What tech sector would suit you?
In today’s world, just as technology plays such a large part in our daily lives, technology plays a role in practically every organisation, business and institution. So if you possess the right qualifications, you could find yourself working in a variety of different circumstances, be it through self-employment, working for private industry, the civil service, or for an NGO or charity.
The phrase ‘working in IT’ or ‘working in tech’ has grown to mean anything from designing and programming computer systems; to testing and maintaining those systems; to selling and marketing those systems; to training other IT professionals. So, the range of employment possibilities open to technology graduates is quite vast.
The three types of technology employee
Employees account for the majority of the tech industry’s workforce. Receiving a set salary for working for a single employer may be the plan for most graduates, but in today’s marketplace it’s not the only option available for qualified professionals.
Contractors are professionals provided by an agency to work on location, and they are usually paid by the hour for their work. Specialists in their chosen field, contractors are expected to offer skills not available elsewhere in their client’s organisation, due to either a short supply of professionals proficient in those skills or because the organisation isn’t in a position where hiring someone with those skills on a full-time basis is an affordable solution.
Consultants are expected to offer solutions to their clients’ problems. Their earnings are generally higher than those of contractors, as they usually run their own business, provide their own technology and operate without an agency. Due to the greater flexibility offered by contracting and consulting work, graduates will find it appealing, but they should know that a considerable amount of experience is required in order to move into either of these areas.
Where can you work?
Obviously, tech graduates can work for the companies involved in producing software and hardware, but these account for merely some of the roles on offer in today’s world, where every organisation and institution – from financial services companies to charity organisations – uses technology to some degree. As such, graduates can seek work within practically every sector. Researching will help you to understand the business landscape and identify the companies with which your skills will fit best.
Types of technology employers
Like any other sector, tech employers vary in size. The large employers include IT services organisations, technology solutions providers, technology consultancies and telecoms companies. They can also include finance and professional services firms, such as investment and retail banks, investment management firms, insurers and accountants. Other major recruiters include those organisations involved in media, retail, games development and public services. The smaller technology employers tend to be niche consultancies and specialist software houses.
What do you want from your job?
With so many options available to tech graduates with the right skills, it’s essential that you know how to find the employer and career that’s best for you. Two key factors should be taken into consideration before you begin your search.
The work you want to do
Are you interested in a role that requires you to do a lot of coding, or none at all, while still employing your technical reasoning skills? Or perhaps you consider yourself a more business focussed person, or maybe you want to combine the best of both the technology and commercial worlds? Are you seeking a role that offers new assignments on a daily basis, or would you prefer to work on projects with longer deadlines? If at this point you’re still undecided on a specific role, your best route may be to find an employer that offers a graduate programme that will allow you to experience a variety of roles in numerous business areas.
Are you prepared to be mobile?
How willing you are to work on a mobile basis can affect the number of opportunities open to you. Should you wish to become a consultant, know that you may be required to spend your full working week in the on-site, meaning you may have to sleep four or five nights in a hotel room and catch a flight if you wish to spend your weekend at home. Similarly, graduates in IT services may be expected to spend the week on their client’s premises. Conversely, should you opt for a more technical role like a developer or software tester you’ll find yourself spending most of your time working in the same office, with perhaps an occasional trip outside to meet a client. Falling somewhere between mobility and stability are business and management-focussed roles (eg project management), which may require travel to some degree, but can vary depending on the specifics of the role and the company. Be honest with yourself about how mobile you’re really prepared to be. Most tech professionals will confess that spending time travelling and sleeping in hotel rooms are the least endearing aspects of their jobs, though some are happy to embrace such a lifestyle. Which one are you?
Hidden tech jobs you may have Overlooked
Many graduates seeking tech jobs only consider the most obvious employers. Give yourself an advantage by widening your search to sectors that may not be the first to jump out at you. Below we look at five sectors you may have overlooked.
Financial software development
Most large financial institutions have their own software teams, but development activities are also outsourced to specialist software development companies. If you wish to work with mathematical models, large data sets, distributed systems, high-speed systems and security, this could be your way into the financial sector without moving in-house.
Technology experts from professional services firms provide specialist advice to help other business avoid technology problems in their accounting, security and legal compliance processes. They assess how organisations run their IT systems, evaluate risk and make recommendations to help clients protect and handle data correctly.
The huge growth in e-commerce over the past few years has resulted in a high demand for technologists with the relevant skills. Developing multichannel shopping options is an important focus for many retailers at the moment. Technology is also key to many other aspects of a retailer’s business, such as coordinating its supply chain and analysing trends in sales performance.
Banking and investment
Investment banks recruit technologists both into support roles (keeping the IT infrastructure up and running) and in-house software development. Yet other opportunities are often overlooked. Recruiting IT graduates is a key focus for some banks and investment management firms.
Engineering companies recruit technical graduates both to develop their core projects and to support their business systems.