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What They Don’t Tell You About I.T. Careers
What Lands You the Job and the Career?
People working in I.T are often passionate about finding better and more efficient solutions. By the very nature of their chosen career, they value innovation, appreciate positive disruption and seek out intelligent and effective ways to solve problems. Within this context, there is a generalized perception of a culture that embraces “how” to do things and puts the question of “why” to one side. This can give the false impression that I.T. work is easy; there is nothing that is out of reach via a quick online course or online search?
Knowing ‘how’ to do something isn’t a guarantee for success in an I.T. career, and don’t the IT veterans know it! Quick solutions often break just as quickly and not knowing ‘why’ it’s working can be a real disaster. You found the magic, but you are no wizard. Understanding how and why it works is what truly makes you indispensable. To put it simply, it’s the “how” that lands you a job in I.T., but it’s the “why” that gets you the career, if that’s what you want of course.
I.T. is a Rollercoaster – Get Ready to Enjoy the Ride
I.T. embraces change and as such you will encounter new practices, software packages, frameworks, tools and products and they will fascinate you. Embrace them and deliver, but try not to ‘fall in love’ with your favourite hammer; keep your options open! Sooner or later you will discover the best tools and patterns that work for you and the ones that will aid your career decisions in the future. At that point you may choose to specialize and take up that ‘passion’ for a particular technology(s) as a subject matter expert.
Collect Relationships, Don’t Burn Bridges
Working in I.T. can be hard for those who don’t like being told what to do and how to do it. The best way to cope is to ask why; by understanding the motivation you can better provide the solution. A constantly changing environment also comes with its fair share of drama and clashing egos. Sometimes you will disagree with people strongly, other times you may even want to quit! However, never burn any bridges as you never know who will turn out to be the source of your strongest referrals or best opportunities. Most great jobs are a matter of good timing and word-of-mouth.
Your Degree Means Little Without Depth
A shout out to all graduates out there. A degree is without doubt a good basis for landing a job in I.T. so once you have it you can start applying! However, it is in-fact what you’ve done during, and since gaining that degree that can give you an edge and ‘degree of separation’ from the many others, who like you, will be out there seeking out work. What you have to offer beyond the degree is what truly makes you stand out from the crowd. The I.T. market is booming and a good company will always fight hard for the best prospects and gifted graduates.
First off - make sure you showcase yourself to advantage in a well crafted CV. Second - make sure you include ALL past roles and personal projects no matter how small; what have you been doing with your time while earning your degree and post degree? Alongside any work history, include the specific modules covered in your degree study if relevant; Computer Science, Mathematics and the like. If you've been furthering your education with online and other courses/certifications; writing a technical blog; authoring a paper or book / chapter or column; attending conferences, or even developing a phone app or other like passion.
When you make it in for ‘the interview’, ensure that you go along knowing something about the company you have applied for. It’s the worst possible first impression you could make and the most common complaint by hiring managers if you’ve not bothered to prep. Share your personal projects which ideally show you are willing to learn and grow and those who hire you will be willing to give you much more than just a paycheck.
Make Yourself Known Today
Ask yourself: What stops me from building a good reputation right now? The answer is nothing. Today with social media’s various online forums, it’s easier than ever to interact, share and learn with others. In other words, start selling yourself! It may feel unnatural at first, but once you remember how much competition there is in the I.T. industry, you’ll understand why it’s essential. In order to become known, start talking about what you do and what you know best. You can attend meetups and conferences in person and online, making connections and meeting people in the industry. Do make sure your online behavior is close to impeccable though, because bad habits are also spotted by prospective employers! Be sure to remember, in your networking efforts to give more than you take and play nice.
Being Flexible Gets You Places
It is quite ironic that while I.T. connects you virtually world-wide, it’s still preferable to stay as mobile and flexible as possible. You may have to accept long commutes and relocation to gain a contract, but it’s important to be flexible about it or someone else will oblique! A lot of big career jumps become possible just because you are willing to relocate, even for a short while. It’s also a great opportunity to gain from completely new experiences and learn to work in a different environment, equally well. One of the most important skills you can work on is collaborating successfully with people of different skills, levels, cultural backgrounds and other time zones. It’s a great asset to plenty of companies out there.
Find Out What You Really Want
There is no reason why you won’t end up with a good job right now. - one which allows you to grow and improve. One of the challenges is defining what you truly want from the job – the money or the knowledge or both. Find a company where you can grow with a team/company that will hear your voice and really want to share your knowledge; not just a place to get paid. Feeling great in your job, even if a temporary contract, means being a true team player and vying for the long-term opportunities in your career, in the choices you make.
Balancing Work and Life is Mastery
For many consultants working in I.T. one of the biggest challenges is finding the balance between work and life. To grow and succeed in I.T. you will often feel that you need more than 24 hours a day. It’s hard to sugarcoat it - a career in I.T. is demanding and fast-paced with I.T. professionals often working 50-60 hours a week. I guess what we’re trying to say here is that you might need to come to terms with the idea that you might have to give up some free time, relationships and friendships along the way. Do remember that being a rock star for a season could equal burnout, so don’t overdo it! At the end of the day it’s important to feel that despite this, you actually love what you do and wouldn’t wish to replace it for anything else!
Still feeling passionate about making it into the world of I.T.? The tips above come from Curo Resourcing. Curo would welcome your feedback.