Here are some words of wisdom from tech titans who started at the bottom, proving you can start in data entry and work your way up.
1. “Impatient is a virtue.” – Ursula Burns
Being impatient is OK, it shows that you have the will and the desire to grow. No one knows that better than Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, who started out with the company as an intern while completing her master’s degree in mechanical engineering at Columbia University.
After graduating, Xerox hired her as a full-time employee, where she then rose through the career ladder to become CEO in 2009. Her story teaches us that it’s never too early to start putting the foot in the door. If you can get an internship while studying, it’s unclear what that position might lead to.
2. “A goal without a timeline is just a dream.” -Robert Herjavec
Robert Herjavec is best known today as a television investor. shark tank, but this successful businessman had humble beginnings. After a brief stint in television and film, Herjavec decided to pursue a career in the tech industry. Despite his lack of experience in the field, he got a job with a company that made IBM mainframe emulation cards by offering to work for free.
Obviously you should value your work and seek to get paid where it’s due, but Herjavec was a man with a plan. He knew he could support himself in other ways while gaining the experience that shaped him into the success he is today. From working for free, he rose to the position of general manager. After that, he founded his own internet security software company using the experience he gained from his first unpaid tech job.
Always have a plan and figure out how the work you do today – paid or unpaid – can help you achieve your goals.
3. “Creativity comes from constraint.” -Evan Williams
Before building world-renowned websites such as Twitter, Blogger, and Medium, Evan Williams held various entry-level positions at various technology companies. In fact, his early roles weren’t even always strictly IT-related. While working for O’Reilly Media, Williams was hired into their marketing department. It wasn’t until later that he started writing code freelance, which opened up opportunities for freelance work.
Don’t be afraid to broaden your horizons when starting out in the industry. As Williams’ case shows, working in a different department doesn’t mean you’re disqualified from the desired role. Seize the opportunities presented to you and see what you can do with them.