Starting a career in a tech company: what I’ve learnt so far

On January 19th, 2015, I walked into an office to start my first job. I’ve always felt nervous meeting new people, so this didn’t feel any different. “Suck it up, smile and try to strike up a conversation somehow. Get to know as many people as I can,” I told myself. But, despite my best efforts, I ended up not talking to many people and my introversion prevailed. Even though I started off at a company which develops e-commerce solutions, my role was not in tech. I was doing online market research and data entry. The majority of my colleagues were software engineers, so I did have a difficult time fitting in at first. But the months passed by and things turned out great. I met some great new people, learned a lot about the industry, and overall, I felt that I made the right choice by joining a tech company. So, based on my two short years of experience, here’s what I’ve learnt so far working in tech. Perhaps they’d be useful to you if you too are planning to choose this path.

Starting a career in a tech company: what I’ve learnt so far

by- Thamara Kandabada 

On January 19th, 2015, I walked into an office to start my first job.

I’ve always felt nervous meeting new people, so this didn’t feel any different. “Suck it up, smile and try to strike up a conversation somehow. Get to know as many people as I can,” I told myself. But, despite my best efforts, I ended up not talking to many people and my introversion prevailed.

Even though I started off at a company which develops e-commerce solutions, my role was not in tech. I was doing online market research and data entry. The majority of my colleagues were software engineers, so I did have a difficult time fitting in at first.

But the months passed by and things turned out great. I met some great new people, learned a lot about the industry, and overall, I felt that I made the right choice by joining a tech company.

So, based on my two short years of experience, here’s what I’ve learnt so far working in tech. Perhaps they’d be useful to you if you too are planning to choose this path.

 

Don’t be yourself

I know, that sounds counterintuitive. But hear me out on this one.

“Be yourself,” is the cliched advice we give to young people. You’ve probably been told this several times already by the people you love. I think that if you try to be yourself, you’re automatically assuming that you’re a finished product, that you do not need to improve, or learn anything new.

If you asked me, I’d tell you to work on becoming a better version of yourself. While you should celebrate your individuality by not becoming a prisoner of the herd mentality, you should also make it your mission to improve every day. It’s good to be different. No, it’s great to be different, but you should make that difference meaningful by adding more flavours to it. That’s why it’s important to keep learning every day. Don’t settle.

 

You are what you know

I cannot stress enough the importance of learning. In fact, a grave mistake most of us make is sticking to just one discipline. It could be that you’re majoring in certain field at university, or that you’re choosing a certain career path (say, marketing) but, I strongly believe that you should always gain an understanding beyond your core area of study/work.

If you feel uncomfortable doing this, you can always start with a closely related field. For example, a marketer could learn bit of sales, or web design, while a software engineer could dabble a bit in project management.

The key is to develop a thirst for knowledge and learning. Right now, I’m reading everyday and learning a lot about film, philosophy, economics and diplomacy. They are seemingly unrelated fields, but once you start opening your mind to different areas of knowledge, the parallels that you can draw are extremely interesting.

Even more important is the meaningful conversations I have with people from different backgrounds because of what I know. I no longer feel like I don’t belong with my programmer-colleagues because I almost always know what’s around the corner in tech.

The people you hang out with is also extremely important for this. Jim Rohn says, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” In tech, I’ve realised that the most interesting people to associate with are the ones who embrace the intermarriage between technology and the humanities, the people who try to make art through their code.

 

Say yes, then learn to say no

Eight months after I joined ISM APAC as a data entry agent, my manager asked me if I’d like to move to the marketing support team. I said yes. I got to hire people and got a team of my own.

A couple of weeks after that, my CEO asked if I could help out in managing the social media channels for the company. I said yes. I had a good time doing that, and learned to manage my time between different tasks and responsibilities.

A couple of months after that, my manager asked me if I could introduce a new task management tool for the marketing team. I said yes. I on-boarded the whole marketing team to Trello, made support documentation, conducted demos, and acted as an in-house Trello support guy. It was fun.

The next month, after an evaluation, my manager asked me if I could take up the role of Marketing Manager for the APAC region. This was a big one, because it has only been one year and 3 months since I joined the company. Of course I said yes.

To be frank, the reason why I said yes to everything in the early days was that I could not muster the courage to say no. But, because I was willing to learn and adapt, it turned out fine for me. After experiencing the nuances in each role, I also learned to say  no to things that deviated me from my path.  

 

Fake it till you make it

Perhaps this was my most difficult realisation.

The world favours extroverts. Whether it is in the classroom or in the office, you’re always required to open up and collaborate and participate in things you don’t necessarily like. If you’re an introvert like me who craves a lot of “me-time,” it can be especially difficult to deal with the daily dynamics of a fast-growing company in a high-growth industry.

If you’re such a person, I think it wouldn’t hurt to try and adapt a little bit. Grow a thick skin, and try to challenge yourself. Whether it’s during project or during Friday evening drinks, try to find something that interests you and socialize over that (remember, you are what you know - it helps in situations like this to have broad interests so that you can get along with people from different backgrounds)

So, that’s my version of unqualified advice to anyone who’s looking to start a career in tech (or in any other field for that matter). I'm already looking forward to all my future challenges, I hope you’d enjoy your ride too.

X
Contact
Direct e-Commerce advice?
<
Contact
Direct e-Commerce advice?