More and more people are entering the tech sector without tech-specific work experience, and/or with non-technical degrees (if they went to college at all). While many tech giants still require or heavily favor candidates with a computer science background for technical roles, other companies are recognizing the value of staff with diverse experiences and educational history.
As a journalist-bartender-turned-developer, I’m constantly finding ways that my “useless” liberal arts background and years spent slinging pints of beer have, in fact, prepared me for a successful career in tech. For those in tech with non-tech backgrounds, as well as the folks who do the hiring at tech companies, we’ll discuss the myriad – and often hidden – skills that non-CS grads can bring to the table, and how they’re broadly applicable to tech-focused jobs.
Beer, Bylines & Booleans
Exploring the secret superpowers
of non-CS techies
Full-stack developer at Ten Forward
Consulting in Madison, WI
Tweet intersectional feminism, puns
and tech at @hilarysk
Read the second book of the
Stormlight Archive in one day
Why am I qualified to talk about this?
WEB APPLICATION DEVELOPER
Former journalist; studied political
science, gender studies & religion
Something that I strongly believe, and I think lots
of companies are coming around to, is that there is
value in the person who is programming.
Our experience matters
▧ Identify problems and solutions
▧ Access to different resources
▧ Understand needs of distinct
▧ Exposed to wide variety of cultures
Our experience matters
▧ Critical thinking skills
▧ Creative approaches to
Graduated with a degree in Chinese
Language & Literature
My experience learning Chinese taught me that …
sometimes you have to be comfortable being
uncomfortable, and most importantly, not give up
when the code or the character doesn't quite ﬁt.
The art of refactoring
Table of seven
Out of special
Kid spills soda
Restaurant on ﬁre
Service (and retail)
SENIOR SOFTWARE ENGINEER
Former English teacher and nonproﬁt
Being a teacher makes it much easier for me to talk with
other people, particularly the non-technical folks.
I do a lot of teaching and coaching around how to use
our product … and I try to do it in a way that leaves
everyone feeling competent, conﬁdent, and cared for.
Not always a ton that juniors
can do by themselves
Feedback is a feature
(not a bug)
SENIOR SOFTWARE DEVELOPER
Ph.D in philosophy
Most of the [philosophy] courses that I took and
taught focused heavily on group discussion.“
These communication skills have been essential to
my work as a developer. Without them, I would
have missed countless opportunities to learn and
grow from the feedback of my coworkers.
Learning to navigate
and be receptive to
critical feedback is
Service sectorLiberal arts
▧ Pretty much all
▧ Group discussion
▧ Pretty much