How to Have a Career in Computing
When you think about the kind of career you might like to have, it makes sense to choose one that has longevity, and that will give you the chance to progress in your chosen field. Thanks to advances in technology, some jobs are becoming obsolete or otherwise less needed, which makes it difficult to choose with any certainty.
Computing and IT, however, is not one of those potentially disappearing careers. Instead, because computing is behind the technology that is being used to reduce the need for other jobs, it is the ideal sphere in which to work – we will always crave new tech and new ideas, and so there will always be work for those who understand computing. If IT is the career that you have chosen, here is how to get started.
Choose A Good Degree
Although it is possible to gain a job in IT without a degree, it is always worth having one to get the best jobs and to show that you are better than the other candidates because you have worked hard and chosen computer science as your major.
There are many different options when it comes to gaining your degree, and you will need to research exactly which college and which program is right for you. Take your time over this; rushing could mean that you discover too late that you are not learning what you had hoped, or that the course is leading you down a path you didn’t expect (and aren’t enjoying). Even if it means taking some time out to ensure that you get this vital decision just right, you should do it, everything that follows rests on this program of study.
Go A Step Further
A career in computing is something that many people feel is right for them. Whether it’s for the money (many IT careers are extremely well paid), for the prestige, or because they know that computing is a career they can have for life, there will always be more than one candidate for each role that needs to be filled.
As we’ve already mentioned, having a degree in computer science or similar will help you stand out from the crowd, but what happens if the entire crowd has this degree? In this case, the fact that you have gone one step further and gained a masters in computer science will make your application shine. Are you ready for this next big step? If so, click here to discover more about an MSc computer science degree. The great thing about learning for your masters is that it can be done in your own time, online if that is preferable, so you can continue to earn in your current job and still study so that you can get a better one later on.
Anything that can make your application look different to the dozens of others that a potential employer will be looking at is a good thing, and experience in a computing role or with computers is something that will help you.
You don’t have to have had a job in this sector to gain experience. You might have built a computer from scratch in your own time, or you might have been the go-to family member when people needed help with their computing equipment. Perhaps you created a program for your classmates at high school to help them with their studies, or you might have volunteered at a youth club or in an evening school, teaching people how to use computers.
Anything like this that shows you are not only interested but that you will do what it takes to work with computers, even if you’re not being paid or it isn’t in your own interests will be impressive. Of course, if you do happen to have managed to have obtained an internship or work experience in IT, then that’s even better, and should always be something that you talk about in interviews and include on your resume.
Will You Specialize?
To have a great career in IT, you don’t have to specialize – generalized careers are extremely important and certainly technicians and programmers are always going to be needed in this sphere. However, if you do want to specialize, then you should do it sooner rather than later. The earlier you can determine your specialty, the easier it will be to gain the experience needed to show employers. Plus, you will be more confident and happier in your chosen career and, should you realize that you aren’t enjoying what you are doing or your skills can’t match up, then you can change before it is too late.
Get a strong foundation in your career by studying the right course, to begin with, and then you can specialize once you have determined what it is you want to do. Talk to a careers advisor about what you can do, but also speak to those already working in IT and in the specialist fields you are considering – what do they think about it? Would they recommend it? Look online too; there will be forums and groups that you can join to ask your questions and get honest answers that will help you shape your career for the better.
You’ll Need Soft Skills Too
When you consider a career in IT, you are sure to think about computers and the skills needed to work well with them. However, don’t forget that you will need soft skills too if you want to impress employers and do well in whichever sector you choose to work in. Soft skills include:
- The ability to work in a team
- Interpersonal skills
Some of these skills will come naturally to you, and some will be more difficult to engage with – it will depend on your personality type, and you can’t force yourself to be good at working in a team, for example, or communicating well. Look at which soft skills you know you already have and ensure that any job you are applying for is a place where you can use these skills. Read the job description properly to ascertain whether the role is right for you. If it requires a lot of teamwork and you prefer to work alone, not only will you not be able to give your interviewer the answers to the questions that they ask, but even if you do get the job it is unlikely you will enjoy it.
To be fair to everyone, only apply for jobs that you know you will be able to perform well in, and that means being honest about your level of soft skills.
Did you know that there are many different computer science related competitions that you can enter? When you start researching this topic online you will see just how many you can look into; there will be a competition for every level, every ability, and every specialism. The more competitions you enter, the more you can hone your skills and become a better programmer or consultant.
You don’t have to win each competition (although it is great if you can and is something to add to your resume), because the mere fact of entering will show prospective employers that you are keen and that you love computers and computing.
Look Further Afield
Although it makes sense to start your search for a career close to home – it is easier for interviewing purposes, for example, and you might have close ties to the area – don’t forget to widen your search area and criteria if you don’t find anything that suits you where you are now.
The fact is, those who hold computer science degrees (especially masters degrees) and who have the relevant experience should be able to find a job wherever they want. If there is nothing of interest in your local area, looking further afield will give you a lot more scope to find the ideal job for you. You can do this even if you don’t want to relocate; some computer-related positions will allow for remote working. Don’t rule out looking further away from home if it means you can more easily find the career that will suit you best.
With a good level of knowledge and skill and a degree to prove it, you can even find a job in computing without having to search for one and apply for it via the usual channels. The key is networking.
When you network with industry professionals, and you can talk to them about your goals, what you do, how much knowledge you have, and so on, they will remember you when it comes time to hire someone in their IT department. Keep in touch as much as possible, especially if they own or work in a company that you would love to work at too – ask them to keep your resume on file, and to keep you in mind if any positions come up. The more you can network with them, and others, the more chance you will have of being asked to interview for a role, or even being offered the job without the need for an interview, and get in ahead of the competition.