A New Graduate’s Guide to a Career in IT
College graduation is behind us and the hot summer months are still ahead. If you’ve recently graduated from college and are looking for your first IT job, what are the best ways to get your foot in the door? Before you start pounding the pavement, take time to learn what companies are looking for and determine how you can fit their needs. Here are just a few things you can do to kick off your career in information technology.
- Build your brand. You may already be on social media, but most of what you post is personal. Now is the time to build your professional brand. Review any public posts you already have on social media that will likely be checked by employers. Remove anything that could be considered unprofessional. Take this time to optimize your LinkedIn profile and even build a Facebook page for your professional identity. And, if you can, buy a website in your own name. This can become prime real estate for future projects or, at the very least, keep your name from being used by another website or company.
- Become a thought leader. Once you have your branding as an IT professional in place, it’s a good time to leverage your experience. And yes, even as a recent college graduate, you do have experience. What aspect of Information Technology did you love the most? What did you learn? How can you put it into practice? Create a blog on your website to share your own insights. You can also join online Open Source volunteering programs to get your feet wet and give you real life experience to include on your resume.
- Learn to network. The next step is getting out into the community to meet other IT professionals. You may feel more comfortable networking online with platforms like LinkedIn, but there is nothing like face-to-face interactions. Challenge yourself to get out to at least one event per month. Go to seminars or meetups to get to know other people in the technology sector within your community. Another important aspect of networking is following up. Once you collect a card, be sure to send an email the next day. This will continue the conversation and sharpen your skills.
- Talk to a mentor. Another hot tip from people in the IT community is to find yourself a mentor. Look for someone in the community who has followed a path similar to the one you’re interested in pursuing. Once you get to know them, you can ask questions and receive guidance about your career path. They can help you through a rough spot and give you encouragement. You can even learn from their own mistakes. Connect with business leaders in your community to develop these professional relationships.