Before you give your two weeks notice and start on your new path, you should take a moment (or two) to figure out what path in tech is right for you. Yes, you have the skills, and those are important! But now, you need to figure out what you’re passionate about—and how exactly that translates into a job.
So, where do you start? Check out these three methods for finding a tech job that fits you, your knowledge, and your life.
1. Research the Possibilities
You probably don’t head off on vacation without reading up a little on where you’re going and what you can do there—and that’s just for one week of your life. Your new career will be significantly longer than a quick getaway (but hopefully, just as fun and interesting!), so it’s worth investing the time to look into the different kinds of jobs available.
A great place to start is by reading job listings for a variety of position types. You’ll quickly learn more about titles, responsibilities, and expectations for each role, as well as the types of companies that are looking for people to fill those positions. And you’re sure to find some jobs that you didn’t even know were out there. Surprise: Not everyone in tech is a programmer.
For example, just check out these options on The Muse now, all of which require some sort of tech skills:
2. Analyze Yourself
By now, you know you like tech. In fact, you like it so much that you took the time to learn more about it in your free time. But, now you need to figure out what parts of it you’d enjoy doing five days a week.
In many tech companies, there’s a lot of variety when comes to available positions. So, if you’ve always loved working closely with customers in retail, check out the marketing or service roles of a tech company. Or, if you relish planning and coordinating events for your local youth club, think about digital management, operations, or administrative positions.
Also take a look at the kinds of working environments you’ve thrived in. If you once got a thrill from running your own business (whether it was small, big, or just a side project), working at a startup could feed your entrepreneurial spirit. Or, if you love stability and routine, maybe the schedules and traditions of a more established company are more your style.
And don’t forget to take into account your situation in life right now. If you live in a small town or just can’t stand to commute, working remotely could be an excellent solution. Or, if you need to be able to devote time to your family or other commitments, look for part-time or contract-based work. Last, but not least, if you’re ready to strike out on your own, the freedom and flexibility of freelancing might be perfect for now.
3. Give it a Try
As you start to get ideas about the kinds of jobs that you’d like, start looking for chances to do that kind of work, even on a very small scale or as a side gig.
See about taking on some technical tasks where you work now, like updating web pages or working on email newsletters. Or ask a colleague who’s working in a technical role if you can shadow for a few minutes now and then. (Remember: It’s always a two-way street when you’re asking for a favor, so don’t forget to offer something in exchange for his or her time.)
Or, if you can’t let on about your tech aspirations at work, create your own projects to work on. Turn your friend’s blog into a responsive web design wonder. Look for charities or nonprofit organizations that need help with IT projects (Idealist is a great place to start). Or put yourself out there and earn some cash by bidding for projects on sites like Upwork or freelancer.com. Whichever type of “client” you work for, you’ll be gaining valuable experience from actually doing the work you’re considering.
Having digital skills can make all the difference between a good and a great job. And figuring out what kind of tech career is right for you can turn that great job into your dream career.