How to get into tech from a foodservice career


A career change can seem difficult for someone who has spent a lot of time in the same field. But making the jump from catering to a lucrative tech career may be easier than you think!

Breaking into technology is possible, regardless of your background or programming abilities. The technology sector offers both technical and non-technical jobs.

You can progress to careers such as IT support specialist, software developer, web developer or technology salesperson by improving your skills and showcasing your existing strengths. Read on for a detailed breakdown.

Skills transferable from food service to technology

You may feel ill-prepared to start your new career, but food service workers have many valuable skills that transfer to the world of technology.

Customers have needs and issues that require quick fixes in the world of technology and catering. Food service workers already have valuable skills, including:

  • Punctuality
  • Team work
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Multitasking
  • Problem solving
  • Communication, including inter-team communication

Technical roles available to former restaurant workers in technology

Which tech role is right for you depends on your education, skills, and previous experience. Job requirements vary by position. Restaurant workers may be closer than they think to a tech job with no degree requirement.

IT support specialist

Minimum degree required: Associated
Alternative job titles: Technical support specialist; information technology specialist; IT Technician
Important features:

  • A strong ability to solve problems
  • Internal and external customer service
  • Interest in general IT function

Computer support specialists are of two types: computer network support specialists and computer user support specialists. Computer network support specialists typically assess existing systems and perform necessary maintenance. Computer user support specialists listen to customers’ needs and help them solve software or hardware problems.

software developer

To explore

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Minimum degree required: Bachelor’s degree, such as a degree in computer programming
Alternative job titles: Software programmer; software engineer; software craftsman
Important features:

  • Attention to detail
  • Knowledge of programming languages
  • Personal development skills

Software developers create and update software and applications. They usually work in groups and need individual skills and teamwork to succeed. This position often requires a bachelor’s degree, but food service candidates may choose to enroll in a coding bootcamp to learn the necessary computer programming languages.

Web developer

Minimum training required: Bachelor’s degree, bootcamp or certificate
Alternative job titles: web designer; front-end developer; back-end developer; full stack developer
Important features:

  • Strong creativity and collaboration skills
  • Desire to learn programming skills
  • Familiar with visual or graphic design

Web developers design and maintain websites using HTML and other programming languages. They work with clients and colleagues to resolve website issues. Someone who wants to learn how to become a web developer can benefit from a comprehensive web development bootcamp.

Non-Technical Roles Available to Former Food Service Workers in Technology

If you’re looking for a non-programmer role in technology, you still have plenty of options. Eligibility for these jobs depends on your education, skills and previous experience. A bachelor’s degree in any subject satisfies the educational requirements for many of these roles.

Technical sales

Minimum degree required: Baccalaureate
Alternative job titles: Technical Sales Development Representative; technology sales specialist; sales account manager
Important features:

  • Understanding of sales strategies
  • Strong communication skills
  • Interest in learning coding and software

Technology sellers communicate with customers to sell their company’s products and services. They generate and convert leads to convert them into potential sales. Any previous sales or customer service experience can help candidates in this area. Some technology sales positions require a degree, but many companies offer training programs for new hires.

Customer Success Specialist

Minimum degree required: Bachelors
Alternative job titles: Responsible for customer success; commercial director; customer success engineer
Important features:

  • Strong customer service experience
  • Attention to detail
  • Computer skills

A customer support specialist and a customer success specialist can look the same. But a support specialist responds to customer needs while a success specialist anticipates customer needs. Customer service is an essential part of many tech jobs. The main duty of a success specialist is to retain customers and expand the adoption of their products.

Purchasing Specialist

Minimum degree required: Bachelors
Alternative job titles: Sales director; category specialist; category consultant
Important features:

  • Negotiation skills
  • The ability to manage and motivate others
  • financial skills for budget management

A procurement specialist provides goods or services to a business. They must anticipate and meet business needs. Procurement specialists spend most of their time negotiating and closing contracts. Someone with a degree or background in business, finance or economics may be suitable for this position.

How to Get Into Tech From Foodservice: Top Tips

Thinking of switching to technology? The following steps will guide you in your new career. Research your ideal role and its requirements to set yourself up for success.

1. Be clear about the type of technical role you want.

Before applying for technical jobs, think about which roles will suit you best. Do you prefer a large company or a startup? What industry are you interested in? What does your ideal work-life balance look like and what benefits are you looking for? Should your new job be fully remote, in-person, or hybrid?

Computer science salaries vary, with many higher-paying roles requiring advanced training and experience. Be sure to research the requirements for roles and prepare before applying.

2. Improve skills.

Acquiring skills ensures that you have the right qualifications to land the role you want. Developing your skills may be easier than you think.

While some positions, like computer engineering, may require an advanced degree, many information technology careers hire based on skills. Consider enrolling in a coding bootcamp and free online courses, or pursuing certifications in information technology.

3. Maximize the quality of your application and your portfolio.

Introduce yourself through your application, cover letter and work portfolio. Food service jobs require teamwork, creativity, and communication skills, so emphasize these important traits.

In addition to your soft skills, any technical skills acquired through a degree program or coding bootcamp can help you land the tech job of your dreams.

No matter what tech job you’re looking for, a well-designed portfolio can set you apart from other applicants. Learn how to create a coding portfolio to showcase your recent work. Be sure to include clear project descriptions to show your clear communication skills.

4. Show your expertise, self-awareness and passion throughout the interview process.

Interviewing for a tech job doesn’t have to be nerve-wracking. Technical interviews are generally similar to other interviews. Your interviewer can ask familiar questions about your interests, strengths and weaknesses, and why you want to work for the company.

Many companies follow a similar interview process consisting of an initial phone review followed by a technical interview that may include coding tasks. Use our how-to guides for phone interview tips and computer interview questions to prepare for anything.

In conclusion

Going from food service to technology is easier than you think. You already have many of the skills and perspectives tech companies need, so don’t wait to start your new career.

If you’re looking for more tips on how to change careers in tech, try searching for online degree programs and coding bootcamps to set yourself apart from other applicants. Many programs offer career services to their graduates.

This article has been reviewed by Sarah Holliday, MS

Sarah Holliday, a black woman wearing a purple top, smiles.

Sarah Holliday has years of experience working with non-traditional and traditional-aged students in areas related to career coaching, training and development. Holliday holds a BA in English from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and an MA in Instructional Design and Technology (Training and Performance Improvement) from Walden University. Holliday is currently working on her Ph.D. and looks forward to dissertation soon.

Sarah Holliday is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Independent Assessment Network.

Last revised March 31, 2022.


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