This week on the SEMrush blog, we’re focusing on how digital technology has shaped various generations. We hope our insights and advice specifically provide guidance to recent graduates. We’ll bring you insights from members of the SEMrush team on upcoming podcasts as well as tips and messages of encouragement from other recent grads in the field.
In the spirit of #NewGradsWeek, I offered my thoughts on technical skills and what my generation brings to the workplace.
Twenty-somethings and the Digital Landscape: What Does it Mean to "Tech"?
Two ladies from the U.S. office recently joined me for the annual Women in Tech Summit in Philadelphia. The keynote speaker was Kelly Hoey, a speaker, strategist and investor.
During the Q&A, a woman in the audience said she wasn't an [insert highly skilled tech job here] but worked in a technical field. She wanted to know how Kelly identified herself in a similar non-techny-in-a-technical-industry way.
"I work in tech, but I don't 'tech'," Kelly replied.
The audience laughed. Those in the crowd who didn't graduate with a computer science degree — and there were plenty of us — could identify with that sentiment.
I graduated with a print journalism degree, but picked up tech skills both out of necessity and genuine interest. As if to publicly "prove" I knew what I was doing (cue a slight case of Imposter Syndrome), I recently published an article on HTML and WordPress hacks I've picked up in the last few years.
A Gen-Xer, Kelly's comment made me think she 1. owed herself a little more credit, and 2. Millennials and younger generations — whether they realize it or not — are increasingly "tech-ing" today. And, from an early age.
What do Twenty-somethings Bring to the Digital Job Market?
My earliest memory of tech-ing was coding my AOL profile in the seventh or eight grade; and that didn’t feel super technical at all! It was all about experimenting with different shades of blue on the color wheel, tweaking HTML to center-align some text or learning how to add an image (and +1 if you found out how to keep people from taking the images from your site).
As a twenty-something Millennial, I've grown up in an age where technology made significant strides in a short time. During this time, we were dabbling (perhaps unknowingly) in coding, getting our first cell phones in high school, possibly saving up for our own computer and livejournal-ing (blogging!).
Our generation has the ability to learn new technologies quickly, and often eagerly. We've been doing it for so long it seems strange to imagine a more unplugged way of life.
Are Colleges Changing with the Times?
I graduated in 2009 with a magazine journalism degree from Temple University. I had an internship at a popular local mag, participated in various school groups and volunteered (with a firm push from my professor) to be the senior year magazine's first in-house editor.
For a journalism degree that might have suggested a print career, we were required by the j-department to take classes in publishing to web (via Dreamweaver), design (via Photoshop) and audio/video editing (via Audacity and Final Cut Pro).
Reflecting now, I consider my alma mater to be ahead of its time. A new colleague graduated from Temple as well, and during his time there he had courses in digital marketing and held internships in SEO.
On the flip side, recent articles make me scared about those students who are graduating without these skills and opportunities. With the increasing cost of college and a marketplace less-willing to train new grads from the ground up, I hope colleges revamp their curriculum to keep up the pace.
We All "Tech" Now
"Tech fields" conjure up images of anything from software developers to information security analysts. The beauty of the changing tech field is we're all a little tech-y.
I'm an online editor with social media, WordPress and HTML chops. My Boomer father still doesn't quite get what a "browser" is, but knows enough to refer to it as his "other Facebook" when the social network app is acting buggy on his iPad. (The same man used to proudly proclaim he couldn't turn on a desktop computer. Now, thanks to advancing technology, there isn't really a need for him to know that. Touché, dad). He's slowly making strides into photo editing, pondering a Twitter account and planning on upgrading to a smartphone too.
I tech. My dad techs. We all tech!
Work with tech so it can work for you.
What is your generation’s outlook on the digital landscape? Do you have advice for recent grads? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Header image credit: Canva & Picjumbo. Apple, the Apple logo and iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.