Welcome to the Tech Industry
There seems to be a misunderstanding amongst job seekers and fresh graduates as to what it means to be in the ever-growing tech industry — the general mentality seems to be that you need to know some sort of programming or engineering to get into the scene. Unsurprisingly, more startups are thus lacking expertise in managing the day-to-day operations of their companies.
You scroll through your social media feeds, and noticed that some tech company is hiring again. Unless you are someone who knows or understand some form of code or other, you probably ignored it and scrolled right past.
And that, dear readers, is the problem.
Tech startup founders are usually great in the engineering and development aspects, but that is not going to make them profitable. Having a echo chamber of the same kind of people is not going to help either. In order to be actually profitable and for the company to survive more than a year a two, a multi-disciplinary team is crucial. And that’s where the “non-techies” come in.
At this point, I have to declare that I have been guilty of not realising that technical knowledge is not the only way into the “tech” industry either, due to having spent more than a decade as a front-end developer. Add the fact that I actually do enjoy scripting and coding, and you have and even bigger problem. However, a particular incident recently made me realise that this myth is going to become a major problem as we move towards a future where (almost) the entire population knows how to code in at least 2 to 3 different languages, due to the current generation of parents (my peers) forcing their progeny down that path.
So, the story —
A number of individuals from my circle has deemed it time to leave the drudgery that is a 9–5 employment, and have started their own outfit, dealing with — you guessed it — tech. These are veterans as far as the industry they are in are concerned, mind you, yet when I was consulted on a project that they had undertaken… oh, the horror! The severe lack of paperwork, branding, business collaterals…even employment contracts…
At that point, I realised that, having had to learn the ropes and manage everything myself for the last 16 years had its perks — I had learnt to file my taxes yearly, and on time, I had stacks of paperwork (sorry, trees) accompanying every project for legal issues, and there were countless documents for each of the brands that I have developed to ensure that the corporate identity of each of these entities is consistent. I also realised then, that, even with that many years on my belt, I was still severely lacking in certain skills — like accounting. The extent of my accounting abilities includes keying all the numbers from receipts and invoices into a spreadsheet and then handing that over to a proper accountant to deal with the actual calculations of whatever it is that needs to be down to numbers.
Another problem with how I learnt things should work — it’s highly unlikely for someone to be able to survive 16 years being burnt and crushed, and still come out ahead in this day and age. That learning process needed to be shortened. Sure, there are plenty of resources online, but, there’s only so many hours in a day, and between dealing with clients and developing the projects themselves, many startup founders find that they did not even have enough time for sleep, let alone learning about paperwork.
This, dear readers, is why you — yes, you without the coding know-how, or the design skills for anything — is just as important in the tech scene. We are great at producing apps and prototypes, even making it look super shiny, but someone needs to come up with the business plan, the marketing strategy, handle the administrations…all of that other fun (not) stuff. And I (as well as 99% of the other startup founders I know) will be the first to hire you, hands down, if you came to me and told me that you are willing to learn to handle all that government red-tape and deal with the numbers.
Another very important role that — thankfully for me I have access to the right people — that most tech companies, be they startups or established organizations, require — is the project manager. Also sometimes known as the producer or the accounts manager. This person’s job is to make sure tasks are completed on schedule, and milestones are met. A more experienced project manager will also be able to aid in the scheduling of the design and development staff, ensuring the most efficient workflow is in place.
TLDR; If you ever see a tech company hiring, even if you do not yet understand what the roles entail…speak to them, especially if they are smaller companies or startups. You never know what kind of skills they will require.