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No IT Degree? No Problem!

Have you ever considered pursuing a career within the booming IT sector, but then thought to yourself “I have no formal IT education or IT degree. I don’t stand a chance.” ? Well, almost 7 years ago I did. Now I am a “Full Stack SAP developer”.

Back then, it was 2015, 1 year since I graduated from the Technical University of Eindhoven with a degree in Innovation Management. I had recently decided to abandon the somewhat naïve pursuit of launching my own company, which would have been based on our successful crowdfunding project. In need of a job I started applying but was consistently being rejected. After about 15+ unsuccessful job interviews, I decided to templatize my application letter. And in what I now recognize to be an act of desperation, I sent out my application letter to any company offering a “young professional” position. Just slightly adapting the letter to fit the specific vacancy. 

A multinational IT consultancy firm was amongst those companies, and by the time they invited me for an interview, I didn’t even remember what position I applied for. And while I believed I didn’t stand a chance, I decided to proceed and wing it.
The first 15 minutes of the job interview I was bending over backwards trying to figure out what role I was applying for. Maneuvering a very thin line, I managed to get the recruiter to say it out loud. I was there for the “SAP ABAP developer” role. And despite not having any formal IT background, I got hired for their “Young professional” program.
I thought I had beat the system. I was wrong, they did.

No IT Degree
During my first months at the IT consultancy firm, I discovered that many of my developer colleagues also had no IT degree. Instead, they had degrees ranging from Economics to Law, Philosophy, HR and English. But all shared in an eagerness to learn.

Wietse van Dommelen – SAP Developer

A former colleague, Wietse van Dommelen, also an SAP Developer shares his story:
I have a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management and followed several labor and tax law courses at the university. During my studies I mainly worked in administrative positions using personnel and accounting systems. In my role as a process specialist, I first came into contact with the SAP industry during an implementation of an human resource solution, called SuccessFactors. I liked the link between business and IT so much that I wanted to become an SAP consultant. During an open job interview at an IT consultancy firm , I got an offer to become a SAP ABAP (backend) developer (with no formal background in IT). 
I took basic programming courses at SAP and the consultancy firm’s academy. But I mainly learned SAP specific developer techniques on the job and via the (open) internet. 
I have now been working in this profession for about 4 years, mainly for retailers and engineering firms enabling automation using Human Resource, Supply Chain and Finance related software.

Re-skilling towards IT
What multinational IT consulting firms such as Accenture, Capgemini, Delaware and others have recognised and leverage, is the ability to successfully re-skill talents towards in demand IT job skills. They do so by using condensed tracks which consist of a mix of hard and soft skill training. Where the “hard skill tracks” were often sourced from online resources offered by established software companies such as SAP, Microsoft and Mendix.

Jan-Marc Albert, also born and raised in Curaçao, is a recruiter with experience in the Dutch IT sector. He observes that companies mostly value relevant certification and a proven track record of competence. He further underscores the need for continuous recertification to remain relevant in the IT job market. A prerequisite, he says, which also applies to candidates with a formal IT degree. But in his experience the importance of strong soft skills cannot be over emphasised.

The feasibility of re-skilling towards IT from a different educational background is tried and tested. At IT4Curaçao we leverage the knowledge and experience of IT professionals to develop avenues of employment in the IT sector for job seekers in Curaçao.
One of our main goals is to finance & facilitate access to relevant online IT training resources and provide soft skill training through our network of volunteers. 

So, “No IT degree, No Problem”…