My name is Ashleigh and I’ve been working alongside staff at Altitude Foundation for my work experience this year. In school I’ve been studying Psychology, Design and Technology alongside Spanish and Geography. While on work experience, the team at Altitude Foundation has tasked me with interviewing staff from Scott Logic to find out a bit about their careers, how young people could find a path into the tech industry themselves and how they reached the point they did.

What is the tech industry?

The technology industry is constantly evolving through innovation with new software, devices, and more constantly being released from different companies around the world. There are so many different roles within the tech industry from social media and marketing to front-end and back-end development.

As of September 2022, there are over one million people working in the IT services sector of the creative industries of which approximately one hundred and eight thousand are self-employed.

The interviews

During my work experience week, I interviewed three employees from Scott Logic to find out about their jobs and the paths they took to get to that point.

First, I interviewed Martha who told me that while she didn’t study computer science during her education, she did study Maths. I also asked Martha how many people work in her team and she told me that her current team has twenty people. I asked her what made her wish to work in a tech-based field and what her job title was. She answered that she is a Software Developer and that she found it exciting due to the problem solving aspect of it, alongside the fact that it is constantly changing and evolving due to the nature of technology. I also asked her if she believed that it was important to work in teams and she told me that she believed it was important that they worked together in teams as people will have different expertise to others.

Later, I interviewed Sophie who told me that she studied Maths, Physics and Chemistry for A-levels and then Physics at university. Sophie kindly told me that she was a Developer. Sophie told me that there are six people in her team, a lead developer, two senior developers, two developers and a test engineer. I wished to find out if there was any part of the job she disliked – she told me about that sometimes you can find yourself working alone, if you come across a problem, and you feel like you’re just delving into a rabbit hole to try and fix it.

I also interviewed Matthew who told me he studied Further Maths, Physics and Electronics for A-levels and then went on to study Computer Science in university. I found out that Matthew works as a data engineer often working with DevOps. I did some research and found that DevOps is a methodology in software development and the IT industry which helps automate the work of software development (dev) and IT operations (ops) as a means for improving and shortening the systems development life cycle. I asked him if he believed his Computer Science degree made him a better candidate for coding skills, to which he disagreed and felt as if he could have got to where he is even without the A-level in maths and his degree.

Jobs, qualifications and apprenticeships and within the tech industry

So what are some job titles within tech, you may be wondering? I did some research and found an article with many different titles, so here’s a shortlist to give you some ideas:

  • Software developer

  • Data engineer

  • Web designer

  • Data analyst

  • Technician, and more.

There are plenty of different qualifications you could gain which then branch into IT, computing or analytics. These can span from Business degrees to Maths, Psychology, Design degrees or even a Cyber Security degree. But these aren’t the only valid paths you could take into the IT and Tech industry as you could also become an apprentice. Currently, cyber security is growing four times faster than any other sector in IT, so there are plenty of opportunities to dive into a job or apprenticeship within that section of the IT and technology industry.

What did I learn from the interviews?

During the interviews with Martha, Sophie and Matthew, I learnt a lot of new things and corrected some misconceptions within my own knowledge – such as the fact that they work in teams when I originally believed that software developers worked alone. I also found it interesting that none of the three originally knew they wanted a job within the field of tech.

I also found it interesting that they coded in different languages from Python to Java; and it was really interesting how Matthew thought that his A-level in maths and the degree in computer science did not give him an advantage over his colleagues. I personally thought that might have been advantageous to him as he would have knowledge that some of his colleagues possibly didn’t. It was interesting that two of them (Sophie and Matthew) first learned to code in Python in university while Martha’s first experience with coding was through mathematical programming.

Tips for getting a job in industry

During the interviews I received some tips for helping get into an IT/Tech based job. I personally found the tips extremely helpful, so I put together a list. These tips included:

  • Don’t be afraid of messing up

  • You can learn Computer Science, even if you haven’t done anything related beforehand

  • It’s never too late to switch career paths

  • Be open-minded

  • Enjoy yourself

  • Work on small side projects, as they can be useful to expand your coding knowledge and keep you interested in the subject

  • Take advantage of online courses

  • Revamp or start your LinkedIn profile (87% of recruiters say they use LinkedIn to find candidates. You don’t have to look like an expert, you just need to make yourself look professional and like a good hire.)

  • Look for work experience or internships in the future