Breaking Into IT and Tech as a Beginner
I got an email from a person frustrated that he can’t get an entry-level job in IT/tech. He knows PHP, HTML, CSS and MySQL, but he is tired of all the companies rejecting him and requiring a “perfect” expert (as he put it). That’s true that there are not that many entry-level jobs in tech. It’s hard break into tech. Most companies only interview senior engineers with at least five (5) years of industry experience.
The reason why most companies want to hire an expert developer, instead of an entry-level person, is that the productivity of software developers is not linear. To put it differently, for a relatively small increase in the salary that the company must pay for an expert, the company will get 5x or even 10x more in productivity.
It sounds weird and unfair but that’s how information economy works. My anecdotal experience supports it. I seen many situation when a beginner would spent a few hours on some configuration issue that is just a single line of code. An expert would know the line and fix it in minutes. Same with bugs, a beginner can spend days debugging something but expert will take a look and tell where the problem is.
Also, a beginner often spends a lot of time developing his/her own solution while an experts can choose a ready-made library. On the other hand, an expert will know the limitation of a certain library and develop a custom solution from scratch while a beginner will spend days trying to peg an HDMI into a VGA port (trying to fit a library where it won’t fit).
If you are a beginner, then don’t try to get a job in tech. It’s a lottery. You might get lucky but your chances are slim (unless you graduate from some top Computer Science university like MIT with high GPA). If you are beginner, you are better off getting experience instead of just trying to get an entry-level job in IT/tech.
Luckily, you don’t need anyone’s permission because almost all of the modern libraries are open sourced. Just learn the technology and use it in/for your own projects. With time, you’ll get experience and you won’t be a beginner anymore. Even if you never got paid for the work you are applying to, you can still show your projects, skills and your experience. Anyone smart will hire a person with skills over someone who has work history but lacks in skills (if you both have skills, then of course a relevant experience wins).
Microsoft MVP | Book and Course Author | Software Engineering Leader
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