How to break into the tech industry without a technical background

business skills tech industry

An increasing portion of MBA graduates are seeking out tech jobs over traditional consulting or investment banking career paths. Why? Tech jobs come with desirable perks: above average salary, stock options, flexible work schedules, strong professional development opportunities and free food! As the tech industry continues to grow, so do its career opportunities and the potential to work on emerging technologies that will change the way we live, work, and socialize in the future. This may sound attractive but where do you start if you have zero technical experience?

Here are 7 steps you can take to break into the tech industry post MBA without a technical background: 

Self-reflection

Ask yourself why you are interested in the tech industry in the first place. This question will come up in 95% of interviews so make sure you have 3 compelling reasons for making the shift. Maybe you are motivated by the fast-paced environment, constant innovation, or ability to make a true impact? Take some time to reflect to see if this is an industry you are truly interested in - the perks are nice but should be considered a "great additional benefit" and not your core motivation.

Research companies and roles
 

Do your homework! Deciding to pursue tech as a career path is a big decision so you want to make sure you know what you're getting into. Do your research on major companies, understand their business model and how they make money, browse their career websites to explore job roles and keep up with tech news and trends. Reading publicly available financial reports (i.e., 10Ks) and listening to tech podcasts (i.e., Stratechery) are great starting points. 

Brush up on tech terms
 

You do not need to know how to code or be a math whiz to land a tech job, yet you will most likely need to communicate and collaborate with engineering teams, so brushing up on your tech vocab can go a long way. Basic tech courses are now offered by colleges, universities, and technology training centers, but there are also excellent resources online (think YouTube). One of my favorites is the educational platform RocketBlocks which offers a “Technical Fluency” course.  

Network, network, network

 

You have heard it countless times but here it goes again: networking is the number 1 way to land a job. Leverage LinkedIn by searching companies you are interested in and see if you have any 2nd or 3rd degree connections there. Mention your tech interest to family, friends, and friends of friends. Set up a time to chat, do research on your connections’ role and specific industry, prepare questions, and always ask if there is anything you can do for them. Network building is something you should start right away even if your MBA graduation date is 2-3 years away. You never know when opportunities will arise. 

Attend industry events 

Industry events, meetups, and panel discussions are a great way to learn more about the tech industry and network. Search “tech events in my area” or “tech events” in general. Numerous events are now being held online, making them accessible to anyone, anywhere. Following companies you are interested in on LinkedIn can be a great way to find events or conferences their leadership team will be speaking at. 

Get hands on experience at a startup 

There are countless tech startups out there trying to bring the next best product or service to market. One thing these startups all have in common? They need help! Do some research, leverage your university’s alumni network, and consider doing a part-time internship at a startup. Whether you love your experience or not, it will provide you with valuable insight into the tech startup environment and you will have great stories to tell during interviews.

Practice your pitch 

Whether you are reaching out to a 3rd degree connection or applying to a tech job, you will need to communicate your 60 second pitch. Why you? Why tech? Why this specific company or sub industry? Think about the transferable skills you already have, showcase enthusiasm and highlight your willingness to learn and make an impact on day 1. Practice your pitch often and make sure to communicate your story clearly and effectively.

Finally, make sure you are having fun throughout the process.

Although it may seem overwhelming, consider it a great learning experience. Regardless of the outcome, you will certainly come out more informed and connected! Keep an open mind and the right opportunity will present itself. 

Cecilia has lived in 8 different countries and speaks 4 languages fluently. She attended SciencesPo in Paris, where she received an undergraduate degree in Political Science and a dual graduate degree in Finance and Strategy. She's now pursuing an MBA in Tech & Strategy at Columbia Business School.

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