How do you end up in tech? Two recent blogposts show the diverging ways that you can get there.

The first is the guy who’s passionate about coding. The kid who bugged his unimpressed working-class parents enough to eventually be given a horribly old console (I didn’t care, it was my first real computer and I couldn’t be happier. I would stay up all night trying to code BASIC and play video games on it), learns Java in a computing science degree, keeps making things while working a manual labour job at the family butchery, starts his own design shop where he inevitably underprices “which was bad for my balance sheet, but great for skill development” and eventually ends up in the startup industry.

The other is a person who decides to get into tech despite “having no skills”. He crashes conferences, gets mentoring, finds good blogs to understand the field, applies what he learns by doing work for nothing, and learns some basic coding.

The two articles are an interesting counterpoint. Some of the HN criticism of the latter article suggest it encourages “startup groupies” (a wonderful term I’d never heard of, but arose during the dot-com boom and apparently is making a resurgence with the growth of the tech industry). Others are critical of the latter author working for free (though the author suggests that “when you have no skills, no one will pay you). Still, it isn’t that much different from the author in love with tech since he was a kid charging far too little. While there is incredible pushback from the creative industries about unpaid internships, and generally working for free, both authors point out that allowing for skills development through work is a good thing.

 

Vicky Teinaki is a Kiwi designer and researcher based in Newcastle upon Tyne. For more about her work, go to her official site vickyteinaki.com.