How to switch your career to IT?

by Magdalena Skowrońska on 7th November 2012

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Should you consider a career switch? Lately during job fairs, we’ve met a lot of experienced developers, but also quite a large group of people aspiring to become one. No wonder, the IT industry is currently booming and attracts workers offering outstanding career opportunities. What’s more is that in the Western World the companies are in most cases facing the problem of lack of programmers. All in all, sounds good if you already are a programmer. What, if that’s not the case, can I consider a job-switch?  That’s a question we were asked several times during the Future3 job fairs, on 23rd of October. High time for an answer!

For those beginning their  journey with their professional life, we promise a follow-up article soon!

Can everyone become a programmer?

No, not everyone. ‘Want’ and ‘be able to’ are two different things. First of all, every good programmer is capable of abstract and analytical thinking.

Analytical thinking is an ability to find a problem’s solution by submitting smaller pieces into a whole. While, abstract thinking enables using various solutions and enhances us to always find new ones. These two abilities are crucial in programmers’ daily life. Thus, if you wish to find out whether you’re fit for the job, or not, try yourself at some mathematical and logical tasks that develop the skills mentioned.

Useful steps that can help you start your career in IT

 The first thing you should do is to ask yourself why do you want to work in IT. Is it the passion that’s leading you to a change, or is it about the money? In the first case you’re well-motivated, in the second you may expect a failure. The money and position comes with time and experience, thus it’s better to enjoy what you do, because at first you may not notice the financial difference between your current position and a new IT job.

However let’s not identify IT with programing only. You may check your skills and preferences in variety of occupations that require different skills. From PC techies, network administrators, graphic designer  webmaster, to record producers, all are indispensable part of IT staff. Thus, if you are thinking very seriously about starting your career in Information Technology, analyze your talent and go through the following steps.

# Check whether you are already skilled in IT

If you have a PC and use it for more than just typing, doing basic office work, doing your homework, playing games and casually surfing the web, then you may have the potential for the job. Of course by more, we mean creating some programs, design project for your own use.

# Make a list of types of IT work you might be interested in

For example, if you love computer games, you can list game testing or writing game software. If you enjoy designing: graphic design or software design should go on your list. If you are interested in how the Internet works and how computers connect to each other network administration or network design will work for you. Choose those fields that you are most interested in and try to develop your skills to reach proficiency in them.

# Participate in IT events and get to know the right people

Nowadays, you have many opportunities to take part in meet-ups, free conferences and job fairs where you can meet people working in IT and  exchange your knowledge and impressions. It is also a good time to talk with some representatives from IT companies and be hunted by their HR department. Be patient and give yourself time to gain some experience in the first place. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It is good to walkabout developers and make the geeks your new best friends.

# Look for educational opportunities

It is good when your educational background is related to Information Technology. Technical universities are the most reliable sources of knowledge, however it is not a necessity to be their graduate. There are many exceptions that prove you do not need to be computer science graduate to be a good developer. It depends on your attitude and ambitions. Remember that every additional time spent on coding is a good way to improve your skills. Search for some problem and try to find a solution. It forces you to creative thinking. Try to do something more than you expect of yourself.

# Look into professional certifications, free tutorials and online courses

This search of knowledge should lead you also to certifications and online resources. The most appreciated certifications by IT employers are those signed by Microsoft, Cisco and Oracle. Unfortunately the  costs are high, thus you may want to wait until you actually have a job or internship in IT. Despite that, you can always try to find some substitute that will let you increase your qualifications, for instance free tutorials, online courses and blogs by famous developers or well-respected IT companies. For sure, there are also some courses organized by universities or IT institutions in your area. If you really care for the job, try to use every opportunity to learn.

# Practice makes perfect

It is highly appreciated if you are trying to improve your skills by regular practicing. Try to write some code in your free time and learn by making mistakes. Ask experienced developers to help you if you face any technical problems or to check whether your code is correct. Writing code in a practicing mode is a good way to support your theoretical knowledge.

# Look for internships in reputable IT companies

It is obvious that an internship at Google or Microsoft will lift you high up on the career ladder, but it‘s within a reach of only few developers. Thus, we suggest you to search for such opportunities nearby. In your city there should be quite a few well-known IT companies where you could apply for an intern position. Nothing’s better than an experience in a real work environment.

# Write a competitive CV and create an account on professional social and job network sites (e.g. LinkedIn)

Remember that your CV is a  half of  success in getting your dream job. After all, except from your qualifications and skills it is important how you present yourself to your future employer. An account on a professional portal like LinkedIn  is worth creating, since it  shows that you are an  active job seeker.

Hopefully the tips above will help you to get into IT world. Please consider them before you decide to leave your current positions. Being a good developer is not easy as you can probably imagine. Do not hesitate to ask your colleagues-developers for some materials and tips.