How to break into the tech industry without being a programmer
We are living in the digital age and now access to information like never before. For all of you curious about breaking into the tech industry I will take away the mystery and give you some tips. People with an established network have access to these jobs. Usually the affluent ivy league graduates who may already come of privilege, power, and wealth.
Therefore, the tech industry ends up skewing white and male.
We often think of tech employees to be Mark Zuckerberg clones rarely do we see Brown or Black graduates holding positions throughout these organizations.
This results in major blind spots. We end up with technology that is not accounting for different skin tones or technology that even considers the sociopolitical impact on low-income communities. See google’s accidentally racist algorithm. This winds up shaping media through fake news and insensitive advertising campaigns. When a diversity of people, socioeconomic status, and race is not present in an organization it gets written into the code.Latino/Hispanic staff is underrepresented in tech even though we are one of the biggest demographics in the United States. Yet, companies are aiming to reach Latino consumer. What we see products and services are not built by people from the community the outcomes can be devastating. Messaging can come off as tone-deaf, stereotypical, or even appropriating our culture.
So why aren’t there more Latinx folk in the tech industry?
It’s not for lack of want. Many of us have been surviving, navigating different spaces, and frankly didn’t have people to guide us into STEM fields. Lacking access to those points of entry, in addition to toxic and unwelcoming work environments, compound the issue.There are many capable candidates but many don’t even realize the potential there is in tech simply because they lack resources and access.
Due to the lower overhead in producing a digital product, salaries tend to be higher
For candidates of color who have grown up low-income, this has a huge impact on our financial independence, families, careers, and communities. It is a major way out of la pobreza.I want to let you know of the different areas that exist at tech companies so you can be a part of. While programming a core part it is not the only way in. Businesses have many moving parts and that is not an exception for tech companies.Yes, one can start a company with just developers but there is more to a business than just the product. You do not need to be a programmer, computer scientist, or engineer to be in the tech industry.
Roles outside of programming include business development, strategy, and operations.
There are lots of people who study and go to university to get these specific roles. The beauty though of the tech industry it is more skills-based for the most part, after removing awkward biases one may encounter. The key is understanding your strengths and what these roles even mean. At the same time building up your network, as an underrepresented individual joining organizations that get you is key to your resiliency.Some roles are more client facing, others are more internally working alongside other teams in the company, and lastly working independent. So whether you’re an extrovert or introvert there is space for you.
Sales & Customer Service
These are the people in charge of making that cash money. They may be in charge of finding potential customers, reaching out to them, and essentially securing the bag. These are your people person. These are the folks wining and dining prospective clients. They are pros at sliding in the DMs/emails and building relationships with people to ensure they become happy customers. For existing customers, they are the ones that are making sure clients are happy and profiting and ensures that clients have the newest products.Roles Available: Sales Associate, Account Manager, Customer Success Manager
Strategy & Operations
This is what keeps the day to day running smoothly. Operations teams are in charge of putting out the fires. They are the ones developing internal processes. They are building standard operating procedures. These are the teams that see all of the moving pieces and figure out how be more efficient across teams. Roles available: business operations manager, advertising operations coordinator, or digital operations strategist
These are your programmers, they are the ones building the actual code for the software or apps. They are the ones that you probably think of when you hear Tech and often spending countless hours building a custom product. Often they work alongside product development and User Experience / User Interface (UI/UX) designers. They are able to work more independently usually than any other team.Roles: Junior Web Developer, Software Developer, Mobile iOS Developer
Marketing and Advertising
They are responsible thinking of the best way to get your attention. They , reach you where you are i.e: advertising on social media, billboards, radio, or working with your favorite content creators and influencers. They’re the ones thinking of what is the best way to get a new customer and make them love our brand. They may interact more so with clients and potential customers for market research.Roles: Brand Manager, Growth Marketer, Digital Marketing Manager, Media Buyer
This is the team that is developing what they are selling — the product which can be anything from service, software, to an app. They create new products to solve their client’s problems and modify existing with company goals and customers.Roles Available: Product Manager, Product Owner
They make sure things get done and everyone is on task. They are the ones responsible for assigning tasks to the right people, making sure that there are road maps in place. Essentially, they are the ones that are making sure the ship is being steered in the right direction.
These are the creatives that make everything pretty and catch your eye. They work along with the marketing team as graphic designers or can work with the web developers as User Experience / User Interface (UI/UX) designers. They ensure that apps and websites are easy for the user to navigate. Making sure that colors are easy on your eyes and overall aligns with the company’s brand and aesthetics.Roles: Graphic Designer, User Experience / User Interface Designer
They are the ones that make sure that the employees are well taken care of and working on getting new folks into the industry. Human Resources ensure that employees have paperwork filled out, handle complaints, and that the environment is not hostile . They may serve as recruiters, vetting and sourcing folk to fill roles at an organization. In all honestly, most early-stage startups will not have an HR division.Roles Available: Recruitment/ talent acquisition, People Ops, Chief Diversity Officer, HR generalist
This is the team in charge of the cash money, typically include planning, organizing, auditing, accounting for and controlling its company’s finances. Overall, trying to make sure that the business does not get bankrupt. Might include your accountants and financial analysts. If you’re at an early stage startup you will be wearing many hats — which can be great to about business overall. Now — the truth is you might be the first Latinx person at your company. I would be lying if I said it was easy. You might be one of the few people of color on your team. You probably might face microaggressions. Yet, know that you are not alone, there are many of us out here ready to offer support come find us.
Remember you are there for a reason — you are paving the way.
You are learning and you will build knowing your ancestors are behind you. Once you get your foot in many others will come after you. You will bring more people to the table and build for your community.And as technology is exponentially evolving, together we will build a future that is better for all of us. A future that ensures that our community does not get left behind. We will learn, gain the skills then build our own.