Friday, November 21, 2014

Successfully Transitioning into a Career in IT

Information technology is a quickly growing and rapidly evolving field. As a result, there are more opportunities for professionals looking to build an IT career than ever before.

Over the next several years we’ll see a potential boom in IT that could be constrained by a shortage of appropriately educated and experienced workers. For example, Google alone is expecting to hire at least 5,000 people per year for the next five years in Silicon Valley alone, but will only be seeking candidates that are properly educated and have real world experience. This scenario is likely to play out with many different companies across the country seeking professionals to fill a variety of roles.

Many of these opportunities lie in the recent developments of areas such as virtualization, cloud computing, and the ongoing consumerization of IT (using your personal smartphone or tablet on a company’s network). But perhaps one of the most exciting technologies for students entering the field is the Internet of Things where everyday items from home security systems, to TVs, to cars are connecting to the internet. This industry alone is set to grow by 30% in 2015, and the pace will only increase from there. These “smart objects” will need to communicate real-time data across networks and as a result will create an increasing demand for IT professionals.

In the midst of these rapid developments, a solid foundation that includes a computer-related college degree and hands-on experience is more important than ever to fully prepare yourself to succeed as an IT professional.

Career Paths in IT

Depending on your interests, an IT career can take many different paths. Some students are more interested in programming and get a rush out of writing the code that commands a computer what to do and seeing those command executed. For others, computer networking - providing the infrastructure through which unbelievable amounts of information flows every moment - is more of an interesting career path. Similarly, information security has never been more prominent or more challenging and thus holds great career potential as well.

Academic Preparation for Today’s IT Professionals

At Peirce, we look to provide students with a balance of hands-on experience with new and emerging technologies along with timeless skills and habits of mind they’ll need throughout their career. Some of these valuable skills include critical reasoning and problem solving as well as communicating with users, understanding their needs, and providing them excellent customer service.

Other timeless skills include project management, systems analysis, and other approaches to succeed when the budgets are large and the stakes are high. Students learn how to make sure these projects are on time, according to specification, and on or under budget.

These timeless skills are combined with cutting-edge, practical skills you’ll need for a successful career in technology, a field that is perpetually reinventing itself. They include how to select, design, integrate, implement, evaluate and administer modern computer-based systems to meet user needs.

Things you can do to prepare

Aspiring IT professionals should make a special effort to stay on top of the industry as it continues to evolve. A few tips include:
  • Stay current on what’s trending on the web
  • Read the latest books in the particular areas you’re interested in.
  • Keep up with blogs that discuss the latest information and provide thought leadership.
  • Find top influencers on social media to follow and interact with. 
Another thing you can do to prepare is to seek out hands-on experience. Get involved with an open source project, volunteer your services pro bono, and look for temporary or contract work in the field.

It’s will also be extremely beneficial to spend some time in help desk, customer support, and tech support roles to gain a great perspective to use as a foundation to for your career. At Pierce, you’re required to take a course in tech support with a strong customer service foundation. The combination of experience along with a formal education is a very powerful recipe for getting connected with meaningful opportunities sooner rather than later.

As you can see, there’s plenty of opportunity for students looking to build their career in IT. If you’re interested in learning more about the programs at Peirce take a look at the various Information Technology degrees offered and feel free to reach out to us for more information.