewarding moments to find new areas to learn about in this fascinating field we’re in. Good luck, and let me know how it went!
The truth is, no one is born with the coding skills a potential employer is seeking for tech job openings, and your resume doesn’t need to include a computer science degree. The good news is every web developer acquires the technical skills along the way that leads to their first job, and the path is not the same for everyone. With this dream tech job becoming a desired career path for many, you’ll want to have a proper outline. Below are my 5 steps to getting your first job as a web developer.
1. Research and Visualize
If you came across this article because you were researching how to get a job as a web developer, guess what? You’re already immersed in the first step! Congratulations.
In one of my favorite business books, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey outlines an easy-to-understand approach to attaining your goals — through conscious changes to your behavior and character. While all of his 7 habits are important, I want to point out habit 2 to you with regards to landing a web job: Begin with the end in mind.
In the book, Covey says that habit 2 is “based on imagination — the ability to envision in your mind what you cannot at present see with your eyes.” The idea is “based on the principle that all things are created twice,” he continues. “There is a mental (first) creation, and a physical (second) creation. The physical creation follows the mental, just as a building follows a blueprint.”
In essence, he says that everything that we bring into reality in the future has its start somewhere before, in the mind. It could be an idea, a goal, or even a Google search; suddenly “it” becomes an outline, a map or a schedule, and slowly the first mental birth gives a subsequent existence to something physical.
When it comes to your career as a web developer, this means researching the steps you can take today in order for you to be confident and capable to start a new developer job in the future. That’s how I’d like you to approach this goal.
Do your research: The better you know the blueprint for what you want to build for your web career, the more motivated you’ll remain along the way. You’ll be able to track your progress toward a goal. And then visualize: See yourself follow the plan as you grow your skills and confidence and ultimately land your dream job.
Read 3–5 different takes on how to become a web developer from tech and career blogs, YouTube, Quora, LinkedIn, etc.
From the different perspectives you’ve gained, what is common among them? What do they say you should learn for a web developer job? How do you acquire the skills that are suggested?
Make a step by step plan on how you can achieve the goal. Base it on your personal skills profile, schedule, timeline, resources, etc.
Visualize yourself 1, 3, or 5 years in the future while focusing on what’s doable today.
2. Learn the Skills
The bottom line is that a web developer job comes down to skills and execution. Employers — your future hiring managers and colleagues — will expect you to have certain technical skills and to execute them as required by the role, especially if you want to keep the job. While soft skills are important in any organization, in this job you’ll ultimately find yourself being put to the test through your tech experience and knowledge, and your goal is to let this fuel your productivity and success.
When I started to learn web development, I realized I had a lot of new things to learn. Coming from an arts background in college but having a life-long fascination and familiarity with computers, I knew that my English writing would not directly translate to writing code. So what did I need to do? Thankfully I was in familiar territory; I had to learn to write and to learn new languages. That meant learning new writing syntax, structure, rules, etc. From the start, I learned HTML and CSS were the backbone of the web. HTML gives structure to every webpage’s content, and CSS provides the styling. Without those two, what would the web be? Would it be?
While I was working a full-time job that was not tech-related at the time, I made a schedule for myself: at least 3 times a week I would go to a learning space or coffee shop after work to learn HTML and CSS. Yes, I visited many spaces, libraries, and coffee shops. I drank a lot of needless coffee. I researched many topics. I stumbled and learned. One night, it could take me three hours to learn a simple concept which only became a rabbit hole to other related concepts. It never seemed to end and I only had so much time in one day.
In the long run, every hurdle mattered. Once I learned something a couple of times, I started to retain knowledge, and through practice, I put it to work.
Bonus Tip: One thing I always tell my web development students is this: find a project. It can be anything — start a website about your dog, your kids, your most recent vacation, Auntie Betsy, the weather — whatever. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t even have to be public. Just create something.
Having a pet project, even simple ones as those mentioned above, will give you a needed end-goal. You’ll start to come across hurdles as you envision what content is needed, how the website should look, how to host it, and what design you want, such as fonts, colors, assets, user experience, template layout, etc. Guess what? Each of these web hurdles and design choices may become your three hour session at a learning space, but each obstacle will reward you with practice and knowledge.
Learn HTML and CSS. Interactive online platforms provide an excellent start, and they can be reinforced by coding bootcamps. If by chance you come from a graphic design background, you’ll enjoy CSS! You might soon see yourself as a web designer.
Learn how to write a simple HTML document from memory. The syntax will become engrained more thoroughly this way. Yes, type out the <html>, <head>, <title>, <body> and other common HTML content tags so that they become second nature. Learn how to integrate CSS into the document in-line, and through a linked stylesheet. Speaking confidently about the technical structure of an HTML + CSS page alone can help you score big in a job interview.
Lastly, how do you get to be online given the framework or CMS? How does web hosting work? How do you deploy a web application?
3. Add to your Portfolio and Gain Experience
Once you’ve created one or two simple projects for yourself — as long as they provide a good dose of learning and experience — create something that you want to share publicly. Can’t think of anything? A personal blog or a professional resume website is a good start.
When you’ve created a website that you can share with others, get the word out. Add it to your social media profiles, including LinkedIn. Don’t be afraid to market it, and of course, improve it as new ideas and content start to flow.
My first public web project was a short story fiction website. Because I came from an arts background, it was actually my interest in creative writing that brought me to tech. I had owned a web domain for a couple of years (the “idea”), but it wasn’t until I was determined to create my own website that I took the steps to build it.
While I enjoyed writing and publishing short stories, through the project, I continued learning about web publishing, platforms and upkeep. I was public about my project and in time I had guest writers’ content on my site, and family and friends reading it. Before I knew it, I had family and friends asking me if I knew how to make a website. “Oh, you’re opening a business and want to know if I can help with the website? I’d love to”, I’d say.
At first, I built websites for family and friends, and then used that experience to get the attention of third-degree references. Ultimately, I started to freelance and gained contract work. I created professional business websites for small businesses and individuals. In the span of two years, I had decent freelancing experience, a nice group of samples from my creations, professional references, and the confidence to apply to full-time opportunities.
Put to practice what you’ve learned. If you haven’t already, purchase your first domain. Choose a CMS or framework to get started.
Host and publish content, improve it, maintain it, and share it.
Add the site to your social media profiles, in the links or projects section.
Be open to freelance work with friends and family. Help someone improve their website. Provide web advice and guidance. Work on making someone else’s dreams come true through your new web skills.
Let one project breed the next. You’ll be amazed how many people and businesses need help online. After a handful of contract projects, you can start considering yourself a freelance junior web developer.
4. Be Part of a Community
Depending on the languages, frameworks, or CMS you choose to work with, be part of that community. Your presence can be digital and physical. Subscribe to pertinent tech blogs and tutorial websites on the subject to stay fresh; join online communities of tech professionals where you can learn and give help (e.g. Stack Overflow, WordPress.org); join an offline meet-up; attend a conference, coding bootcamp, and hackathon. This community experience will improve your coding skills, allow you to network, increase your chances of more freelance projects, and make you look more experienced to a potential employer.
If you decide to start making simple websites with a CMS that is not open source, such as Shopify, Squarespace, or Wix, that’s fine too. As long as you can practice HTML and CSS at first, it will springboard you into other challenges. Eventually, I gravitated toward PHP, Python and related frameworks, and I became involved in those communities as well.
Where are those who use your CMS or programming language hanging out? Developers tend to find each other online in forums, blogs and community websites. Join, say hello, and start to learn and contribute.
Be open to offline interaction. Look up events near you, or travel if you need to. While developers do enjoy their desks, events are very common. Programming does not have to be a solo experience.
5. Think Like a Recruiter
At this point, feel confident that you’re a junior or experienced web developer candidate for any potential employer, depending on the amount of freelancing you’ve done. Hiring managers will be interested because you have a solid working knowledge of how to make websites, you’ve built your own projects, you’ve helped create or improve others’ sites, and your community involvement shows you’re eager and motivated.
The next thing you’ll want to do is place yourself in the shoes of a recruiter. Whether it’s an in-house recruiter seeking talent for their tech company, or a staffing agency’s tech recruiter looking to find candidates for clients, your resume will not get to the hiring manager unless it first attracts a recruiter.
I landed my first web job through the help of a staffing agency’s tech recruiter who thought I’d be a good fit for a client. After a contract period, I was converted to a full-time employee. You’ll find that this is a common and realistic route.
In your resume, use keywords to be specific about the programming languages you’ve learned, including related frameworks, dependencies, tools, and software. When tech industry recruiters are looking at your resume, they want to make sure they won’t be wasting the hiring manager’s time with someone who doesn’t have specific experience in what’s required. Keywords are also how recruiters will find you.
Be open to templates. Recruiters are open to creative templates and designs as long as the content is strong. Use services such as Canva to find interesting layouts. Don’t forget to add the time you worked as a freelancer, your web links and projects, and any related education you’ve completed. Create different drafts of your resume, and get others’ opinions.
Maintain consistency across job boards and social profiles. Create a profile on 2-5 job boards. LinkedIn should go without saying — make sure the verbiage used on LinkedIn matches what you’ll send a recruiter or hiring manager on your resume. Keep thinking keywords. Consider joining other job boards such as Indeed, Glassdoor, or Monster, which are general job boards that recruiters frequent, or even tech-focused ones such as Hired, StackOverflow, or GitHub.
Be active online. Share others’ content and consider creating content of your own, such as videos, articles, and podcasts.
On the job boards, select that you’re open to being contacted by recruiters, but be subtle. Be open to a junior web developer job. Stay attentive and courteous even to opportunities that don’t align with your expectations: you never know which recruiter or employer may be the right match now or down the line.
The Opportunity is Yours
When you land a call or an in-person interview, be honest about what you know and don’t know, and be confident about what you can bring to the table. Always come prepared.
Once you have an interview, the opportunity is yours. There’s one thing left to do: ace the interview with the belief that you can walk through that door of what was once a visualization.
Shifting careers to move into a fast-growing field like technology can be a smart investment in your long-term professional success. The hardest question for most career changers is not whether to make a change — it’s where to begin. This is especially true if you are considering entering a field you’re unfamiliar with.
Luckily, the path to getting a job in tech with little to no experience can be a simple and direct one if you follow a few basic steps.
1. Develop a Growth Mindset
First, keep in mind that your perspective can determine how successful your career change process will be. It’s worth taking some time at the start to get into the right frame of mind. If you’re looking to get a tech job, the key is to develop a growth mindset.
Having a growth mindset simply means believing that new skills can be learned and mastered. No one was born knowing how to write code or build web applications! Everyone, no matter how naturally talented, was a beginner once. Every app or device you use was created by a team of people who had to learn and practice new skills on their way to creating something awesome.
You’ve been a beginner in the past too, and have learned all kinds of complex things, from typing or riding a bike to playing an instrument or making a work presentation. So give yourself space to learn, regardless of your age or experience.
In tech, progress never stops. There will always be a new tool or programming language to master. Just know that every new program that you get under your belt will make it easier to master the next one, whenever it pops up.
2. Know Why You’re Making a Change
Why do you want to get a job in tech? It could be that you’re curious about how things work and the code that makes it all happen. Maybe you’ve grown up with digital devices and can’t imagine life without them. Or, perhaps you’re looking for a stable career that will allow you to better provide for yourself and your family. You may have wanted to move into a tech career for a while, and the timing finally seems right to make the change.
There are no wrong answers here. The important part is to have a vision you can go back to on rough days to remind yourself why you want to be a tech professional, and give yourself a motivational boost of energy to keep going.
3. Name Your Goal
The key to this part of getting your tech dream job is to be clear about where you want to end up once you learn the ropes. There are all kinds of exciting job opportunities in tech, and one or more are sure to be a great fit for you.
As you become more familiar with the responsibilities of these roles, you can also begin to narrow down your preferred type of workplace. A deeply resourced multinational enterprise company can be just as satisfying as a career destination as a scrappy innovative startup in a field you really love. Choose what makes the most sense for you and your reasons for setting the goal identified in step 2.
4. Start Right Where You Are
Now you know where you’re going; the next step is to map the route to get there. The good news is, you don’t need an MBA or any other formal degree to be successful in your new tech career. You don’t even need to have a technology job to start getting tech experience!
In fact, you may be able to start getting tech experience at your current job. Consider volunteering to help update a small business’ website, interview shoppers about your store’s app, or shadow someone in your IT department as they troubleshoot a problem. Information you get from these “practice” opportunities can help you decide what new skills you want or need. Check with your HR team to see if your company offers tuition reimbursement or any upskilling or reskilling programs that you may qualify for.
There is an abundance of virtual training possibilities for those who prefer a self-study program. From free YouTube videos to paid options like Coursera and LinkedIn Learning, there’s no shortage these days of convenient and affordable ways to master new skills at home and at your own pace.
Interested in learning alongside a team? Consider participating in a hackathon as a subject matter expert on an issue close to your heart, and watch up close as tech professionals work together over a fast-paced weekend to build a solution to a pressing problem. Or reach out and pick up some projects through Catchafire or a local site like LendaHand and start building your emerging tech skills while helping make the world a better place.
Learn better in a classroom with live instruction? Reputable companies like General Assembly and CompTIA offer a variety of programs designed specifically for adult learners, and with schedules and topic areas crafted to meet both your needs and the demands of a hot job market. Programs are offered both online and, where permitted, in person on campus. Financial aid and payment plans are often available for students who qualify; there’s no need to take on crushing amounts of debt for a conventional four-year degree when a rigorous 12-week bootcamp can give you the skills, tools, and support you need to be a competitive tech job candidate.
Networking doesn’t need to be a negative experience. Consider it a way of learning about your new industry and community by connecting with human beings who were once in your shoes. Most people enjoy helping people the way they were helped on their journey. As long as you treat people with kindness and respect, and not simply as a means to an end, you’ll begin to grow your reputation as a smart and curious person who would be a pleasure to work with.
Online communities can be as powerful for networking as in-person events. With so many networking events happening virtually, you can connect with hiring managers, tech recruiters, and other potential employers from Silicon Valley to New York City and beyond, often for free. Check out sites like Meetup and search for the topics that interest you; from Python to Ruby to HTML, there’s a meetup to meet your needs.
You’re seeking ways to connect with tech industry professionals as someone new to the field and eager to learn. So polish that resume, post it on job boards, read a few articles on how to optimize your LinkedIn profile, and put yourself out there. Once you start writing code, even if it’s for a class project, share it on Github. Leverage social media to connect with future colleagues and maybe even find a mentor.
Volunteering and being of service is both a great way to learn and a great way to meet new colleagues in the tech industry. Consider joining a professional association or two, even if you are just starting out. Get involved in Slack channels, LinkedIn conversations, Twitter feeds, and attend a few conferences, whether they’re virtual or in-person.
Initiative, curiosity, kindness, and hard work will set you apart as a strong interview candidate for your first tech job. The more tech talent you begin to have in your circle, the more likely it is that you’ll begin hearing about relevant job openings — and your new friend may even be able to get your application directly to a hiring manager.
You can land your first tech job with no experience as long as you’ve done the right research and preparation beforehand, and are willing to put in the time and effort to master new skills. A commitment to lifelong learning and a clear idea of what you want to do and where will help ensure your success, no matter how you choose to study. Take the time to consider free and paid training options, in-person and remote programs, and volunteer opportunities as you design your learning plan. And, start connecting with your future employers and colleagues early through networking and social media. A new career is waiting for you — take your first step toward it today.
We believe every student should be able to invest in new tech skills — without worrying about obstructive costs and financial challenges. From zero-interest loans to deferred payments and scholarships, you’ve got options to help you afford learning at GA — no matter your financial situation.
Our friends at Climb have created a quiz to help you discover your best solution:
When you think about a new career in coding, what comes to mind? Do you imagine working behind the scenes at a movie studio or fashion house? The deep satisfaction of improving a life-saving medical device? The systems and engineering mindset needed to build the dashboard controls for a new smart car?
Maybe you’re thinking of a workplace where projects are different every day, like an ad agency building websites for global brands. You may even have an app idea that could really change the landscape, if only you knew how to make it. Whatever you think a coding career might be, you’re probably right — unless you think it’s boring.
Of course, every job has its boring moments, as well as stressful ones. The good news is, once you become a proficient coder, you can begin to explore and decide on the types of coding projects that will help you thrive for years in your new career. The idea is to choose a career path that’s the right fit for your particular working style.
The variety of industries that hire programmers and developers is endless, from the energy industry to retail operations to manufacturing to social causes. The software your dentist uses to view your x-rays; the app that you use to order takeout; the computer in your car that lets you know your coolant is low; the playlist that syncs your phone to your home audio system — all of these cool innovations were made possible by teams of professional coders.
Remember, writing code is not the only programming skill out there. The individuals who built those solutions to everyday challenges have lots of different titles, from web developer to mobile developer to software engineer, or even data scientist. All of them work with code in their own ways and have their own career paths, with their own obstacles and rewards. With so many career options that stem from a shared set of programming skills, the last thing the coding field could be called is boring. The real question is, is coding the right fit for you?
Do you like learning new things?
Neuroscience reveals that our brains have something in common with technology: neither our brains nor tech are fixed, but are instead constantly changing and evolving.
Experienced senior developers are constantly studying to learn new coding skills, as new programming languages like Python become widely used, and new applications are found for existing fields like machine learning.
Fortunately, you don’t need a computer science degree to start a new career programming career. Many coders and developers are self-taught, using free or low-cost resources available at their local libraries or online such as Stack Overflow. Some seek out learning opportunities at their current jobs, like volunteering to help maintain a business website or install a new database. Still others invest in themselves by signing up for a coding bootcamp with live instruction, real-time code critiques, and built-in networking opportunities.
In the end, the programmers who are most successful in this field are the ones who continuously upskill and stay current with new developments in tech. What does this mean for you? It means that a demonstrated commitment to lifelong learning and a growth mindset can be the key characteristic that sets you apart from other candidates for that first junior developer job!
Are you good at solving puzzles?
Can’t get enough of jigsaw puzzles, riddles, and crosswords? Your ability to quickly see patterns and solutions where others do not is a quality that could serve you very well in a software development or computer programming career. Successful engineers and developers have a great eye for detail, an essential skill in a field where a single misplaced bit of punctuation can stop an elite billion-user app dead in its tracks.
Is it stressful? Not for you, because you thrive on pursuing solutions when others have given up, and find it deeply rewarding to help a team resolve wicked issues that no one could fix alone. Every bug is an interesting coding challenge, and every update a chance to make something good into something even better.
Are you a musician?
If you think composing and arranging music is fun, you’re likely to find programming to be fun as well, and a good fit for your skills. Studies show that playing music can help people learn more quickly and create more elegant and creative solutions to complex problems. Trained musicians and successful coders tend to share certain core competencies: a good memory for details, the ability to sort and prioritize an incredible amount of information, and the skill to recognize and tweak patterns. A musician with programming skills can be a great team asset, proficient in both creativity and code. There are even coding courses and workshops designed especially for musicians. Who knew?
Every musician understands the importance of practicing scales before you play your first concerto. In a line of work like programming, a great way to learn is to practice writing bits of code over and over, then begin to string those bits together in sequence until you’ve composed something wonderful and new.
Consider what makes you thrive in a workplace. There will be stressful days and boring days in whatever field you choose, and to stand out in any field requires hard work. But if finding patterns, solving puzzles, or taking small perfect bits and then using them to craft something larger and much more complex sounds enjoyable to you, buckle up — a new programming career may be exactly the path that’s meant for you.
Every graduate of our User Experience Design Immersive career accelerator gets the opportunity to work with a real-world client that’s looking to solve a particular consumer problem. The experience gives students a chance to apply the UX design process to real life, as well as invaluable insights and impactful results that they can use to stand out in their job searches.
The challenge: San Francisco’s Community Ambassadors are the bridge between city individuals and city services. In addition to the great things that they do for the city and its people, they have to log every single thing they do. The city teamed up with UXDI students to enhance the Ambassadors’ day-to-day mobile experience and improve data collection.
The client: Pandia Health, a startup that provides a convenient, affordable way to get birth control.
The challenge: The client came to GA students with three areas to work on: a new homepage, a design for a forum-like question and answer page, and their onboarding process, which includes an online form for prescriptions.
The client:nēdl, an app that lets radio listeners search live broadcasts as easily as they search the internet — by keywords.
The challenge: Nadav Markel, a UXDI graduate in Los Angeles, worked to helpnēdl grow its user base, as it was missing out on a large segment of the radio listening market: car drivers. He also set out to help make nēdl more safe to use while driving.
Even before the twists and turns caused by COVID-19, digital transformation was top-of-mind for today’s business leaders. Companies everywhere are reimagining their workforces and doubling down on digital capabilities and systems with an accelerated timeline.
But success isn’t guaranteed.
In fact, 75% of digital transformations fail to generate returns that exceed the original investment1. Why? Because companies often fall into the trap of focusing on systems rather than people. Leading companies recognize that, in order for their digital transformations to work, employees need the structure, mindset, skills, and vocabulary to support and drive new strategies — from senior leadership to those on the front lines.
Through collaborations with global organizations like L’Oréal, Booz Allen Hamilton, Guardian, and many more, we have identified our top six people-first strategies for driving success in digital transformation. We first published this list in 2018 and have refreshed them to meet this moment. Despite rapid market evolution, they still ring true.
1. Create a Leadership Agenda for Change
Given the far-reaching implications of a successful digital transformation — especially in 2020 — it’s critical to have full leadership support and encouragement from the top. To translate theory into action:
State a bold goal simply and repeatedly. Adopt a simple-but-bold vision for the future, and frame every key milestone — including company updates, staffing shifts, new launches, and training initiatives — in the context of how it is impacting that goal.
Hold an executive sponsor accountable and give them access and authority. This C-suite member must take responsibility to carry initiatives forward and make the organizational changes necessary to bring your goal to life.
Campaign internally and externally. Reinforce transformation goals by developing talking points and slogans that are easy to grasp and remember. By building a reputation as a tech-forward employer, your company can attract the right tech talent and create an internal culture that motivates employees to drive initiatives forward.
2. Embrace Agility & Uncertainty
Agility is key to success when undertaking digital transformations. Gone are the days of three-to-five-year strategy cycles and two-to-three-year product and marketing innovation plans. Today’s technologies and consumer needs change faster than historical business roadmaps can deliver.
Winners in this environment learn to adapt and adjust, finding digital equivalents to the traditional processes that guided business thinking and development in the past. This is as much a mindset shift as it is a physical shift in work, as — at least for the short-term — face-to-face consumer interactions have been largely replaced by virtual consumer encounters.
Take Procter & Gamble, which recognized this need and established P&G Ventures to create new, innovative direct-to-consumer brands. “The disruption of DTC was biting on our heels. How consumers are discovering new brands is different than how we grew up. [P&G Ventures] gives us a more nimble, agile way to get closer to the consumer,”2 Leigh Radford, the initiative’s vice president and general manager, said. P&G Ventures brought us on to offer capability training in digital marketing disciplines, including Facebook and social media marketing, eCommerce strategy, and marketing analytics. As a result, most of its product design and brand creative is done in-house, and leaders across all levels and functions know how to remain close to the customer.
3. Organize Around the Consumer
The consumer and customer must be at the center of any successful digital transformation. This is the only way to stay grounded in the reality of the market and resist the urge to chase every new trend or platform.
First and foremost, it’s essential to understand your consumers — their tastes, habits, ways of communicating, and pathways to purchase. Leading companies implement tools such as journey mapping, personas, and user research to learn about consumer needs. Then, assess the best way to organize and address your findings through different departments such as product development, marketing, and sales.
Finally, allow for new injections of people, ideas, and technology within your organization to incorporate new abilities, approaches, and ideas. We’ll explore this further in Strategy 6.
4. Measure & Reward Based on Metrics
Digital transformations often fail to take HR into account, particularly when it comes to managing employee performance against executing on these goals. This is often a severe blocker to real change — if people’s personal goals, compensation, and motivators aren’t aligned with the organization’s, there’s unlikely to be much positive impact.
Update performance management tools to reflect the business metrics and desired behaviors that matter to individual roles, and track the metrics that employee efforts can directly impact. We recommend using “micro-metrics” such as:
Number of digital media A/B tests executed per month to monitor the company’s embrace of experimentation.
Time-to-deployment for new products to measure hours saved by using new coding applications such as React libraries.
Number and scale of manual data processes automated to measure efficiency gains from using Python instead of Excel.
You can further support employees by describing key behaviors and competencies that will help them achieve success.
5. Bring Data to Every Conversation
We believe strongly in “data-driven people strategy.” In practice, this means that hiring, development, and team structure are all underpinned by robust assessments, and the resulting data helps to understand and pinpoint each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.
GA assessments are built in partnership with top industry executives on our Standards Boards who help define excellence in their fields. By designing and deploying practical skills assessments, we provide employers with a clear and consistent understanding of their teams’ abilities in key high-demand domains, including marketing, data, and tech.
Collecting this data can shape a variety of goals, including benchmarking existing talent against the industry, evaluating job applicants, designing learning paths for employees, and making decisions about organizational structure.
6. Invest in a Culture of Lifelong Learning
Given the speed at which change is taking place, our recommendation is simple: Companies need to invest in learning, both at the institutional and individual levels. Leaders not only need to embrace new technologies but also build digital mindsets at all levels of the organization to power new ways of working.
Keep in mind: Talent with in-demand skills is not only scarce and expensive but also difficult to retain, so companies cannot rely on “buying” talent alone3. Prioritizing up- and reskilling is a necessary measure in order to transform teams and organizations for the future. “Building” talent through training programs is often a more efficient route to acquire these skills versus searching for them externally. What’s more, research suggests that education is among the most-valued benefits for modern employees, boosting retention, engagement, and loyalty.
Thomas Malone, professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and director of its Center for Collective Intelligence, told Deloitte that: “Many decisions in a company are made by communities — a kind of informal consensus involving community norms. If you want to accomplish almost anything in the world and if you’re realistic about it, you need to be thinking about how to work with [collective community intelligence] to achieve whatever you want.”4
As you build a culture of learning, the foundation of digital transformations, it’s essential that everyone — from the CEO to individual contributors — is involved.
Learn more about how General Assembly can help guide your company’s talent transformation.
General Assembly and the Adecco Group are excited to announce a partnership with the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee’s Athlete Career and Education (ACE) program. We are sponsoring 10 part-time, full scholarships for current and retired Team USA members. Athletes will work with us to choose a part-time course — free of charge — that best meets their career goals, gaining in-demand skills like data analytics, digital marketing, software engineering, and more sustainable career paths.
The ACE program, with the support of donors and organizations like the Adecco Group and DeVry University, serves and empowers active and retired Team USA athletes in their pursuit of personal, educational, and professional success.
As the first students get their feet wet in the first few weeks of classes, we’ll be sharing their athlete-to-student journeys on our pages for inspiration — we are confident you will want to get to know them better!
Introducing Alina Urs
Alina Urs is a professional athlete and fitness coach currently residing in Los Angeles, California. Originally from Romania, she was on the Romanian national kayak team and won over 70+ national and international medals. She also represented Team USA at world championships and the Pan American Games. She began training clients professionally in Europe and continued training clients when she moved to New York City, where she worked at Equinox for 10 years as both a top-performing coach and fitness manager.
Alina holds a bachelor’s degree in sports/physical education and psychology. She is also a certified health coach and medical exercise specialist with a focus on immune system health.