Generally speaking, the IT industry is young compared to other disciplines such as medicine and law. Employers are often more concerned with work experience, enthusiasm, achievement, extra-curricular activities, and of course reliability rather than degree content. Aline Cumming, a consultant in IT and Education suggests that career changers need not worry about having a first degree in IT or Computer Science, citing that many employers provide training for new recruitments in the specific technologies used within the work place and provide additional personnel tooling as
new technologies come on board. But there are also many ways in which you can ease your entry into the IT field while increasing your prospects to be successful at a career change.
If you are seriously considering a new career path, try to broaden your experience and familiarity with what is happening in the industry today by taking advantage of additional training or even part time training. There are many opportunities to take courses in specific IT technologies at the community college or university level. It is often not required to go through the entire prescription of courses to attain an additional or associate degree. Of course a joint degree is not frowned upon but rather open college credits are encouraged and show interest, determination and the
ability to learn new skills to prospective employers. If you can, take time out to study full time and grasp as much of what is going on on the market place as possible. Other non-traditional training is also available and is usually set with the career changer in mind. These offer diplomas or certificates in various subject matters and are often more voluntary and less academic in nature. Many are vendor specific and are tailor for the short term in order to get the individual up to speed as quickly as possible. Information Week cites that companies such as Microsoft, Oracle, Novell and others are committed to filling the skills gap by providing qualified
individuals to fill positions in their specific technologies. For example this year alone, Microsoft is expected to train approximately 1.2 million IT professionals while Oracle plans to train an additional 520,000 in specific technologies through instructor led training programs. In traditional institutional education venues enrollment for all level of degrees in technological fields are up anywhere from 71% to 108%.
An often-overlooked route for career transition preparation lies in apprenticeships, temping or in seeking one's transfer into a technology department within the workplace. This approach provides an opportunity to test the waters so to speak, to see if your career aspirations are really a match for your talents and personality. In taking the less committed approach an individual may also examine if a career in IT is also in synch with personal preferences relating the work place environment,
professional and leisure time relationships, and commitments. Often careers in IT require the ability to rise to the occasion in terms of longer work days and overtime in order to achieve certain project deadlines. Making sure you have the stamina to keep up with the pack is often tantamount to success in some areas of the industry. Above all, no matter which approach you use to gain added experience to increase your marketability, make sure that you can provide a practical practical evidence of your skill set to implement the concepts and expertise you've gained. Be prepared to show a prospective employer some insight and examples as to real world application of your knowledge other than those created as requirements for coursework. Individuals looking for careers not only need to prove that they attended and passed technology courses, but also that they are competent in applying the knowledge in today's marketplace.
If you are still at odds with whether or not the road to an IT career is for you considering working with a career counselor. Assessment is a vital part of career counseling and may highlight your skills, strengths, and weaknesses. Some counseling may add to your ability to develop your interpersonal skills as well as to effectively market yourself. Of course counseling is just that, and should not mention you of executing your own plan for a successful career transition. Use it as a tool to shape your advantage in the marketplace not as an excuse for apathy.
Once you have charted your course and committed to the idea of making the leap there will be other activities to consider.
– Revamp your resume to expose your functional skills first. IT employers are interested in what you can do and what value you can.
– add to the work environment, not in your long list of previous employers and dates. It is often not what you know but what you can learn that will propel you to the front of the line in IT.
– Start networking as soon as possible. If you feel yourself migrating towards a career in IT start mixing with people who are already in the field. Join organizations, user groups, and frequent the places that attract your prospective employer and associates. Start socializing and collecting business cards from anyone in the
industry who will give one to you. In the tight labor market most jobs are filled through relationships that guarantee some level of authenticity of the applicable. You can find groups and associations through newspaper articles as well as web based research and news groups.
– If you land an interview, make sure you do your research. Know what expertise your potential employer is involved in and develop a series of scenarios in which you can display your eagerness, insight and potential for adding value through your presence on the job. Show that you are an analytical thinker and have the ability to
see the endless possibilities of the new e-conomy by thinking 'outof-the-box.' Remember, developments happen so quickly in the IT industry that today's realities were not even thought of 5 years ago. Prepare yourself for the interview to be " out-of-the-box "as well. In the fast paced dot-com world expect the experience to be short, sweet and very much to the point. -Com Job? "She quotes a leader of marketing now employed in cyberspace as recommending you be ready with an" elevator pitch. In the time it takes to go from the bottom floor to the top, you should be able to sell your skills for a particular position. "Be comfortable with your past experiences and job history by drawing parallels during an interview as to how your skill set blends with the needs of the potential employer. One thing there is a shortage of in the youthful IT industry is the 'mature experience' that can only be gained by having been there and done
that. Life experience is a valuable card and played correctly, it can work to your advantage.
– Lastly, and interestingly enough for us "older" cyberians, prepare to be interviewed by someone younger than you. If you have difficulty relating with 20 and 30 year olds and are intimidated by their presence maybe you might want to spend a few evenings rehearsing at a local pub. Your success could be hampered by the inability to point out your similarities. Just keep in mind, they will be one of us soon and will also be faced with the challenges of keeping contemporary.
If you are contemplating a career change, no matter what career path you choose, whether it is the tried and true or the intimidating and new, trust your intuition in making your decision. Eugene Raudsepp in "Trust your Intuition in Career Decisions" claims that intuition plays a key role and works well in choosing a path that is right for you. By evaluating all of the options with an analytical yet real eye you enable your subconscious to evaluate and compare your options. Intuition is the oracle of the mind and can often provide you with advice on which direction to take.
In closing, making a career transition is never an easy task. It always invives research, brave commitment, and hard work. The road that leads to a happy ending in IT in particular is paved with education, training, and experience. The more you know, the more you will grow. Above all the best advice is to do something you like, like what you do and do it well. Remember to strive to add value to your toolbox of marketable skills. By adding value to yourself, you add value to those around you and guarantee your success in whatever career you choose.
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