If you do not have computing or an engineering degree, you could be forgiven for thinking that a strong career in IT isn’t for you, but IT also needs creative thinkers.
People trained in music, writing, history, literature, and theater have all found successful careers, even in fairly technical roles.
Rebecca Taylor, Threat Intelligence Knowledge Manager at the Counter Threat Unit (CTU), has worked at Secureworks for nine years after studying creative writing alongside psychology and business. Having started as a personal assistant, she realized that being “ready to transplant” gave her multiple options.
“I moved into business operations, change or project management, and then moonlighted in incident management, dealing with clients who had suffered attacks such as ransomware,” says- She.
Learn more about entering the tech industry
Drawn to increasingly technical tasks, at age 24 she was at CTU full-time, even though she “never thought” she would be “good enough.”
Taylor’s responsibilities include capturing and assimilating multiple types of indicators from various sources, ensuring they are standardized and that the “good and robust” processes and procedures surrounding them are usable, accessible and available for the teams that need it most.
With a background in writing, she could absorb, learn and engage with unfamiliar knowledge and jargon and express herself effectively – although she completed technical and on-the-job training, she says, to ensure she can “own her space” even in a room with more technical staff.
“There were elements of ‘running fast’ (to catch up), but that pressure was more of a personal choice,” Taylor says. “It was about putting myself out there, having great mentors and sponsors who could lift me up and help me network and find the right answers.
Jessie Hommelhoff, director of human resources at consulting firm Monstarlab, agrees. talent shortage should push companies to be more creative themselves in their search for candidates.
“For the types of roles we will need in the future, it is essential that people in the arts and humanities work with STEM people with a broad-spectrum approach to technology problems,” says Hommelhoff.
“Sometimes we can be narrow-minded, but few of us desire a fully automated, machine-driven world.”
Studies in the arts and humanities can improve understanding of people and their motivations, while the way humans interact with certain technologies and digital is critical to product success. Combining “art skills” with in-house STEM training, making them work more closely together, can reshape projects, processes and products, suggests Hommelhoff.
Robin MacDonald, director of Harvey Nash NextGen, warns that while technology is proving increasingly attractive to applicants from STEM and non-STEM backgrounds, not every arts or humanities student has what it takes. ‘A voucher programmer.
Learn more about the best computer science courses
Non-STEM candidates may, however, demonstrate cognitive and analytical abilities useful in cross-training or coding bootcamps get one foot in the door; there are also many less technical opportunities if they understand the vision, future and purpose of a technology and its positioning, he says.
“Applicants with liberal arts degrees who can use their analytical abilities and skills through things like automation can support applications running in a business or production environment,” MacDonald suggests.
“We support young people from diverse backgrounds – and others – and help improve skills that they are valued by a client who is probably used to hiring senior consultants or senior technologists.
At NextGen, they often use logical deduction and spatial reasoning tests, for example, alongside “a demonstrable desire to become a technologist” to discover the right candidates to bring into the program for specific client needs.
Their academic programs seek to overcome another obstacle: the response and level of interest of employers in helping candidates launch into a career in technology without that initial STEM training but with the right skills, hard work and a dedication, he said.
Moving from the arts to cybersecurity
Where technology meets creativity – for example – UX/UI or product design, roadmap or anything that involves the user journey, catering to the “business side”, many opportunities will present themselves even as technology roles change. “I don’t have all the answers, but recycling will remain important,” acknowledges MacDonald.
Welcome to the 3D generation: unleash your creativity
Watch this on-demand webinar and learn how to create photorealistic content 100% digitally with virtual photography.
Matt Rider, vice president of security engineering at cloud cybersecurity provider Exabeam, studied literature and medieval studies at the university level and worked for three years with a traveling company of actors for Footprint in Ghana before embarking on his – so far – 18 years in IT. with people like MicrosoftRapid7 and Exabeam.
“STEM wasn’t really a thing when I was at school,” he explains, “and I was passionate about medieval history, speaking Anglo-Saxon and translating.”
Even then he enjoyed “playing” with Amstrads, Ataris and others, and as computing evolved as an industry it opened up to people beyond the traditional COBOL machine language specialists .
Rider identifies his passion for teamwork and improvisation of technical solutions – including earning a degree in technical theater skills, including lighting design – as leading him to computer science technical via a stint in recruitment.
“Obviously, acting doesn’t really pay well, and in the economic crash of the mid-’90s, all the arts dried up,” Rider adds, noting that he enjoys solving challenges by using technology and technology together. creativity.
He found himself increasingly attracted to certain roles for which he was offered others. “I thought, ‘That looks really fun, I could do that,’ and he submitted his own CV anonymously to Microsoft, even though he had just moved to the UK.
Rider learned on the job – eventually moving in cyber security because it was necessary to find creative solutions to new malware threats this was not seen at the time, at the turn of the century. Because AI can now potentially do more heavy lifting – including writing malware – it is perhaps more necessary than ever to call on people who can think creatively to find solutions.
“In about 2003, the question was, ‘How can we defend against this?’ And it has remained that way to a certain point: what we were doing five years ago is very different from what we were doing we do today,” Rider said. confirmed.
Ben Johnson, managing director at consultancy BML, says any role with a customer touchpoint can benefit from creativity, from product development itself to user or customer experience (UX) roles. /CX), notably because the industry sometimes loses sight. of the end user.
“If you’re a network engineer trying to ensure that your firewall doesn’t let traffic through, there’s not really a level of creativity, but once you get past that level, yes, it can be very creative,” he says.
Johnson says that’s even if it means the person tries new things that don’t work; Overall, it may be best to take a creative approach. A typically innovative path can be paved with multiple failures, rather than successes: too many guardrails can stifle innovation.
“I hired quite a few good people with music degrees who initially wanted to work in music, but didn’t want to be ‘starving artists,’” Johnson says. “A person with a computer science degree may have a very good way of thinking, but they have been taught a very fixed, almost numbers-based education.”
While these aspects are still necessary at some level, organizations could benefit from thinking more creatively about IT to get the best answers and approaches, Johnson says.