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Careers in IT

SLoB

Member
Messages
102
Location
Bishop's Stortford
Totally off topic but as there seem to be a few IT bods here I hope you do not mind me asking the following.

My daughter has just left school (she is 19 soon) and does not fancy going to Uni.

She is interested in getting into IT and/or web design, etc. She is not so keen on the 'looking after computers' side of things, but prefers the more 'creative' side (e.g. software development, web design, etc).

She has found out about some courses that give her qualifications in IT, but they will cost c. £6,000 over two years.

What qualifications are really necessary?
What is the best way to get qualifications?
Accepting that we are in hard times, what is the best way of her finding a job and way into the industry?

From where we live she can get easily into London or Cambridge.

Any advice and suggestions would be welcome.

Stephen
 

jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,653
Location
Betelgeuse
IT

Hi Stephen

It used to be the case that formal qualifications weren't necessary in IT, but increasingly employers (including me) look for degree level education. The thing is, when I was a student in the 1980s only about 3% of the population went to university. Now, with the spread of the 'new universities' many more school leavers get a degree, which has raised the bottom rung of the employment ladder at least in terms of qualifications required. I would say that it is a worthwhile investment in time to get a degree, but if she really doesn't fancy it a diploma might be worthwhile. Just make sure it's a reputable institution.

Having said this, in practice I'd rather have someone with strong work experience than a raft of qualifications (I tend to recruit fairly advanced programmers and am not usually in the marketplace for school leavers). The problem is it's a bit of a catch 22 situation, in that, if you don't have a good degree or other qualification you can't get a job to get the experience you need to get a job. If you know someone who can help her get a foot on the ladder, that will be a huge leap forward. What she'll also need to do is decide what she really wants to do. Does she want to be a web designer? The she needs to focus on that. Does she want to be a software developer? If yes, what programming language does she want to use? VBnet, C, C++, open source stuff like Python? Does she want to do database stuff? SQL, SQL Server? She needs to decide, and ambitions to be creative in IT need to be guided by focus, as almost all jobs are very task specific.

When she comes to apply for work, she needs to do a good application. All job ads ask for evidence that the potential recruit has the key skills to do the job. They typically list out what is required. To get past the first hurdle, the recruit needs to answer the questions posed by the employer on their application - how they can demonstrate with evidence that they meet the requirements of the job. I don't want to sound brutal, but if a job ad asks for evidence of certain skills, and the applicant just explains that they are ambitious, keen and clever, they won't even get an interview.

One final thing. There is work out there, despite all the talk about recession. If she is prepared to work hard, is bright and can get a first job somewhere she should be able to do OK. Good luck to her.

Jon
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
22,014
Location
Just north of Munich
I work there. Haven't done any recruiting in years, sadly - I used to enjoy it.

Like Jon, a degree didn't matter when I started.And finding a trainee post was difficult. But all the new guys coming in here have a degree - usually technology related. But we take a lot of PhDs as well (Germany's littered with them).

One thing I would say is that an employer is going to want to see even a trainee have done some work in the field - so if it's web site design, she should be able to read/write basic html & css for instance, even if a lot is done with packages like dreamweaver these days.

Scripting languages like perl, python, and active content like Active X and Open GL are all good things to be able to show a basic knowledge of. I'd also expect the person to have a web site or two on line to show me.... Which implies a knowledge of ftp. A lot of this can be done/picked up through open source tools & tutorials, but it requires dedication and computer time.

Most people going for a job in the area will be able to show the above skills. It's also important that she can learn on here own - IT's about being able to think when confronted with a problem. Attitude and a knowledge of where to look for answers (not just ask colleagues) is a key asset. And she'll gain these by learning how to install linux on a windows machine, teaching herself Java, building a few web sites for instance.

I'd say either get an IT related degree - possibly through the OU - and take it from there or look seriously at the course content, the reputation of the college and the qualification she'll receive. AND how much help they give their graduates in getting a job.

Finding a trainee post is possible, but so many people are looking for others to train their staff for them.
 

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
Commercial Café Supporter
Messages
12,840
Location
McLean, Virginia
I

Scripting languages like perl, python, and active content like Active X and Open GL are all good things to be able to show a basic knowledge of. I'd also expect the person to have a web site or two on line to show me....
I would expect quite a few. But it's an area where you can get real stuff to show, ask local small organisations/tradespeople if they'd like a free website.

Also she should get onto the forums such as cre8asite, it's very good for expert friendly help and advice
 
OP
S

SLoB

Member
Messages
102
Location
Bishop's Stortford
Many thanks to all those who have replied (including the PMs).

She is now looking into it (right now on my office computer when she is meant to be helping me!! daughters - don't you just luv'em :) ).

Thanks

Stephen
 

richardfm

New Member
Messages
28
Location
Cornwall
Most people going for a job in the area will be able to show the above skills. It's also important that she can learn on here own - IT's about being able to think when confronted with a problem. Attitude and a knowledge of where to look for answers (not just ask colleagues) is a key asset. And she'll gain these by learning how to install linux on a windows machine, teaching herself Java, building a few web sites for instance.
I strongly agree with this ... Being able to demonstrate the right skills is critical, and being self-taught is probably a better indicator of the right attitude than any qualification.
Getting involved in a free/open software project is also a good idea ... producing good work and having it freely available/adopted by people on the net would be a great showcase for her abilities.
 

chadders

Senior Member
Messages
317
Location
Wrexham.
A HND in IT is a good alternative to a degree. This is a two year, full time course, as opposed to the three/four year degree course. The HNDs tend to be more hands on, and less academic than degrees, but is valuable in opening that first door. Its also good for trying various aspects of IT to find out where your abilities and desires lie.

However, be aware that starting places in IT are very competitive. I work in the IT dept of a county council. Since around 2000 we have taken on student placements from BSc and MSc students, and the competition for these places is fierce. There are a lot of youngsters entering IT as trainees with very good degree qualifications.

Another route into the industry which I, as an employer, have found very useful is as a modern apprentice. We currently have two people in my team taking these courses. We have an obligation to train and provide support, and the apprentice has to submit certain pieces of works for assessment. There is no guarantee of employment at the end, but people with good aptitude and attitude have found full time employment with us in the past.

If the courses your daughter is looking at are private company home correspondence 'learn a programming language, and get a highly paid job in IT' type courses I would treat these with extreme caution. I only know one person who has taken this style of course and he is now a suitcase salesman. An Open university degree however is very useful although very expensive option to consider

Cheers
Chad
 

Moz

Senior Member
Messages
841
Location
North of Liskeard, Cornwall,UK
Totally off topic but as there seem to be a few IT bods here I hope you do not mind me asking the following.

My daughter has just left school (she is 19 soon) and does not fancy going to Uni.

She is interested in getting into IT and/or web design, etc. She is not so keen on the 'looking after computers' side of things, but prefers the more 'creative' side (e.g. software development, web design, etc).

She has found out about some courses that give her qualifications in IT, but they will cost c. £6,000 over two years.

What qualifications are really necessary?
What is the best way to get qualifications?
Accepting that we are in hard times, what is the best way of her finding a job and way into the industry?

From where we live she can get easily into London or Cambridge.

Any advice and suggestions would be welcome.

Stephen

Advise her to become a musician: The pay is rubbish, job security is negligible, many people don't like you although some do, you're always at the beck and call of faceless bureaucrats, the government make you fill in endless tax returns, you're always travelling and no one cares if you don't have a home-life! It's just like IT except that now you're in a band and life is fun!!! (unlike IT).

Martin

(Yes, I have experience of both worlds)
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
22,014
Location
Just north of Munich
When I started in IT it was a lot of fun. Great team spirit, cemented by team lunches every Friday, lots of help within the team for problems. Lots of laughs at mistakes, and great tricks like a fake, difficult call out for a Newbie left doing on-call on New Years Eve while the rest of the team celebrated (that one only stopped whenI realised the only way to sort it out was to phone the senior manager at 2 in the morning and ask for permission to go on site...).... But it's changed. Too many procedures, too many rules, too little spontaneity and too many managers who're really overpromoted programmers witha career axe to grind. Maybe being a muso's a good idea.
 

losaavedra

Member
Messages
392
Location
Rojales, Spain
Advise her to become a musician: The pay is rubbish, job security is negligible, many people don't like you although some do, you're always at the beck and call of faceless bureaucrats, the government make you fill in endless tax returns, you're always travelling and no one cares if you don't have a home-life! It's just like IT except that now you're in a band and life is fun!!! (unlike IT).

Martin

(Yes, I have experience of both worlds)
Quite profound Martin! Although I clocked up 34 years in IT, what I really wanted to be was a musician, artist or writer. With the first I had the opportunity to go 'pro', playing bass then, in the late 60s. The lady I was married to at the time (although it didn't last much longer for other reasons) decided I should choose between her and the band. So I stayed with the 'proper job' and its only now, many years later when I'm rather over the hill, that I look back and think how much more fun it would've been to have done one of the other three things instead. Whether I'd ever have been good enough at one of those more 'arty' pursuits, to scrape together enough to live on, remains an unknown. But I do know that being able to 'make money' out of any of them was of far less concern (to me) than the romantic attraction of sloshing paint about in an attic studio, playing jazz into the small hours in some smokey club or clattering out yet another novel on an ancient (manual!) typewriter. So much more satisfying than messing about with computers!!!
 
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