Ask LH: How Can I Reskill To Work In IT?

Dear Lifehacker, I have been a PR professional for a few years now, but I am looking to re-skill. I'm thinking of moving to the IT industry but have no idea where to begin. I have some basic HTML and Python knowledge. My interests would be coding and IT security/networking. Where do I begin? Thanks, IT Enthusiast

Coding picture from Shutterstock

Dear ITE,

IT can be a fine career choice; as we noted only yesterday in our roundup of salaries for some current roles, salaries are healthy, if not rising rapidly. That article also points out that soft skills such as communicating with others are becoming increasingly important in IT roles, and your background in PR gives you an advantage there. You should be able to easily establish that you have an understanding of how businesses work; what you now need to add to that mixture are actual technical skills.

I'd suggest a three-pronged approach:

  • Assuming you're not ready to abandon your current job immediately, try and become more involved in the existing IT operations. Examine if there are areas that could be better automated with scripting, even if it's just to fix up your own day-to-day workflow.
  • Set up your own blog and start writing about tech-related topics. Don't just go with the basic option of setting up WordPress on an existing host; construct something yourself from scratch.
  • Get involved in an open-source project to help hone your coding and documentation skills. This will not only help you practice, it will give you something concrete to show to potential future employees. It will also help you network with fellow tech enthusiasts. Given your enthusiasm for Python, you should also look into attending PyCon Australia in Hobart in July for more education and networking opportunities.

Those steps will help you discover if IT is right for you, and help you narrow down the areas you find enjoyable before you commit to a career switch or formal training. If readers have additional strategies to suggest, we'd love to hear them in the comments.

Cheers Lifehacker

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