Launching a career in tech: The graduate landscape
In a previous article; ‘Why Tech is the industry to look toward’, Academy Scholar, Vyoma put forward the case for starting your career in Tech.
If you’ve begun to look at routes into Tech, as a graduate, it can be a difficult job to find accessible ones. In this article, we give an overview of the current routes into tech, who they are best suited to and where opportunities lie for innovation.
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- Posted 9th March
One of the common ways to get there is by enrolling on a coding bootcamp. It is unsurprising they are a popular choice. They are a great way to learn the skills employers want, commit yourself to learn to code for at least 3 months and to take advantage of the communities.
The major bootcamps have clear advantages — a proven track record of talent development and established relationships with some employment partners.
The clearest blocker to bootcamps is that they often charge you to do their programmes — this raises economic barriers, and with that, social barriers to entry.
While you can delay payment till after you’ve started earning, you’ll still be required to payback. Also, given bootcamps are usually a full-time commitment, not earning during that period can be a huge aversion for many.
Join a tech startup
"If you want to understand how a business works, go work for a startup. You'll get insight into every area of a business and get a better understanding of what you enjoy and what you don't."Bruce Walker Managing Director at FutureX
If you have the willingness to work hard and learn, there is nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of working at a high growth startup. Startup environments are usually very meritocratic, there’s a lot of autonomy and you can have a finger in every pie. Not to mention they can offer the cool perks we’ve all seen; free craft beer and coffee, exciting office spaces and having your birthday off.
For start-ups that make it, having the potential option for equity involvement can be life-changing. Being able to see the impact your work has on a business, as opposed to feeling like a cog in the machine, is also empowering.
However, it is quite common for tech startups to have limited infrastructure and resources for personal development. While this freedom and lack of structure may suit some, it is definitely worth considering.
Additionally, it can be a shame to miss out on the cohort experience and growing with your peers like you would at a corporate grad scheme.
There is also a fear that if your company fails you can be left stranded. What is incredibly valuable to one startup might not translate to another company – at an early stage in your career, your experience can sometimes be difficult to get across to future employers.
Spaces such as SuperHi, Codecademy and Udemy have free courses to discover and develop new skills.
They have taken on extensive popularity in recent years. In 2021 Codecademy raised $40m and registered 45m users for their platform.
Platforms such as Codecademy allow you to discover new languages and explore what it is like to build things with code. For those interested in web development, SuperHi’s free course in HTML and CSS allows you to build a beautiful responsive website for free.
With low barriers to entry, self-taught platforms are helping to democratise the world of Tech. They are driving tech literacy and in some cases elevating people to new careers in tech.
There are a couple of limitations to be aware of. Firstly, it can be overwhelming when deciding which language to use. While you can search the frequently used languages in tech companies and work back from there, without guidance from those in the industry you can concentrate your efforts in the wrong place.
Secondly, learning specific languages will help you understand the vocabulary of the languages but not necessarily the frameworks behind the syntax. Frameworks that can be applied to a multitude of different languages.
As a software engineer, you’ll have to jump between languages, learn as you go and apply common foundational frameworks behind languages. By focusing on specific languages you might not be building the muscle in your brain that allows you to pick up new languages quickly.
Finally, these programmes are self-taught. This helps you establish a good routine of discovery and problem solving, however, peer-to-peer learning is an incredibly conducive environment for learning tech skills. It can be hard and frustrating learning new skills. Being able to work in a group to solve those problems helps your learning and is a skill that will set you up for success in tech.
These platforms are an incredible way to explore new skills, especially when you’re dipping your toe into the world of tech and building your tech literacy.
Tech graduate schemes
They offer a salary from day one and often mentorship from people working on the factory floor where tech is being used. Learning from these practitioners who are developing technical solutions is great to accelerate your learning and impact.
You’ll join with a cohort of graduates you will go through the programme with — offering the chance to establish great friendships and working relationships for the future.
Unfortunately, there simply aren’t many of these opportunities available to graduates in the tech industry. In the Times Top 10 employers, for example, only one is a tech employer (Google).
If you haven’t studied a technical degree and/or taken on internships throughout your studies, the system isn’t set up to welcome you with open arms.
It’s incredibly frustrating, you can have the aptitude and mindset but without the ‘correct’ skills or experience, technical graduate schemes are turning away talented graduates.
Finally, the high growth tech companies making an impact, often, don’t have the capacity or time to support graduate development. This means graduates are missing out on the opportunity to join exciting and game-changing technical startups and, likewise, these startups are missing out on exceptional graduates.
However, while the industry has scaled so quickly, companies and education models have struggled to adapt and keep pace.
This is has left entry routes confusing and often reliant on outdated necessities such as having specific degrees or experience. This is failing current graduates.
We know technology finds solutions to problems and this is another area where technology will find the solution. The industry is ripe for innovation, to offer graduates better entry routes into tech, and to level up the opportunities for young people.