Kickstarting your career in tech
If you ask Elizabeth Fuller her opinion on the main things that tech firms are looking for in new recruits, her response will likely include three C words: curiosity, collaboration, and creativity.
Note the absence of another C word that is common in technology circles: coding. While a certain degree of technical know-how is important for those keen to get a start in the industry, many job opportunities in tech require zero computer programming skills.
“There’s a perception that to work in the industry you just have to be a coder, and you spend your time in a dark dungeon wearing a hoodie and eating pizza while coding for eight hours straight – but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Ms Fuller, Azure Solution Specialist for Microsoft Australia.
The reality is that tech thrives on new and exciting voices; individuals willing to think outside the box.
“It’s an industry that’s constantly evolving and innovating, and employers like Microsoft and our partners are looking for people who are curious, who have an openness to learning new things and challenging assumptions, and the humility to acknowledge that we while we might not have the answer to a certain problem right now, we can use our knowledge and our creativity and bring people together to find solutions.”
Making an impact
Lizzie Fuller has worked for Microsoft since 2016, when she took part in the company’s graduate program. Armed with a Bachelor of Arts (Marketing, Media and Communications), and experience in marketing and business analytics, she was drawn to working in an industry that shapes society and drives positive change.
“When you look at the changes that are happening in society, so much of them are driven by technology,” she says. “That’s really what attracted me to the industry – this desire to contribute to something greater than yourself.”
Whether it’s protecting individuals against cyber-attacks, helping businesses with climate change mitigation, or supporting the employee giving program, Microsoft has a stated aim to help its people make a positive impact.
“When I first started working in tech, I was actually surprised at the level to which you’re able to make a positive contribution, and I relished the chance to have a deep impact on communities and organisations through technology,” says Ms Fuller, who serves on the Leadership Team for the Women at Microsoft Employee Resource Group, and leads the ‘Girls in Tech’ initiative on Microsoft’s Diversity and Inclusion Council.
“There are so many opportunities to shape change and open doors for others. That’s incredibly rewarding, and it’s something that people don’t always immediately associate with the tech industry.”
On the bus
So, let’s get back to the three Cs that are essential for those wanting to kickstart their career in tech: curiosity, collaboration and creativity.
According to Elizabeth Fuller, it all boils down to an ability to rally and work with others in the problem-solving process.
“At Microsoft, we call this ‘getting people on your bus’, and that means bringing people together to focus on a shared goal, in full knowledge that they will come at problems from different perspectives,” she says.
“Even if you’re in a purely technical role, these skills will always be crucial, because a lot of the time we’re working on scenarios where there’s no playbook, where there’s no written path, and in this ambiguity, we need to embrace the perspectives that everyone has to share. That’s where collaboration, creativity and curiosity come into their own.”
By the same token, even those in non-coding roles need to have a level of technical aptitude.
“When you work in the tech industry,” Ms Fuller says, “you need to understand the role that technology solutions can play and the benefits that it can have on businesses and communities.”
She points to the recent announcement that ACU will embed core digital skills in its IT and business courses, meaning students graduate with certification in Microsoft Excel and the company’s cloud computing platform, Azure Fundamentals.
“Coming to the table with foundational micro-credentials is incredibly useful,” she adds, “and can definitely provide you with a competitive edge.”
A future in tech
The good news for those looking forge a career in tech is that Microsoft and its counterparts in the sector offer job opportunities across a wealth of disciplines.
Elizabeth at the Women in Technology Awards.
You might want to pursue a path as a software engineer or data scientist, or in marketing, product management, business analytics and human resources.
Then there are the new and emerging trends tipped to shape the future of work: artificial intelligence, cloud native computing, robotics, analytics and the like.
Says Elizabeth Fuller: “These are some of the career paths that will continue to drive new product innovation into the future, but it’s also hugely important to note that we need people to implement these solutions.”
That means that uniquely human traits like creativity, leadership and interpersonal skills will be central in the future jobs market – even in the tech sector.
As for the lingering stereotypes about tech, Elizabeth Fuller says leaders in tech are working hard to dispel these myths. Such misconceptions can be damaging, she says, because they form a barrier between the industry and the talented individuals who could lead it into the future.
“We want to promote the fact that careers in tech can be incredibly rewarding, not only for the great earning potential, but other things like flexibility in where you work, so you’re not bound to a certain country, and a supportive environment where people recognise that in order to make true progress, we need to be open to people of all different genders, of different cultures, neurotypes and socioeconomic backgrounds,” she says.
“On top of that, you get to work on innovative technology, and if you’re a creative person, even if you’re not technical, it’s such a great industry to be part of. You get to spend your time in a vibrant workplace, helping to innovate and create positive change in society – that’s a pretty special opportunity, and it’s important that people in tech don’t take it for granted.”
Learn more about ACU’s partnership with Microsoft. Keen to forge a career in tech? Explore the options.