If you’re not sure that you want to focus on one particular area from the outset, explore employers offering graduate programmes that allow you to work in different roles or business areas.
The IT sector is much broader than a few well-known technology giants. Widen your horizons and you'll instantly widen the pool of jobs you can choose from. You'll also impress graduate recruiters much more if you can show you've considered your options, even if you eventually apply to the big-name tech company you first thought of.
Types of companies offering IT graduate schemes
Many employers in the IT & technology sectors will run graduate schemes, where, each year, they will hire a number of graduates for a structured training programme that typically lasts between one and two years. A graduate scheme may be for a specific role or can include a number of 'rotations': periods of time spent in different departments, teams or job roles. Examples of the different types of technology employers that run graduate schemes include:
- technology solutions providers – providing solutions to businesses, such as software – (eg FIS and IBM)
- IT services organisations (eg CGI, FDM Group, Fujitsu)
- telecoms companies (eg BT, Metaswitch Networks, and Sky)
- technology consultancies (eg Alfa, Capgemini, PA Consulting)
There are also many smaller employers (or SMEs) that offer entry-level roles for graduates. While some may run annual graduate schemes, most will advertise entry-level roles on an 'ad hoc' basis: that is, as and when they become available. Smaller organisations may be more specialised and focus on one particular area of technology, rather than offering many different services, and may be good places to start if you already know the area of IT you'd be interested in specialising in. You can find out more about starting your career, and opportunities for graduates, at SMEs here.
Employers outside of the IT and technology industry
Technology plays a major role in the finance sector too. As such, many banks and financial and professional service firms also run technology graduate schemes specifically intended for graduates with IT-related degrees. Examples of employers outside of the IT & technology sector include:
- investment banks (eg Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Nomura)
- retail banks (eg Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group)
- investment management firms (eg Baillie Gifford & Co, BlackRock)
- insurers (eg Allianz, AXA)
- accountancies and professional services firms (eg EY, Deloitte)
What kind of work do you want to do?
With a wide range of options on offer you need to know how to search for the right IT employer and career. Narrow down your options by considering what type of work you want your job to involve. Do you want to do loads of coding or none at all, but still use your technical reasoning? Would you prefer to be business focused, or enjoy the best of both the technology and commercial worlds? Do you want to be troubleshooting daily, or working on projects with longer deadlines?
If you’re not sure that you want to focus on one particular area from the outset, explore employers offering graduate programmes that allow you to work in different roles or business areas before you specialise.
Why I chose a graduate scheme – Aman, Sky
Are you prepared to travel as part of your job?
Technology careers vary widely in terms of how mobile you need to be.
If you’re looking to become an IT consultant, expect to spend your working week wherever your current client is based, maybe catching a plane home for the weekend. Likewise, graduates in IT services may be required to spend the week on their clients’ premises.
In contrast, if you choose a very technical role such as developer or software tester you’re likely to spend the vast majority of your time in the same office with maybe the odd trip out.
Business and management-focused roles (eg project management) tend to fall somewhere between the two – they often require a degree of travel but this can vary depending upon the precise role and company.
Try to assess honestly how mobile you are prepared to be. Regular travel may seem very glam at the start, but are you really happy to put week-time evening pursuits on hold?
Know what the employer wants from you
Don’t assume that, if you have an IT-related degree, you can walk into any graduate job. Recruiters report that students applying for graduate jobs in technology roles are particular culprits for not taking applications and employability seriously enough. That’s compared with students applying for other graduate roles, such as business or finance, and with school leavers applying for technology roles.
Thinking about the requirements of the role and what the employer wants from you as an individual will help you to determine whether you are truly a good match for the job and your chosen employer. It will also make apparent the ‘extra’ skills and attributes that you’ll need to bring to the table, such as: a range of soft skills and programming languages
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