Technology consulting: graduate area of work
For many technology-related ventures, businesses need to bring in experts who can advise on the best solution and course of action for their IT strategy. Technology consultancies provide this expertise and help their clients use of their technology most effectively and get the best return on investment. Firms categorise their activities differently, but the five most typical are:
- IT strategy and design: involves aligning the client’s technology with their business strategy to make sure they keep pace with changes in business and technology developments.
- IT operations and management: focuses on transforming a client’s existing IT and business processes to enhance performance. This can cover everything from IT governance, through managing changes in technology, to putting in place best practices for example, in security.
- Enterprise architecture: defines the vision and future roadmap for IT within an organisation, including what to do with obsolete systems, defining corporate technology standards and building a core technology catalogue.
- Sourcing: looks at streamlining a client’s operations, for example, by assessing whether an organisation should outsource or insource its IT functions. Consultants can be involved in reviewing the business case, through to defining requirements and then negotiating IT service agreements.
- Integration: delivers IT software solutions to solve complex business problems through developing bespoke solutions or configuring commercial-off-the-shelf technology (COTS). Massive firms can cover the whole development life-cycle, while others specialise in configuring proprietary technology or project managing its implementation.
Both technology and business awareness are required
Technology consultancy isn’t purely about technology. Clients need a case for investing in IT, so read the business sections of quality newspapers to develop your general business awareness. You should also research the consulting industry. Some firms are large, others are niche, while others specialise in particular activities for example, integration. Make sure you know who the key players are and get a feel for the realities of consulting life.
Projects are client based, so travel and working away from home is common. As a graduate you will work within a team at a client’s site, but you still need to stay in touch with your own firm so that you don’t become isolated. Consulting isn’t for egomaniacs. You need to take pride in what you do, but a large part of the work is doing what is best for the client and ultimately, giving them what they need.
Applying for graduate jobs in technology consulting
Generally all degrees are considered, but technology-related, scientific and numerate qualifications are most common. Employers look for good graduates from good universities, as it’s generally accepted that smart people will learn quickly.
You need to demonstrate an interest in technology through related work experience or part-time jobs, degree modules, or even through showing you competence by using office technology to do a good presentation, for example.
Soft skills have a high value in consultancy and you will definitely need to show that you can present complex ideas well, both verbally and in writing.
Progressing on the technology consulting career ladder
Graduates typically start out in project support and analytical roles gleaning information, analysing data and drawing conclusions to feed into their projects. These roles give new starters opportunities to build skills and train in their firm’s methodologies.
In five years you could be leading a major transition project or small programme, or in charge of a bunch of work schemes; you could be a recognised industry expert or starting to manage people. In technology consulting you can really make your own career opportunities and go in any number of directions.
Choose this IT career area if…
- You want to be in an area of technology where the work is varied.
- You want a wide range of opportunities for career development.
- You want to work with clients to find solutions to the urgent challenges facing business today.
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