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Engineering / Hiring / Philly Tech Week / Tech jobs / Web development

Scenes from NET/WORK 2023: Why new-to-tech job seekers pivoted to the industry

At Philly Tech Week's massive jobs and networking fair, recent bootcamp graduates and career changers feel optimistic about what the technology field can offer them, including more pay, opportunity and structure.

At's tech hiring fair NET/WORK 2023. ( photo)
For those interested in a career with high pay, growth opportunities and a “build it yourself” mentality, the tech industry can be a great fit.

It was what many at’s giant job and networking fair, NET/WORK, during Philly Tech Week 2023 presented by Comcast, came looking for. At Perpay’s Center City office, a few hundred people gathered to meet hiring companies and each other. Lots were looking to enter the tech field for the first time.

Among them was Adam Meza, a West Philly resident and former tattoo artist. After developing some chronic pain in his hands for the painstaking detailed work, he worked in customer service roles. He had friends in the tech industry who touted its “technical and creative” aspects.

“They expressed a passion for learning, new technologies and self teaching,” he said.

He’s learning some front-end, entry-level skills but emphasized that he was also good at learning as he goes. And he took a creative approach to his first networking event: Meza attended the event in a T-shirt with a QR code taking potential peers and hiring professionals straight to his LinkedIn.

Liora Lebowitz, who graduated from coding bootcamp Tech Elevator in the fall, is looking to transition into tech from a background in nonprofit digital marketing. She’s been exploring options for “leveling up” her career, and is currently looking at back-end, front-end and full-stack positions — she said she’s not “ready to commit to a niche.”

While talking to hiring companies, West Philly resident Lebowitz was looking for folks who have previously hired bootcamp graduates.

“I know that there is some rub for some companies when you don’t have, like, a traditional four-year computer science major,” Lebowitz said. “I’m making sure they’re just hiring junior staff at all or that they have a structure that kind of provides support and mentorship.”

After working in nonprofits where it’s common to wear a lot of hats at work, she’s excited to have a defined structure or role. She’s also interested in working somewhere with a large budget.

For Max McBride, of South Philly, the lucrative nature of the industry is also appealing. He’s looking to transition into an engineering role after being a music teacher and experiencing budget cuts to the arts in schools. He recently completed a Flatiron School bootcamp, and though he’s learned a lot, he’s hoping a future role will have an emphasis on continuous learning.

“But that’s the nice thing about coding — you’re always expected to be learning stuff,” McBride said.

He had the preconception that the tech industry would be pretty self-driven, but he’s learning that it’s more collaborative than he expected. He’s found some community in local coding meetup groups, and heard about the NET/WORK event from Philly.js.

Lisa Short just returned from the midwest to North Philly, where she grew up. She’d been working in public media, but got laid off in the pandemic. She’s recently been taking certification courses in tech, and did a data engineering internship.

She’s wishing the Philly scene had more entry-level positions, and expressed worry that her nontraditional background won’t position her well as a candidate. But she’s hopeful that a position that feels like the right fit will come along.

“I’ve always loved tech. I’ve always loved how it [is] changing a lot of people’s lives in terms of providing more access,” Short said, “and exposing them to things that you normally wouldn’t see, especially growing up in North Philly.”

Companies: Tech Elevator / Perpay / Flatiron School
Projects: NET/WORK / Philly Tech Week

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