KICKSTARTING A TECH CAREER — YOUR NEXT BOLD MOVE

Do you know that African tech start-ups raised over $4 billion in 2021 alone? This is intended to imply that the tech ecosystem is expanding, and we will see more of it in the future. We have a lot of people blossoming in the tech ecosystem these days, and guess what, a lot of them don’t have any tech background. The move into tech may appear challenging, but I think it’s safe to state that “it’s all in your head.”

A career in tech has no limitations. The tech ecosystem offers a wide range of opportunities, from web development to product design to project management to app development, etc.

How to Get Started

You can begin by conducting research and locating free resources designed to help you learn about the tech skills you want to acquire. There are many free online courses, and while they do not provide credentials, they will give you a good foundation.

Getting a job in tech however requires intensive training, and in turn this requires in-depth learning and the mentioned free resources may not be enough to get you there. This is why you should consider applying to a training institute like Univelcity that offers a variety of tech courses you can learn to accelerate your tech career and acquire high paying tech skills.

Most of the training institutes are quite pricey, but you don’t need to worry about how to pay your fees if you consider taking a student loan from platforms like Skillup Africa — a Student Loan Program focused on providing funding for individuals who desire to acquire a tech skill but do not yet have the funds to pay for it. Student loans provide you with the opportunity to learn a high-paying tech skill and pay back over a 12 month period, which starts once you have completed your training and have found a job.

Another great way to get started on a tech career path is attending events, seminars, and webinars that are tech-focused, like the session we hosted at Africa NXT. The session was titled ‘The Future of Work’ and focused on discussing the talent value chain and the opportunities available for young people like you. You can read a full recap here

Panelists at AfricaNXT: L to R: Ugochukwu Nwosu, Co-Founder The Growth Practice, Tosin Faniro-Dada, MD & CEO at Endeavor Nigeria, Nkem Nweke, Program Manager at Microsoft ADC, Joseph Agunbiade, Co-Founder Skillup Africa and Nkemdilim Uwaje Begho Co-Founder Skillup Africa

Steps to becoming career-ready

So, now that you have the tech-skill in the bag and you are set to land your dream job, the first question to ask yourself is ‘do I have the necessary work experience or network?’ — here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Join a Community — This may sound cliche, but it is an effective way to build your network. There are community groups on Facebook and LinkedIn or you can engage with like minds on Twitter and build your network by using hashtags to find tech-related topics. LinkedIn also allows you to follow and connect with people already in the tech ecosystem. Attending tech-based virtual and physical events can be also helpful, this gives you an avenue to meet like-minded people in the ecosystem.
Image Source — Africa Tech Festival
  • Apply for Internship Roles — Experience is important, that being said, finding a full-time gig may be difficult as most organisations aren’t willing to take in entry level tech talent with little or no experience. Look out for internship programs as they are a way to gather the necessary technical know-how of your skillset. Cold emailing may be a good way to source for internship roles as you literally advertise the skills that you have acquired, and always be ready to learn.
Image Source — iStock.com
  • Find MentorshipYou should know your short, medium and long term goals, and know what you want to accomplish in the next few months. The more specific you are with your goals, the easier it will be to find the right mentor to support you. Now when it comes to a career in tech, who do you look up to? Whose job would you like to have in the next five, 10, or 15 years. Do the research; what are the various stages of their career journey? Be cognizant of your existing network, The more aware someone already is of your work and abilities, the more effective they will be at mentoring you.
Image Source — iStock.com

Recognize the difference between a mentor and a sponsor; For example, mentors give advice, but can’t give you a new job, raise, or promotion. In contrast, sponsors can do that for you. Don’t expect mentors to be sponsors, but they can put you in touch with sponsors. Make sure it’s the right fit before asking; You can feel this out by having informal meetings where you discuss your goals and trajectory, before asking them to be your mentor.

  • Keep Finding Resources for Learning; No knowledge is wasted, your regular motto should be “Keep learning” as you will always acquire skills that you never thought you could. Spending more time with free online resources will be very beneficial since you have the desired certificate already. Take time to learn new professional skills and brush up on old ones.
Image Source — elearningindustry.com
  • Build a Strong Portfolio; Display of professional skills is a huge plus, having an outstanding portfolio cannot be overemphasised. You may not have done as much work as you desire, but you can assign tasks to yourself and set deadlines, this automatically gives you a sense of responsibility and also helps with developing your skills. Be consistent in your efforts to be better, create a portfolio, there are so many ways to compile a strong portfolio and you can do research on how to create an appealing one (Google is your friend). If your portfolio speaks for you, you may not need to do much talking before you can impress a potential employer or recruiter, and put in the work.
Image Source — cssbased.com

If you had any doubt about being a tech talent, now is the time to reconfigure that mindset, all you need is the passion and the will to be creative. It may not be easy but with determination, you are certain to take down any obstacles along the way. If you follow these steps, you’ll be well on your way to launching a career in tech, And due to the numerous opportunities that come with it, I strongly recommend you give it a shot.

Kindly send us a message if you want to transition into the tech industry at hello@skillup.africa or apply for a student loan to learn a tech skill via www.skillup.africa

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Research shows that by 2030 there will be a global shortage of more than 85 million tech workers, representing $8.5 trillion in lost annual revenue, this present an opportunity to harness African human capital for the global workforce.

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Peter Faruna

Peter Faruna

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