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transitioning from non-tech to technical jobs

transitioning from non-tech to technical jobs

transitioning from non-tech to technical jobs

I have been an office services support person for many years.  The last couple of years, I have branched off into doing more specialized tasks such as building and maintaining web sites, managing email accounts and managing databases all still within the context of a support job classification and all using applications made for the job (i.e., Microsoft Frontpage, Access).  I have no programming or computer science background -- just aptitude and interest and now a little experience in more technically specialized work.  I am currently in school in a major that combines communications, management and technology.

My questions:
Have any of you out there gotten into more technically specialized work coming from a non-technical background?  If so, what were the keys to your success?

I enjoy the work I am doing with web sites and databases and would like to do more -- what do you think are the essential qualities employers are looking for in technical staff who do this kind of work?

RE: transitioning from non-tech to technical jobs

remember, by employing someone that is not just technically competent (the term just is not meant to be derogitory) the main advantage for the company is that they have the opportunity to employ some-one that is not only interested in what the technology can do, but what (and indeed how) it can be used by people.

as the technologies you mention become more and more familiar to those in the general IT envrionment employers will look for more than just the ability to have the application 'make the tea' (preverbally speaking) but will need to assess which of the many paths to go is the most appropriate for their industry/market/clients etc. - it's people that look at the broader picture that will fill these positions.

in our fast paced industry technical competence is an imperative - but just because some is so important doesn't negate the need for the many other qualities a good employee can offer.


RE: transitioning from non-tech to technical jobs

most employers are going to want to find team players, someone they can show to a customer and wont be embarrased about their company, generally the good character for most jobs, plus something a bit more business like (depending on what kind of non-technical job you came from) other than my technical skills(btw I didnt know really much of what they were working with, but I had other technical backgrounds) they look for a potential to grotwh(some of them anyways) I feel they had hired me, because I have the ability to learn at the same pace the technology they require comes out into the open, I'm alot better at this stuff now, been about 6 months, previous knowledge was in C++, but I had worked with most of the languages they use, but ASP Was completely new to me, if I havent been able to just pick up on it, I might not lasted long in the field, so in my opinion they're are looking for someone with broad understanding of most technologies(did I mention I also manage their hardware and software for them from time to time) , can play as a team member, and able to find the answers if you dont already know them (research ability is essential)


Experienced in : C++(both VC++ and Borland),VB1(dos) thru VB6, Delphi 3 pro, HTML, Visual InterDev 6(ASP(WebProgramming/Vbscript)

RE: transitioning from non-tech to technical jobs

You're moving in the perfect direction.  The true 'talent shortage' isn't necesarily in tech people, but in tech people that can apply that tech to solve business problems.  Saying "I can build a really spiffy Website..." isn't going to get you nearly as far as "I can build a really spiffy Website that will do xxxxxx for the business."

I'm actually moving to the same area from the other direction. (From tech toward business.)  To achieve success you must simply keep your mgmt aware of the business value of what you're doing for them.  The technology may be cool but it is of no value by itself - it's only value is business value.   

(This is why so many Web co.s failed recently.  They had really cool trechnology but flawed business models.  In toher words, their mgmt. was all tech and no business.  You need a balance of both these days..)


Of all the things I've lost in life, I miss my mind the most ...

RE: transitioning from non-tech to technical jobs

MasterRacker... like they said... I got you babe..... absolutely agree with you.... I'm also finding out that I need to be more of a business man and stop thinking about the technical aspect of a job.

The important thing is in focusing on what your employer or customer needs and what are you going to do for them. They seldom care about the How (technical part) you are going to accomplish that.

So, a person that doesn't do programing but rather knows what technology will do that is perhaps more valuable than a single minded programer that is more concerned with writing the code and implementing whistles than in getting results.

So... just keep on top on technology and get your feet wet in everything that is interesting... so, I guess there is a need for Generalist techs after all...

the fact that you all are here... already says something about yourselves... doesn't it?

Dumboy.! Ouch.! .my brain.....

It's hard to think with only one neuron......Ouch.....!....it hurts when I think......!

RE: transitioning from non-tech to technical jobs

I appreciate all the comments that have been offered and this gives me a little brighter perspective.  My natural strengths include being able to see the big picture and look at practical applications and business solutions.  I have only been doing a more technically-focused job for about a year -- prior to that I've done administrative support for high level executives for quite a few years -- that gives me some of the business solution perspective you've all been mentioning.

My organization is nonprofit and in the field of k-12 education -- the upside is that as U.S. education strives to meet the needs of the global business community there is tremendous need for technically capable people, especially those that can translate their knowledge into training and application and that's me.  On the other hand, there is no money in the field of education and credentials are everything -- you just don't get anywhere without them.  Since I am working on getting mine, I'm at a disadvantage there.  The one thing I've seen in the quick year I've been doing this, is that like everywhere else its changing fast!  That speed of change coupled with the high demand for capable people and the reality of competition with the business community for those people has got some significant voices calling for some changes in the traditional demand for credentials.  I believe it will change, but that traditional attachment to credentials is much revered and won't be let go of easily so I don't know if it will ultimately make a difference to me.

Along the lines of credentials -- what do any of you think are the key or most important credentials to have?  The work I'm doing is mostly related to web development and I am working toward a BA in communications, management and technology -- this will definitely not provide me with highly technical credentials but it will support the integrated business/management/technical perspective already mentioned.  What else is needed/desired in terms of purely technical training/credentials?

RE: transitioning from non-tech to technical jobs

A decent grounding in the concepts of web development would be important to you. For instance (and the board of my company should take note):

Know what the jargon stands for and roughly what it means. In your sphere for instance, you need to understand what an html file is and the basic difference between it and an asp file. What is a web server, a secure server and so on. Knowing roughly what they are without knowing how to build/create one will mean that not only do you know WHY the projects are happening, but you can also talk to the builders/programmers and understand them.

The front office meets back office liaison is going to be the most important role as executives become more isolated in their understanding of technology and the geeks don't inherit the earth but think they can reprogram it.


RE: transitioning from non-tech to technical jobs

  I look at what used to be called a Programmer, they have no place anymore, if you program your cat to come when you shake the foodbox, then you are a programmer.

     I found an e-commerce tool (paypal.com), that effectivly replaces rooms full of web programmers like robots replaced workers in the 80's.

     The concept of specialization would be one facet of a database, or of webmastering, not 10% of each, even though there is something to be said of general experience also, the main focus in what I can remember in college is that your major and your minor determined what your specialty and success would be.

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