4 Ways to Transform Your Passion Into a Successful Tech Career
Did you grow up dreaming of being a doctor—until you realized what working in the ER really entailed? Or maybe you’ve always been into style and wanted to get into the fashion world—if only design was your strong suit.
Well, we’ve got big news for you. Thanks to technology, jobs are changing as we know them. From FinTech to Fashion Tech, there are so many industries that now allow you to make an impact on something you’re passionate about, using tech as your tool. “While FinTech (Financial Technology) has been receiving a lot of press for ‘disrupting’ the finance industry recently, medicine, education, and other fields are also being altered by technology,” explains Richard Hu, a founder of Byte Academy, a coding bootcamp with a grad school-like focus.
And that means there are tons of new ways for you to get involved—and get hired—in these industries. Here are just a few fields changing faster than you can hit “send” on that job application.
FinTech uses technology to make financial markets and systems more effective and efficient. Bitcoin is probably one of the most famous outcomes of this, but over the past year, publications such as The Economist and The Wall Street Journal have detailed the transformation of traditional banking due to technology; the largest banks in the world are aligning with startups so that they can get on board with digital currency. According to a recent report by Accenture, global investment in FinTech is on track to more than double by 2018 to a whopping $6-8 billion.
But it’s not just the banks being affected by this revolution—you’re probably seeing it in your day to day life. Companies such as Kickstarter leverage tech to raise funds for creative projects. Venmo allows you to exchange money over mobile devices for everything from rent to baseball tickets, and Square is making it easier for more stores to accept credit cards with their smartphones. Mint is a comprehensive online budgeting tool.
Besides these well-known examples, there are fascinating sub-industries in FinTech, including robo investing, which uses algorithms to manage clients’ money (Betterment and Motif Investing); data collection for better understanding money and investing (2iQ Research); lending and credit scoring via sophisticated math models (CommonBond and ZestFinance); digital currency (Coinbase and bitpay); and cyber security for protecting people’s money and information (iDGate). FinTech is also disrupting long-established industries like currency exchange (companies include Ayannah and Xoom) and consumer banking (for example, iGaranti and Level).
If you already studied finance or coding in college or have picked up any of those skills during your time in the workplace, you can also supplement your knowledge with a FinTech-focused grad program. For example, Boston University’s graduate computer science program allows you to specialize in cyber security, and Wharton’s FinTech initiative is a hub of education and career development in the FinTech space. Or, you could dip your toes in the water by trying your hand at some hedge fund algorithms using Quantopian.
Tech skills are becoming more and more important in medicine: Major funds are investing in “MedTech” technology, and medical technology is revolutionizing healthcare as we know it.
MedTech companies do everything from 3D printing medical devices (like Stryker) and actual human tissue (like the liver tissue from Organovo) to making medical testing more accessible (a la Theranos for blood testing and 23andMe for genetic testing). They help doctors and researchers with innovations like improved instrument-tracking technologies that allow surgeons to see better inside the body (Medtronic) or real-time 3D electroanatomical cardiac maps to let physicians see the heart in precise detail (Johnson & Johnson’s Medical Devices division). And they reach individuals on a smaller scale with technical improvements to everything from health insurance to pill bottles to thermometers.
Tech behemoths like Google and Apple are even getting into the MedTech game, with smart contact lens technology (Google) and personalized medical data apps (Apple), and tech innovation is often even mandated by the government for health institutions, thanks to laws like the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.
According to a Plastics Today report, the MedTech market is expected to grow 4.4% each year through 2018, so it’s a better time than ever to get involved if you’re intrigued. Your starting point will be determined by what type of role you think you want to end up doing. If the data side of medical technology intrigues you, you could pursue a certification in healthcare information technology. If you want to develop new medical technology, you’ll likely want education and training in biomedical engineering. Depending on the specific job, you may need a master’s or even a PhD. There’s also ample opportunity in the field for non-science roles like business development and project management, but you’ll need to have foundational know-how in science or engineering so you’re familiar with the material at hand.
EdTech is another term also being used to describe an older industry—education—fusing with technology and transforming the future. The EdTech industry uses tech to enhance everything from lesson planning and reporting to record-keeping and teacher-student communication. Classroom management systems like Engrade, Schoology, and ClassDojo provide one-stop digital shops for educators to track and grade assignments, manage individual students’ learning paths, and extract test score data from the school district to better understand performance.
There’s also a wide range of specialized EdTech companies, such as DonorsChoose (which connects donors with teachers), Udemy (an online learning portal), Kaltura (which brings video into the classroom), and Flashnotes (a marketplace for class notes).
If you’re passionate about education and want to be a part of its tech revolution, there’s good news: Venture capital investment in EdTech is soaring. To get started, familiarize yourself with the basics of programming like HTML and CSS; also check out online workshops on sites like Codecademy and W3Schools. You’ll want to take a self-conducted crash course, too, in the latest trends in education, such as MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses) and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Possessing a drive to make a massive difference in students’ future is also an essential element to succeeding in EdTech.
4. Fashion Tech
Tech startups are popping up like crazy in the fashion industry as well. There’s truly no shortage of innovation in the fashion business right now, whether it’s apps like ClosetSpace which let you create a virtual closet, Clueless-style; apparel, like Trumaker, which uses tech to create custom fit clothing and offers made-to-measure individualized menswear; wearables (Google Glass, anyone?); analytics, like EDITD, which monitors real-time retail trends to assess what’s going to make waves next; or materials, like CuteCircuit, whose “Twitter dress” made waves by crowdsourcing tweets that animated the actual dress. There are also now even entire divisions of fashion titans, like Gap Inc.’s GapTech, that drive innovative retail, e-commerce, and global enterprise technology to keep the company on the cutting edge (so to speak).
With investment dollars pouring in, there’s been no better time than now to forge a career path in fashion tech. If you’re excited about the fashion business, and where tech is taking it, a great step to take next is learning the basics of programming, which will attract fashion tech recruiters and hiring managers even if you won’t need coding skills for your job. To gain a foothold in the industry, check out meetups and networking opportunities like the FashInvest conference. You can keep up on the latest happenings via sites like Fashioning Tech and TechCrunch’s Fashion section.
What we’ve talked about here is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s hardly any aspect of modern business that technology doesn’t touch, so no matter the professional path you pursue, you’ll find yourself in good stead if you’ve got a solid foundation of technological skills. As Byte Academy team member Rak Chugh explains, “Tech is not separate from the industries that it provides solutions for.” There’s no telling how tech might change the future of any industry—and you can be a part of it.
Photo of woman working courtesy of Shutterstock.
Allison Stadd works in marketing & communications and is also a freelance blogger, digital life coach, and social media consultant. She's a fan of good books and good beer with equal enthusiasm, and when she's not slinging tweets, pins, and posts, you'll find her at the nearest concert hall.More from this Author
Presented by Byte Academy
Byte Academy is a programming and finance bootcamp based in NYC with a focus on preparing students for jobs at the intersection of programming and finance. Students will learn the fundamentals of programming and gain an in-depth understanding of its applicability in the financial sector. Byte Academy features comprehensive sessions on financial concepts, Python, and full-stack development. Through its technology curriculum, Byte Academy is attempting to fill the void of skilled programmers in the financial job market.