I graduated in Journalism in 2011. At that time, I still had the goal of becoming a news reporter that would help change the world a little by investigating and exposing uncomfortable truths.
It was an awesome drive and I’m happy there’s plenty of people in the world with similar ambitions. The problem for me wasn’t the nature of the drive, but the intensity. I wanted it but not that much.
So I began a professional trial and error journey throughout many fronts in the communications field: press office, TV, public relations, internal corporate communications, book publishers… And eventually I realized a couple of discouraging facts:
- The traditional communications field was crossing a deep valley in which there was a shortage of trust and money - and since I couldn’t see where in the road it would begin to climb that valley, I did not want to blindly impose the same gap on my career. Journalism would eventually come back to the game. But who knew when? I wasn’t in the mood to wait and see.
- Working in a field such as this makes one forget there’s something else. While I was struggling to keep some excitement about my job even while editing a book about Pokémon Go in the publishing house where I’d entered to make art books (because the company needed to pay the bills), I began to understand there was an entire industry being leveraged by advances in digital technology, where people I’d met in school were now working with a smile in their faces (most of the time, at least), giving their best not to stop daily bleedings, but to keep pace with a thriving market.
My understanding about how much I wanted that feeling grew at the same rate as my despair about not going anywhere within my original field. Previously, I’d always seen myself as a classic journalist, trapped in the rabbit hole where I had entered after dropping out of Computer Engineering in the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, in the middle of a class about Python, to switch to Journalism in the same university - to my mother’s despair.
But hey, liking this universe or not, I was still someone coming from a Communications background. For the tech industry, I quickly understood that my experience and skills framed me as a Content guy. Someone who could create, organize and deliver content. Good enough, I liked that.
So as the despair of not moving forward grew, it became more and more imperative to find a way through the gates of that universe, selling myself as this techie content guy. It was time to intensify my research and start sending applications. I researched every single tech company I could find in Brazil and tweaked my resume according to what I believed the company might want from me.
But the truth is: I couldn’t really see anyone accepting my application. I visualized myself in one of the interviews that might come out of that effort and felt like a fraud. What did I actually know about that industry besides some buzzwords I’d seen in a couple of articles?
I could lie to you and tell you that today, looking backwards, I realize this fear didn’t make sense. But it did. Because although I’m sure I had the necessary drive and ability to enter a tech company and learn the techie stuff in the move, it would have been really hard to make that clear and stand out from a stack of resumes without ever having worked in the tech industry.
I certainly had much more important skills. And before you say the word “soft”, I will stop you right there. No, it was not only the soft skills. One thing we need to understand is that the specific skills someone from the Humanities bring from their educational background and professional experience are not “soft skills” only because they are from the Humanities. Hard and soft are not synonyms of Exact Sciences and Humanities.
So, as I was saying, I had much more important skills than the technical stuff that would eventually come with the daily work. But what I did not have was something concrete to show. And if you don’t experience in the field and also don’t have someone inside the company who knows you and refers you to the job, you need something concrete you can show. A person from Communications would probably think of a portfolio. And that’s a fine idea. But make it an online portfolio. Then attach a blog to it. Then start using Google Analytics for that blog, and learn how to take insights from there, then write about those insights. Then create a Facebook Business account, and start playing with ads to promote your best blog post, maybe go to the code of your website and play with the HTML and the CSS.
I don’t know, I’m just dropping ideas here. My point is: if you want to be in the tech industry, take a step ahead of what’s expected of you and be in the tech industry even before you are interviewed. While trying to actually make something, you will be building that concrete thing to show while at the same time learning a lot with your mistakes and accomplishments and incorporating the vocabulary to talk to people in tech. That is the beauty of the web: the knowledge is all there - usually not very well organized, but it’s there. Take as much as you can from it and build something with it.
It’s a simple idea, but I can assure you the great majority of people invest no time and effort in that. Not even one or two hours a week. So when someone asks me how hard it is to migrate from traditional Communications to the tech industry, I’m pretty comfortable to say it’s not hard at all - if you are good in what you do. All it takes is humility to understand how much there is to learn, and then go learn some of it.