But a specific degree doesn't hurt. While the lack of a tech-related degree won't doom your candidacy, having one helps—particularly in professions heavy on programming. "If you're going to be a game programmer, you really need a computer science degree to start with. It gives you a depth of knowledge to draw upon," says Shawn Leaf, studio tech director for the video game development company n-Space.
The power of problem-solving. Roth says his firm is different from others in the database administration field when it comes to its hiring practices: It puts fresh-out-of-college graduates on the payroll. If less-experienced candidates can demonstrate strong problem-solving skills, dbaDirect is willing to fill in the knowledge gaps. "A lot of database administration is all about problem-solving," he says, adding, "If someone has good problem-solving skills, we can teach them everything they need to know about the database."
Know the fundamentals, but learn new trends. Being rooted in the core concepts of a field will serve you well in the jobs you eventually land. But you must also be proactive in acquiring new knowledge. "It all comes back to the computer-science fundamentals, but people find new ways to apply them," Leaf says.
Have a digital portfolio. Unlike other jobs that may require a dull dissertation as proof of knowledge, employers in the technology sector may ask for a highly interactive body of work.
One way to showcase your know-how is to "[make] a game on your own or with your friends," Leaf says. You can learn how to do this through either formal academic coursework or online forums offered by Unity Technologies or the Unreal Developers Network.
Customer consideration. Throughout the day, you may spend more time with computers than people. But a friendly demeanor and solid communication skills come in handy when you're interacting with customers. "The other thing we're going to look for," Roth notes of prospective hires, "is that they interact very well with customers, because we are a service provider."