You don't have to be a world class programming expert by the age of 18 to apply for a role in the technology sector, but you'll need a few skills under your technical belt.
Firms recognise that many undergraduates will not have the specific technical skills the sector needs but Computer science, electronics, maths or similar graduates are sought after in areas where technical expertise is paramount.
However, most firms are also interested in recruiting graduates from both IT and software and non-IT software backgrounds for other technical areas (55% of the graduates entering the sector are from non-IT disciplines). As a general rule, firms are looking for evidence of solid academic achievement, along with the right combination of technical and business skills. We've pulled together the top six skills that recruiters look for to give you an idea of where you could fit in.
1. A strong interest in Technology/IT/Computing
To do well in any job, you need to find it interesting. Top employers, such as Accenture, want to see their Technology Consultant graduates have an interest in their sector and talk about the latest developments and trends with enthusiasm.
No one is expecting you to be a world-class expert, but an awareness of what is happening in the ever-changing world of technology will certainly stand you in excellent stead with recruiters.
You may need to answer questions about what you find interesting, so make sure you do some homework.
2. Problem solving
You must love a challenge, even more so where there are no specific answers, and you have to have persistence to seek out solutions. Perhaps you're a fan of games, puzzles or chess and love the complexity of logic and reasoning problems. If either of the latter, you could be rather good in this sector.
3. Good with numbers
If you like logical problem solving, the chances are you're probably rather confident when it comes to handling numbers. No one is needing you to be a mathematical genius but you'll need to be comfortable with dealing with them as part of your job.
4. Commercial awareness
Ideally you'll have an awareness of the role technology plays in business. You don't need to know the level of detail which is expected of strategy consultants and investment bankers, but being commercially astute will only enhance your credibility amongst employers. It will also serve you well as you progress in your career and become more senior. Bright Network's commercial awareness updates can help.
5. A willingness and openness to learn
This is a sector that is consistently innovating. You'll need to be someone who can adapt to change and show openness to new ideas and concepts. You'll like learning about new innovations that can improve the lives of a business and/or consumer, and you're happy to stay across trends to keep you on your toes.
6. Ability to work independently and in a team
Depending on your role, you might find yourself completely ensconced on a project that might require quite a lot of independent work. Equally, there will be times when you'll form part of a team and be required to adapt to a different working environment. In an ideal world, you'll be someone who thrives in both environments.
Three top tips for success...
- Prove your enthusiasm: Whether you come from a Computer Science background or not, it's vital to have hard evidence of your interest in computing. Join a computing club, learn a programming language (C++ and Java are particularly sought after), or build your own website (try WordPress).
- Find the right working environment for you: Learn about the working environments in different firms, depending on size, working arrangements, product focus and training opportunities. Armed with this information, you should be able to work out which environment suits you best - the flexibility and recognition of a small firm or the structure and clear career trajectory, (but relative anonymity) of a big firm. Interning is a great way to learn where you feel comfortable and what type of environment you thrive in.
- Sharpen your skills: Go along to an IT bootcamp (Microsoft run one, as do computer clubs) to not only show commitment and initiative, but also improve your technical skills. See Bright Network's Technology Academy course to learn how to use Python.
Now you know how to excel, find the right place for you by browsing graduate jobs in IT software and development.