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Careers in IT and telecoms

Graduate careers in IT and telecoms: getting a job, applications, working life and salaries.

Getting a job in IT and telecoms

IT employers look for talented graduates from a range of degree backgrounds. Larger recruiters run graduate programmes which you can apply to directly. To find a job in IT, attend employer’s events on campus, recruitment fairs and milkround presentations and speak to each employer to find out what type of jobs they can offer. Research and know your market: find out all the IT employers in the specialist area you’re interested in and review company websites and specialist IT recruitment websites.

Areas of work

All businesses use IT, and many employ graduates in IT and technology-related roles. Many IT graduates start out on their career path as programmers/software developers or technical support and may move onto roles as systems analysts or business analysts when they have gained some experience.

With further experience it is possible to move into less technical roles, such as project management, or to focus on technical skills as a consultant or senior developer, depending on your particular skill set.

Types of employment in IT fall into three categories:

  • Employees make up the majority of workers.
  • Contractors are provided by an agency and work on location for the client; they are paid by the hour. Usually contractors are employed because they have skills not available in the organisation, either because those skills are in short supply or because hiring someone on a permanent contract is not economically viable.
  • Consultants provide their own solutions to their clients’ needs or problems for a fixed sum. Their earnings are higher than contractors but their overheads are also higher since they have the costs of running their own business and providing their own technology.

Consultants and contractors are usually sought for their specialist skills and experience. Graduates would need to have a considerable amount of experience in their field before moving into these areas.

The application process

Online application forms are the most common methods of applying to graduate programmes. If you apply directly to an employer, submit your CV electronically.

In your CV and cover letter, detail the content of your computer science and technical degree as not all degree programmes cover the same content: include information about modules and projects as well as your key technical skills (programming languages, platforms etc), particularly if they are relevant to the job.

IT employers use a range of selection methods: first interviews, telephone interviews, assessment centres, psychometric tests and technical interviews. Remember in the interview, be prepared to also tell the employer about your practical skills as well as your technical skills.

When to apply

There are employer deadlines for IT graduate programmes, so consult each company’s website for the closing date. If you are applying directly for an IT job, there are a range of recruitment cycles within the IT business. Check each organisation’s recruitment schedule so you don’t miss a deadline.

Qualifications and skills required to work in IT and telecoms

Technical skills

For specific technical jobs, such as database administrator, network engineer, software developer, programmer/analyst or systems analyst, you will need a technology degree. This could be in computer science, information systems, software engineering, telecoms engineering or physics (with a computing component).

You will need to have core skills such as programming languages, operating system knowledge, network and infrastructure understanding and development skills. Hardware development or research and development roles can require degrees such as physics and electronics engineering.

Other skills

Most employers will advertise for graduates with specific skills and computing-related degree backgrounds. Others will look for graduates who have a broad technical knowledge and problem-solving aptitude, gained from studying a scientific or numerate degree. There are some jobs where deep technical skills are not the highest priority. For example, the role of a business analyst focuses on higher level IT and technology issues, so it is less technical.

Remember that in this case non-IT graduates compete with IT graduates based on the skills they have to offer. In all cases, employers concentrate on finding well-rounded graduates with problem-solving skills, commercial awareness, communication skills (verbal and written), team working and project management skills.

Opportunities for professional development

The opportunities for professional development in the IT sector depend on the job you enter into. The most common form of training is on the job from your peers and colleagues. You may also be sent on external training courses to gain technical and professional skills.

This kind of learning is intellectually interesting, from both technical and business points of view. It will help you to be adaptable in your job and even provide opportunities for networking. Always look for further training opportunities within your job so you can add to your technical skills and enhance your career.

Salaries in IT and telecoms

Salary is dependent upon the company, location and type of business. Computer hardware manufacturers and software houses, as well as the financial centres of major cities such as London and Dublin, usually pay higher salaries.

The gradireland Graduate Salary & Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey 2011 found that the average starting salary for information technology (across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland) is €28,000 – higher than many other sectors.

Working life

Working life varies depending on your job, and working hours may include outside hours. In IT, the working environment tends to be informal. It is possible for work to be carried out from home or from other remote locations, depending on the seniority of your role and the company you are employed in. Self-employment or freelance work is sometimes possible after a few years’ experience.

Further information

ICT Ireland
Irish Software Association
Momentum: the Northern Ireland ICT Federation