Popular perception has the tech world consisting primarily of male hoodie-wearing programmers who spend their days in brightly colored, open-plan offices in the top brand name firms. While there are certainly places where this is true, there are just as many opportunities that offer a more traditional work environment and products that you might not associate with tech at first glance.
Myth #1: The best tech jobs are with Internet and social media companies.
Internet and social media companies are grabbing headlines for their outsized IPOs and merger prices. But does that really mean that the best tech jobs are in this space?
It’s important to consider what you want out of your career according to Andrea Gellert, senior vice president of marketing for OnDeck, a financial tech company that provides financing to small businesses.
“Where you end up really depends on what you want out of your career. Is the stage/size of a company more important to you than the sub-industry? Do you want an opportunity with equity and the potential for long-term payoffs, or one with more job security and less risk? A startup environment – which often includes long hours and the need to wear many hats – is very different than large corporations that have clearly defined roles.”
Myth #2: Working in technology means working in a technology company.
Technology plays a huge role not only in business, but also in medicine, the arts and many other fields. Unfortunately, in the arts and similar fields, it is often difficult to find stable work with a reasonable paycheck. These fields are embracing technology and there are a growing number of opportunities to work in these fields by focusing on their technology needs. “I love the arts but I don’t have the financial means to support myself on the typical museum salary,” notes a client service director for a company that provides software solutions to museums and galleries worldwide. “In my current role I work closely with curators and museum leadership around the globe. Technology offered me an opportunity to turn an avocation into a career.”
Not only is technology creating a wide range of opportunities to work in fields that one doesn’t normally associate with technology, as the tech industry grows and matures, it needs professionals with a wide range of skills and is reaching out to people from a broad range of backgrounds.
Myth #3: You have to have a tech degree and you have to know how to program.
“There is still a bias in biotech and life sciences that you need to have a background in those fields in order to work in those industries. That used to be the case in technology, but it is no longer the case,” says Erin Lubien, who after many years in technology, financial services and investor relations, now runs her own consulting firm.
OnDeck’s Gellert adds, “There are a variety of functions at top tech companies that don’t involve programming, for instance marketing, sales, analytics and HR. If you’re interested in how technology is transforming payments and finance, you can likely find a fit no matter your skill set.”
Myth #4: If you have the skills – the jobs will come to you.
During her tech career, Lubien found that many job seekers assumed that they could build a program or solution and employers would line up with offers, but that is not enough to get the job since companies are looking for people who can work as part of a team.
“The companies that are winning in the market are filled with people who are enthusiastic, energetic and personable. In tech there are never enough people to get the work done, so companies are looking for employees who will pitch in and be part of a community.”
Liz Jackson, a web developer at Agency Fusion, an online advertising company, provided a list of reasons people gave her to not go into technology.
Jackson shares some of the biggest myths that she heard about the tech industry and summarized these types of comments into three statements to show the stereotypical nature of them. She says that they are all a variation of “Your coworkers will be so awkward – programmers are so weird” or, “You’re going to be bored to death – web development is worse than accounting” and lastly, “Well, you’ll be the only woman in your office.”
Jackson goes on to note, “I’ve met some of the most interesting, personable web developers and programmers since taking my first job as a developer. Just like any office, there are a wide variety of personalities and backgrounds.”
Do Your Homework, Ignore the Myths
The technology field is booming. And that’s good news for professional women. As the industry expands, there is a need for workers and companies are seeking to improve their diversity not only because it is good for public relations but because it is good business.
By Beth Senko