8 Tips for Preparing for an Entry-Level IT Career
If you are planning for a future in technology and computers, you are probably looking for advice and suggestions for how to make it all happen. There’s more to embarking on the career of your dreams than getting the relevant training—although that is a significant step along the way. We have put together eight tips to help aspiring computer professionals like you prepare for an entry-level career in the Information Technology (IT) field.
GET AN EDUCATION
Unsurprisingly, the best thing you can do to set out on the path to becoming a computer support specialist, electrical technician, electronics technician or other related professional is to get the best education you can. A Computer & Network Technician program like that at Florida Career College will give you a practical and applied approach to learning using the tools and techniques deployed in the field today. In as few as 11 months, you will be ready to jump into your new career.
DON’T PIGEONHOLE YOURSELF TOO EARLY
It’s very tempting to choose a specialty right out of the gate, but you could be doing yourself a disservice. Instead, start from a broad skills base. Rather than choosing a specialization that you may later wish to change, get to understand the fundamentals of computers and networking, learn about the many areas of focus available, and get trained in a wide array of options. You will then be able to confidently choose your specialty—or decide to remain a generalist with an even greater number of career openings available to you.
Whether you pursue an internship, an externship, or volunteer to help out in an organization that needs computer assistance, this is a great opportunity to get real-world experience. This will look great on your resume, and could even lead to a potential job with the organization where you are giving your time. Work experience will be a valuable differentiator when potential employers are looking at hundreds of resumes to fill a position. Additionally, these positions are great for building your network and understanding what it’s like to work in IT in the real world.
NETWORK WELL & OFTEN
Have you considered joining professional networking groups? These groups can help you meet more people in the IT field, giving you exposure to the types of employers you’d want to work for, or the professionals you’d like to work with in an IT office. Getting to know others who are also junior in their careers can help you gather information about what it’s really like in the field or possible job openings. Don’t be shy about asking questions and cultivating relationships with potential role models or mentors.
UPDATE YOUR PROFESSIONAL ONLINE PRESENCE
When you are applying for jobs, there’s a very good chance potential employers will run a background check on you, reviewing your online presence. For this reason, it’s important that you have an updated LinkedIn profile that matches your resume. The content on your social media pages should reflect the image you want to portray to the world, so review the content and photos you have posted with a critical eye. For better or worse, social media is an indelible part of your personal brand, so make sure that you are presenting yourself as the type of person that employers want to have in their IT departments.
DON’T NEGLECT THE SOFT SKILLS
Interpersonal and communication skills are just as important as the technical ones. In fact, hiring managers pinpoint “the soft skills gap” as a challenge when hiring IT professionals. Take the time to develop your teamwork and relational skills—employers will appreciate your efforts to help build a supportive community, exhibit empathy, and demonstrate understanding. Soft skills also include problem-solving, writing skills, identifying patterns, and offering creative solutions to challenges.
PREPARE THOROUGHLY FOR INTERVIEWS
Do your homework in advance of any interviews. This includes making a list of the posted job requirements and how your skills and experience match up with them. Research the company to understand their culture, whether it’s a good fit for you, and so that you can ask or answer relevant questions. Practice interviewing; know your strengths and weaknesses, relevant experience, and how to tell a story about yourself. Present yourself professionally, using proper interview etiquette. Ask questions that demonstrate your familiarity with and interest in the company.
CONTINUE LEARNING & GROWING, EVEN AFTER YOU SECURE THE JOB
IT is constantly changing, so you are never really done learning. Remain active in developments in the field by reading (books, blogs, papers), staying abreast of evolutions in application development, hardware and software solutions, and continue networking with your professional peers. Look for professional development opportunities in the field, and consider additional training and certifications that might help enhance your career.
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