Breaking the Code: How to Get Into the Tech World

It may come as a surprise, but women only hold 25% of computing-related jobs even in today's digital world. What's more, that number's been declining since the 1990s. As a female-founded tech company, Birchbox is striving to change that statistic, which is why we partnered with the Flatiron School to create the Women Take Tech scholarship program. As part of our commitment to giving women the tools and know-how they need to build successful careers in tech, we asked Rebekah Rombom, vice president of career services at the Flatiron School, to share her advice on breaking into the tech world and how to navigate it once you make the jump.

Realize that it's never too late

You might think that you need to have worked in a technical-related field all your life or have a degree in Computer Science to be in tech. But, there's no expiration date on when you can make the switch and start your career in the industry, Rombom believes. In fact, the skills and knowledge you've developed in prior roles or through your education are valuable. "Having the ability to communicate and collaborate effectively with others—even if you developed those soft skills far outside of tech—can be just as important as mastering a hard skill like coding," she says.

Look past tech stereotypes

Not tech-savvy, so you can't possibly work in tech? Don't sell yourself short. Ignore the stereotype that you have to be a "technical" person in order to be successful in this field. "Many believe that coding is a super mathematical, solitary pursuit," says Rombom. It's just the opposite, actually. "Coding is creative—more like writing than math," she says. Beyond that, "Building software requires constant collaboration, so the more diverse perspectives available, the better the product," she says.

Empower yourself with technical skills

As the world increasingly turns toward digital, more companies have technology at their core, so it's important to develop programming skills. It "not only empowers you to make more of an impact in your current role—to implement your own solutions instead of outsourcing—it opens up a whole world of career opportunities across every imaginable industry," says Rombom. Her advice is to find what you're passionate about and pursue that in an even more powerful way by leveraging code.

Build your confidence like a muscle

Whether you've decided to go for it and get into tech or if you're still unsure, it's important to build your confidence and not let "Imposter Syndrome" (aka, convincing yourself that you don't know enough to be good at it), take over. "Try turning 'Imposter Syndrome' on its head," says Rombom. "See a lack of knowledge not as a flaw but as an opportunity to grow," she says. Understand that everyone, no matter how long they've been in tech, is a beginner at something. "You just have to start. Go for small wins," she says. Also remember that with programming, failing often is part of the learning process. "You'll write buggy code, your test won’t pass, or you'll get stuck on a problem for hours, and the world will keep spinning," she says.

Love these tips and want more? Check out the Flatiron School's e-book How to Be a No-Brainer Tech Hire.

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