Why You Should Consider A Tech-Adjacent Job

In tech-adjacent roles, you may work closely with developers or a technical product, but not do any actual coding. For new graduates, these jobs can be a good opportunity to get their foot in the door of a desired company or industry.

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This article on tech-adjacent jobs is part of the Coaching Collective series, featuring tips and expertise from Flatiron School Career Coaches. Every Flatiron School graduate is eligible to receive up to 180 days of 1:1 career coaching with one of our professional coaches. This series is a glimpse of the expertise you can access during career coaching at Flatiron School.

The job search process can be discouraging for entry-level candidates. With a recent decline in hiring for technical roles, entry-level candidates are having a harder time finding their first job in tech. 

However, an increasing number of companies are seeing the benefit of coding knowledge in non-engineering roles. These types of roles provide alternate paths that students can take to ultimately land their dream job and reach their career goals.

Tech-adjacent roles are ones that closely interact with developers or a technical product but may not actually do any of the coding.  This can make them ideal for those with little or no work experience, providing the opportunity to grow soft skills and gain professional experience.

There are both pros and cons to tech-adjacent roles for aspiring software developers. In determining if a tech adjacent role is for you, it is crucial to understand your ultimate career goals.

What is Your Ultimate Career Goal?

Defining your desired job and creating a path to get there involves two things. One, understanding what specific kind of work you want to do, and two, what skills you need to become an ideal candidate for that kind of work.

Do you want to work exclusively on front-end or back-end development? Become an expert in one language and mentor others? Would you like to work in the cloud?  Do you have a passion for Machine Learning (ML) or Artificial Intelligence (AI)? Is there one specific company that you dream of working for?

Once you define what you want to do, determine what skills you will need to get to your ultimate career goal. By answering these questions, you can then work backward to create possible steps to get you closer to that dream job.

Rather than focusing on companies and titles, focus more on the skills needed to get to your ideal career. When deciding if a tech-adjacent role is right for you, consider whether you will gain skills that increase your knowledge of the role or company you are ultimately seeking.  Look for roles that expose you to systems knowledge, customer support, and product design, or increase your experience with communication and collaboration. 

Finding The Right Tech-Adjacent Role

Having a clear vision of the company or role you want will help you decide whether a specific adjacent role is for you. You always want to be working towards your ideal role rather than away from it.

A tech-adjacent role is a way to get your foot in the door at a company. 

If you want to ultimately work for Google, taking a lower-level role may be a good idea. Taking the same role at a company you don’t ultimately want to grow with may not be such a good idea. If this is a company you could grow with, you can become an ideal candidate for your dream job. You will be able to highlight your soft skills and show your potential and enthusiasm for the company. You will have the opportunity to network within the company and get to know the company’s product and culture. If you are successful in your role, you will become a candidate that the company can already trust.

Some tech-adjacent roles will give you the opportunity to get to interact with developers doing what you want to ultimately do. Even if these roles are not with a company you ultimately want to stay with, you can increase your knowledge and the skills needed to qualify for your ideal job, and see what the role is really like.

Are There Disadvantages to Tech-Adjacent Roles?

You need to consider each opportunity independently in order to determine its advantages and disadvantages. If the experience you’d gain from the role does not provide relevant experience for you, it is likely not getting you closer to qualifying and landing your dream job.

You’ll still likely need to put in effort outside of your daily work. This includes creating projects related to what you want to do, practicing your interviewing skills, and building connections through networking. But, a tech-adjacent job can be a massive help in these efforts with soft skill practice and in-company networking.

Sample Tech-Adjacent Jobs

Technical Support/Support Engineer

This is a customer-facing role that requires some knowledge of code. You will not likely interact with coders. But, you can gain an understanding of user experience, work on debugging, and increase your communication skills. This is a great role for those who enjoy helping others and solving problems.

Quality Assurance (QA) Specialist/Engineer

This role provides experience with product quality and shares traits with software development. It may provide experience with front-end user flow or writing test code. Working in QA will likely give you interaction with Developers, and maybe even the Operations team. You likely won’t be designing and building projects. Instead, you will be making sure that a project is completed to its specifications and working properly. QA may be a desirable role if you enjoy identifying and correcting potential problems.

Developer Advocate (Technology Advocate, Developer Evangelist, etc.)

This role focuses on communication involving the outside community and the company’s product. You will act as an advocate or ambassador for a company’s product. Opportunities might involve speaking at public events or workshops or interacting with the community through a company’s open-source projects. A great role for people who enjoy interacting with others as much as the technical side of a project.

Project Manager/Customer Success Specialist

This role provides an opportunity to help develop a project. You may also get involved in some of the marketing and sales.

Business Analyst

Many companies are finding coding skills to be beneficial in solving business problems. Could be a great option for candidates with some business background or education.

Deciding whether to explore tech-adjacent roles is a personal decision. Have a clear vision of what kind of job you ultimately want and the skills you need. Take actions that will get you closer to your dream position or company.

About Kimberly McPoyle

Kim is a Flatiron School Career Coach based out of the Philadelphia area. She comes from a background in education. After spending 20 years raising 5 sons, she began working as an outside recruiter for mid-level software engineers and data scientists. Her passion for career coaching grew out of her excitement over developing relationships with her candidates and helping them find new and exciting opportunities.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of October 12, 2022. Current policies, offerings, procedures, and programs may differ.

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