Why you need real-world IT experience & how to get it

3 MIN READ

It comes as no surprise that you are curious about a career in information technology (IT). Computers, and the networks connecting them play an important role in any business or an organization today. This is reflected in the job growth currently underway in the technology industry as well. 

That’s enough to instigate curiosity amongst job-lookers. But when is the time to apply for these jobs, it’s often seen that one believes in the age-old catch where at 22: I can’t get a job without experience, but I can’t have experienced without getting a job.

When things go haywire with a server or a software glitch halts business across an enterprise, your past encounters with problem-solving generally are the best predictors of your ability to solve the current issue. Hence, employers like to hire workers with education and experience.

So how do you get the experience that will set you apart from others in the field?

Look for opportunities everywhere.

“There’s no substitute for hands-on experience. Some suggest that finding IT

work and internship opportunities by joining associations and organizations that are respected in the industry helps a great deal. Spread the word that you’re looking to participate in real-world IT projects and follow up on any leads that you get—no matter how tenuous. If the current opportunity isn’t a good fit, maybe the next one will be!

“Keep your ears and eyes open, you never know when you will stumble upon an opportunity. “Most people get jobs not because they find them online but because they keep their prospects open.”

Work as an intern

“For information technology students who want a more organized approach, the best way to gain industry experience prior to graduation is an internship. And do not bother about whether or not the internship comes with cash or school credits. “Paid, unpaid, summer, during the school year, for-credit or not, it doesn’t matter,” Landers says. “And the students who think that the internship market is competitive, just wait until you are competing for a full-time position.”

Don’t be afraid to reach out to local companies for internship job postings. Sometimes a company could benefit from an intern but not considered the need for one. You’ll never know unless you ask, so being proactive is always a good idea.

Network, network, network!

Never underestimate the power of networking in person—especially in the tech industry. IT is a collaborative field, so candidates who can represent their ability to connect with other professionals will stand out from candidates who go in alone.

Visit professional networking events for the areas you want to get into. Whether for BSA, project management, software engineering, QA or another niche, it is important to learn about the projects which are being taken by the professionals and think about ways you can be of help to them. It may also include shadowing them if they’re open to it. “You may also seek a mentor to help you in your career development,” 

Training/Certification 

Training and certification is a good start to acquire IT skills and knowledge. Training is usually the first point of interaction for most people who come into the profession without a formal background in IT. However, training is useful for all newcomers; irrespective of whether they have a formal background in IT or not. IT training centers offer a variety of programs on weekdays, weekends, part time or full time. These programs cover most of the relevant areas in IT such as tech support, programming, database development and administration, Web development and networking.

What I have listed here are suggestions. But there is no magic formula for creating career opportunities. What worked for one may not always work for the others. Just like everything else, the formula is to toughen up and be absorbent to all the knowledge & experience that surrounds you.  

Finally, note that experience is not an end in itself, Learning is a continuous process which if not backed with initiative & passion would lead nowhere.