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You Belong In Tech

I have always been in the mindset of anyone can be in tech whether that is a developer, scrum master, or project manager everyone belongs there. I was given an early copy of a book called “You Belong in Tech : How to Go from Zero Programming Knowledge to Hired” by Anna McDougall who is a friend of mine. If you want to learn more about Anna, which honestly you should. I did an interview with her back in 2021 on my podcast

Before we get started, I took a different perspective on this book. I have hired dozens of people in tech over my career and helped change the way companies think about hiring so I looked at the book as “Does this book offer advice that a hiring manager would want to see?”.

Here is what I sent to Anna after reading almost the entire thing:

Tweet to Anna The book overview This book is jam-packed, at a whopping 237 pages, and 19 chapters which are divided into three sections. A traditional book in the tech world would go for $30-70 depending on the publisher, but Anna’s book retails for $16.99 for a kindle version and $19.99 for a soft cover.

The sections are divided into progressing sections which means if you are already deep into one section, you can skip around to find what you need.

  1. What you need
  2. Who are you
  3. How you get there Now you have a very brief overview of this jam-packed book let's dig into the sections and talk about it a few things.

Sections overview

What you need

The first section is all about learning, technical skills, and what you need to be successful. Anna stresses the importance of active as opposed to passive learning as well as how we learn (Recognition vs Recall). Imposter Syndrome ever heard of it? Anna explains how to deal with it, along with all the different tools, languages, and skills you need to be successful in your journey.

When learning new skills you need a plan and Anna goes for the agile approach, more specifically a “scrum-like” approach. Small goals are great in my opinion for “heavy learning’.

What I mean by this, is small tasks, with a daily and weekly goal leading to success multiple times a day and week. As humans we love dopamine, so the more hits we get the more likely we are to continue what we are doing even if it gets hard.

Finding Your Identity and Growing Your Community

Sometimes I think back to when I got my first role, it was all by chance. I knew a guy who got me in the door, and 8 months later I fixed a bug that was plaguing users, that no one could figure out, and I got a job in software.

My point is that 13 years ago cultivating a community and a personal brand wasn’t really a thing. This section for me is probably the most important in 2022, Anna lays out how to create a personal brand that fits your personality and gets you noticed.

Anna throws in a lot of personal anecdotes in this section showing how she created her brand and grew her community.

Finding or Forging Your First Tech Job

The final chapter covers the job hunt and interview process, something that even after being in the industry I don't enjoy. Anna delivers a comprehensive from 0 to landing your first role, once you are ready to start applying.

The biggest things from this section are “Creating an application kit” which gives you a step-by-step process to create a CV, cover letters, and more. The traditional steps of an interview so you know exactly what to expect when you apply. Preparing for the interview includes soft skills preparation which in my opinion can make or break an interview.

Final thoughts

If you are looking for a book that is comprehensive and an author whose personality shines throughout each chapter, this book is for you. As an ex-hiring manager, all the guides, tips, and tidbits are keys to success when joining the world of tech.

Go buy a copy on Amazon