I see a lot of people on Reddit asking either interested in going to IT or from people with a well-established career in a non-IT field on how they can start their shift into IT. This stem either in late discovery in their passion, or just are clueless but interested in knowing what’s behind this most in-demand careers of the 21st century.
As a person who studied and currently working in the field. Particular in the Development scene. I’m going to answer some of the most common questions there is. Hoping that those who are aspired to join the field would at least be ready and perhaps take ease on the misconception that surrounds it. Just to remind my readers, IT is a broad discipline. I’m going to do my best and cover as much as I can. But given my scope in Software development, primarily Web Development. My post will mostly center around that. The rest that is will come from personal experience dealing with them. So yeah, at least that might give you an idea.
Do I Need To Study In IT/ComEng/ComSci to be in this Field?
A general answer would be NO. If you study in a different field, let’s say Nursing, but decided to switch to IT. You don’t exactly have to go back to college to get a job in IT. Sure, it is nice if you had studied the intricacies of the field. But in the real world scenario. You don’t need it, or rather, it is not something that you have to take time to study.
There are a lot of resources available on the internet that could get you started. Some are free if you go to Khan Academy which provides free courses to get your feet wet in programming. There is also YouTube that host a lot of talks and tutorials about programming that can give you an overview of what you like to focus. Then there are the paid tier services that have up-to-date resources and courses that would jump-start your career and get you the necessary muscle to start coding with confidence.
If you have the resources, it is the best bet to subscribe to premium tutorial websites. My go-to places are Team Treehouse, Pluralsight, Egghead.io, and Lynda.com. Each has their charms, and all cost relatively cheap. All of them (except egghead) starts around U$30 or roughly 1500 pesos (at 50 = 1) which may come as steep. But you don’t need more than a month or two to get started. To share, I use all of these services in the past. Whenever I need to learn a new language or get updated on the latest nuances of a particular style or framework I do. I subscribe to either one of the 4 I mentioned for a month. Learn what I need, and perhaps learn new things, since they let you have access to ALL of their video resources. Once you are done, turn off the subscription and apply what you have learned.
To talk about the services I mentioned. For beginners, Team Treehouse would be ideal since they give you quizzes and involve you in learning through applying. Then there’s also this friendly vibe their videos that makes it fun to watch. It has this early morning educational shows in the 90s like Sineskwela, or Hiraya Manawari if you know these shows. If there is only one fault I could give them is that there isn’t a lot of lessons there. That’s where I would suggest switching to Pluralsight. This one is a traditional video tutorial service but has a lot of topics that you can start to learn. Either this or Lynda but if you were to ask, this would be my pick. Lynda is more common and widely available in various form. That’s why I include it here. Egghead is more of a specialist service. They don’t give you the context of the lesson but deliver you straight to the point directly on specific topic. For example, how to use React Router v4 in your projects. It doesn’t explain what React Router is, what it does and how it is beneficial to your project. I just describe how to use it and go to a plan to demonstrate. That’s it.
Make Your Presence Known
Here is a thing in IT. You need to market yourself. It is Important if you didn’t have a degree in IT. HR in particular in this, and they won’t bother looking at your CV if you don’t have anything to prove you are worth their time. That is why it is best to showcase what you learned and understand by making a website of your own. Vital if you are going to your first job, you have to make it appear you are dedicated and made some effort to showcase your talent. You are proud of your work.
Now you ask, how do I go with that? There are two approaches that I would consider.
Make a portfolio website. You can start with using WordPress as your CMS and then design a theme. Of course, this will boil down on what particular path in development you want to go. If you are a web designer, then it would be the best focus on making your website aesthetically pleasing. Then present some mock-ups of sites (either a picture or an HTML template). Just look for an ugly website and design it to make beautiful. Make a mobile, tablet and desktop version of that site. Then explain what goes into the process.
If you are a front-end developer, then you can ditch the WordPress (unless you are going to WordPress development) and make your website from scratch. This is where you show your muscle in CSS and setting up a front-end environment. Doing a portfolio site from scratch is typically overkill, but does make a good case for displaying your particular set of skills. If you want to go for ReactJS, then make a website using ReactJS and explain what goes there. Also, you must provide your source code so that the employer can view it. That is, having a GitHub, bitbucket or a GitLab account. What is essential for a front-end work is how well you code your site. Not exactly how it looks since most of it will come from a designer. Your job is to make it happen in code.
Since my work is mainly doing front-end stuff, I’ll make a detailed post about being a front-end developer soon.
Participate in Stackoverflow. StackOverflow is a website helps developers find solutions to their problems. This is the go-to page for people who have issues with their code that they can’t figure out and ask fellow developers for help. This will be your support page when you start your career in IT Dev. Hopefully, the more you learn, the less you’ll need this. But it is also an excellent resource for budding developers or anyone in the IT field to develop your skill set and reputation. The more people approve your answers, the more your reputation rises. This is great for people going for DevOps since this will validate your skill in the field. The more people accept your answer, the easier it is for employers to gauge your worth in their organization. Though, this will apply to foreign companies residing in the Philippines. Certificates are king, but there are expensive, and the companies that need them are those big yet cheapskates in salary offerings. It is not worth the investment if you ask me.
Lastly, I can not emphasize this much. If you are in IT, you MUST learn how to use Git. This is a must-have tool for managing code, mainly if you are working with a team, in often case you will be. Everything in your workflow will involve Git. So it is best that you learn the basics of it and start putting your projects or code on GitHub/bitbucket or GitLab. I would suggest using Github since it is the most common.
That is it. I might either write a part 2 or expand on some of the points here as time goes by. This is what I gathered in the years of being in the development field, and I hope that people who are interested in going this route would find this helpful in any way.