How do I get an entry-level job in Tech?
To start, there are many ways to get a job in tech. Much of it depends on your work experience and the role you are aiming for. It’s also important to note that the road to getting a job in tech isn’t always a linear path and sometimes you need a bit of luck. My suggestions are primarily for folks who are green and/or looking for entry-level roles to gain experience and break into tech.
I’m a first-generation Mexican-American and the first in my family to go to college. I went to the University of California, Santa Cruz and majored in Film/Digital Media. I’ve gone on to have a successful career as a woman in Tech and worked at notable companies like Poly, Uber, and Bird. I started my career working in operations and have since transitioned to product management.
1. Take advantage of recruiting and staffing agencies
This is how I landed my job at Uber. To give you some background, I first learned about recruiting and staffing agencies during my internship at Plantronics (now known as Poly). The staffing agency they partnered with at the time was Aerotek. So as I was getting ready to leave, I connected with one of the recruiters and a few weeks later she had a Google interview lined up for me. Unfortunately, that role did not pan out due to location and timing. About two years after graduation I was on a job hunt again and received an unexpected call from an Aerotek recruiter regarding a potential job opportunity at the Uber office in Los Angeles.
Knowing Aerotek was a trusted staffing agency, I jumped at the opportunity. I recognize I was very lucky they still had my information stored in their system after all those years. That said, I later learned how widely used their services are by many tech companies. Bird also used Aerotek’s services to bring in a variety of talent during its early hyper-growth stages.
2. Apply for jobs at startups
Another way to break into tech is by applying for roles at startups. This is also the best way to get experience if you are looking for the opportunity to wear many hats and develop many skills. Startups often look for talent who possess qualities like the ability to work in an autonomous environment, thrive in ambiguity, be problem-solvers, etc. If any of that resonates with you, then I highly recommend this route. It’s also worth noting that if you want to eventually work at established tech giants, you’re going to need some startup experience under your belt. That, of course, depends on the role you are looking for and the path you take. As I said earlier, this road isn’t always linear for some.
One reliable website I like to use to find job opportunities at startups is AngelList, but there are many other websites like this one.
3. Apply for entry-level roles in operations
I highly recommend applying for entry-level jobs in operations if you are either:
- Open to making a lateral move
- Interested in tech, but still unsure of where you want your career to go
- Or you just need to get IN to eventually land an ideal role
Operations can be a great starting point for many people. For me, it was a great cross-functional work environment that provided the right amount of exposure to product teams and engineers. I learned to think like them and work like them. Ultimately, that experience is what influenced my interest in pursuing a career in product management. Many of my peers also benefited from this starting point and later went on to land roles in UX research, data, ops, engineering, etc.
That said, sometimes applying for these roles can get you in front of the right people who will consider a different role to be a better fit for you based on the experience and skills you bring. I know this because I interviewed a candidate who was over-qualified for an ops role and later became a huge asset to the Strategic-Ops team at Bird.
Last but not least, don’t forget to network and always leave a positive impression even if your interaction with someone is brief. I happened to run into Uber’s former Head of Operations, US & Canada during my interview at Bird. I did not tell him I was interviewing for a launch role, but he remembered my face even though our interactions at Uber were short.
That said, even when things get passionate under stressful situations in the workplace, do your best to put your best foot forward. One wrong impression can lead to many missed opportunities.