Get a Computer Programming Job
May 27, 2008
Get Some Experience
It may sound like a Catch 22, but the best thing you can do to get a great IT job is to work at a good one (or even a bad one) for a while. Many employers demand at least some level of IT experience for any jobs above help desk or tech support. New tech workers fresh out of key certification programs often complain that all the good jobs require years of experience in addition to the costly certification they’ve just completed.
So what’s a new IT worker to do? How do you get the experience you need to get the tech job you want? The experts we’ve talked to offer the following tips:
How to Get Any IT Job
- Step 1: Get a Degree
- Step 2: Get Some Experience
- Step 3: Get Certified
- Step 4: Brush Up Your IT Resume
- Step 5: Look For an IT Job
- Step 6: Prepare for Your Interviews
- Step 7: Nail the Salary Negotiation
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- Start While You’re in School
To truly jumpstart your tech career, you’ll want to find a way to work in IT while you’re still in school. An internship – even an unpaid internship – can help you do that while creating a connection between you and a potential long-term employer.
College career and placement offices, well-connected college faculty, and alumni and acquaintances can all act as connections for internship opportunities. Start pursuing internships early, and don’t hesitate to follow up and work any connections you have.
- Do it Yourself
Whether you’re building PCs, building Web apps, designing game levels, or writing code, one of the best ways to build a tech background is to start doing it yourself. Spend time building your own website or writing a useful piece of software, and you’ll not only gain valuable knowledge, you’ll show potential employers that you can do the work they’re hiring you for.
This approach is particularly attractive in the gaming, software, and Web development industries. Developing an indie game or mod, or contributing to an open-source software project is often the best way to get hired. If you can embark on such a project as part of your class work, even better.
- Make a Transition
If you’re transitioning into IT from another career, you can think about trying to make the move at your current company. Matthew Moran, for example, advises talking to the IT manager at your company about entry-level opportunities or small projects you can help out with in your current role.
Let your IT staff know that you’re interested in such a transition and that you’re taking steps to develop the necessary skills. That serves notice that you’re serious about starting an IT career, and it often leads to good advice from people in the field.
For more on getting IT experience, see: