- Insider spoke to 3 millennials who are trying to land jobs in UK tech after retraining.
- One has worked for Microsoft and Facebook but is now applying for entry level positions.
- Experienced professionals can become pigeonholed compared to younger graduates, said a recruiter.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Camila Da Silva has worked at some of the world’s largest tech companies, but the 36-year-old has spent the past four months working 10-hour shifts as a waitress while searching for a job in London’s tech sector.
Da Silva is from Brazil, where she previously spent two years at Microsoft – as a business program manager, leading their Blacks at Microsoft leadership development program – and nine months as a Facebook contractor, alongside other roles.
She wanted to expand her career in tech, so came to the UK in 2020 on a scholarship to start a masters degree in Digital Society at the University of Edinburgh. She has applied for about 30 positions since she graduated in early 2021. “I’ve been in so many interviews I can’t even count anymore and everything was no,” she said.
Some of the positions she’s applied for in London are equivalent to her past experience in project management and as an analyst. But she told Insider that she has now become so desperate she’s started applying for assistant positions, and even internships.
Insider spoke to three millennials who, like Da Silva, have decided to retrain in order to pursue careers in tech. They say they’re struggling to land even junior positions despite their experience.
Despite having more work experience, older graduates can find themselves pigeonholed by recruiters, who might not take into account their previous experience if it doesn’t map to the specific role they’re applying for, Ian Storey, director of Hays Technology, a recruitment firm, told Insider.
“It’s the most candidate-led market I have seen,” Storey said. When the market is so “buoyant” it can lead to higher wages – but also greater competition for roles, he added.
Another London-based job-seeker told Insider that “the fact that you’re applying for internships when you graduated 10 years ago is not an easy pill to swallow.” He said he did not want to be named because he was still job hunting.
He is 33, and has experience as a sound engineer and running a family property business. He said he relied heavily on tech in both roles, but wanted to formalize his qualification through a masters degree in data science, for which he has completed his final project.
“I read about people upskilling into tech but in reality, it is turning out to be a lot more difficult,” he said. Internships he was considering applying for have closed during the pandemic.
In one interview, he said he was asked, “‘You’re my oldest son’s age, why do you want to change roles?” It was the most unpleasant job interview he’s had, he added.
Barbara Costa, 42, is in a slightly different position – she doesn’t have experience in tech. Originally from Brazil, Costa has a Bachelor’s degree in social anthropology, and spent 18 years teaching English as a second language to adults in London. She also worked in ethnographic research.
She recently upskilled, graduating with a masters degree in human computer interaction design from City University in London in July 2021, and is now looking for a role in UX (user experience).
She has two children and a part-time job, and so hasn’t applied for many roles because she has been so busy. However, she is trying to build her portfolio through pro bono work for a charity.
Any roles she has applied for have been graduate roles – despite the fact that she has been told by recruiters and friends who work in the industry that she is qualified for more senior jobs.
“I think it’s all about confidence as well, so I’m building myself up,” said Costa.
All three people remain confident that they will land a role later this year despite their initial difficulties – even if they admit it’s unlikely to be their ideal job.
“My fear and anxiety is every day I wait, I am getting older, ” Costa added. “The longer I wait, the less time I’m going to be doing the job that I want to do.”
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