Embarrassing story time. No, I’m not going rehash the details about the time when I rode my bike into a mailbox, or when I didn’t realize I was singing along to my iPod at work, or even that time when my pants ripped at school and I had to spend the whole day praying that my backpack was low enough to save me from indecent exposure.
No, this story is even more embarrassing considering where I work. Here it goes—when I started at OWC, I didn’t even know what an SSD was. I had used a Mac a handful of times, and the idea that someone could open up their computer and make upgrades seemed like something that should only be done by highly trained professionals in a sterile lab. Feel free to gasp, guffaw, whatever you have to do to let out your disbelief. I obviously used technology in my day-to-day life, but not to an advanced extent. I didn’t study a technology field in college—in fact, I majored in Public Relations with an emphasis on cafeteria-tray sledding, competitive pizza eating, and Frisbee Golf (don’t pretend like you didn’t do at least one of those things). I am, by definition, a “non-techie”.
I honestly never thought I would end up working for a technology company. (But to tell you the truth, I had nothing about my future figured out aside from the fact that I was going to be a fabulous mix between Carrie Bradshaw and Kate Hudson’s character in “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” essentially doing some writing for a bit and then shopping the streets of New York all day). But because I wasn’t independently wealthy enough to support a dangerous shoe shopping habit, I focused on what I knew I liked to do—writing. I was fortunate enough to find my current position with OWC where I am able to do that.
When I started at OWC, I was full of excitement and a lot of questions. (I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to my coworkers who had to endure weeks of “what does this do?” to things that are probably as second nature to them as making a sandwich). But during the course of the nearly two years I have been with OWC, I have learned about our products and how valuable they are to our customers. I have had the opportunity to attend CES twice with our team, and have had countless other learning opportunities that have increased my knowledge of the tech field.
Why a career in technology?
The point of coming clean about my “non-techie” background is this—you don’t have to be a tech person to get involved in the technology industry. And this particular industry is one in which you definitely want to be involved in right now. According to a recent article entitled “Why Non-Tech People Should Apply for Tech Jobs” on Mashable.com, positions in the tech industry are plentiful—San Francisco had a 51.8 percent increase in tech jobs between 2007 to 2012 alone. The technology industry is appealing to many different kinds of people because it allows its workforce to develop products that can impact people’s lives and encourages constant learning, creativity, and adaptation that can lead to a very fulfilling career.
But the technology industry doesn’t only need programmers and developers—they need writers, graphic designers, project managers, human resources and marketing professionals, and the list goes on. And by pursuing one of these positions in the tech field, not only do you get to do the job you set out to do, but you also have the opportunity to learn more about the technology that surrounds us every single day. You can then apply that knowledge to every facet of your life—and that awareness is invaluable.
“Non-techies” shouldn’t be intimidated to pursue this field. Like many skills, tech skills can easily be learned on the job. If you are hungry to learn and get your foot in the door at a technology company, it can lead to bigger and better things within or even beyond that company as your skills improve. And no matter what you pursue, technology skills can significantly amplify your career.
‘Non-Techie’ Roles and Women in Technology
Another aspect of this “non-techie” working in the technology industry is that I am also a female, and as we learned from our last “Women in Tech” blog, women comprise just over 26 percent of U.S. computing-related positions. At OWC, we are proud to say we have women working in every single department—from Product Development to Customer Service, Sales to Marketing, and the list goes on. This allows us to gain insight from many different perspectives and to constantly strive to bring the best products to our customers.
And while we strongly encourage women to stay involved with and pursue STEM fields, pursuing these “non-techie” jobs is a way for women who may not have interest in STEM fields to get involved with technology and grow their skills.
HP, IBM, and Yahoo are all Fortune 500 technology companies that have female CEOs. A prime example is Meg Whitman, the CEO of HP, who comes from a background of executive roles with eBay, Hasbro, FTD, and Stride Rite—many of which are non-technology companies. Whitman took her knowledge from these positions and applied it to her current role as the leader of a globally recognized technology company where she almost certainly grows her tech skills every day.
Give Tech a Try
No matter who you are, getting involved in the technology industry doesn’t necessarily mean studying the STEM fields—it can mean studying public relations, marketing, design—and then applying those skills to a position within the tech industry. The technology field is one that continues to grow and offer opportunities for “techies” and “non-techies” alike, and pursuing a career in this industry can be both exciting and satisfying.
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The ever-evolving technology industry has been traditionally populated by males. And while women comprise 51 percent of the workforce, they only make up 26 percent of tech professionals. This lack of diversity limits the potential for innovation in this exciting and important field. OWC’s Women in Tech articles featured on the OWC Blog aim to examine what can be done to attract more women to the industry by highlighting prominent tech professionals, current events, and other relevant stories from within the tech sector. To gain new insight, it is imperative that we tap into the female working population. This progress can be made not only spreading the word and promoting the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (or STEM) fields from an early age to encourage interest and pursuit, but also by demonstrating that tech companies require alternative skill sets such as marketing, design and writing as well. We hope that you will share this series and help us advocate the complete utilization of this important resource.