Please upgrade your web browser

These pages are built with modern web browsers in mind, and are not optimized for Internet Explorer 8 or below. Please try using another web browser, such as Internet Explorer 9, Internet Explorer 10, Internet Explorer 11, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple Safari.

Breaking into non-tech roles in the tech industry?

Veteran

Brittany Brown Tucson, AZ

I am set to graduate with my MBA (MIS concentration) this summer, nearly overlapping with my transition from active duty.

Though my background is in Logistics and Aircraft Maintenance and I initially sought after consulting positions, the coursework I was exposed to in my MBA program made me realize that I am much more interested in the tech/IT/data management sphere than I'd anticipated, resulting in my desire to enter this industry in a Program Management role once I transition.

I understand that networking is key to getting your foot in the door to big companies, and I've reached out to dozens and dozens of people, recruiters and regular employees alike to learn more about positions I'm interested in and opportunities that may be available, but I haven't received many responses. Would anyone be willing to provide advice or mentorship as to what I can do to successfully break into these roles/industry? Is an MBA even valued in the tech industry?

Thank you all for the time put in catering to this forum and the veteran community. I'm ever amazed and appreciative of your efforts in assisting this transition process go as smooth as possible!

11 February 2021 14 replies General

Answers

Advisor

Deanna Corbett Winter Garden, FL

Hi Brittany,

Another potential path you could consider is pursuing a career related to data analysis. There are tons of different options such as data scientist, operations analyst, data analytics, market analyst, IT systems analyst, etc. If you really like the data side of things, one of these may be even more suitable than going into project management.

Whatever path you choose, consider looking at related professional organizations to join, as these provide great ways to network - and many have virtual options during this time. If you find one that offers local chapter meetings when the pandemic subsides, even better.

If you'd like to have a live chat, send me a message and we can connect.

All the best to you!

Advisor

Bob Molluro Wilmington, DE

Brittany you are on the right track. The key is your strategy to get personally introduced to the right opportunity. Since you never know who that person will be network with everyone you come in contact with and let them know what you are trying to do. Let me give you two examples. I was mentoring one of the vets on this website. During our first meeting I told him exactly what I told you. The next week he and his wife were vacationing in Mexico. He has a conversation with a gentleman who is with one of the Big Four Accounting Firms. This gentleman recommends that he be interviewed as a consultant. Two weeks later he is offered a $130,000 starting salary. Caution not all situations will come this quickly.

A second example is my son in law who was the top sales producer in the US for a company headquartered in France. They shut down US operations and he was let go. After six months of following my advice he has a casual conversation at a lunch counter. The person he is speaking with says, "I know a billionaire who could use a guy like you". Today my son in law is a part owner of the business.

When it is time to have your interviews please get in touch and I will explain how you can use an interview technique that has helped 28 others to land the positions they were seeking.
Warmly, Bob

Veteran

Noland Greene Atlanta, GA

Hi Brittany,

First off, thanks much for your service. You’ve gotten some excellent advice already so I’m not going to repeat the same stuff. Instead, I would share with you that I’m also an Air Force Veteran who just got a job 3 weeks ago at an IT company. If you think it would be helpful, I would be happy to speak with you and compare notes as well as offer my takes on the responses you’ve already received and what did or did not work for me. Good Luck and keep “Aiming High.”

Veteran

Brittany Brown Tucson, AZ

Thank you all so much for the feedback and willingness to help!

The positions I am shooting for are less project based, more program management based, so I felt a PMP might narrow my focus a lot, but in hearing what a lot of your are saying--it may be easier to start in one position, and seek internal hire opportunities to get where I'd like to be.
I'm also familiar with the Agile Framework and I am evaluating positions that align with those concepts as well!

To provide slightly more context, being in grad school has made it hard to take on additional coursework or studying by way of the PMP or Agile certifications. I am certainly open to getting them once I am finished with my MBA, but I am still seeking meaningful employment in the meantime.

I will reach out to several of you to continue these discussions--thank you for the support!

Advisor

John Porell East Hartford, CT

Hi Brittany,
I agree with many of the responses above but along with the PMP I would consider Agile development opportunities such as Scrum Master or Product owner as Richard mentioned. Many IT shops are moving away from the traditional project management processes to Agile Development. The are also certifications available for these disciplines. The Scaled Agile (SAFe) organization supports a large number of certifications: https://www.scaledagile.com/certifications/about-safe-certification/
as does the scrum alliance: https://www.scrumalliance.org/get-certified
Certification isn't required for these positions but a through understanding of the concepts would be. (Certifications certainly help)
Good Luck and feel free to reach out if you would like to discuss it more.

Advisor

FRANCIS TEPEDINO, ESQ. San Diego, CA

Here is something a bit off the path of the previous advisors. Purchasing!. Generally it is not so difficult to get into this field particularly with your education and background. Once in it, however your talents will be quickly realized and it seems to me you will be quickly promoted into a supervisory or management position. Start out start small, and advance.

Good luck.

Advisor

Claudia Gerola Greenwich, CT

Hello Brittany,
Congratulations on your impressive background and MBA.
I'm a program manager with Microsoft and have worked for 25+ years in the business of IT consulting. I can assure you that the combination of an MBA and your technical background is a powerful combination for success.

First, Project Mgmt Institute membership and PMP Project Management Professional certification is key. Immediately join Program Mgmt Institute. https://www.pmi.org/ You can learn a lot about the project mgmt community and opportunities from the site. There are 1 wk study courses for the PMP certification exam or you can truly study on your own to prepare for the test. Get PMP on your resume. It will open many doors.

Re networking, that gets tricky in this covid world. But, actually the time is perfect now as we see a light at the end of the tunnel. Stay the course, keep reaching out as you have been. Make sure your resume emphasizes your skill proof points in the area of project mgmt. Even without a PMP certificate, you have likely executed on a "project" from start to finish and can cite success. Also, use "project mgmt" language in your resume.

I'll be eager to follow your success. Reach out with any specific questions.
Once you've set a goal - as you have - go boldly toward it!
Wishing you all the very best!

Claudia Gerola

Advisor

Matt Johnson Chicago, IL

Brittany,

If you've already narrowed down the industry, your next step is figuring out which companies you want to target. Check out this Tech career primer for MBA students. It's free. https://shop.mbamission.com/products/tech-career-guide. I've seen vets do extremely well in gaining positions with Amazon.

To be frank, part-time and online MBA programs don't offer the same resources for career placement or mentorship which puts vets at a disadvantage. Employers traditionally only recruit at a few trusted schools due to limited recruiting resources. One tactic I find helpful is to do a people search on LinkedIn for employees at my target company. Filter by past companies (US Army, US Navy, USMC, Air Force, Coast Guard) and send them a connection request and a thoughtful message asking for a 20min coffee chat to learn about their route into the country. Absolutely hit up your school's alumni too.

Since you're soon departing active duty, I'd recommend looking into Hire Our Heroes fellowship and doing it before you EAS. Amazon is a participating company and I know several vets who were extended full-time offers from there. Having a blue chip company on your resume, even if it's for an internship or fellowship, is a worthwhile step in your professional journey.

Best,
Matt

Advisor

David Daugerdas Palatine, IL

Brittany, thank you for your service. I agree with the comments regarding the PMP certification if your interests direct you into project/program management. I've been in the IT industry for 36 years and networking with colleagues has been invaluable in helping me find positions and opportunities for advancement.

Advisor

John Volpe Seaford, NY

Hi Brittany:

I see you already received some terrific responses. I just wanted to mention that your timing leaving the military may work to your advantage. By summer a majority of Americans will hopefully be vaccinated and business opportunities should begin to expand. Also, having military experience and an advanced degree are major pluses. Combined with an obvious open attitude suggests to me that you will eventually find employment.

I just wanted to reiterate the importance of networking . It’s really the key to finding the right opportunity. It sounds like you’re already on that path. I’d also suggest doing a search on veteran organizations. They’re are a number of them that provide excellent opportunities for networking and contacts . Based on your experience and education I’d suggest you also consider companies within the aircraft industry or those that provide services to them. However, there is no need to limit yourself to a specific industry. I spent most of my career in the financial services industry. All I can tell you is that someone with your personality and drive would also fit well in this industry and probably in any company that valued your talents.

Best of luck to you

John

Advisor

Joe Engle Indianapolis, IN

Hello Brittany. I understand your conundrum. EXPERIENCE AND NETWORKING. It is hard to break into an industry that you do not have specific training or experience for. This is a situation commonly faced by civilians, as well as people making the transition from military to business. Also, networking is not as simple as it sounds. A network is like experience, great if you already have it!

Now lets look at the plus side and the opportunities. You have an undergrad degree and an MBA and are/were a Captain in USAF. Being a Captain shows that you are responsible and can accomplish goals under stress. Those are very valuable in industry. The degrees are great and show that you are intelligent, focused, and goal oriented. All of these will open your doors.

Continue to try to get your dream job!
But if that is not working out, you should also be on an alternate, parallel path, to get there. THESE ALTERNATE PATHS GET YOU THE EXPERIENCE AND BUILD YOUR NETWORK. They are temporary stepping stones to getting to your dream job. Examples of these alternate courses might be:

1) Consider a smaller company, that may not pay as much, hence they get fewer applicants. You could get the experience and networking contacts you need.

2) Consider a position that is not your ultimate goal, but would get you inside the company you desire. It is easy to get positions inside a company, as they ‘open’, if you are already working for the company. In other words, possibly use your MBA to get a Product Manager position, and then later, move into a related Project Manager position. (I have seen people take this path, and many times they end up really liking the ‘interim’ position a lot, and stay with it!)

3) Be a “large fish in a small pond”. Maybe locate in a smaller town, or less mainstream part of the country, where the companies there do not get as many applications. I have seen good companies, like this, post jobs, and get NO applicants!

Remember, you do not have to stay at these experience building jobs for a long time. Just long enough to get experience and meet people in the industry(networking).

Regarding your question about whether MBAs are appreciated in tech industries. The answer is of course yes. The MBA will be advantageous for any purely business position, versus a candidate with just a Bachelor degree. But as you seek a project management position, frequently an internal 'tech' person, might move, or be promoted into a project management/lead position. Usually companies prefer tech project managers to have SOME technical background to better understand the tech issues. Not always required, but frequently, and preferred. Again experience helps.

Unfortunately, we are coming out of a pandemic, so jobs are still very limited. Don’t let this discourage you, because our economy is starting to come roaring back, and companies are getting back on their growth path, with lots of hiring. Hang in there!

Good luck.
Joe

Advisor

Richard Buck Patterson, NY

Brittany,

If you are interested in Program/Project Management, I would suggest looking into the PMI certification. Most companies that hire Program/Project Management look for PMI certification. Also, look into Agile/Scrum Master certification.

I would be honored to help you more with this if you like. Contact me
Richard Buck
rbny2013@gmail.com
linkedin.com/in/richbuck

Advisor

Karen Frank New Canaan, CT

Hey Brittany,

It can definitely be challenging to break into a different industry. I'm in a non-tech role in a tech company. I think there are 2 things to consider -- 1) does your resume align to the project management role and highlight your transferable skills? Many times, people focus too much on their responsibilities and less on the skills they acquired and how they can be used to be successful in the role they are applying for. 2) Demonstrating some level of understanding of the company or tech -- getting smart in different areas like cloud, AI/ML, etc can also be useful.

Side note, I don't think MBA are necessarily sought after in the tech industry as much...more so in consulting and strategy type positions.

Happy to help however I can.

Advisor

ACP AdvisorNet Staff New York, NY

Hi Brittany,

Thanks so much for your question!

I would recommend taking a look at our "Community" tab and then click on the "Advisors" section. From there, you can filter by "Information Technology" to find advisors in that field. You can directly message them to learn more about the IT world!

In addition, here are some resources I found for you:

https://www.cio.com/article/2438551/continuing-education-10-reasons-why-you-should-get-an-mba.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/elenabajic/2019/07/18/how-to-break-into-a-new-industry-without-starting-from-scratch/?sh=31426be12f88

https://www.leaderquestonline.com/blog/7-tips-for-getting-into-it-with-zero-experience/

https://www.careershifters.org/expert-advice/the-sneaky-way-to-break-into-a-new-career

https://www.themuse.com/advice/veterans-transition-careers-in-tech

https://careerkarma.com/blog/veterans-in-tech/

I hope this helps!

All the best,
Maria

Your Answer

Please log in to answer this question.

Sign Up

You can join as either a Veteran or an Advisor.

An Advisor already has a career, with or without military experience, and is willing to engage with and help veterans.
Sign Up as an Advisor.

A Veteran has military experience and is seeking a new career, or assistance with life after service.
Sign Up as a Veteran.