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6 tips for landing a software engineering job — without a STEM degree

No computer science degree? No problem! Use these tips to become a must-hire software engineering candidate.

Fun fact: according to recent Handshake data, 35% of more than 28,000 women applying to Software Engineering & Development roles have a non-STEM background. As many famous tech founders could attest, a science or engineering degree isn't always necessary to succeed in software development, and it seems that these women are similarly undeterred by the laundry list of hard skills required in the field!

But how do you become a software engineer without a STEM degree? If you’re excited by the idea of software engineering but studied something else, don’t write off your future in tech. Simply follow these steps to become a viable candidate for the job you’re eyeing… no CS diploma required.

1. Learn to code

Even if your academic pursuits take you in a different direction than computer science, there are still abundant resources outside of the classroom that can help you learn to code. From IRL bootcamps and online coding academies to completely free subreddits, there's no shortage of ways to inspire your passion!

2. Enroll in CS courses anyway

Who says you can't learn about computer science as a liberal arts major? Even if you're an English or drama student, you've likely got scientific unit requirements that you'll have to fulfill before you graduate. Use this as an opportunity to explore CS in a classroom setting, and take advantage of the resources you're given there; the professor or TA who you connect with during office hours might be a useful reference down the road.

3. Hone your technical skills

Once you've learned the basics, never stop putting your coding knowledge to the test! Create and maintain new projects in your spare time. If you design a fun game or build an app that you can showcase at a moment's notice, you might gain a solid reputation that you can channel into a new software engineering job.

4. Earn practical experience

Even if you don't have a degree in the software engineering field, you can volunteer your time at related charitable organizations like SocialCoder, BeneTech, or DonateCode. Not only will you be contributing to meaningful causes, but you'll also be accruing real-life experience and professional projects to showcase on your resume.

5. Finesse your "elevator pitch"

There's no way around it: as a non-STEM graduate, you'll have to do more convincing to earn a place at the software engineering table. That means you need to get your personal pitch down pat. This should cover your skills, qualifications, past projects, and talking points about how your non-traditional academic experience can serve as an asset.

6. Try your hand at industry networking

With both social media and tools like Handshake at your disposal, you shouldn't have any trouble finding networking events for technical enthusiasts near you. If you prefer a different route, consider plugging in to online forums (like Reddit) or groups for aspiring software engineers.

Want more inspiration for planning your future? Try setting SMART goals to begin defining your career path.

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