Headshot of Catherine

Working in tech isn’t for me – is it ?

Many thanks to Catherine Heylings, Associate Consultant IBM Healthcare and Life Sciences,  for this inspirational post highlighting the possibilities which the technology sector offers – whatever your degree subject.  Catherine is a University of Edinburgh alumni with a degree in Biochemistry and a Masters by Research.

Have you ever thought about a career in tech? If not, why not?

If you have a passion for learning, thrive in a collaborative culture, and enjoy analysing information to understand the broader picture, you will fit right in.

If you are fascinated by how technology has changed and will continue to be embedded in our daily lives, but don’t have a computer science background, then have no fear, as you can still have an incredibly rewarding career in the fast-paced tech industry.

I will let you in on a secret … having a computer-related degree is not actually a prerequisite for a career in the tech industry.

If I ask anyone I work with (including senior partners at my company) “what degree or path led you to a career in tech?”, no two people give the same answer. Many senior architects have a degree in English literature and took a year abroad to learn another language, and many studied geography. In fact, it’s the diverse experiences that make working in tech so refreshing; my colleagues have a passion for learning, a huge range of self-taught skills, strong industry knowledge, and are excited to be challenged daily.

My experience working around such enthusiasm has empowered me to get stuck in, learn on the job, and take everything I encounter head on. It has been challenging but the reward and feeling of accomplishment are second to none.

A job in tech was not at all what I imagined for myself, but the best career advice I ever received was “Get comfortable being uncomfortable. The uncomfortable can take you far and create experiences you never imagined for yourself”. The tech industry offers just as many non-technical roles as technical ones. For example:

If you have an art degree, have you ever thought about Service Design?

  • You can use your creativity to reimagine how services are delivered.
  • A great deal of thought and effort must go into considering the experience of the user of a service.

If you are someone who loves reading and studied languages?

  • You can use your inherent ability for communication and analysing the written word to define new business requirements.
  • Requirements define what a project must accomplish and are at the heart of consultancy in technology and software. Without well-defined requirements, a project will flounder.

If you are a STEM student?

  • You could work with companies to re-engineer and streamline their processes.
  • A technology company is comprised of a huge number of processes (e.g., business processes, design & manufacturing, supply chain, and so on) all working in tandem to deliver its products and/ or services – insightful and deliberate improvements to those processes can have wide-reaching effects.

These are just a few high-level options. The crux, however, is that we could go through every degree and find a role at a large tech company that  would suit the skills you have developed and your appetite for learning.

Technology is constantly innovating, and is built into everything you do, from writing your 1,000-word essay on the history of Tutankhamun, to paying for your groceries using contactless.

To start a career at a large tech firm, the most important thing is to show a genuine willingness to learn and try new skills. A career in tech can take an extremely dynamic path; you can pick up a coding language on one project and learn how to think about business strategy in the next. This was really the point of your degree, learning how to learn, being curious and stepping out of your comfort zone!

So, in answer to my initial question “Is tech for me?” I hope you can start to think “Why not!”

Technology will continue to evolve and emerge itself in everyday life. It is hard to avoid this, so why not jump right in? It could be the best choice you ever make!

And how, you may ask…?

  • Attend career fairs
  • Reach out to employees at companies in which you are interested and ask how they got started
  • Research online – so many people have taken the leap you are thinking about
  • Reach out to me on LinkedIn (/in/catherine-heylings/)

I’m lucky to be in a career and around people who care what I want to learn tomorrow. I hope you find your passion.


During February and March we’re focusing on Careers in Tech & Data. There are opportunities for all – no matter what you study.  Attend panels with recruiters and graduates on 9th March and search MyCareerHub for #EdTechDataCareers for vacancies and events.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *