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Transitioning Into A Tech Career

A career in technology can be very rewarding, but what is the best path?

tech career

TL;DR

Start with basic tech certifications such as the A+, find an area you are interested in, and then pursue it through self-study and certifications.

My Story


I started off my career working at restaurants. The very first job I had was cleaning at a seafood restaurant when I was in High School. My second job was as a cook at Steak n Shake, a popular burger joint. I hopped around from restaurant to restaurant as I was traveling. I was not sure what I wanted out of life at this point. One thing I was certain of, was that, I hated going to work. It wasn’t that I was lazy, but I constantly felt that my time was being wasted by getting yelled at by a stressed out manager. To make it worse, I was barely getting by financially.

On my 23rd birthday I was given a 7x7 cube puzzle. I had always been into Rubik’s Cubes and had practiced solving them as fast as I could, but this 7x7 was a huge step up from the 3x3 standard cube. I grabbed it and instantly began solving it. I worked at it non-stop for somewhere around 5 hours without any breaks. I was obsessed with it. After completing it, I realized how much time had gone by without a care in the world. I remember wishing work was like that.

So why wasn’t it?

The lesson I learned from the puzzle was that I enjoy thinking and solving problems. If I could find a job where I could think and solve problems, work would fly by and I would enjoy myself. I contemplated for some time and decided to look into programming. Programming was a perfect fit for this passion I had found within myself. I began teaching myself how to program software, and even though it was very difficult at first, I became decent enough to begin thinking about a career in software engineering.

At the time of these realizations I was unemployed. I knew that I needed a job immediately, and that even though it may not be programming, I still knew I needed to get a job that was somewhat relevant to my goals. I ended up applying to Best Buy for a Geek Squad agent. I was hired and was working as a repair consultant until eventually becoming a repair technician. Now that I was immersed in the field of technology at work, I was able to spend less time getting yelled at, and more time focusing on technology and my career. I spent a lot of time studying for a tech certification known as the A+ certification offered by CompTIA. The A+ certification is considered the standard entry-level certification for PC technicians. As I studied for this, I was able to put what I was learning to practice at work. It was a perfect fit. This was not a programming job, however, it allowed me to spend more time focusing on learning about technology and getting relevant experience. While I worked and studied, I also worked on coding projects. I developed an app for Android to help people study for the A+ exam. In doing so, this also helped me a lot with memorizing the terms for the exam. I ended up building a few apps and websites, and began applying for programming jobs. Within two months of searching, I was hired as a software engineer.

The point of this story is that surrounding yourself with situations that have some relevancy to your career goals is vital for success. I surrounded myself with technology to learn more about it. I wrote an app that was relevant to a tech exam that I was studying for. These tricks were the most important things for my success.

So what’s the plan?

My recommendation to those who are trying to transition into a tech career is to start with the A+ certification. This is a very great resource to learn a very wide range of things about technology and how it works on a lower level. The certification itself is also great to have on a resume’. Once you’ve completed this, you will have a better idea of what areas of technology interest you the most. Do you like networking? Security? Engineering? Once you figure this out, pursue another certification that more closely fits your interest. For instance, if you become interested in cryptography, study for the Security+ exam. If you become interested in how the internet works, study for the Network+ exam. Even if you decide to pursue a different career, you will have learned a lot about yourself and your career interests.