By Yayra Damesi, Campaign Operations Manager, Permutive
These articles have been written by the latest cohort of the Practice Makes UnPerfect programme – a course that helps people find and finesse their public voices.
Whether you’re a baby boomer, millennial or borderline Gen Z like myself, Tiktok has probably had an impact on your life in some way. As of January 2022, there are 8.9 million users in the UK alone, up 125% since 2020.
Recently, there’s been a resurgence of “How to break into Tech” or “How to earn 6 figures in Tech with no experience” videos appearing on my FYP (For You Page) with an emphasis on how easy it is to break into the industry and how luxurious this new career path is. But is this a true reflection of a career in the industry?
If you search the term “tech” on Tiktok, the first result that comes up is “tech job with no experience”. Other results include “tech jobs uk”, “tech apprenticeship uk”, and “tech industry”. The number of advertised tech jobs in 2021 was 42% higher than pre-pandemic levels, with almost 3 million people in the UK working in the industry. The increase in jobs since the beginning of the pandemic is not surprising, companies including TikTok have skyrocketed during this time as people looked for digital ways to connect.
The pandemic has also impacted our career expectations. When speaking to friends and colleagues about the past 2 years, most have mentioned they’ve started questioning their career motivations and this is not unusual. According to The BBC, the pandemic changed our priorities and finally gave them the push to do what is best for them. People realised that they could change their lifestyle, explore new career opportunities and best of all their dream job could actually be within reach. The Great Resignation can attest to that, with the UK quit rate the highest since 2009.
But why is tech so appealing? Jobs in the industry have always been held to a high standard because the perks including unlimited time off, free breakfast and lunch every day, extravagant company retreats, hefty learning & development budgets have hooked people in. And why not? With people spending around 40 hours per week at work, people are realising there’s more to a job than just the salary, people want the best benefits.
While most individuals think of coding when they hear the word “tech”, there’s a lot more to the industry than just being able to code. Being a coder isn’t for everyone, it requires an analytical and quantitative mind. This doesn’t mean the entire industry is off-limits. On Tiktok, one user highlights how using the Great Resignation as an entry into Tech had them earning 2 to 3 times more than their previous job. They knew if they weren’t happy with their current job, they could easily leave and find a job that suits their needs – it’s a candidate’s market right now and there’s better out there for them. They gave advice on different entry routes into the industry such as Sales, Customer Success and Product Management without needing to code. By having the 3 C’s “communication, collaboration, critical thinking” you should be able to bag any non-coding Tech role.
Following their tips seems easy enough, right? Apparently not. The first comment states “I have applied to around 400 jobs, it’s not as easy as you make it sound”. This is something I wish the #BreakintoTech movement on social media would actually highlight. Finding a new job within your current industry is hard enough, let alone one you don’t have experience in.
Among tech employees, common reasons for quitting their roles include burnout. A survey by Wakefield Research found that out of 600 data engineers 97% reported feeling burned out, with many citing poor work-life balance, ill-defined projects and restless demands from employers playing a large role in this.
Now, I’m not saying people shouldn’t be pursuing roles within the industry or pushing for more talent to join the industry, that’s the complete opposite to what I believe. However, it is important that we share a realistic view of the industry and the effort required to build a career.
The tech space is lacking in all kinds of diversity including race, gender, neurodiversity and disability so people from all walks of life should be included. Those in this space should be more transparent so people are aware of what the whole industry is like. One person’s experience will not be the same for someone else. As a black woman, my experience getting into and being in the industry will be completely different to a white man.
Whether you’re sharing videos on Tiktok or mentoring someone very early in their career, we should all think about the nuances of each individual’s experience. In the same way being a doctor or lawyer comes with caveats, working within tech is exactly the same. Sometimes our experience is not the romanticised view we see going viral on TikTok, sometimes breaking into Tech is really hard for people and we need to be honest about it!