Alternatives to university: A guide to those interested in IT who can’t afford university
In some ways, technology is seen as a young person’s game. In many ways this is true, in many ways it is not – those behind infrastructure jobs are typically older than 20s. One of the biggest advantages technology has as an industry is its size; because it is so big and covers so many aspects it requires many people and many skills. You may think the only way in is with a degree, but you’d be wrong.
A degree is obviously an excellent asset to have and is physical proof of your skills to a certain level. The problem is that not everyone is able to get a degree, for a variety of reasons. Some people cannot afford the university fees, others have personal problems that prevent them studying at that time in their life, and some people are already in a career and can’t afford to go back to school because they have bills to pay.
Thankfully, it is possible to get into IT without a degree. If you’re in a position to undertake an unpaid internship then this is one of the best decisions you can make. Not only do you get hands-on experience in a real-life setting of what the job entails, you also get a reference from your employer, and it looks great on your CV. Employers love to see intern work on a CV because it means that person has experience, which often carries more weight than a degree, and it shows the applicant has a genuine passion for the job and sees it as more than a simple salary. There is also the possibility that the company you are doing an internship with will hire you as a paid employee.
As already mentioned, there are different sectors within technology and some are easier than others to get into. Web development for example can be pursued simply by owning a computer and starting a freelance business for private clients, and people can also start mobile application development from their own home. While the latter may not be an immediate career, money can be earned – it also can be counted as experience to put on your CV.
If you have experience in management but do not have an IT degree, you will be able to apply for similar level positions within the technology industry if the job is relatively hands off on the more technical side of things. Typically, management in one industry is similar to that in another, with the predominant roles instructing people what to do and managing cash flow and so on; so if you have experience in that then it should not be too problematic doing something similar within IT.
Another option, while less feasible for many people, is to try to start something yourself. You may not be the next Mark Zuckerburg or Steve Jobs, but you could well create something that earns you a good living and fulfils the desire of working within technology. Such a task has never been easier than it is today, with the Internet providing tutorials on how to create almost anything, from apps to social networks, and if you really understand code you could even create an operating system. There has never been so much information or so many younger people performing complex tasks within IT, making this the ideal time for anyone with a passion for the subject to get involved.