Earlier this month, I facilitated a webinar for journalists looking to make the move to a position at a technology company. Having worked at Twitter, Reddit and newsrooms including The Washington Post, I get tons of questions about what it’s like to switch industries. If that’s you, here are some of the questions others are asking:
Do I have to worry about ageism at a technology company?
One of the aspects of diversity that isn’t discussed enough in tech circles is age discrimination. These companies have a deserved reputation for being staffed by mostly younger employees who are no more than a few years out of school. However, you’ll find that many non-engineering teams, particularly those that journalists are likely to join, are more diverse in age. These roles often require career experience that simply cannot be fulfilled by someone who is relatively new in their field.
Also, the larger the company, the more likely it is to have diversity across all levels. Remember that age is only a number. Don’t let it hinder you from applying for the position you want.
What can I do now to prepare for a future job in tech?
Work on projects that go beyond what your core responsibilities are. This will help you separate yourself from other candidates with similar resumes. Find opportunities where you can collaborate with technical teams and learn their language. Expanding your horizons now will prepare you for doing so at an accelerated rate in your new job.
Also, many tech companies have public events that double as networking functions which you should absolutely attend. If you can’t make it to the company’s headquarters, check to see whether they have distributed offices. There are also many tech-focused meetup groups across the country that you can participate in.
Most importantly, tap into what you’re most passionate about and weave that either into your current work or into a personal project. This passion will radiate throughout your interview process.
What positions should I apply for?
Look out for jobs in the Marketing, Comms or Partnerships team that correlate to some of the skills journalists already have. Most job sections of tech companies’ websites delineate these groups. Here are some keywords to look out for: Best Practices, Brands, Communicate, Content, Design, Editing, Editorial, Educate, Marketing, Media, Publishing, Storytelling, Strategy, Translate, Video, Visual, Voice, Writing.
Is there really free food?
Yes, and more. Many tech companies offer free meals that range from buffet style entrees to professionally-plated gourmet dishes. Even smaller companies at the very least offer employees free snacks, coffee and tea. The bigger the company, the more bountiful the food. Commonly offered benefits include unlimited or extended vacation time, maternity and paternity leave and competitive health coverage options. In addition, there are often other perks like sleep rooms, free or discounted gym memberships, yoga time, dry cleaning, happy hours, in-house manicures and more.