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Growing Tech Industry Offers Jobs for Variety of Backgrounds

By Lena R. Episalla, Crimson Staff Writer

As College seniors attend interviews and weigh job offers this winter and spring, many increasingly find themselves turning to the technology industry, which has created more job opportunities for college graduates in nearly every field of study.

The technology sector is well-known for jobs that require a high level of technical skill and data analysis—skills that have become valuable in a variety of industries—but graduating students are often less aware of non-engineering opportunities that exist in the industry.

Anthony J. Arcieri, director of undergraduate career advising and programming at the Office of Career Services, said students often express interest in the technology sector but are unsure of what type of job opportunities are available in the industry that would draw upon their skillset.

“I do meet with a fair number of students interested in the tech sector and who are fond of technology but don’t have the interest or skill to pursue a technical role,” Arcieri wrote in an email. “I wouldn’t say students with no prior engineering or tech experience avoid the sector, but they may be unsure of what they have to offer or what they would be qualified to do.”

Stephen “Travis” May ’09, CEO and co-founder of LiveRamp, a startup digital marketing company, said there are many potential benefits that come with working at a tech company, even for students without tech backgrounds.

May, who concentrated in Economics and had limited tech experience before entering the job market, said compared to many other industries where promotions mostly dependent on time and experience in a particular field, promotions in the tech industry are usually based on talent and ability.

“I think one of the interesting things with tech is that in a high-growth environment, there’s meritocracy such that people can quickly, disproportionately accelerate their own success,” he said.

Arcieri said large tech companies such as Google and LinkedIn are known to hire for non-technical roles. Kelsey Saboori, a university recruiter for Microsoft, said Microsoft offers numerous internship programs and entry-level job opportunities for students in non-technical fields.

“We do a lot of HR-type internships, we have a lot of marketing internships, finance,” Saboori said. “I think what people don’t always remember about a tech company is there’s all of those roles that have to support the tech side of things.”

Although large tech companies have a variety of opportunities available for students without technical experience, tech startups are especially interested in fulfilling non-technical roles, according to Arcieri.

“A majority of the employers at our Startup Fair [at Harvard] also are looking to fill non-tech roles, even though most of them are ‘tech companies,’” he wrote.

In fact, LiveRamp offers a “tech entrance rotation and mentorship” program in which candidates with little to no experience in tech can gain the technical skills and experience necessary to enter the industry. Benjamin A. Misch, who received a master’s degree in Regional Studies from Harvard this year, joined LiveRamp’s talent team through the program.

“So, I’m math, history, specialize in Japanese history, and now I do people operation. My day-to-day requires very, very little technical ability and a lot of ability to handle ambiguity, drive projects from start to finish, and provide value in unseen ways,” Misch said.

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