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Interested in IT? Here are some tips for landing a job you love from an industry pro

May 20, 2024

Aspeq is an IT company based in Lower Hutt that delivers exams and assessments to clients around the world using software developed by Aspeq. It has a growing team of IT professionals in its ranks, from Business Analysts, Project Managers, Testers, UI/UX through to software developers and architects.

For anyone interested in a career in IT, the future is bright. But the field is broad and it can be hard to know where to start. For Tech Week 2024, we sat down with our Test Lead, Becca Batchelor, to ask her advice about getting into the field.

After the interview, Becca also shared her top tips for landing an IT job you love.

What advice do you have for young people interested in getting into the industry, but too young to start studying?

It’s never too early to find out what area of IT interests you. A good starting point is talking to people in the industry, maybe even asking to shadow them at work. Once you’ve narrowed down the general area you’re interested in, you can dig deeper to find careers in that area that you might enjoy. There are lots of online resources that can help you get a head start on your learning.

There are many avenues that are close to IT but aren’t coding, such as project management, Scrum Masters, and so on, that can also be a great option.

What career paths are open to people interested in IT?

There are too many to list! Careers in IT can cater to a whole range of interests and skill levels, which is part of the reason the field is so exciting. It includes everything from architects understanding requirements and planning solutions, to developers coding the solutions, testers ensuring it works smoothly, and support staff helping people use the software. Of course, there are many layers and types of roles each step along the way.

What is something you wish you had known or done differently at the start of your career?

While at university, your professors may expect you to know everything off the top of your head, which can be daunting, but it’s not like that in the real world! On the job, you’ll have access to tools like Google, Stack Overflow, and friendly colleagues who are willing to help if you get stuck.

I also wish I trained in project management sooner. Understanding how a project is run and how to work with others is important in any job.

What’s a common misconception about people in this field that you’d like to correct?

Many people think that folks who work in IT are introverted or quiet when, in reality, everyone who works in IT needs to have excellent communication skills! Without great communication, its easy for projects to fall apart because pieces of information get lost, or misunderstood. These "soft skills'' are really invaluable.

What’s the key to finding a job you love?

When looking for a job in IT, I’d highly recommend joining a company you think is doing good and important work. If you don’t like the company, no matter how great the pay or people you likely won’t enjoy the job. A lot of people will try to get into bigger companies because they are perceived as prestigious, but smaller companies can offer great benefits and opportunities for advancement that will help you get further in your career, faster.

It's also important to secure a position where your supervisor's communication and work styles align well with yours.

Finally, what would you say to someone interested in a career in IT?

Just start learning. It could be doing an online course in your spare time, or researching what you might like on the internet. If you’re passionate about it, just do it!

 

Top tips for getting into IT:

Define Your Goals:

Identify the area of IT that interests you the most, such as software development, testing, cybersecurity, network administration, or data analysis.

Educational Background:

Obtain a relevant degree or certification in IT. While a degree is valuable, certifications (such as CompTIA, Cisco, Microsoft, or AWS certifications) can also enhance your marketability. For testers specifically, the ISTQB certification is important.

Build a Strong Foundation:

Develop a solid understanding of fundamental IT concepts, including programming languages, operating systems, networking, databases and the Software Development Life Cycle. Understanding project management basics is also an advantage.

Hands-On Experience:

Gain practical experience through internships, part-time jobs, or personal projects. Hands-on experience is highly valued in the IT industry.

Programming Skills:

Learn a programming language or two, depending on your interests and career goals. Popular languages include Python, Java, JavaScript, C#, and more.

Networking:

Attend IT conferences, workshops, and local meetups to network with professionals in the field. Networking can open doors to job opportunities and provide valuable insights.

Create a Portfolio:

Develop a portfolio showcasing your projects, skills, and accomplishments. This can be a powerful tool when applying for jobs or internships.

Stay Current with Technology Trends:

IT is a rapidly evolving field. Stay informed about the latest trends, tools, and technologies to remain competitive.

Soft Skills Matter:

Develop strong communication, problem-solving, and teamwork skills. IT professionals often need to work collaboratively and effectively communicate technical concepts to non-technical stakeholders.

Specialise and Certify:

Consider specializing in a specific area of IT, such as cybersecurity, cloud computing, or data analytics. Obtain relevant certifications to showcase your expertise.

Build an Online Presence:

Create a LinkedIn profile and actively engage in professional discussions. Showcase your skills, connect with professionals, and follow companies in the IT industry.

Adaptability and Continuous Learning:

Embrace change and be adaptable. The IT field evolves quickly, and a willingness to continuously learn new technologies is crucial for long-term success.

Seek Feedback and Mentorship:

Get feedback on your work and seek mentorship from experienced professionals. Learning from others' experiences can help you navigate your career more effectively.

By combining education, practical experience, networking, and continuous learning, you can build a strong foundation for a successful career in IT. Keep adapting to industry changes, and don't be afraid to explore new opportunities as you progress in your IT journey.

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