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What is the tech industry?

GradAustralia

From Shazam to Spotify to that slick new Tesla you'll own one day, tech is all around us. Here's an intro into what it means for university graduates.

Think back to every movie you’ve ever watched that was set in the future. One thing they generally have in common is the role of technology in creating that particular alternate universe. Flying cars zoom the skies, super-computers manipulate events, robots become so lifelike it’s impossible to tell the difference… the list goes on! That the sheer potential of technology is of such fascination is unsurprising when you think about how far it’s already brought us.

Humans have been using technology long before we even had a word for it. The moment we started fashioning tools to accomplish a task better than we could on our own, we were using technology. Essentially, that is what “technology” is – the knowledge and application of certain methodologies and skills in the creation of products and services that fulfil specific needs.

One word that often goes hand-in-hand with technology is “invention”. Technology by its very nature is inventive – either improving on what currently exists or creating something never seen before to address a problem or issue.

One of the earliest applications of technology was the invention of the wheel – we created a deceptively simple apparatus which revolutionised our lives by making it that much easier to get from one place to the other. There have been few inventions since, that have had such a profound effect on human life and thrust us forward so inexorably into a future of rapid technological progress. Comparable with the wheel are the inventions of the steam engine, the harnessing of electricity and – most recently – the advent of the internet. All these technological advances were catalysts for unprecedented change and have shaped the world we live in today in significant ways.

Today technology is ubiquitous. It’s there when you need to Shazam a song you just heard so you can add it to your Spotify playlist. It’s there when you’re backpacking through South America and need to store your photos on the Cloud or post them to Instagram to give your mates a good dose of FOMO. It’s in the slick new Tesla you’ve made it your goal to buy one day. It’s in the laptop or tablet that holds all the notes from yesterday’s university lectures. It’s in the apps that doctors are using to help with diagnosing patients, or that help victims of abuse to call for help without alerting their attackers, or that help people to save money passively by investing cents on every credit card transaction. It’s at work when you’ve had a bad day and just want to talk to your parents even though they may be thousands of miles away. It is this rich and tremendously influential field that you will become a part of if you choose a graduate career in technology.

The technology industry is incredibly broad which makes it attractive to a large number of people coming from different disciplines. One myth associated with working in technology is that you need to be able to code to get a job. That is definitely not the case! There are an impressive range of technological and non-technological jobs available out there, depending on where your interests and skills lie.

A handy way to categorise the tech industry is to think of the intended user of the product or service being offered. Is it the consumer or a business? Consumer goods could mean anything from mobile devices, wearable technology, household appliances and electronics. Businesses on the other hand rely heavily on technology to create enterprise software, streamline their systems, host their databases and store their information – all of these affect the way businesses operate with their staff internally and their customers externally.

As you can see the technology industry seems pretty all-encompassing but it can be broken down into sub-sectors like semiconductors, networking, software, hardware and internet to help you to better grasp its scope.

The tech industry is focused around innovation, creation and growth. The companies dominating the industry at the moment are based in the US and known as the Big Five: Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. They have superstar status for being leaders in revolutionising how we learn, communicate, share information and consume goods. That being said, there are hundreds of thousands of other companies in the world of tech that are either competing directly with these giants (think Adobe, Cisco and IBM) or making waves in their areas of expertise (like Atlassian, Pinterest and Canva).

Working for any company in the tech sector will initiate you into a huge community of peers and colleagues across the planet. You will gain the agility to move sideways and upwards, zig-zagging from projects and products, and from home to hot-desk. You will exercise the muscles of your imagination as never before because this is an industry that makes a muse of your incredible capacity for new ideas. You will also learn that the only constant in technology is change, change and more change.