Starting out in IT – getting a foot in the door

BronwenWeeGo We've had some really nice emails from the students at QUT after we did a guest lecture earlier in the week. Some of the follow-up questions and comments were around getting a job while studying and how to get a foot in the door.  While I answered these to the best of my ability, I haven't been a grad and I haven't been part of grad intake processes for a few years.  So I thought I'd share my thoughts and put it out there for the rest of you to comment on your tips and advice for those starting out in the world of IT.

Getting a part-time / full-time job before you finish uni.

My experience had been most “bigger” companies > 20 employees and multi-nationals want degree qualified candidates or people with commercial experience while smaller companies <20 employees and startups may be willing to take on undergraduates.  Some used to offer paid holiday work for students at end of 2nd year. Anyone know places still doing this? Where do you find these companies? I would think on the job sites like seek, careerone etc. that advertise themselves (i.e. don't use a recruitment agency) where you may get to talk to the person in charge of the team and see if they are interested in undergrads.  Generally, I think they won't publicise the fact…but it's always worth throwing your hat in the ring.

Anyone else got some tips on where to look?

 

Getting a foot in the door

In my experience the best way is to do something real before you get out of uni.  Not sure what it’s like now, but I used to do grad intake interviews and would get 250 applicants, allowed to interview 10 for 3 positions.  The students who either had a part-time job or had done a 3rd year “Industry Project” usually went up the list pretty quick. 

 

Other tips to help stand-out or avoid getting put in the no pile would be:

· Any extra effort goes a long way i.e. Resume that has links to example work or has a way to see code samples etc.

· Make sure you get someone to check your resume for spelling and grammar.  This one might sound obvious but you’d be amazed how many resumes had really basic errors…and that’s a really easy excuse to put them on the no pile

· If you don’t have experience to put on your resume, a paragraph about what you’re passionate about, what you like, or why you want to work in the industry helps give a personality to the bit of paper

· Highly recommend not to put anything on that can be used to discriminate i.e. Don’t include a pici – leave the first impression to the interview, Don’t put your home address (unless post is the only way they can contact you), Don’t put birthdates, years graduated high school etc.

 

Anyone else for tips?

 

Working for free

A lot of people will recommend volunteering to work for free. I haven’t heard of too many companies doing this these days. I suspect the main reasons for this are there's lots of Worker’s Compensation, Public Liability, Intellectual Property issues with not paying someone.

 

Comments on offering to work for free?

 

Skill sets

I think places are just looking for someone “good”..and good people can learn new languages. So when it comes to employing grads, I’d be surprised if the list of languages you’ve done will make “that” much of a difference.  Obviously if you apply to Oracle with lots of oracle experience they might employ you over someone else, but you can’t learn everything. 

Anyone got recent experience with what skill sets companies are looking for with their grads? 

 

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