Words of Wisdom: Advice for Pursuing a Career in Tech
The introduction of AI into the workplace is creating uncertainty over the future of employment. However, research shows that tech will create "133 million" more jobs before 2022 than it will dissolve, as "new entities in the economy replace obsolete ones."
As such, there is more reason to nurture and enable our younger generations to be the tech pioneers we need. The skills these generations will need to approach these changes and challenges are, of course, unknown. Regardless, we can encourage our young people to have open, inquisitive minds, and we can equip them with practical skills such as problem-solving and logical thinking.
Our own back-end developers at Akamai prove, across the board, that the most important thing needed for a successful career in tech is the willingness to learn. In our previous blog, we spoke to Akamai's Engineering Manager, Jessica Ledbetter. She originally majored in English Literature, before switching to Computer Science when she realized that she had a natural ability she wanted to put into practice. Jessica's story is not the only one like this within Akamai.
Developer Evangelist, Kirsten Hunter, has a BA in Philosophy. Her story proves again that tech is not limited to being all about code and computers. However, working in the tech industry also requires soft skills, such as communication, organization, the ability to analyze, pick things apart and put them back together. Raising our young people to question, rather than accepting what's in front of them, is integral to the successful, dynamic future of tech.
So, in this blog, we've asked some of our employees to share their thoughts and advice with us. We asked them what they'd like to say to the younger generations who are considering a career in tech.
Kirsten began: "Do things that you are passionate about." This advice is not limited to the career that you pursue and can be applied to all areas of your life. However, ensuring that your focus remains on the pursuit of those things that you are passionate about is the best way to ensure that you work to the best of your ability. It is this drive that will draw out your talent and provide you with bold, exciting things to show to future employers. This is important because, after all, the future of tech requires continuous innovation and diligence. Kirsten said: "companies want employees who will make great choices and advocate for new ideas." Pursuing your passions, in all areas of your life, allows you to explore your creativity.
Similarly, Valentina Angeliri, Solutions Engineer, says that there are so many opportunities available in tech that you should pursue what interests you. Expanding on this, she encourages young people to question. As you question, you grow, learn and focus in on what it is you love.
When starting out in your career, you need to be open and soak up all the information available to you. However, particularly in tech, it is important not to be a wallflower. While learning requires excellent listening skills, tech often also requires the ability to collaborate. On this note, both women recommend that, even if you lack confidence, you speak up.
Valentina recommends that people who are new to the industry "ask, whenever they have a question." Your opinion is valid, and it is not a sign of weakness to not understand something. Growth can only happen when you acknowledge the areas you find difficult.
However, recognizing your strengths is equally important. Everyone is different, and as such, everyone has something fresh and exciting to bring to the team. So, speak up. Ask when you are unsure, and make your voice heard when you have something to say. Collaborative skills can only be developed by collaborating, so don't sit on the sidelines. Join the action.
We asked Kirsten if she were to go back to the beginning of her career again, knowing what she knows now, what she would tell her younger self. She said she would have more faith in herself and her opinions. She continued, "It took me a long time to get to a place where I stood up for my thoughts. I probably missed out on some opportunities because I didn't think I was capable of them."
Despite not having the appropriate degree for the career she was pursuing, Kirsten knew she had valuable insight to bring to the world of tech. Once she had her foot in the door, it was vital that she spoke up because her degree couldn't speak for her. She soon proved herself an asset to the team.
Through her own initiative and talent, Kirsten pursued a successful career in tech despite the odds. She proves that tech is accessible to everyone, whether you teach it yourself at home, or you study it to PhD level. The only person who can enable you to pursue the career of your dreams is you.
At Akamai, we believe that everyone can go as far as both Kirsten and Valentina. We can pave the way for our young people to excel in the field of technology by equipping them with the confidence to be heard. The unique experience of each person equips them for the tech industry and, therefore, every voice is valid. So, to those who are just beginning in their career, we encourage you to have confidence in what you want to say. Passionately pursue those things you are aiming to achieve. The future of tech is yours to shape.