Jobs and Careers in Communications & Information Technology - News Information & Advice

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IT career tips


The UK's largest IT graduate employer, FDM Group, offers advice to graduates seeking to break into IT

As the world wakes up to the realisation that the IT sector underpins the production of every other industry, a career within the field is becoming more and more desirable.

Due to the pivotal role that IT professionals play within all corners of the economy, salaries are lucrative and career progression can be rapid.

The growth of opportunities within the industry is phenomenal and according to the 2011 e-Skills report, over half a million new IT and Telecoms professionals will be needed across all sectors of the economy in the next five years.

The good news for graduates is that they are in demand and according to High Fliers' investigations into graduate opportunities in 2011; the most common graduate vacancies will be for IT and Finance roles.

More than half of UK employers currently offer graduate IT roles, irrespective of the company's field, as the demand for IT expertise in all industries increases.

However, the endless list of statistics used to promote IT careers can often be misleading as breaking into the IT sector without industry specific experience and robust skills can often be a losing battle for graduates.

So how can graduates seeking to break into the IT sector actually set about doing so?

Understand the nature and role of IT

Most University degrees don't provide graduates with enough exposure to the full product development life cycle and how this relates to the business world.

For example, IT students may be taught to write code to solve algorithms or prove certain academic principles but the commercial realities of being a developer are not sufficiently explored.

To break into the IT industry you will need to appreciate the context that surrounds it, IT exists to enable business. IT professionals are employed to solve business problems and improve processes or efficiencies.

You also need to be aware that due to the nature of the industry you will need to work with a variety of people throughout a project lifecycle from technical professionals to more business focused users. Optimum communication and interpersonal skills are therefore essential for IT professionals.

Show a Passion for the Industry

Due to the ever-evolving nature of the IT industry, graduates will need to stay one step ahead of the game at all times. Keep up to date with industry news on a regular basis and make sure you have an opinion on emerging technologies.

Your research must be wide and varied so trawl through industry journals such as those provided by Computer Weekly and subscribe to technical newsletters.

Technology forums are also a great way of tapping into what is going on in the industry. Join as many forums as you can and take note of what people are saying. You should also contribute to discussions as this is a fantastic way to prepare for job interviews.

It is also vital that you stay abreast of what is happening in the specific sector you want to branch into. For example, if you are thinking of working within the finance sector you will need to research that industry just as thoroughly and understand how IT contributes to that field.

Be Prepared for Your Interview

Employers will often be interested in your final year project and you need to be able to describe how and why you did the assignment and most importantly how you know you did it well.

Interviews for IT roles can be demanding.Employers are looking for passion, enthusiasm and potential, in lieu of commercial experience. Anything you have to demonstrate these attributes are worth mentioning in the interview.

Focus on a few technologies you feel most comfortable with, rather than mentioning every technology you have vaguely encountered. Prospective employers don't expect the impossible but anything on your CV is fair game.

You also need to be able to remain calm under pressure as practical tests may be sprung on you. Be prepared to build code on demand and offer a presentation on how you built this code.

Although it might sound obvious the most important thing to do when attending an interview is to be professional. At FDM we introduce the commercial realities of being an IT professional from our experience of our very demanding and varied client base. An IT role requires you to interact with employees and clients at all levels and you must be seen to possess the air of professionalism needed to do so.

Throughout the interview, you need to demonstrate that you understand how fundamental IT is to the business world and how your role will benefit the organisation as a whole. Think about what sets you apart from the other candidates and what will make you an asset rather just an employee to fill a vacancy.

IT employers may well Google you. Therefore you must make sure that your professionalism is communicated across the web too. Always ensure that your private life is hidden away and never leave your Facebook profile open for all to see.

Join a Graduate Programme

Blue-chip employers and investment banks often require their employees to be 'work-ready' from day one. The ability to hit the ground running when stepping into an IT role may require the completion of industry recognised qualifications and further training.

The majority of these companies also require a minimum of two years commercial experience and only 7% of firms take on IT graduates direct from University.

Unfortunately this creates a Catch-22 situation for graduates without specialised skills and industry experience, seeking to break into the IT sector.

This is where IT graduate employers such as FDM Group step in.

FDM aims to tackle the IT skills shortage and bridge the gap between University and employment for graduates, providing the essential combination of technical training and direct commercial experience within some of the largest financial, media, retail and insurance companies in the world.

Sheila Flavell, Chief Operating Officer at FDM said, "Here at FDM we understand the difficulties graduates face today and nowhere is this more apparent than in the IT industry. Our aim is to help graduates seeking to enter the sector to break out of the vicious circle of university qualifications without industry centred experience.

As the UK's largest IT graduate employer, FDM also takes on graduates from a range of disciplines and regularly accepts candidates from Finance, Engineering, Mathematics, Science and even Business, Economics and Law backgrounds.

FDM supports graduates in kick-starting their IT careers and aims to place graduates within one or more of the 200 blue chip companies it is proud to call clients, for a minimum of two years. Graduates will not only receive a competitive salary throughout this period but will also gain the industry specific skills and experience needed to succeed in the industry.

FDM graduate trainee Mr Chorumasaid, "My first thought when joining FDM was: why didn't I apply earlier? You receive free training, valuable certifications and two years of commercial experience. I have so many more skills now and can actually call myself an IT professional.

To find out more about the FDM Academy and apply for its two-year graduate scheme visit FDM Group