Why should you as a non computer scientist work in IT industry? What are the challenges for career changers? And how did Sonja Wittke and Silke Tautorat from QAware do it? Continue reading to get all the answers!
Are you interested in joining IT without being a computer scientist? Join QAware’s Sonja and Silke for their workshop “From Cloud Novice to Cloud Native in 60 minutes“ in October at Ada Lovelace Festival 2018!
Working in IT — without being a computer scientist
by Sonja Wittke and Silke Tautorat from QAware
Many IT teams, if not all, do not consist solely of computer scientists. At QAware GmbH, the company we work for, 23% of all people working in IT did not study computer science.
This is even more true for our female colleagues: only 43% of the women working in IT at our company have a degree in computer science. The two of us don’t: Silke is an electro-technician, while Sonja is a mathematician.
Joining an IT company without being an IT expert may sound scary and not like the smartest idea ever – but we do not regret it. So why should you as a non-computer-scientist work in the IT industry? What are you (probably) most worried about? What are the real challenges? And how did we do it? Continue reading to get all the answers!
Why should you even consider working in the IT industry if you are not a computer scientist? Well, the real question is why shouldn’t you? Working in IT is so much fun: There is something new to discover every day and you will most likely collaborate with the nicest people. The world is already made up of IT stuff and working in the IT industry forces you to deal with it. Which is a good thing, as you do not need to worry about being left behind. Not to forget: Good salaries and excellent working conditions!
There are many individual reasons as well: Sonja’s main motivation was to create something tangible to use in real life after mainly dealing with abstract thoughts when studying mathematics. As an IT project manager Silke believes that next to coding expertise, communication and other soft-skills are also an important success factor within the IT industry.
Many of you might have the same concerns that we had before starting our IT career:
– “The job advertisement requires advanced knowledge in three or more programming languages – but I barely master one.“
– “All the IT guys started taking their first computer apart when they were four years old – I will never be as good as they are.“
For us, none of these concerns stopped us. Yes, a position might require advanced knowledge in several programming languages, but most likely the job advertisement describes the dream candidate that does not even exist. Just be brave and go for it! Programming is basically a craft that you can learn. And not every computer scientist with a degree has mastered it yet.
Getting real – Initial obstacles to overcome
To be honest, there were some challenges we had to face when starting to work in IT. There are just so many technical terms that we did not know! And other terms that we did know – but only had a very basic understanding of.
Our colleagues were talking about web servers, network protocols, heap memory usage and so much more as if it was nothing special. And we were listening and nodding and secretly taking notes of the stuff to look up later.
But don’t be afraid! While working at an IT company, you will get to know all these terms automatically. It does not hurt either to read some books and journals or to ask your colleagues…
The second issue was the “art of programming“ itself. When starting your software developer career as a programming rookie, you will be surrounded by professionals who have been doing the job for a very long time. So you will make all these beginner mistakes that would not happen to any of your colleagues – or at least it feels like that.
But you should never forget that each of these experts was a rookie once and had to go through the same. And all software developers we know will be very happy to help you with your coding problems – otherwise they will have to deal with code they consider ugly later…
How do we do it at QAware?
At QAware GmbH several non-computer-scientists started to work as software engineers, and here is how we do it:
Every software developer starts to work on a real customer project from the first day of work, even if he/she is not a programming guru yet. We believe that you learn the most and the fastest when having to deal with real world problems.
If required, programming rookies get their personal training program, which can consist of
– Attending lectures that some of our senior colleagues give (e.g. at universities) and mentoring the lecture’s tutorial
– Individual coaching by colleagues
– Participating in the regular training program for all new employees during their first two years at QAware
There are certainly many more options to help non-computer-scientists start their careers in IT, but these mentioned above worked well for us. We hope we were able to motivate you to start your own career in IT or to bring back memories of your very first steps when starting to work in Tech.
Sonja Wittke is a Software Architect for QAware GmbH. Her focus is the design and implementation of complex system and software architectures. She is currently implementing projects in the after-sales area in the automotive industry.
As Senior IT Project Manager for QAware, a software engineering company with special expertise in cloud-native ecosystems and IT trouble-shooting, Silke Tautorat currently leads software development projects in the telco and internet-security industry.
During her years working as product & project manager she gained a lot experience in realising software and internet applications with agile teams.