What type of IT company and job is the best fit for me?
The IT sector is much broader than a few well-known technology multinationals. 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
The large employers of IT graduates include:
- technology solutions providers (these companies provide complete solutions, from software development through to implementation and integration within the business environment, (eg SunGard, Hewlett Packard)
- IT services organisations (eg CGI, Fujitsu, Infosys)
- telecoms companies (eg BT, Metaswitch Networks)
- technology consultancies (eg Alfa (formerly CHP Consulting) , PA Consulting)
Other significant IT recruiters in the graduate market include finance and professional services firms, including:
- investment banks (eg Nomura, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley)
- retail banks (eg Barclays Retail and Business Banking)
- investment management firms (eg Baillie Gifford & Co)
- insurers (eg Aviva)
- accountancies (eg Ernst & Young)
Retail, media, games development and public services organisations are also major players in the technology employer landscape. And then there are the many smaller employers, such as specialist software houses and niche consultancies (eg Tessella), that complete the picture. But, potentially, you could start your IT career in any type of business.
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.
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. Many IT professionals who responded to a TARGETjobs IT & Technology graduate survey said that travel and spending weeknights in hotels were their least favourite aspects of the job. 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
As you begin to establish what you want from your job and the type of organisation you’d like to work for, it’s essential that you think about the requirements of the role and what the employer wants from you as an individual. This 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, as some students mistakenly assume they’ll be able to walk into any graduate IT job because they have an IT degree.
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. What’s more, research has revealed that it can take more than 12 months for a graduate pursuing a career in the IT and technology sector to get that first job.
So, even if you’ve studied computer science, you still have to go several steps further to get your foot in the door of your chosen company.
On your job hunt, make sure you think about the employers’ needs, not just your own. Remember that:
- Demand for technologists is greater at experienced-hire level than entry level
- IT recruiters tend to have requirements that go beyond what’s taught in lectures
- Many major players now demand at least a 2.1 degree, and in some cases a minimum number of UCAS points
- Even if you’ve got the right skills, you still need to sell your understanding of and enthusiasm for a particular employer
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