“I’m new to tech...”

This past Tuesday, we had the Good for PoC Launch event here in New York City and it was a blast. We had a fantastic panel of speakers and some great questions from the audience. One question I didn’t get to ask the panel “how can one break into tech?” Interestingly enough, this is something my friends and I talk about a lot.

I’ve been job-hunting for the past three weeks and I’m noticing an interesting trend. Companies want candidates with at least 3+ years of experience. I’m looking at product design roles, but I’ve seen the same role requirements for engineering and product management.

Wat.

I often wonder how lack of experience is a barrier to those new to and/or wanting to switch into technology. Seasoned practitioners don’t think about it–they have a body of work backing their experience. They also have access to resources–time, networks, etc. Juniors have access to the same resources, but they might not know they exist. Resources are useless unless you are aware of their existence.

Where do companies fit in all this?

What’s a company’s responsibility, if any, in training juniors? It seems to me that many companies aren’t interested in training juniors. This could be due to an inability to provide them with proper mentorship. Or it could be due to not wanting to deal with juniors at all.

A wise friend of mine once said:

“Companies want senior [insert role here], but none want to train them.”

That friend is right. Senior (insert role here) aren’t birthed from rainbows and unicorn regurgitation. Everyone was once a junior at some point or another. Everyone was a junior at some point or another. If companies won’t help juniors, then who will?

We need to step up and help juniors in tech.

Juniors are already putting in the hard work: networking, joining affinity groups, tweeting. They just need someone to take a chance on them–if not companies, then us. Here are some ideas:

Share Jobs: Been in tech for at least 2 years? I encourage you to find and share junior level roles you find. I’m going to start sharing roles for juniors in my newsletter.

Provide Mentorship: It may not seem like it, but 2 years is a long time. Enough time to share what you’ve learned in 730 days with others. Your mentorship and guidance can be a great gift to someone who needs it.

Give Public Praise: To affinity groups that helped you when you were a junior. You never know who’s listening–all it takes is one tweet/post to share valuable information.

This list is by no means exhaustive, and I’m sure there’s more we can do. But it’s important to do something.

Juniors are just as awesome as anyone else in this industry, and they deserve to be here. Let’s welcome them with open arms by sharing the same opportunities we had.