How to Become a Tech Professional

How to Become a Tech Professional



Don’t Listen to Stupid People

  • Is your mom in tech?
  • Did your friend hear it from their friends friend of a friend?
  • Is the person giving advice getting a commission?
  • Nefarious or not, most people are lying to you…

Why You Are HIRED

  • To Solve Problems
  • To Make the Company More Profit
  • To Make Your Bosses Job Easier
  • To Comply with Regulations

Your Boss is HUMAN

  • Pretend that your boss is a human just like you and has their own wants, needs, fears, and issues
  • Bosses are nicer to employees that are nice to them and do their jobs
  • Learn about your bosses life outside of work and talk about non work things
  • Build a relationship and then ask how you can make their jobs easier

Education Types

  • Certifications
  • Bootcamps
  • College Degrees
  • Self Study
  • Each type of education has a purpose, a place, and works differently for different people.
  • Many people will end up doing all (I have degree, certifications, attended a bootcamp, and continuously self study)


  • Certifications are for Specific Products
  • Some vendors give benefits if employees have certifications
  • Government contracts may require certifications
  • Test Prep takes as long or Longer than learning material
  • Certifications cost significant money


  • Good for tech professionals that need to retrain
  • Short Training Time
    • Good to get started quickly
    • Bad for retention and understanding
  • Employment stats are misleading, for not complete lies
  • Spend a month learning before starting a Bootcamp


  • Gives students time to learn and find their place
  • Easy to get funding
  • Be realistic about debt and educational value
    • Community college transfer programs
  • Degrees are good further into your career as you move into management
  • Take internship/ volunteer opportunities

Self Study

  • Great for if you know what you need to learn and why
  • Can become a dead end if not paired with experience or additional training

Online Education

  • Good for disciplined, self starters, who have a workable plan
  • Bad for almost everyone else

Getting Experience

  • Experience shows that you both can, and want to do the work
  • Volunteer, Internship, fixing grandmas computer can count
    • I once got a job by having a crappy website on my resume that had existed for 2 years…
  • Be a “consultant”… (Grandma’s can be rough clients…)

Geography of Jobs

  • There need to be OPEN JOBS to be hired
    • I love Custer SD, but there are 9000 people and no tech jobs
  • Different Geographies specialize in different technology
    • Microsoft on East Coast, Novell on West Coat
    • PHP on East Coast, Ruby on West Coast
    • Washington DC still needs COBOL coders because on Government Systems

Portfolio of Work

Publish or Perish

  • Publish Blog Posts
  • Publish YouTube Videos
  • Getting Hired vs. CPM
    • If you publish about niche topics future employers are likely to run across your work.
    • Write / Record about all things that might seem valuable
    • DON’T publish too many specifics about your enviornment (Hackers)

Social Media

  • Tag and @ companies and people on social media when you use their products of advice
  • Keep the social media accounts clean and professional

Applying for Jobs

  • Apply for jobs you want
  • Apply for jobs you are under qualified for
  • Employers hire the best AVAILABLE applicant
  • Generally stay in a job 2 years, but…
    • It takes up to 6 months to get a new employee up to speed
  • Be careful about padding your resume


  • Know what you need
  • Know what you want
  • Know what the market can handle
  • Know yourself…

Networking for Jobs

  • Meetups
  • Free Education Events


  • What do you want to do? 
    • “Computers” is NOT an answer
  • Why do you want to work for this particular company?
    • “I need a job” is NOT an answer
  • Learn about company and who is interviewing you.  
    • Have questions ready

Corporate vs. Startup Jobs

  • Corporate world has more stability
  • Startups offer more experience 
  • * be careful of “Fake” Startups

Company Cultures

  • The same job in different companies can make you feel different

Side Hustles

  • Why do you have time to side hustle?
  • Would you be better off improving yourself for current job?

SHOULD You Be a Tech Professional

  • There’s an actual job to do…
    • …and it kinda sucks much of the time…
  • Tech jobs are not some type of utopia, and there are other ways to make a lot of money.
  • “Passion” is a buzzword… seek fulfillment… tech can be soul destroying…

Be Careful of…

  • Offers of Equity instead of salary – most equity will be worthless
  • Beer Taps and Arcade Games – This means they don’t want you to go home even to drink beer
  • Company Culture – Brogrammers are a real thing, Activist employees are a real thing, and parents who want to do 9-5 and then go home and coach little league are real too.  They generally do not work for the same companies.
    • If the CEO works the day after their parent dies don’t think they’ll expect different from you.
  • The industry ebbs and flows, it is in regular flux and you need to plan/ budget for down times

It’s All a Gamble

  • It’s more or less educated, but you do have to roll the dice
  • Think of success on a decade frame