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3 Tech Skills You Should Learn, Even If You're Not Pursuing A Career In Tech

When people ask me why I like covering tech, the answer is easy: It gives me the flexibility to cover everything

By Madeline Buxton, Refinery29
When people ask me why I like covering tech, the answer is easy: It gives me the flexibility to cover everything. Nowadays, there's no field — not beauty, or art, or music — that isn't impacted by tech in some major way.
Because tech has become so omnipresent in our lives, it's worth thinking about the tech skills that are applicable to every line of work. Even if you don't ever plan on applying for a job at a startup in Silicon Valley, knowing a few key basics will make you a more well-rounded, and valuable, employee in your chosen field."Every industry is a technology industry and being able to understand that, and knowing how to use these tools, regardless of what you're doing, is huge," Dr. Patti Fletcher, an angel investor and author of Disrupters: Success Strategies From Women Who Break The Mold, told Refinery29. "If you don't, it's like not knowing how to use a word processor 20 years ago."

Ahead, three key skills to brush up on or learn now that don't require signing up for a programming bootcamp or spending hours watching YouTube videos. (Although you can do that, too.)

Understand what coding means

You might not need to know all the intricacies of how to code for your day-to-day work, but it is important to understand what it means to code since that's the foundation of the apps and products you already interact with on a daily basis. Strip away the stereotyped visions of hoodie-clad programmers huddled around computers full of lines of seemingly indecipherable numbers and symbols, and know this: Writing code is basically "putting together pieces of a puzzle," Fletcher says. Only when the puzzle is complete can you see the full picture, or, in terms of tech, get something to work as intended.
Even though you don't need to know how to code, learning some fundamentals can help you better understand its meaning. Mastering the bare basics takes roughly 60 minutes: Try Google's "Create your own logo" challenge or Microsoft's "Minecraft Hour of Code." 

Master virtual meetings

Meeting IRL is not always the most practical option. "There's still the mindset that there's no replacement for in-person face to face contact, but the truth is that is impossible," Fletcher says of working in fast-paced business environments. "That's why being able to use, and being comfortable instigating use of, face-to-face technologies is critical."

Know your options when it comes to holding virtual meetings. Zoom and BlueJeans are popular business options, but Google Hangouts and Skype (you can invite someone to join a video call, even if they don't have an account) work just as well. Make sure your accounts are up to date and that you're familiar with recently released tools.

Use the data

There's a common theme among successful industry disruptors: They know how to use data. This is critical because "data proves a point," Fletcher says. It's one piece of evidence that's hard to argue with.
To use data to your advantage, there are a few required steps. First, you need to know what data you're looking for and how to find it at your company. Then, determine what insights you can draw from those numbers. Think about the data you might get from a Fitbit or other fitness wearable: Knowing your daily step count and other metrics metrics is useless if you can't determine how those play into a larger goal or what they mean for your health.

"You can have all sorts of actionable insights, but let's face it — in most workforces there are things that you are responsible for and certain things you can't be," Fletcher says. "So you need to be able to not only use data for what you can personally impact, but also to be able to tell a larger story."

For a concrete way to master some of the basics of data analytics, try taking an online Excel course.

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Career Advice: 3 Tech Skills You Should Learn, Even If You're Not Pursuing A Career In Tech
3 Tech Skills You Should Learn, Even If You're Not Pursuing A Career In Tech
When people ask me why I like covering tech, the answer is easy: It gives me the flexibility to cover everything
Career Advice
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