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Lessons I Learnt While Building My Tech Career

Four years ago, I started my tech journey mainly out of curiosity and interest. I was intrigued when I first discovered that websites were made by someone writing code on a computer. This piqued my interest so I started to do some research. As I started learning, I realized quickly that tech could also help me to “make it big”. I heard stories of tech sis and tech bros working with big tech companies. I even knew one or two friends who had such opportunities and I wanted the same for myself but I have come to realize that there’s more to tech than getting a lucrative job.

For a newbie, the tech industry may seem like a lot. If you want to get in, but you’re unsure, or maybe you got in but you feel you didn’t start off right, then this article is for you! I want to let you in on some open secrets and guide you to make fewer mistakes than I did when I started my tech career journey.

Before we discuss anything, let’s clear out some misconceptions about tech. 

  • “Tech”, as used in this article, is not internet fraud, it is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It is valid, honest, hard work and requires effort and skill to succeed. 
  • You don’t need any prerequisites to acquire tech skills. What you studied (or are studying) in school is not a limitation to you building a successful career in tech. 
  • Tech is not only about coding. There are so many other non-coding careers in tech. I4G wrote a blog post about 20 non-coding tech careers, read it here
  • These are some important steps to take as you start your tech career:
1. Decide

Find out what exactly it is you want to do. What skills do you want to learn? What do you intend to do with the skills you’ve acquired? For some people, the answer is to get a job in tech. Read about the different tech careers you come across so you have a good knowledge and you’re able to make an informed decision. Doing your research helps with a sense of direction and it makes you more committed.

2. Find opportunities and resources

Look out for courses, scholarships and resources from organizations like Ingressive For Good. If you can afford to, you can also pay to take a training or bootcamp or course. However, there are lots of resources, videos and materials available on the internet for free. You can also speak to anyone you know and ask them to recommend resources to help you learn the skill(s) you need to succeed in your chosen career path. A great place to find such people is social media. Search for them and stay tuned to their accounts so you can benefit from the opportunities and other valuable information they share.

3. Have a support system

Join a community of like-minded people that you can grow with. It’d be great if you connect with some people in the community, or make friends with people who are building a career in tech too. This way, you can support each other and stay accountable to each other. Discuss your activities, what you’re learning  and projects to support each other. Another way you can connect with more people in your field is to attend tech events. You will be able to meet like minded people who are either starting out their tech careers too or have built successful careers. You can learn from them. Their experience, connections and knowledge will serve you well. If you can find a mentor, that will help you too. Read this blog post by Ingressive For Good to help you find mentors in your tech journey.

4. Be diligent, patient and consistent

Building a tech career requires consistent effort, regular practice, diligence and a desire to learn. Rome was not built in a day, neither will your tech skills or your portfolio be. Be patient with yourself as you learn and practice regularly. You will constantly go through a process of learning, unlearning & relearning.

5. Be open to learning

Learn the skills required to help you succeed in your career. Take it a step at a time. Be fluid in your learning, don’t limit yourself.  This makes it so that when you work on projects and with other people, you are able to work together easily and quickly as you apply the skills you’ve learnt. Even on a job, you’re still learning because you get to handle different projects. 

6. Get involved in projects

No matter how small, simple or basic, do something. Start early to make projects of your own using the skills / stack you are learning. Data scientist/analyst/engineer? Get a hold of some datasets. Web developer? Start building websites. There’s no better way to learn than to practice. Don’t wait until you have finished learning to start building something, there is no end to learning in the tech industry. Working on projects makes you learn how to apply the skills you’ve learnt. Contribute to open source too.  Open Source is a great way to get real-world experience that will equip you for opportunities later. It helps you gain new skills, practice & solidify the ones you have or are learning especially if you are a developer or designer.

7. Prioritize your health

Your physical, mental & emotional health are top priority. Stay hydrated, get enough sunlight, take regular breaks, make as many ergonomic changes to your workspace as you can, and talk to people about the issues you may be facing so you can get help. You can also do some fun things too. It’s okay to take a day or a week off, then come back.

8. Create your portfolio

It’s extremely important to keep your projects organized. It helps others as well as you see where you started and how much progress you are making. Consider creating a GitHub profile if you write code, a Figma account if you design. You can use tools like Notion, Canva, Google Docs, and Google Drive to create your portfolio. You can also upload your certifications.

9. Talk about it

Share your work on social media. Post your wins, your progress and even the failures. This helps people understand your process and connect with you better. Share highlights of your learning. You will be able to build and strengthen your online presence and you’ll begin to attract opportunities.

I really hope you find these tips I have shared in this blog post useful as you build your tech career.

You can connect with me on social media: Twitter (@akcumeh), GitHub (@akcumeh), and (@akcumeh) or reach out to me directly on Telegram (@akcumeh).

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