In Conversation with Blanca Rojo Java Development Lead – Get into Tech Series
How to get into the Tech Industry
Bill Gates: “The best way to prepare (to be a programmer) is to write programs, and to study great programs that other people have written. In my case, I went to the garbage cans at the Computer Science Center and fished out listings of their operating system.” ( 1986)
As the Founder of one of the world’s largest software companies, Bill Gates embodied the essence of hard work. He started hacking at the age of 13 and dedicated at least 10,000 hours to programming – from writing a scheduling program for students and founding a start-up, to writing a computer language for the Altair computer. His persistence, dedication and willingness to fail all contributed to sparking the idea for Microsoft and provided him with the experience to make it happen.
What you can do: To master a skill, practice is key. Talent gives you a slight advantage, but does not guarantee success. If you’re just starting as a programmer, get support from resources like Code Academy, Khan Academy, MIT OpenCourseware to familiarise yourself with coding language. If you are eager to master coding at expert level, consider tech bootcamps such as Maker’s Academy, Steer and Decoded.
It’s also beneficial to research which IT skills are in demand before you begin – to give yourself an advantage in the tech world. Putting in hours and dedication in the beginning will help you achieve your goals in the tech industry.
Mark Zuckerberg: “The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete.”
As the Facebook CEO and one of the world’s youngest billionaires, he exemplified a hacker mindset from twelve years old. His first hack involved developing a messaging program called “Zucknet” which uses the Atari BASIC computer language. This program allowed his father, who ran a dental practice, to be notified when a patient arrived without a receptionist yelling. In high school, Zuckerberg noticed that music programs were intuitive enough to remember the user’s music taste so he built “Synapse”, an early version of the music software Pandora. While he attended Harvard, he developed a program called CourseMatch, which allowed students to choose classes together. Facebook as we know it – which arguably was an improvement to a dating site he helped build called The Harvard Connection – is a demonstration of how Mark Zuckerberg “hacked” his way to success.
What you can do: Don’t be misled by the negative connotation our society has imposed on “hacking” – adopt and embrace a hacker mindset in every aspect of life. Hacking is about looking for unexpected ways to make something better and finding clever solutions to everyday problems. To get started, surround yourself with likeminded hackers in Tech Labs such as Google’s Campus London or Vodafone’s Xone hub. If you already have an idea that you want to bring to life, find collaborators in local hacker spaces such as London Hackspace, CreateSpace and Build Brighton.
Steve Jobs: “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.”
Steve Jobs completely revolutionised the tech world – from computers, to music, to phones, and to portable devices – he proved that the real fuel for success is to find your purpose, follow your passion and stand by your vision. Unlike Gates and Zuckerberg, who had more linear paths to success, Jobs took his time to find what he loved. From traveling through India, studying Buddhism, using psychedelics, starting Apple and then being fired by Apple, to starting Pixar and to attempting to be an astronaut, Jobs ensured that he was listening to his heart to answer his calling.
What you can do: Find your passion. Don’t stop now that you’ve realised you’re into tech. The tech industry is big – coding and programming are only a small part of software engineering. Look up wearable technology if you like fashion. Study motion detection technology if you love your Xbox Kinect. Delve into CGI technology if you are obsessed with Hollywood action movies. There is a tech component to everything that exists so expose yourself to all areas of technology – applications development, games development, web development, computer forensics, IT consultancy, and multimedia programming. Look into all possible IT career paths. Read up on IT niche or subscribe to tech news platform such as TechCrunch, Mashable, and Wired to keep yourself updated with the newest innovations. “Keep looking, don’t settle.”