With a global average salary of $135,000 in an industry driving innovation, it is not a surprise that countless people want to land jobs in tech. The question for many—especially those without coding experience—is how?
The cofounders of the Breaking Into Startups podcast and Career Karmaapp, Ruben Harris and brothers Timur and Artur Meyster, all pivoted to Silicon Valley from finance and management careers. It was a move that required additional classes, learning new skills, networking, moving across the country, embracing risk, and persistence. Once they broke in, they made it their mission to help others move into tech sector jobs. “We know what that formula looks like to guide someone who is a complete beginner,” explains Timur.
Realizing that the media often focuses on founders, many who have been coding since they were young, Ruben, Timur, and Artur hoped to shine a light on others who switched careers from non-traditional backgrounds into tech. “We realized we weren’t the anomaly coming from other careers,” explains Timur whose path to a software engineering job was through the coding bootcamp App Academy. “In my class there were parents, doctors, lawyers, college dropouts, and recruiters. A lot of people outside of tech don’t realize that there are people like them in tech.”
They launched the Breaking Into Startups podcast to share advice and career journeys from industry insiders. With 108 interviews so far, they spotlight variety of roles including founders and software engineers, but also sales, recruiting, data analytics, marketing, and operations
The group also hopes to reach those who might find the tech world intimidating and not be aware of the opportunities. “Many people just don’t have time to read online, because they’re working two or three jobs, have a commute, or have kids,” says Ruben. “We saw a podcast, where people could listen on their commute, as an opportunity to reach more people.”
Their new venture Career Karma, is an app that builds off of the podcast, taking listeners from inspiration to action. “Breaking into Startups actually helped hundreds of people get jobs on their own, but those were the most disciplined people. The people that didn’t have as much discipline required more help,” says Ruben. “Career Karma is an app that helps people become software engineers by matching them to the right coding bootcamps and giving them support for the rest of their careers.”
The app fills a void, as many people don’t know the steps to take to get admitted to coding programs. According to Harris, only 10% of those applying to bootcamps get accepted. However, alternative education options are essential to keep up with the industry. “In 2024 there will be 1.4 million new developer positions and only 400,000 Computer Science grads, which means one million people will become software engineers without a traditional four year education,” says Ruben. “There is a lot of opportunity.”
Interested in breaking into tech? Here is Ruben, Artur, and Timur’s advice on how to get hired:
- Understand the landscape— what the companies are, what the training institutions are, and what the roles are. Once you understand the industry, find out what skillsets you need to acquire to land a job.
- Build a portfolio while you’re learning, leveraging those skills that will be aligned with your future outcome. For example, if you are learning software engineering, it is your GitHub profile, website, open-source contributions, and freelance work.
- Find someone else in your friend group or online who has the same objective. It helps reach your end goal if you have a buddy on the same journey so that you can motivate and support each other.
- Find mentors who are six months to a year into this career transition. Those are the people who can give you the most actionable steps, strategies and tactics for you to be successful.
- Use a pivot as an opportunity to find your true passion. Don’t limit yourself based on your past experiences. Think about what you could do for work that doesn’t feel like work.
- Create a list of companies that you want to work for that are solving problems that you have personally been through and you can add value to. When you’re in an interview, don’t only present yourself as an engineer, sales person, or product manager, but also share your personal experience with the company’s mission. That’s probably one of the biggest things that will set you apart, prove you add value to the organization, and make you more money in your negotiations.
- If you are switching careers, emphasize relevant experience even if it isn’t in the same industry. If you are going for tech sales, reference anything you’ve sold where there was a quota and you hit or exceeded in a corporate or non-corporate environment.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are people who want you to win and succeed. In our community we have people who are learning how to code, but they don’t have laptops. Some people felt embarrassed telling us, but we did a tweet and were able to give them donated laptops.
- Change how you think about the risk of a job change. A lot of people have that cushion that if something does happen, they could at least stay with their friends or family. If you try something new, the worst outcome is you end up in the same role you’re already doing. You have no reason not to take that leap.