IT Career Tips for 2019
IT is a constantly changing field and whether you graduated last year or ten years ago, you’ve seen how quickly new technologies and trends take over. For many IT professionals, this means that your career path may be changing or a bit of an unknown. While daunting the unknown can also be exciting because you have the opportunity to take your career in any direction you want!
Below are some tips we’ve found to be helpful regardless of what stage of your career you’re in right now.
Always be Ready and Willing to Adapt, Flexible & Agile
Being able to adapt to a change of plans or procedure is key in any workplace today, especially in IT. Whether it’s a new innovation that may be a challenge to learn or a piece of technology malfunctioning, it’s vital that you are able to overcome that challenge.
While flexibility and agility are important in all fields, they’re particularly important for IT careers because of the fast-paced nature of the field. You can take this a step farther by always being on the lookout for new ideas that can help your company grow!
Incorporate Time into Your Day for Reading / Always be Learning
Part of being willing to adapt and flexible is having your finger on the pulse of the field and understanding where it is heading. You can do this by following industry leaders’ blogs and social media accounts, engaging in discussion with others in your field, and keeping up with innovations. Having this knowledge will help you hone your skills and interests.
Specialize in a Topic
When you carve out time to research and read about the industry find a specific piece of the field to focus your research on. IT is a very broad field that is growing exponentially; it is made up of numerous specializations from Business Intelligence Analytics to Cybersecurity. Make your resume stick out from the rest of the stack by showing a passion for something specific by volunteering in roles where you get to work on your passions or a project to build your portfolio.
Another way to show your passion for an IT specialization is to take classes or get certified for something related to that specialization. For example, someone specializing in Cybersecurity might want to work towards a CompTIA Security+ Certification to demonstrate a high level of knowledge about how to monitor security on networks, applications, and operating systems. In addition to demonstrating a high level of knowledge, certifications will also show that an applicant is able to take initiative when they see opportunity.
Be Responsible for Your Own Career
You may have noticed that most of the previously mentioned tips require you to take initiative; this is not an accident. To be successful you have to own your career because the harsh reality is that no-one will ever care about your career as much as you.
Attend Industry Conferences
Industry conferences are a great way to explore other specialties while networking with other professionals in your field. These events can be rich in information and opportunity from networking, to new technologies, to blogs, and research companies seeking new hires!
Even if you already have a job or don’t see one at a conference that is a good fit, its vital that you use conferences as a networking opportunity. Networking helps you make friends in the industry, learn about new innovations, and learn about other technologies.
You never know when you will need someone in your network so the more people you build meaningful connections with now, the more likely it is that someone will step up to help you when needed!
Find a Mentor
If you network enough, you may find a mentor who can help guide your career. A mentor is someone you connect with and build a working relationship with. You might turn to this person for recommendations in a job search, resume or cover letter advice, or just to discuss new technology. Sometimes, you may become friends with coworkers outside of a work setting. These relationships can turn into mentors as you grow and progress. You can even have multiple mentors; they might be in different sectors of IT that you have interests in or two people you’ve made strong connections with.
Work on Communication Skills
The IT industry is often stereotyped for bad communication and social skills, it’s your job to knock down that stereotype. Aside from doing your part to knock down stereotypes, improving your communication skills will also help progress your career.
In addition to making it easier to work in teams, strong communication skills are good for business. In order to retain loyal customers, you will have to be able to communicate the value of the product or service you have, not just how it works
Gain Customer Service Skills
Customer service will likely be one of your bigger communication challenges. Often times the customer will only grasp the final product, but not the technologies and processes that go into the final project. In these situations, you will have to find ways to explain the technologies and processes in a way that the customer understands.
While it may often be frustrating when the customer doesn’t understand something or wants something that is out of the norm, it is important to remember that your career is not possible without the customer paying for the service.
Project Management Skills
Everyone has strong feelings about working in teams but love them or hate them you will be working in teams throughout your IT career. On these teams, you will be working with professionals from a variety of fields in order to complete a project. Whether this project is internal or for a client, you will need leadership, communication, organizational, and negotiation skills in addition to your career-specific skills.