Yes, You CAN Be Successful in I.T. Without a Computer Science Degree

by Pranav Ramesh
May 12, 2020

I don’t have a degree in Computer Science.

I don’t have any technical experience.

I don’t know how to code.

Odds are, if you’re interested in Information Technology, but have yet to make the change, you’ve muttered one or all of the phrases above. Your hesitation is justified.

Deciding to change jobs, let alone completely switching career paths, can be a scary endeavor. It can feel like you’re starting a race at a disadvantage, 10 steps behind the pack. Learning a new set of terminologies or a computer language may feel impossible. You may not know where to begin and, therefore, be tempted to give up before even starting.

Sure, the barriers seem impossible to break down but is it worth the effort? Is it possible to change careers and work in I.T. without any experience or a degree?

We asked 3 technical consultants, all of whom have made the change themselves, with backgrounds ranging from retail to the army. They answered emphatically, yes!

“More times than not, people are looking for the right person, not the right skill”

said Charles Pratt, a Quality Assurance Engineer at W. W. Grainger.

After spending most of his career in grocery store management, working everywhere from Jewel-Osco to Whole Foods Market, Charles made the decision to transition to technology. Having no prior technical experience, Charles made the career change by leveraging his network and communication skills.

“A lot of the soft skills I had and the things I liked doing in a retail environment… those skills really carried over into an I.T. role.” Rather than focusing on the technical skills he didn’t have at the beginning (but certainly does now), Charles leveraged his experience and ability to effectively communicate with a wide variety of people. He was determined to learn. Additionally, he was motivated to leave the crushing schedule and lack of work/life balance that is commonly found in retail. His drive led him to succeed in his new career path.

Nathan Wells, a 10-year military veteran who’s currently a consultant at Accenture, agrees with him..

“In the military… no matter where you went, you always had a battle-buddy.”

says Nathan.

“The soft skills of communicating effectively and working together as a team is really something you carry over into the I.T. space.”

Nathan also credits his natural curiosity for enabling him to make the switch to technology. He was always curious and passionate about learning how systems and processes worked. In his jobs, he asked questions, and became a sponge for information. His penchant to be a team player and look out for his colleagues are some of the values that have made Nathan a valuable asset to his team at Accenture.

“From the perspective of a manager… companies are hiring you and your personality and they’ll teach you skills later.”

says Caitlin Kirkpatrick

As a Starbucks manager for 10 years before she transitioned to her current consultant role at Allstate Insurance, she was accustomed to managing people and training and working long hours at busy times of the year.

Educating herself on different learning styles coupled with her inquisitive nature, enabled Caitlin to take the plunge into a technical role and completely new sector (insurance) in which she had no previous experience. “When I came into it (technology) my resume was Starbucks, and that was it. I didn’t have any formal training… you just have to have that positive mindset and drive.”

Our consultants agree that while having a computer science degree and previous technical experience are assets to the job search, neither are required to find success in technology. A diverse set of experiences, a curious nature, a collegial personality, and a willingness to learn and work hard are as important as a coding background.

The ability to communicate, to ask the hard questions are half of the battle. Great teams are made of people who are ready to take chances, who bring their best selves to the table, and who are humble enough to say, “I don’t know. But I’m ready to learn.”

If you enjoy working with people, are ready to invest in your future, and are looking for a change, join us for our discussion with our panelists, Caitlin, Nathan, and Charles to learn more about taking the first step towards a new career. For those interested in starting a new job or looking to transition in from another field entirely, we want to show you how to how to get started.

Catch the premiere of

Careers and Conversations: Looking for a career change? Consider a job in I.T.

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020

About the Company:

Peterson Technology Partners (PTP) has been Chicago’s premier Information Technology (IT) staffing, consulting, and recruiting firm for over 22+ years. Named after Chicago’s historic Peterson Avenue, PTP has built its reputation by developing lasting relationships, leading digital transformation,