Few industries are growing in the same ways as the mobile industry these days. While even 15 years ago apps were barely a thing and we were still understanding the implications of the .com boom, now apps and smartphones are a staple of our daily lives.
Yet those apps and smartphones are not coming from thin air. Someone must make all of these developments, and that person could be you. If you’re reading this, you might be interested in a career in making apps, working on smartphones, or something very similar. And there are plenty of jobs to be had, given the number of smartphones that are sold every year and how much takes place on apps these days.
Here is some helpful information to help you land your next job in the mobile industry.
As with any industry, not all jobs will be the same. Many will not even be remotely the same. A person doing product development and a person doing marketing will often have to be clued into the same things about the app or product, but otherwise, they need very different skillsets. Some jobs might require more people skills. Some jobs might involve talking to a supervisor once a week and that’s about it. Even with the same job title, two different companies might interpret the position differently. Do your research when applying, and do your research on the company, as we’ll discuss later.
The application process will also vary from company to company. You’ll probably send an application in with your resume and other contact information, but the questions and requested information will change depending on what the position needs. Furthermore, after the initial screening process, there will be plenty of different versions of the process.
It might help to research a little bit on how companies conduct their interviews, but do not try to prepare for everything. Instead, prepare yourself so that you are confident and capable in any situation.
How much does formal education matter in the mobile development world? What skills do you need or what degrees or certifications are recommended?
How much does going to university and getting a degree help your efforts? Is getting a degree worth it at all? While you should be doing more than reading this article to make up your mind on whether you should spend four years of your life getting a degree, we can provide some basic information.
To start with, it depends on the institution, and it depends on the major. If you can get a degree in a related topic from MIT, you probably have a good shot at getting the job of your dreams eventually and you probably have all the support you need to get it. A two-year programming degree from a community college might not help so much, though be a good start for the next step of your education. It also may be fine for organizations with more entry-level positions or those that care more about results and demonstrations than degrees.
For the most part, people looking into getting into the mobile industry will want to consider whether they are looking to get into app development, technology or hardware development, or something else entirely. They will want to get a general idea of what that entails, and what type of degree and education will be helpful. However, it would be hard to go wrong with a computer science degree.
There are also more niche jobs in the smartphone industry. These might require more niche degrees and advanced degrees. However, it should also be noted that these jobs might be harder to notice from the outset, so networking or alternative channels might be the way to go to learn more. You have done more research on your specific dream position in the smartphone world than we do. You probably have more information if you have such a refined idea.
And in general, despite thoughts that things such as music appreciation and the natural sciences might not be relevant to app development, there are some benefits to a well-rounded education. Communication skills and writing skills are useful in most positions, and having a greater breadth of knowledge to draw from can be vital when you work. Whether it is worth the cost, however, will be up to you. Some employers will favor all sorts of different backgrounds.
If you don’t know much about coding now or don’t have much in terms of credentials to prove yourself, what about a coding bootcamp? They are intensive programs designed to teach you everything you need to know to get started in a certain IT field. It could be a type of programming language, a more specific program on how to create apps, or something else. And employers will notice the certification, etc. that comes from graduating from one of these. Even if that part doesn’t consider
However, you should know that not all coding bootcamps are made equally. Some will teach you better than others. Some will be a better option for you in particular based on their teaching methods. And some have better reputations than others, and companies will take notice of that. Some are considered nearly scams. Given the investment, you need to do your research here.
You should also know that they are called bootcamps for a reason. For a period of perhaps a couple of months (the exact timeframe can vary), you will be expected to put in hours equivalent to a part-time job, if not more than that. You might find yourself exhausted or confused, yet expected to plug along. They also might require some investment, so you will have to see if you can afford one or if it is the best choice for you.
However, if you don’t have much experience or are missing something, or just need a refresher after several years, a coding bootcamp can be just what you need to get your CV noticed.
It is a common saying that the best way to learn to program is to pick a goal and work towards it, learning as you go along. And while perhaps you might want to learn a bit more about the fundamentals of programming alongside this, it is a way to immerse yourself in smartphones. It isn’t that hard to try and program an app, especially if you’ve no intention of making a fortune or even making it available at all. Sure few people will download it without the polish that most of the top apps have or the originality that the breakout hits have, but that isn’t the point. The point is to learn so that you can show the companies that have your dream position that you have both the drive to create and the skills to make something yourself, however small in scale. It showcases independence.
There’s no clear guide we can give you here. You should follow your interests, and look up guides and information as you get stuck. Learning by doing might be the fastest way to learn, and while you might have gaps, it might be the best thing you can do when you have the free time to do so.
No matter what you have in a background of education, there are some other things that you should know about when hunting for a job in the mobile industry. Some are must-knows, while others are fields of study that will provide you with the edge you need to stand out in the crowded field. And even if some things might not come up in the interview or the hiring process, they will allow you to hit the ground running once you get that job.
Sure you might not have a job in the app industry yet, but nothing is stopping you from diving head-first into the world of apps. Much information is readily available from the app store and sites that keep track of top apps. Much of how popular apps work on a base level is readily available, and you can keep track of what works with consumers and what doesn’t. You can study your own phone and dive deeper into the options in the operating system. You can see if you can talk with developers you know about the industry. You can read interviews and watch videos about apps and smartphones. The more you know, the better you will be able to talk to your future peers and perhaps offer new ideas for your dream job.
You don’t necessarily need to form a strong political opinion on the regulation of apps just yet, but there is an ongoing debate about how apps and smartphones should be used, and how much privacy people should have on them. What should the balance of rights be between the consumer and companies? What is absolutely necessary for apps to work properly, and where are companies stretching where permissions are concerned?
You will also want to brush up on the related laws in both California and the EU. Both markets are so large that few apps wouldn’t submit to those regulations to have a presence in the region. You will want to look into how current apps are abiding by those as well as when companies try to make a stand and either strongly challenge regulations in courts or simply do not comply. What is the rationale? You don’t need to do a full legal review, but understanding the main arguments can be helpful.
The mobile industry is one of constant change. The technical specifications of the best device on the market change every six months. There is more in the pipeline than you could ever know. But don’t let that stop you from trying. Learning more about the latest models and what might be coming out in the next year or so can help you prepare for interviews and know more about the tasks and tech you might be responsible for should you get the job.
One of the best things you can do when applying for any job is to learn more about the company or business you are applying to. If possible, learn a little bit about the department or branch you are working for as well. Finally, if you know the app you would be likely working on in your new role, learn as much as possible you can about that. Learn the ins and outs of it.
What is the company culture in the organization you are most interested in? What do you think the culture is like in the tech world and the smartphone industry in general? Naturally, it is not all alike, but you might notice some commonalities that change over time, some demographics and trends that pop up more than others.
Now while some level of adaptation is recommended, you also shouldn’t apply to a company where you know you’ll be miserable, whatever the reason. It won’t end well for either party and your career will only suffer for it.
Whether you want to call it a resume, CV, or something else, the fact of the matter is that you need a strong one to make a statement to potential employers. And one thing you should do is adjust and tailor your resume to your preferred position.
Sometimes less is more when it comes to your resume. You should only include relevant information, and usually, be as succinct as possible. If an employer wants to know more after you give the basics, they can ask you. Where you shouldn’t cut too much is from any position in the past where experience or duties might be relevant. And don’t sell yourself short! That one-time project might be just the experience or proof the recruiter is looking for.
Also, tailor your documentation to the job and the company. What do you think a recruiter or interviewer at the company you’re applying to would be interested in? Is there anything local that’s relevant? Have you worked with a group or company that they have worked with in the past? Are there any skills you know they are looking for?
Social media is also something to look at. Your Twitter hot takes might be best hidden away, or your profile not available to the public eye. For most positions, you don’t need a ton of followers. Maybe an account or two to show you’re online, but you don’t need to be huge on it unless perhaps you’re applying for a related position.. Employers generally look at social media to make sure there’s nothing controversial about an employee. Their discussions with you are where they determine the other important conclusions.
There is also the matter of references. Ideally, you may have a reference that is within the industry already or might be a good connection to the rest of the industry. If this is not possible, use who you think is best and who would be respectable to have as a reference.
The mobile industry is a global industry. With a few exceptions what is available in one is available in most regions, especially with larger apps. There might be language barriers, but with more people learning English all over the world and better translation apps and services, even those barriers aren’t as tough as they used to be.
The possible exception for this is if the job you’re looking at is local and the app is locally based. If the app only works in one country, then you only need to focus on that country (unless you want to propose an expansion).
It is not just who you know in the tech world, but it can help sometimes. If you can get a referral or more information about a position or company than the other candidates. Also keep in mind that the other top candidates will be doing the same thing, leveraging every opportunity they have to get the position.
However, all the networking in the world won’t help much if you aren’t qualified and know what you are talking about. People will find out quickly and then soon ignore you, even if they can’t remove you from your position right away. You’ll just wind up in a career roadblock that leads nowhere.
If you’re in a training program, college, or something of the sort, getting to know the people in your class or your teachers/professors can be a great way to get started. You may also want to see if there are groups or associations related to programming or technology at your institution. It might not be directly related to the smartphone industry, but you’ll find like minds for sure.
If you have the time and money to do so, it might behoove you to attend a trade show or conference related to the industry. It can be a great educational opportunity, and it can be a way to meet people further up the career ladder than you that can lend a helping hand.
There’s also the internet. While cold messaging people on LinkedIn is a surefire way to get blocked and ignored if you don’t have a plan, you might find opportunities on social media to get your name out there.
Whatever your strategy, take some time regularly to look for opportunities to network and get to know the right people. You might even make new friends!
If you just want to develop apps and don’t want to worry too much about working for a big name in the app or smartphone world, then you could always go it alone. You probably can’t develop a smartphone by yourself, and if you can we want to know your secrets. But doing some peripheral to it or working on creating apps is well within the bounds of possibility. You will have all the benefits of being your own boss (along with all the disadvantages).
However, we do note that not everyone might be privileged enough to work for themselves or work on their own app as a full-time career. It can take a significant amount of money to develop an app if only to support yourself during its development. Your app might come about as the result of many late nights working after your shift at your day job. And this is fine if you are passionate about the project and take care of yourself, but there is a balance to be had. Alternatively, if you work as a freelancer, you might not get all of the benefits of working in a larger, more secure organization. There is an inherent instability to it early on, especially as you are growing your client base.
You aren’t going to get anywhere if you don’t try to apply to a place, even if you don’t feel you’re 100 percent prepared. In truth, you will never be that prepared. Even if you do everything else perfectly and have prepared your entire life (which is practically impossible), you could get thrown a curveball. An application now is better than five theoretical applications five weeks from now. The positions are not going to stay open forever.
Also, you are going to get some rejections. In many cases, you might not even get a callback or an email back. Do not let this discourage you. Many companies are working on smartphones and apps, and unless you specifically want to work for Apple or something like that there will be a position for you if you’re qualified. If you’re willing to move, then look for positions across the country. And even if you’re not, there is a trend towards remote work that will hit the smartphone world faster than most industries.
And remember, even if you do get a job offer, you don’t have to accept it if you find that the company is really not a good fit down the line. You are not forcing yourself into anything. You are instead putting yourself out there and putting yourself at the negotiating table. And the more places you apply, the better odds you’ll have of getting the mobile industry job of your dreams.
Congratulations, you’ve landed your dream job! But the process is not entirely over yet. There are a few things we recommend doing to stay in everyone’s good graces:
Naturally, there is a lot more you need to be doing on top of reading this article. There are simply so many variables at play, and you know your situation best. What we hope we’ve done here is make sure that you are thinking about all of the potential situations and the ways you can prepare for interviews, applications, and onboarding. This will not be an easy journey, and there will likely be setbacks. Yet keep at it, and eventually, you will find yourself in a better job that fulfills you.