How To Become Techy With a Non-Techy Background
Hey recently hired employees of the technology industry in business development, operations, or business analysis, I’m talking to you. As I start my fourth week at Revelry I feel like I should share some knowledge as I become situated in a new industry. I come from a background of working in finance and non-profits–definitely not the technology industry. Being an employee at a software development firm has been new and exciting but there is definitely a knowledge gap between what I know and the technical language of my new everyday life. Here are a few lessons that have helped me fill the gaps of my non-techy background and start to get my feet under me these last few weeks:
1.) Make It an Everyday Effort
It’s hard to avoid anything if you make sure that it will be touching your consciousness at least once a day. I made it a priority that something tech related would be getting into my inbox daily. The end result? I now receive anywhere from 5-10 email subscriptions from blogs that I am subscribed to everyday. Do I read every word on every blog? Of course not, I have a job with responsibilities. But immersing myself for a few minutes each day into what exactly is going on in the technology world has definitely helped. Subscribing to well-known blogs such as VentureBeat, BetaList, and CrunchBase have given me knowledge as to the companies that have gotten funding, the need to look up technical terms, and customer trends in various technology markets. It’s also a great idea to subscribe to lesser known blogs. Two that have really helped me are Groove and Taylor Davidson’s blog. Groove has plenty of stories of customer service in the technology world and Davidson provides updates in the both the software and hardware worlds. While this strategy is not the most the most in-depth, it will help you get a working knowledge in the technology industry and set you down the right path.
2.) Look Within Your Organization
Starting at any new organization can be intimidating if not downright frightening. However, like my good friend Spencer Wolfe (@wolfesp18) said one day: “I had a choice. To be inspired and to be intimidated are two sides of the same coin.” You can either be inspired or be intimidated when you have to step into a situation that you are not familiar with. That is exactly what happened with me–I was suddenly working in a financial and sales support role trying to understand a service with which I had very little prior knowledge of. My coworkers were talking in a technical language that I didn’t understand. It was intimidating. But you need to be able to see the opportunity in the situation–you need to be inspired! That’s what I’m working on right now. Whenever I run across something that I don’t quite understand, I don’t hesitate to reach out to our CTO for quick clarification. Be inspired by the people working beside you and their technical knowledge. There is definitely an opportunity there to be inspired to expand your own technical knowledge.
3.) Look Outside Your Organization
It’s very easy to miss important assets in your social and professional networks. That’s why I started to look outside of Revelry to help gain technical knowledge. Remember that interesting coder you met at that random happy hour or that student you talked to after class about building a website from the ground up? There’s a good chance that they remember who you are and wouldn’t mind having another conversation about the technology world. Reach out to them and try to grab lunch one day or have coffee with them. Ask them about their background and what exactly they do at their place of employment. How can that information translate over to your role at your respective organization? While software developers don’t have the reputation as being the socialites that we expect of salespeople and executives, they are more than happy to share knowledge with someone who is willing to learn.
4.) Be Proactive, Help Move Forward
The single thing that has helped me most in understanding the tech world is being proactive and adding value wherever I can. What do I mean by this? I mean to step out of your comfort zone and try to help more than just yourself. Yes, it might be a little awkward meeting that random LinkedIn connection early on a Saturday morning but you’ll feel better afterwards than if you had not. I’m sure that the two of you will talk about things that you didn’t expect and you have some topics to talk about that your connection is not familiar with. Ask developers what resources are within your organization to gain a better technological vocabulary. There aren’t any resources? Maybe that would be a great in-house project. Revelry just started an internal wiki for new non-technical hires. It won’t always be the easiest journey but if you stay proactive everyday, you’ll eventually gain an in-depth knowledge of the technology industry.