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Five Non-Technical Traits That Helped Me Land a Technical Job

Hello! By the time you read this, I’ll be on my way to Creative South, a design conference taking place in Columbus, GA. This is my first design conference so I’ll be sure to put together notes and take lots of pictures for roundups. If you’re interested, you can follow my journey on Instagram where I’ll try to get as many photos uploaded as possible. I have two incredible guest posters lined up.  Today’s post is brought to you by the lovely Lisa which you may remember from this week’s Creative Couples feature. Lisa is a fantastic web developer and she’s talking about her newest career move to a web developer at Urban Outfitters!

Also, in case you missed it, we chatted about WordPress Security over at Sevenality. So be sure to take a peek. Thanks Lisa!


Five Non-Technical Traits for a Technical Job

Before I became a web developer, transitioning into a technical job seemed like a feat I’d never be able to accomplish. As someone with a background in the humanities (I studied English and Spanish, and worked as a teacher, proofreader, newspaper editor, and career center assistant), moving into the tech industry felt really inaccessible to me. But little by little, I’ve managed to do it. I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on how I made it happen, especially about the nontechnical traits or actions that helped without me even realizing it. This is the advice I’d give myself three years ago, if I could go back in time.

1) Listen. Ask questions, then listen some more.

I’m an introvert and an observer. Sometimes this is a disadvantage, as I may hang back and check things out for awhile before diving into a new task or social situation. But it’s often an advantage. People love to talk about themselves or what they’re working on, and they’ll remember that you were interested in hearing what they had to say.

2) Help others

Even if you feel that you have little to offer, you still know more than someone else who may just be starting out. Sharing that knowledge early on will help you learn faster, and you’ll position yourself as someone who knows her stuff and is willing to give back.

3) Practice humility

It’s easy to be nervous about learning a new thing and being afraid of getting something wrong. My first instinct is to hide or respond defensively to criticism, and I really dislike that about myself. I decided to invite constructive criticism and seek it out, so that I could learn and grow. I’m trying to be grateful for feedback, even if it’s hard, because it will ultimately make me better at what I do.

4) Engage

Is there a local meetup or users group you can attend to make new friends (that’s how I prefer to think of networking) or learn about new concepts? Join! If not, maybe you could start one or find an online community with and from whom you can learn lots! Pretty soon these meetups or users groups feel more like educational friend hang-out time than a stuffy “professional development” event. Show up and be seen. But listen and be helpful while you’re there!

5) Celebrate others’ successes

At times, I’ve gotten nervous because lots of my friends are people like me — youngish women who were trying to transition into the tech industry. I worried that there weren’t enough jobs to go around. But that’s utterly not true. There’s room for all of us, and it’s not a competition. As soon as I approached it from a perspective of abundance, I could genuinely celebrate my friends’ successes without feeling jealous. Eventually, we all rode a wave of each others’ successes, and could feel really happy and proud of each other.

Photo: Lisa Yoder

Lisa Yoder

Connect with Lisa:  Site | Blog | Github | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

18 Comments

  1. Lisa, this post is so good. My instinct is just as you described it in #3. Learning to accept and seek out constructive criticism is a tough battle, but so rewarding when you can get it right.

    Also, #5 is THE KEY to success and happiness and good relationships in the creative or tech fields! I love that you pointed this out.

    Thanks for your time putting together these great thoughts!

    • Thank you for stopping by Regina! I agree 100% with #5. It’s imperative!

    • Hi Regina!

      I agree! Sometimes it can be really hard to get out of the comparison/jealousy cycle, but it’s so much more beneficial for everyone to be genuinely happy for others, especially friends, when they’re succeeding!

  2. Agree with Regina. #3 and #5 are SO essential. All of them are, in fact.
    Great tips, Lisa. 🙂

  3. Love this post! As someone who is brand new in a creative field, I found most of the suggestions applied to that as well. I especially love #2, since I find it is very easy to discount my knowledge as “too basic” or “not really anything.” On the occasions I’ve presented it to someone else, I realize how much I actually know and gain confidence, plus it’s a great way to build community.

    Would love to hear more about Lisa’s journey!

  4. What a great post, I loved it and so true. I do think clients want you to really engage with them. I have made several friends through work which is awesome. I went to school for a year in Atlanta since it’s an hour from my house and my roomie was from Columbus, you will love it there 🙂 Us Southerners know how to have fun 🙂

  5. I agree with point 5 very much so, there’s room for us all. and if you feel it’s a little busy then take another approach!

    Buckets & Spades

  6. It’s really inspiring to know that there are people involved in web that didn’t originally set out to be in the field. I am finally actively trying to brush up on my skills and still feel like there is so much more to learn!

    I do think that meet-ups are a great way to get started. I definitely feel that the more I am around people who are interested in the same things as me, the easier it becomes.

    • Hi Alyse!

      I know a ton of people who have switched careers into web development. Most of my friends in Philly, actually! Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or need encouragement! I’m really passionate about helping others, women especially, get into web development.

  7. Totally agree with #3. I was actually thinking about that the other day. I used to hate criticisms but its so so important bc I believe it makes me better at what I do! Great post, thank you!

    And I cant believe I just missed WP security lecture!

    • It can be hard, but humbling yourself and genuinely asking for feedback is such a great way to grow and develop personally and professionally.

      Thanks for reading, Miki!

  8. […] over at Studio 404 about some of the things I did to learn and get enough experience to get hired: Five Non-Technical Traits That Helped Me Land a Technical Job   Bonus: Angel of Studio 404 also featured an interview with Chad & me last month! Check that […]

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