My name’s Briana. You might have seen some of my videos on freeCodeCamp’s YouTube channel about basic computer science concepts or Git and GitHub. I used to be an elementary school music teacher, but freeCodeCamp helped me get a job at GitHub as a trainer.
I’m a strong believer that people who change careers into Tech are in a strong position for roles that aren’t necessarily development jobs. For example, my teaching experience made me a great fit for my role at GitHub now.
Lots of people here are focused strictly on being developers, so could you talk a bit about the other types of roles you’ve seen?
At GitHub, everything is somewhat related to code, obviously. Most people have some development skills and background, even if they aren’t developers. For example, the team I work on is called “Professional Services”. We work with existing GitHub customers (usually big companies) to help them out with using GitHub. Leaning about how to code on freeCodeCamp, along with the core concepts and history of computer science gives me the context I need to understand what the customers are going through so I can figure out the best way to help them. My other skills from teaching wouldn’t really be as useful in a strictly development position, but the skills from coding wouldn’t really be useful as a music teacher.
There are other positions on my team, like the operations team members, who are super organized and driven, and spend a lot of time talking with customers. They help the customers decide what services they need, and get all of the paperwork in order through tough teams like legal and procurement. That’s a totally different skill set than I have. They also need technical experience, so that they can understand what customers are talking about and give the right advice when choosing services.
When I first started learning to code, I wanted to find a blended position like this, but I felt it would be impossible. I felt I would need to start in a development position to “prove my chops” since I was coming from such a different field. I don’t think I was wrong, and preparing for the hardest jobs I could think of made me extra prepared for the right position when it came along.
Have any of your coworkers brought skills from other careers?
Yes. Actually, the majority of people on my team have non-traditional backgrounds. Several of us were teachers, some were in instructional design, some were english majors, some were military, some were psychology majors… there’s value to be added from different background and experiences.
Besides, everything in tech is changing so rapidly anyway, it’s only going to be a good fit for someone who is willing to constantly learn. Being able to show that you are a self-driven learner who can get things done is so powerful.
Do you have any tips for anyone who has a work history outside of tech trying to get a job?
Take yourself seriously. I was worried that I wouldn’t be taken seriously because of my background. I studied that much harder and drove down on the little details, because I knew that they were important. I didn’t let the voice of “you can’t do that, you’re just a music teacher”, or “they won’t expect you to know that” to be louder than the voice of “you can do this, you’re smart, keep going”.