Creatives in Techie-Land: Tech Isn't Just for Coders

Is tech just for coders? For someone who works in the technology industry (I manage the content marketing program at SnapApp, a Software-as-a-Service marketing technology company in Boston), this question seems absurd. “Of course it’s not just for coders,” I think to myself. "I have 30 non-technical coworkers sitting right over there!”

[bctt tweet="Creatives in #Tech-Land: Tech Isn't Just for Coders, by @Lenagainstme #careers #creativity" username="StartupInst"]But I realize that the fact that tech offers great careers for creative people might not be so obvious to those on the outside. In fact, for anyone considering a program at Startup Institute, the tech sector might seem intimidating because of that one word: tech.

So, today I’d like to dispel the misconception that the tech world is only for “techies.” Creatives (like me) abound in this industry, and form an important part of the ecosystem of a successful tech company. Along with a slew of other “non-technical” roles, the tech industry is built on much more than programming skills alone.[bctt tweet="The #tech industry is built on more than #programming skills, says @Lenagainstme" username="StartupInst"]

What is a “tech worker”? 

There’s no one picture of what it looks like to be a “tech worker.” Sure, there’s the stereotype of the “brogrammer,” and it’s certainly true that in order to succeed as a technology company, someone needs to actually build an amazing product. But the infrastructure that supports the production of that technology — the marketers who market it, the salespeople who sell it, and the customer success managers who support it, are all critical components of a thriving business.

At SnapApp, for example, we have five main units: marketing, sales, customer success, people operations, and technology. Four of our five departments are staffed by folks who might be considered “non-technical” — marketing strategists, salespeople, email specialists, social media managers, customer success and support specialists, content marketers, designers, and more.

We work in the tech industry often because we’re attracted to building stuff. I know that’s why I love being a creative marketer at a tech company; I’m building stuff all day (blog posts, ebooks, infographics, videos, interactive experiences, etc) in support of a product that is constantly being imagined, improved, developed, and expanded. Our product and tech teams churn out incredible advancements in our product’s capabilities all the time, making ours quite an exciting environment to create in.

All that is to say there’s not one mold from which all tech employees are built — we come from a variety of backgrounds and have a variety of interests. The one unifying feature I’ve seen, if I could call it that, would be our desire to make stuff, and make stuff happen.[bctt tweet="Everyone in #tech is different, but we all want to build great things— @Lenagainstme" username="StartupInst"]

Not a coder? That doesn’t mean you’re “non-technical.”

One reason I both like and thrive in the tech industry is because even though I’m not a programmer, I love technology. As a digital marketer, working knowledge of HTML, CSS, and even a little JavaScript is super helpful both in my day-to-day work and in collaboration with technical coworkers. I didn’t take any computer science courses in college, but dabbling in free resources and asking lots of questions of my programming-literate friends has brought me a long way.

Most of my coworkers, whether in a strictly technical role or not, understand something about the structure of our systems: how data passes from our product into our clients’ databases, or what we mean when we talk about a “marketing technology stack.” We’re all curious; we all like to know how stuff works and how all our roles fit together. As cliché as it might sound, we learn it because we live it.

A genuine curiosity about technical features and functionality is easily fueled by the huge range of free resources available to learn more about tech. No idea what a <div> tag does? Try w3schools. Not sure if you’re looking at CSS or JavaScript? Codecademy lays down a great foundation. Just google “free HTML resources” and you’ll be served up 231 million results—way more than you need to get started. There’s no requirement that you have a handle on this stuff, but it will help you move through the tech world.[bctt tweet="You don't have to be a #coder to understand #tech, says @Lenagainstme " username="StartupInst"]

Thriving Creatively in "Techie Land." 

In my experience, the tech community is fertile territory for creatives. Especially at small and/or growing companies, the impetus to "fail fast,” try new things, test, and come up with inventive solutions pushes our creative boundaries. Whether in a role designed to be “creative,” “technical,” “non-technical,” or otherwise, we’re all creating this business together out of nothing.

As Jay Acunzo, founder and host of the Unthinkable podcast, puts it,

Creative individuals simply expect better of their work, their company, and their industry.

Finding the right blend of creativity and technical pragmatism—a demand for greatness with the chops to get you there—sounds to me like a recipe for a successful career in this industry, no matter what your role may be.[bctt tweet="The key to success in #tech? A demand for #greatness & the chops to get you there—@Lenagainstme" username="StartupInst"]