A version of this article previously appeared on Skillcrush, an online education program for creatives, thinkers, and makers that gives total tech newbies the tools to make major career changes.
Cameron Chapman, Skillcrush
Sometimes it seems like new technologies, techniques, and standards get released on an almost daily basis, making the tech industry dizzyingly fast.
For someone new to the industry, keeping up can feel puzzling—or nearly impossible. How do you stay on top of changes that happen all the time, especially ones that can directly impact the work you do and what your boss (or clients) expect?
I talked to web designers, developers, and other techies to find out what they do to keep up. The answers are more straightforward than you might expect.
Follow Influencers on Social Media
Almost everyone I spoke to said one of the best ways to stay on top of innovations in the industry is by following influencers on social media. Setting up custom lists (or following lists others create) on Twitter can take a lot of the legwork out of finding the news you need to keep up with.
Watching what influencers are doing in their spare time is a great way to know what might be coming next. "Things like 'Initial Coin Offerings' and AI seem like moonshots, but the smartest people I know work on those subjects in their free time. That makes me confident that some big businesses will emerge in these areas," says Philip Thomas, co-founder and engineer at Moonlight. Pay attention to what gets developers excited and you'll know where to look for the next big thing.
If you're looking for whom to follow on Twitter, try Skillcrush's Women in Tech list—our favorite influencers and experts.
Spend Time Reading Every Day
"Read. Read. Read." That's how Kate Chan, a full-stack marketer at BlueFox.io, stays up to date on changes in the industry. She sets aside time daily to read about tech, insuring she won't fall behind. James McCarthy, CEO and lead web developer at Boldtask, is specifically a fan of A List Apart for long-form articles that keep him up to date. We also love:
Staying in the Know Doesn't Mean Falling for Trends
Nathan Kontny, CEO of Highrise (a spin-off of the wildly popular Basecamp project management software), warns against the appeal of quick fads at the expense of staying grounded. "I think keeping up with changes is far overrated. We're better served by studying history and how companies that are decades old, if not older, have made customers happy. It's a fool's game to keep chasing fads and responding with knee-jerk reactions."
It's a fair point and one that's well evidenced. He uses Google Wave as one such example, touted as a revolutionary product that would change how we all work together. Instead, Wave was dead within three years due to lack of interest despite all the hype of its release.
The moral here: Focusing on user needs can allow you to create successful projects without falling for fads.
Skip the Four-Year Degree
As Erik Zuuring, a 10X programmer who dropped out of college, told Mashable, "One of the biggest issues with post-secondary education in the technology industry is its ability to keep a curriculum current and at the cusp of technology…Just in the web-sphere, trends and technology change on a monthly basis."
We see this proven over and over again at Skillcrush: You don't need a four-year degree to find success. What you learn in your first semester might be obsolete by graduation day. Learning in a faster-paced environment sets you up to actually start working in the tech industry in way less than a quarter of the time it would take to get a degree.
Want to get started in the tech industry right away? Check out the Ultimate Guide to Coding for Beginners for a step-by-step plan to launch your tech career.
💎For a successful job search you need to be very strategic, focused, and intentional about your career. Watch the video to the end to get advice on how to achieve it!
📼Be successful in your job search by identifying the career goals you’d like to achieve over the next 12 to 18 months. LaMont Price, Senior Recruiter, and Meg Fronckowiak, Senior Talent Acquisition Recruiter at Tenable, share with you the benefits of having a short-term career development plan and understanding your unique value proposition.
📼A successful job search requires you to take a deep dive into the job description. Look at your resume and try to match the skills and the qualifications and highlight that on your resume, so it stands out. Secondly, do your research. You want to make sure that you've taken a look at the company website. You've looked at the leadership of the company, the size of the company, and the culture of the company. And to go one step further, look at the interviewer. Look them up on LinkedIn, and take a look at their background. Recruiters always look for people who have great insightful questions that show the level of research the person did.
📼You’ll be successful in a job search if you know how to face the interview process. Every interview includes some don’ts. Don't be late. There's nothing worse than showing up late for an interview. Dress Professionally. Try to be in a quiet place so that you're not distracted. Get through the interview process, show that you're engaged, and have good body language. At the end of the interview, you always want to ask if there's any question that maybe you weren't able to answer. And always ask about the interview process to get a good understanding of the timeline.
A Successful Job Search Requires Research - Learn About A Company’s Values!
Recruiters need to know if you are aligned with the company’s culture. If you want to apply to Tenable, you should know that its core values are diversity, equity, and inclusion. They work together and they win together, and this is an idea that resonates throughout the entire organization. Tenable celebrates all of its employees. This allows them to focus on the equal representation of women and minorities in technical roles, sales roles, and leadership roles. The company provides training for all of its employees in diversity, equity, and inclusion. This helps employees to understand how their behaviors can impact others. Make sure to show that you are aligned with these values during your interview!
🧑💼 Are you interested in joining Tenable? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know LaMont Price and Meg Fronckowiak
Over the last 25+ years, LaMont Price has researched, analyzed, and optimized services and products by exploiting the latest tools and tactics aligned with the strategic goal via Attention, Differentiation, Trust, and Memorability. Meg Fronckowiak has been working in the recruiting and talent attraction since 2003 and she spent the majority of her career working across all disciplines including, Building out GTM Teams, Accounting & Finance, Marketing, Operations, and Sales Leadership. If interested in a career at Tenable, you can connect with LaMont and Meg on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Tenable
Tenable empowers all organizations to understand and reduce their cybersecurity risk. Over 30,000 organizations, more than 50% being fortune 500 companies worldwide, rely on Tenable to help them understand and reduce cybersecurity risk. The company has some of the greatest minds. That’s because they bring people who come from diverse backgrounds and give them the resources and support to partner together to bring new ideas to life.
We all have our favorite websites– the ones we frequent, bookmark, and recommend to others. You might even enjoy some website features so much that you’ve found yourself wondering why they aren’t more popular. Or maybe you’ve experienced times where you were frustrated with a website and wished you could add features or even design your own!
If you’ve ever found yourself intrigued at the prospect of designing and developing your own websites, then a career as a web developer might be just for you!
As a web developer you would be responsible for coding, designing, optimizing, and maintaining websites. Today, there are over 1.7 billion websites in the world and, in turn, the demand for web developers is on the rise. In order to figure out what kind of web development work best suits you let’s start with an introduction to the three main roles in web development that you can choose from.
The Three Types of Web Development Jobs
Front-End Web Development: The Creative Side
In addition to programming skills, front-end developers need to be detail oriented, creative, willing to keep up with the latest trends in web development, cyber security conscious, and geared toward user-friendly designs. The median salary for a front-end developer can reach well into the $90,000 to $100,000 range.
Back-End Web Development: The Logical Counterpart
While a house can be beautifully decorated, it’s incomplete without a solid foundation and efficient infrastructure. Similarly, a well-designed website depends on logical and functional code to power the features of that website. Back-end web development is code-heavy and focused on the specifics of how a website works. If you enjoy the analytical challenge of creating the behind-the-scenes code that powers a website, then back-end development is for you.
Full-Stack Web Development: A Little Bit of Everything
A full-stack developer is essentially the Jack (or Jill)-of-all-trades in web development. Full-stack developers need to be knowledgeable about both front-end and back-end roles. This does not necessarily imply that you would need to be an expert in both roles, but you should fully understand the different applications and synergies they each imply. In order to work in this position, you will need to know the programming languages used by front-end and back-end developers. In addition to these languages, full-stack developers also specialize in databases, storage, HTTP, REST, and web architecture.
Full-stack developers are often required to act as liaisons between front-end and back-end developers. Full-stack developers need to be both problem solvers and great communicators. The end goal for a full-stack developer is to ensure that the user’s experience is seamless, both on the front-end and on the back-end. In return, you can expect to earn a median salary of $100,000 – $115,000 a year for this role.
Taking the Next Step
Web development is both in-demand and lucrative! All three roles described above contribute to specific aspects of web development and the scope of each one can be customized to the industries and positions you feel best suit you. Regardless of which role you choose, all of them need a foundation in programming.
To gain the programming skills needed in each role, you can enroll in courses or learn independently. Coding bootcamps are a great way to boost your skillset quickly and efficiently.
Click here for some of our highly rated programming bootcamp options! Make sure to check out the discounts available to PowerToFly members.
Monica Arias has long been interested in the new and the next. That interest is what drove her to work in national security after 9/11, and in the cryptocurrency space after learning about modern-day crimes committed on the blockchain.
One thing she has noticed every time she’s been somewhere new: the importance of having a diverse early team to shape it.
“We need minorities to be willing to take a chance and apply to firms like ours and other tech firms,” says Monica, who is currently a Federal Business Development Lead at Chainalysis, a blockchain data platform. “As these companies grow rapidly, we need diverse candidates who can offer diverse thoughts and approaches to problems.”
Monica currently works closely with the Chainalysis federal government team to pursue opportunities to support customers that are in need of Chainalysis data to track blockchain criminals and bring them to justice. She was well-prepared for some parts of the job after holding various roles but had to come up the curve on technical skills — which is why she’s sure that other candidates like her, from non-technical, underrepresented backgrounds, will be able to do so, too.
We sat down with Monica to hear more about how marginalized people can break into crypto and best position themselves for success in the field.
Connecting to a Bigger Mission
Growing up around DC, Monica got early exposure to federal service. From a young age, she knew she wanted to help represent and advocate for people.
She went to law school, thinking that would be the best path to fulfilling her goals. But living through 9/11 inspired her to support national security missions more actively. That’s how she got her first exposure to her now-employer — she brought in Chainalysis for a demo to learn how to on leverage their blockchain analysis tools.
“I’ve always wanted to be a part of something that had a bigger mission,” says Monica. “And the crypto space had that.”
It wasn’t just any crypto company that interested Monica, though. She particularly liked the company’s innovative culture and fast growth.
“Chainalysis is a very open and encouraging place,” says Monica, who came in to interview at the startup having studied up on crypto, but never having worked in the field or with blockchain technology.
“The culture is very much about learning, and they’ve created an environment where they enable you to do so. The underlying foundation is ongoing learning, and soliciting ideas on how to evolve and expand.”
Leveraging a Non-Technical Background
Monica gets what it’s like to not want to apply to an opportunity because you feel underqualified — that’s what happened to her.
“In some conversations, the feedback I received was that I didn’t have enough of a technical background and that therefore it would be challenging to go and join a tech firm,” she says. “It’s a big deterrent for so many people. And it also compounds things. Because if you’re a minority or from an underrepresented group, you’re already less likely to apply. And if you have no technical background, you’re even less likely to do so.”
How did Monica break through that? She got creative.
“I had to take a step back and say, ‘You know, I have skills. How can I transfer those into a non-technical role supporting a tech firm?” she says.
We asked her to share more about what that process was like, and here’s what she said:
5 Tips as You Gear Up to Be Competitive in the Tech Industry
- Find firms that are in fields you find interesting. Since you’re going to have to do a lot of learning, find a tech firm that is involved in a field you are excited about. Monica found her interest - crypto! She’s excited to continuously be learning about the rapidly changing crypto landscape. She added, “the tech industry can be demanding so you need to stay motivated about the work you’re doing and believe in the company you’re with.”
- Find firms that are open-minded, too. Interviewing at Chainalysis even without technical skills on her resume didn’t pose a problem for Monica. That’s because they were willing to look at her in her entirety. “It’s not just, ‘Do you fit A, B, and C,’ but ‘Do you have the overall skills and ability to learn and grow in this type of field?’”
- Recognize your transferable skills. Monica coaches other people with non-technical backgrounds like hers to start by acknowledging their accomplishments in their own fields. “What have you done? Is it people managing? Because these firms manage people in one way or another. Those and other skills can be leveraged and transferred,” says Monica. “Literally, make a list and identify those skills, then highlight those skills throughout your resume.”
- Remember that most people are in the same boat. “You won’t come across too many candidates who have 10 years of crypto experience, because this field is new,” says Monica. “The perfect candidate who meets every single qualification listed in a job ad may not exist so instead recruiters — especially those who are good at their jobs - spend time getting to know candidates. But they can't get to know you if you are deterred from applying by thinking you don't meet all the qualifications.”
- Study up. Monica follows crypto influencers, keeps up with crypto companies on LinkedIn, follows government statements on crypto, and reads reports put out by her firm and others. “If this is your focus, you need to read, talk, and network — just be curious,” she says.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of workers have turned to remote work. Before the pandemic in 2019, 22% of employers offered at least some remote work. Now in 2022, that percentage nearly doubled to 40%. The shift to remote work has become beneficial for me and many of my friends who are recent college grads starting their careers. It’s allowed us to dictate our own time and save money from commuting, spend more time with loved ones at home, and have the flexibility to travel and build connections from anywhere. Remote working has also changed how people network for jobs. We have more options now.
Since remote networking is so new, it can be challenging to understand how to do it effectively. Read on to learn my top tips for networking for a remote job.
1. Connect with your high school or college.
The schools you went to want to see you succeed! Connect with old professors, classmates, or alumni on social platforms like PowerToFly or LinkedIn. You can find connections through sports teams, clubs, or topics of interest that will help you build stronger relationships. Don’t be afraid to ask them for advice, mentorship, or even introductions.
2. Join a class!
Have you ever had a hobby that you never had the chance to pursue? Coding? Running? Painting? It’s never too late to learn something new. Plus, spending time doing what you love will introduce you to other people who love the same thing. Not only will this help expand your social circle, it can also help your career! Once you feel comfortable, talk to your classmates about your work, and ask them about theirs. The perk of classes like these is that you will build relationships with people from all different career backgrounds which will help you determine your career path, especially if you are looking for a mid-career pivot.
3. Register for the Early Career Summit.
My friends and I are very excited to join PowerToFly’s Early Career Summit this fall to meet the inspiring founders and CEOs of incredibly impactful companies. This is a great opportunity to get useful tips and learn about different perspectives, professions, and topics that you may be interested in.
4. Attend a virtual job fair and connect with leaders who inspire you.
Job fairs are great for meeting people who can be helpful because everyone attending is there to network! Job fairs at PowerToFly are a great place to meet hiring managers and recruiters from our sponsoring companies. If you come prepared with a resume it is an opportunity to make a great first impression with a company. After the virtual job fair, remember to connect with the people who stuck out to you and introduce yourself on PowerToFly or LinkedIn. Make sure to tell the recruiter who you are, and highlight what stood out to you about their talk.
5. Offer to help.
People really value your help (when it‘s needed). If you know someone in your network looking to hire a web designer and you know a great place to find one, don’t be afraid to make the connection! If you see a job opening that would be great for someone in your network, let them know! Helping people in this way will help build your trust and credibility.
Remote networking has its differences from in-person networking, but it has never been easier to have access to social platforms that can help create connections. It will take some creativity and hard work, but once you have the appropriate mindset the options are endless.