In this guest blog post, Philippa Snare, technical sales and marketing director at Microsoft UK discusses why young people today are ideally placed to develop a rewarding career in IT.
In my opinion there’s no doubt that the technical knowledge of this generation of school leavers and university students is above and beyond previous peer groups. Being a student and graduate means you are now more connected and have more choices of communication than ever before; keeping up to date with vast circles of friends and family across boundaries is now part of how you live. However, it’s just as essential that as a student you posses other skills, such as professional communications, management and leadership, as well as having an understanding of how these work in practice.
With intense competition for the top entry-level jobs in the industry, it’s also important that as a school and university leaver you give yourself the best chance to get the job you want. I know from experience there are many ways students can do this. For example, proactively gaining extracurricular skill-sets through programmes such as Microsoft’s Imagine Cup, where school students around the world are given the opportunity to use technology to help solve global challenges and make a difference in the world. Doing an internship is also a fantastic way you can make yourself stand out and break into the industry.
Traditionally it has been difficult to find internships with top companies. But there are now a variety of organisations, including Microsoft with our Young Britain Works initiative, who offer help to find work experience to develop the skills needed to secure your first job.
Being a student today means social media is probably engrained into your life. So why not use it to start networking and finding conversations that will help you get into the industry? Following IT companies and people in technology on Twitter and connecting with key IT people and joining technology groups – like the Microsoft Young Britain Works group – on LinkedIn, will help you gain invaluable insight into the industry.
It’s up to students to empower themselves by proactively looking for opportunities to gain the experiences and knowledge required to succeed in the industry. By doing this, you will start developing the right skills, building on your strengths and giving yourself the best start in your IT career.
The number of new recruits in IT has been in decline for some years and there is no indication this year will be any different. But in the UK, one in 20 people work in IT and unemployment for IT staff has now dropped to 3.1%, compared to 8.3% for the overall workforce. Four out of five jobs require IT skills. Unemployment is rising and yet there is still an IT skills shortage, says Gordon Frazer, UK managing director of Microsoft.