We millennials are having a lot of trouble jumpstarting our careers. The national youth unemployment rate is 14%.
We’re not getting jobs because we’re under qualified or incapable. Rather, our unemployment woes are the byproduct of a rapidly changing economic landscape.
Thanks to the advent of technology, Canada’s economy is transforming quickly. A growing skills gap is looming, and unfortunately many of us aren’t even aware of it. The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) predicts that approximately 106,000 ICT (Information, Communications, and Technology) jobs in Canada will go unfilled by 2016.
If we want to increase our employability in this new economy, then it looks like we must collectively include some form of ICT training as part of our broader career goals and aspirations. This makes sense not only because of an imminent skills gap, but also because further advancements in technology will eventually impact the overarching nature of all professions.
But how do we acquire this training and make it relevant to our individual career paths? I’ve asked myself this this question before—and was able to answer it as well.
A couple of months ago, I graduated from the BBA program at the Schulich School of Business. During my second year, I discovered the exciting world of startups and technology. After realizing that my degree wasn’t going to give me the depth of knowledge and experience I needed to crack this space, I became determined to seek out whatever I was lacking. I created a “to-do” list that included the following:
• Self-Directed Learning: In order to familiarize myself with the industry, best practices, and emerging trends, I had to read up on a lot.
Whether it was picking up popular books, religiously visiting the top technology news websites, or taking extra courses at York University, I took every opportunity to learn. The fact that you’re reading this article on Techvibes is a fantastic start.
• Networking: I knew that I needed a strong network of contacts and career sponsors that would support my foray into the technology space. Believe it or not, cold-emails helped me build my network.
You will be surprised to learn how nice technology professionals are. They are almost always willing to go out of their way to help newbies. If you show an eager attitude and are clear about what you are asking for in a cold-email, nine times out of 10 you will get a very welcoming response. Also, always offer to reciprocate the favour in the future.
• Volunteering: I compensated for my lack of direct technology experience by offering to volunteer my way out of it. I reached out to the team at York Angel Investors over a year ago and told them about my situation. They invited me to apply for a volunteer position. I ended up getting the gig.
Learning from their network of investors has been an incredible experience. It was all made possible by not being afraid to make sacrifices.
Today, I devote my time to sharing insights on mobile technology with Fortune 500 businesses as an Account Manager at Pivotal Labs. I also tinker with my own projects and help other passionate entrepreneurs launch their technology driven startups.
The “to-do” list worked for me. For those Millennials interested in getting closer to the technology sector, I encourage you to make your own list that speaks to your specific career goals and interests.
Getting out of this period of high youth unemployment isn’t going to be easy. Millennials, let’s take the initiative to reboot the professions we are passionate about for a new technology driven Canadian economy. We don’t need to wait for others to make this happen for us. We’ve got the tenacity and resources at our disposal to do it ourselves. Let’s go and make things happen.