I really enjoy chatting with people starting a journey into tech; hearing about their challenges, successes, struggles, worries, etc.
It really illustrates the barriers present when starting a career.
Some of these are inherent and part of the nature of learning anything new. Learning is a challenge. Developing a new skill set is not easy, and learning to apply it in the real world even less so.
However, there are some barriers which, I believe, are largely due to a flawed system, and I think are easy to lose sight of once you’re past them (or never encountered at all)
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When talking with those stepping into a tech career, I so often hear struggles or doubt, not related to the challenge of developing technical skills, but in doubting the quality of one’s skills or the pedigree of their background.
Concerns they don’t come from a top 5 school
Concerns they will be looked down on for coming from a bootcamp or being self taught
Anxiety in jumping through interview hoops
Feeling as their thoughts and opinions don’t matter because they aren’t already an “expert”
All of these have so much to do with flaws in the system and horror stories (often true ones) about how difficult it was trying to get a job in tech.
- People getting turned away immediately after revealing they don’t have a degree
- Grueling hours on a whiteboard solving dynamic programming questions
These are just a couple common examples of stories people hear and which then lead to doubt, anxiety and discouragement
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Flaws In the System
It’s a shame and a waste when individuals feel they’ve already lost because they don’t come from a top 5 school, or because they are self taught.
How many great candidates have been passed by because they have anxiety in a contrived 60 min interview experience (pop quiz), when, if given a real project, they might have succeeded brilliantly.
The thing these scenarios have in common?
They often have little bearing on job performance.
This certainly varies based on job, field, and role, but in general there is a large disconnect between how screening/hiring is down and what the daily execution of the role looks like. This disconnect shrinks the hiring pool, and increases the barrier to entry for careers in tech.
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More Than One Path to Tech
I’m often encouraged at the signs of change I see in these areas, but equally often reminded that there’s much more to be done.
I commonly see people discussing these issues and voicing their concerns. Many are looking for ways to lessen the divide and make the process more inclusive and less intimidating. I hope this continues, and that the discussion grows.
I’d like to encourage those in a position to do so, to take some of these ideas to heart and maybe think about them the next time you’re considering your interview/hiring practices. Are there different ways to scan & filter resumes? Are there different interview styles that increase the opportunities to succeed for more people?
I’m not saying you must lower your hiring bar. Making a quality hire is vitally important to a team, but perhaps there are other ways to find & measure quality; ones that may lead to great long term success.
In the meantime, for those currently working to start a career in tech, I think it’s important to remember that there is no one path to tech.
It doesn’t matter where you learned or developed your skills.
You don’t have to be amazing at whiteboard interviews to find a job.
Not every job requires you to know 8 different sorting algorithms off the top of your head.their are many, many paths to a career in tech Click To Tweet
Your journey is your own, and when you believe in yourself then their are many, many paths to a career in tech .
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More to the Discussion
Check out this post on countering shame culture in tech
I expand on the “One Path to Tech” discussion in this video
Thoughts or advice on finding different paths into tech? Comment below or share on social media. I’d love to continue the conversation.
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