Are you a fresh IT student on their path to entering the tech industry? Or perhaps, you are a senior IT student in their final year of college, seeking tech opportunities. Then, this guide is for you.
Get familiar with the world of tech by learning more about its development and its relevance to every company you enter. Acquire a general understanding of tech and learn how you can become a competitive candidate in the tech job market.
To get a job in such a competitive market, you’ll first need to know how the tech industry works. Then, learn more about what it is, why it is important, and how it can be helpful.
Introducing the Tech Industry
The tech industry, also known as the ‘tech economy’, ‘high tech’, or simply ‘tech’, is fundamentally the economy itself. With the rise of social media and e-commerce, technology is ubiquitous— it is the essence of the economy.
The world of tech focuses on three key things: innovation, creation, growth. For example, large tech companies such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft contribute to the creative ways that revolutionise the way we think, learn & communicate information, and consume goods.
The Importance of Learning Tech
One of the biggest myths about working in tech is that you must know coding in order to land a job.
Did you know? Only 15% of programmers work at startups or in big tech companies. Most of the staff are not programmers either.
The technology industry is extremely broad. Therefore, it attracts a large number of people that work in different sectors. However, as an IT student, you have a competitive edge.
Your knowledge of tech is, first and foremost, added value. Your career options can expand to many, if not all, industries. Thus, your industry knowledge can introduce you to plenty of others with the right attitude and proper skill set. For example, you could be a web developer and work at a company that is active in the financial sector.
For this reason, your broad understanding of tech is a prerequisite for becoming a competitive candidate.
The following is a list of current roles in tech that are high in demand. First, determine whether any of these roles apply to you. Then, shortlist your top options by eliminating the ones in which you are not interested.
Tech Generalist Or Tech Specialist?
One important distinction you should keep in mind is that between a tech generalist and a tech specialist.
A generalist has various interests and skills and is knowledgeable on many topics. For this reason, generalists usually take on leadership roles, such as tech lead, to manage teams and negotiate between different departments.
On the other hand, a specialist focuses on a certain field by building their understanding in a specific niche, such as learning to code for a particular product. In addition, due to their deep knowledge of a niche field, companies tend to hire specialists to be leaders, such as product leaders, on specific projects.
These are your options:
|Has a broad scope of knowledge||Lacks job security due to being a replaceable employee|
|Enjoys working with people||Cannot always prove their worth within a company|
|Keeps a relatively stable and predictable work pace||Easily fatigued|
|Learns various skills that can apply in different fields||-|
|Has a deep understanding of a niche field||Runs the risk of becoming obsolete by being replaced through technology|
|Enjoys change in their work pace over time||Lacks career flexibility|
|Creates new ideas to help confront quick changes in development or production||-|
|Gets high salary & less competition due to their educational backgrounds and qualifications||-|
How to Choose
Decide between being a tech generalist or a tech specialist by determining whether you want to focus on one area of expertise or multiple ones. Assess your preferences by looking at the above pros & cons and comparing them to:
- Your personality traits
- Your career path
- Your interest in depth vs breadth of knowledge
[Recommended reading: Selecting your University Major: A Complete Guide]
Trending Tech Roles
Find below a brief overview of some of the top in-demand tech roles in Europe, along with some of the essential skills they require.
Brief description: Software engineers analyse & modify existing software and design and test user applications using software programming languages.
Skills required: computer science, coding, knowledge of programming languages, etc.
Brief description: Data scientists collect analyses, model data sets, and interpret the results to make actionable plans within a company or organisation.
Skills required: maths, statistics, computer science, etc.
Brief description: Network analysts design, develop, install & maintain networks, and evaluate and solve problems for network systems and related communications to run smoothly.
Skills required: knowledge of hardware, software, programming, etc.
Brief description: Security analysts install, manage, and ensure that the software used on the network has adequate security measures in place.
Skills required: up-to-date IT knowledge, cybersecurity, etc.
Brief description: DevOps engineers design and evaluate software that they integrate into internal systems. They ensure code quality by testing and distributing code updates and monitoring the health and stability of servers.
Skills required: knowledge of DevOps & Agile principles, knowledge of programming languages, etc.
Are you interested in looking at more options? Check out the top 16 roles you can find at a startup and decide which tech job is right for you!
If you are keen on getting involved in the tech industry and learning more about it, this chapter offers several ways for you to kickstart your career path towards tech. Read and choose which methods work best for you based on your own needs.
Your Interest in Tech
Decide whether you want to be a tech generalist or a tech specialist. The breadth of your knowledge determines which roles are readily available to you and which parts appeal to your interests.
Shortlisting your options
Choose which of the available options you find appealing. Then, research role-specific responsibilities and requirements to decide whether you like them or not. Finally, narrow down your options to up to three so that you know what you truly want and so you can have an easier and more defined job search.
If you lack specific skills or knowledge of tech language, seek out online courses. There are plenty of affordable options for you, many of which are free.
Check out the following sources:
- Codecademy (free)
- Coursera (free)
- edX (free)
- Harvard University (free)
- OEDb (free)
Another effective way to get direct insights from the industry is by reaching out to recruiters, companies, and team members. Do not shy away from approaching them and initiating conversations. Show your interest and earn the opportunity of getting your CV forwarded to hiring managers.
Tech is a highly competitive industry, and you must learn how to stand out from other candidates. If you are applying for a position, increase your chances of getting the job by reaching out. For more information on contacting recruiters during the job application process, check out the video below:
[ video upload here: Reach out to Recruiters on LinkedIn (the right way!) ]
External Recruitment Agencies
External recruitment agencies are actively trying to hire tech talent. However, be mindful of the higher risk that comes with external recruitment. They usually have a much more limited understanding of the company in which they want to recruit you. In addition, they tend to face internal disputes with existing employees as well as issues of maladjustment. Therefore, agencies are generally not to be trusted.
However, you could benefit a lot from them. After all, companies pay high costs for external recruitment agencies. These agencies, in turn, present them with the potential to enhance their diversity in the workplace and find candidates with the proper education and experience.
So, how can you protect yourself from getting scammed without missing a unique opportunity to get hired? If you ever receive messages from external recruitment agencies, learn how to manage them by following the instructions below:
- Evaluate the message: Make sure it isn’t a spam message. Does it have any grammatical mistakes or typos? If it’s a LinkedIn message, take a quick look at the sender’s profile to ensure it is a real account.
- Evaluate the company: Research the company that they ask you to consider. Understand if it’s reputable.
- Distinguish an offer from an opportunity: Reread the message and try to identify whether they are offering you a position or if they simply want to learn more about you.
- Understand the offer: Evaluate if they offer you to work for an agency or work for a company.
- Seek consultation: Ask someone from the agency or reach out to someone in the same industry to ask for a second opinion: is this a good offer?
Familiarise yourself with the salary range of tech jobs. Like any other industry, salaries in tech vary based on the country, your own experience, the role itself, and other factors. If you are curious to know more about your wage rate, you can use the Payscale calculator and estimate based on the tech role and country you live in.
Specifically, for the Netherlands, average annual salaries for specific tech jobs are as follows:
- Security Analyst: €42,643
- Data Scientist: €45,091
- Software Engineer: €47,703
- DevOps Engineer: €55,521
Networking is one of the most essential and effective options to join the world of the tech industry. Engage with a community that shares the same passion and walks the same career path as you. You can learn a lot from like-minded people and individuals who have more experience and insights to share with you. Seek out meetups, events and workshops that specifically target IT students interested in the tech industry. Want to start networking? Keep reading.
College Life Tech
The fast-moving tech industry requires a lot of self-learning to keep up with changes. College Life Tech is here to help you with that.
The tech industry requires a lot of IT students seeking a job in the sector. Apart from a relevant degree of study, they also need the right tools and resources to find what they are looking for.
That’s where College Life Tech steps in. Here at College Life, IT students can benefit from joining the tech community and keeping up to date with changes in the field. With the proper tools, educational resources, guidance, and communication, College Life Tech helps pave the career path to tech for all job-seeking IT students.
Want to become part of College Life Tech? Join the Discord community now!