As Singapore continues to grow its technology ecosystem, there is no question the tech industry is where the jobs are. However, there are several misconceptions about the tech world that are, in some ways, perpetuated by movies and television shows. Some are complete media stereotypes while others were true at one time but are no longer true now. Here are some common tech myths you should stop believing right away if you are considering a career in technology.
Myth 1: Technology is all about Computer Science
This is probably the biggest fallacy of all. In Singapore, tech professionals without a Computer Science degree make up a significant proportion of the Infocomm manpower pool. While a university degree can be the gateway to employment, a Computer Science degree on its own does not guarantee you a successful career in tech. Job-ready skills like problem solving, strategic thinking and communication, together with enthusiasm and a determination to learn and grow in the role are what matter most. Plus, tech jobs across the sectors are wide and varying, which means domain specific skills are equally important too, say, if you are applying to be an infocomm professional in the healthcare sector. Think famous tech luminaries like Bill Gates of Microsoft, Steve Jobs of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Jan Koum of WhatsApp who found immense success in their technopreneurship without the benefit of a Computer Science degree.
Myth 2: Technology industry is for twenty-somethings only. I’m too old to apply
Interested in a tech career but worried about knowledge gaps and having to compete alongside the young and savvy computer whizz? Don’t. In a world run by technology, it would be fair to assume that people in their 20s, supposedly the technological geniuses, are worshipped by tech companies. While it’s true that these young ones have an easier time adapting to new innovations, it’s not an automatic kiss of death for mid-career professionals looking to take a plunge to join the tech world. Transitioning into tech without a relevant background can’t happen overnight but entry-level IT training programmes (with government skills-training subsidies for Singapore citizens) are readily available these days (click here for details on some of these programmes), and with dedication and determination, you can certainly land your dream job in tech. Think Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn, who spent the 15 years of his post-graduation life deciding what he wanted to do before he eventually co-founded the social network for professionals at age 35.
Myth 3: Technology is a man’s world
Did you know the world’s first computer programmer was a woman named Ada Lovelace back in the 1840s? Also, NPR research revealed that some of the world’s computing pioneers were women. Yet the age-old myth about tech being a male-dominated industry is partially valid and reasons vary from the lack of right education or work experience to the claim that women are simply not interested in tech.
According to statistics obtained via Human Resources, 20 per cent of all tech start-ups are founded by women. In Singapore, a 2015 survey done by the then Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA, now known as IMDA) found that women make up about 30 per cent of the workforce in the tech sector. While there are still more men than women in technology, the gender gap is steadily changing today with a growing awareness and focus on the roles of women in tech. Famous female tech professionals in recent years who have been shining bright in tech juggernauts include Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.
Closer to home, Singaporean women who are making their mark in the tech world include technopreneur Krystal Choo, the creator and founder of Wander app (that connects like-minded individuals by common interests) and Carolyn Foo, a software engineer at gaming and e-commerce firm Garena.
Myth 4: Technology roles have no room for creativity
Another common assumption is that the tech world is filled with hoodie-wearing computer whizzes whose only task is to go around helping noobs fix their electronic devices. Yes, IT professionals are technologically savvy folks with superb problem-solving skills but that doesn’t mean they spend all day sitting behind the computers writing codes and fixing your IT problems. On the contrary, tech professionals are highly creative thinkers. From app developers and business analysts to data scientists and IT marketing professionals, these are some of the many roles within the tech industry that require a combination of technical expertise and creative abilities to produce new, original and innovative ideas, processes, products or engaging advertising campaigns. Apple’s TV ads, for one, has always been on the forefront of creativity; producing some of the most inspiring, funny and engaging commercials that are remembered even years later.
Myth 5: Tech professionals are nerdy and not fun
Geeks, nerds and loners are some common names we often associate with people who work in the tech industry. These computer and technology enthusiasts have an unfortunate reputation for being dull and boring with a perceived lack of sociability – thanks to decades of pop culture and preconceptions. However, things have changed – smart, funny and cool are some of the positive traits that techy folks have adopted. Look around you and you’ll see that today’s new breed of hot tech geeks are proudly waving their geek flags.
Singapore Power’s relatively new digital technology team has been called the “Avengers of Singapore computer programming” by Tech in Asia because of its pool of talents from various backgrounds including travel search engine, software development and online payment companies. The team is led by veteran engineer Chang Sau Sheong, who’s known as the “Codefather” in the industry. And did you know that Honestbee’s co-founder, Jonathan Low used to perform magic semi-professionally at corporate events? With the success stories of tech startups, the power of social media and the fast-changing technology landscape in recent years, there’s been a paradigm shift. Geeks are now the new chic. In fact geeks have taken over the world.