Social media is not just for mindlessly scrolling cat videos when you need a break from coding (though, nothing motivates quite like a good cat video). It’s a resource that can help you land your dream job, find inspiration for your next coding project, and build a community of devs who could become future collaborators.
There are so many talented technologists creating useful and entertaining content for every stage of your coding journey. Whether you need a pep talk for your first code review or want to know how to get your project discovered, chances are there’s someone who’s been in your shoes and is posting about it.
For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this May, we’re highlighting standout AAPI creators who work in tech and make content about coding-related topics. We asked these technologists to share their advice for breaking into the tech industry and what they wish they knew before learning to code. Want even more tips? Follow these accounts and fill your own feeds with coding inspiration.
Senior Data Analyst in Mental Healthcare Tech
On breaking into tech: “I recommend reaching out to people on LinkedIn who have the role you are interested in, and learn about their day-to-day responsibilities and the steps they took to get to where they are. Hearing firsthand from people who have the role you’re interested in will help you narrow your focus on what [skills] to learn in coding. One of the most important pieces of your application is to create a portfolio of your work to showcase your work and/or ability to code.”
What I wish I knew before I started learning: “Especially for aspiring data analysts, it’s important to build your strengths in a widely-used programming language like Python or R, and a querying language, like SQL. I wish I knew that the learning curve may be tough and discouraging at first, but if you stick with it, you’ll definitely be able to gain the skills. Plus, there are many resources out there to help you learn.”
On breaking into tech: “If you’re still early in your career or in college, I’d recommend internships. Internships are a great way to familiarize yourself with tech companies, culture, and most importantly, software! For example, being able to say that you’ve worked on projects with actual tools that tech professionals use in their day to day can give you a leg up in your interview and application process.
If you’re looking to transition your career, I’d recommend networking. Chat with professionals from mutual connections or related backgrounds, and learn what skills you need to build before you transition your career. They can also refer you to their companies or other connections that may be able to help you!”
Product Manager at Discord
On breaking into tech: “I have a whole video on this! But the TL;DR is that it took me about two years to break in. The Product Manager role isn’t super easy to transition into without any experience. I had to carve out my own opportunities to help with shipping product features in a non-product role or in a product-adjacent role.
I was at a startup for streamers doing BizDev [business development]. That meant I got to fly all around and meet our clients (agents, talent managers, creators) and I got to see their pain points first-hand. That experience helped me gain a ton of user empathy and ignited a lot of product ideas to help solve their problems. The process of translating user challenges into product solutions felt really natural to me and I’d been drawn towards product management ever since.”
On breaking into tech: “Create a plan and timeline for what you are hoping to learn and achieve, so that you can stay disciplined and on course throughout your learning journey. It’s a skill that’ll take time to improve, and the only way to do so is to practice as much as possible. Read through the errors you face carefully, and make sure you utilize your resources (Google, StackOverflow, AI, etc.) to understand them and fix them.”
What I wish I knew before I started learning: “It’s not an easy path to take, so kudos to whomever is about to embark on this journey. Understanding the fundamentals and basics at a very proficient level is crucial to your success later on as you learn and work on more advanced concepts. Learning some of these things might be tedious and boring sometimes, but if you get through these bumps, you will undoubtedly catapult further!”
Product Manager at Microsoft
On breaking into tech: “Tech as an industry is unique. You see, breaking into traditional fields like healthcare and law require years of specialized schooling and standardized exams. On the flip side, tech as an industry is limitless. The only rules that exist are the ones you create in your head. There’s a workaround to everything and a path to success for everyone.”
What I wish I knew before I started learning: “Let’s face it, coding is not an easy skill. It is normal to have ups and downs. Some days (or even weeks or months!), you’ll want to hit your head on the keyboard and give up. But one day, being able to type lines of text to create something that didn’t exist before is going to start to feel like a superpower. It’s the most incredible feeling to earn a real life magic wand. But even years after you get to that point, coding will present the same ups and downs — you’ll just be prepared to handle them better and better as you progress in your learning journey.”
Founder of refer me
On breaking into tech: “In 2023, who you know is just as important as what you know. I landed my first two software engineering internships through job referrals, and countless full-time job interviews because of referrals. Websites like Codecademy are a great way for you to build an impressive resume of projects — but you want to make sure real humans see your hard work so they can refer you to jobs! That’s why I helped create refer.me, to provide a platform where you can showcase your skills and connect with potential referrals.”
What I wish I knew before I started learning: “Before I started learning how to code, I didn’t realize the importance of consistency in retaining what I learned. While I covered a lot of material in my computer science courses, it was challenging to remember what I learned after breaks between academic quarters.
Working full-time during internships where coding was my primary focus helped me cement my learning the most. That’s why I encourage students to work on projects in between classes so they can maintain focus and build consistency in their learning. By building small projects in your free time, and slowly turning them into bigger ones, you can immerse yourself in coding and solidify your understanding of concepts you’ve learned.”
Follow on TikTok.