The Future is Bright.. for IT Graduates
14 Oct 2016
The steady growth of multinationals basing their EU headquarters in Ireland means that Ireland’s IT sector is in a good position to take on a new generation of skilled IT workers. 9 out of the top 10 global software companies are located in Ireland, which isn’t surprising given the presence of the highly skilled, English speaking workforce. The demand for computing graduates is at an all-time high, particularly in Dublin where Silicon Docks is now home to some of the world’s biggest tech companies.
Traditionally a huge percentage of IT employees were sourced abroad, due to the lack of suitable skills here. Due to increased co-operation between industry and third level institutions, the number of suitably qualified local candidates is on the rise. This strategy has seen Irish university graduates, in IT, holding far more relevant and “ready to work” degrees than ever before. There has been a discernible improvement in how universities are getting their Computer Science graduates ready for the real world, although there is plenty of scope for both third level and the tech sector to collaborate in more significant ways.
Although there is a well-publicised skills shortage for IT candidates in Ireland, that does not mean you can easily just walk into a job, or that employers will drop their standards and just hire anyone. I have seen companies leave jobs open for over 6 months, waiting for the right candidate, rather than hire someone they feel is not up to the job.
In terms of gaining employment, the absolute first thing you must do is graduate with a higher degree, it is well worth the extra year to attain. Without this, you are immediately putting yourself at a huge disadvantage, the first thing a prospective employer will do is separate out the applications that have a higher degree or masters and move forward with those.
Although universities like Dublin City University (DCU), Trinity and University College Dublin’s (UCD) and UL traditionally have had highly reputed Computer Science courses, there are opportunities elsewhere in third level also. First things first, make sure you get a strong result, no matter where you went to college. After that, supplementing your result with energy, participation in the tech community, and showing an obvious passion for what you do is what will enable you to put your best foot forward with employers.
What road can I go down?
The more common employers in the area are IT consultancies and IT service providers. There are also opportunities within the IT departments of major organisations in the telecommunications, aerospace and defence, financial services, retail, healthcare, manufacturing, agricultural, public and third sectors. However, the need for support staff is a necessary component in most businesses, with almost every organisation using IT. The IT industry is host to many job titles meaning there is a broad choice of jobs in the area. Below are 6 general verticals that most IT jobs will fall under. Please note, they are meant as a guide only, often jobs can straddle two or more, and some may argue there are more or less verticals than covered.
Jobs directly related to an IT degree include:
- Data analytics/ BI
Data analysis has been around as long as there has been data. The current hot buzz words are Data Scientist, Data Analytics, Data Engineers etc. The recent advances in this field have seen companies (particularly financial services firms) invest heavily in this space. As such, strong candidates in this area are some of the most in demand in Dublin at the moment.
- Software Engineering
These candidates are always in demand, and always in short supply. They are employed in most medium to large enterprises. See below some tips for standing out on the market as a graduate. Be sure you understand, most of your day will be spent staring at a computer screen writing code for many years. (Until you enter into some of the more senior positions.)
- Business Analysis/Project Management
This area is unique as most of the other verticals here can lead to these jobs. In fact most people who end up with these types of jobs will have started their career as something else e.g. a Systems Administrator or in Application Support.
- IT Infrastructure/IT Security
Virtually every company needs to employ someone in this area. These jobs are the bread and butter of the IT industry, and are arguably the most important area for the smooth running of any company’s operations. Often a great route into project management, the upper salary scales can match almost any other jobs in IT.
There are literally hundreds of different jobs in IT, when starting out in your first job it would be wise to pick from the general verticals above. From there it can be much easier to see how you want your career to progress.
Below is a list of hints and tips to help you get the edge over the competition.
What skills do you need?
- You must demonstrate an interest and passion for IT
- Possess at least a Bachelor of Arts / Higher Diploma/ Level 8 degree. Many IT graduate programmes require applicants to have (or be predicted) at least a 2.1. However, there are some IT graduate programmes that accept 2.2 degrees
- Get as many certifications as you can – this will show you are continuously learning and upskilling
- Try to get an internship while you are attending university - Every employer likes to see a respected organisation’s name on a candidate’s profile
- Contribute to GitHub / Bitbucket
- For developers, one crucial bit of advice is to create a GitHub / Bitbucket account and contribute regularly on the site. It’s important to get involved in the open source community. Many employers of candidates at all levels like to see that candidates have contributed to these communities – it shows a passion for development.
- Be sure to include any project work on your CV. Include a link to your GitHub / Bitbucket profile to show what you have done.
- Don’t just send out your CV and hope for the best – follow up with both recruiters and prospective employers. It’s important that you don’t stalk them, but do put a phone call in.
- As clichéd as it sounds, first impressions do count. Don’t be arrogant or think that you’re too good for some roles just because they aren’t using the most modern or up to date stack. The reality is that not a whole lot of companies are using open source tech, these technologies also tend to come and go relatively quickly. The value of building a base with a solid JAVA/ .NET Stack etc. is not to be overlooked. You can always move on to your ideal job once you have a solid foundation.
- If you want to become a data scientist and don’t have a PHD in a related field, your best course of action is to go into a normal software development role to learn how to program. Then when you have a solid base, start looking to move into data analytics.
- Do your research on the company and act like you want to land the job with them specifically, this means specific reasons why you chose their company to apply to.
- There isn’t only one route to your ‘dream job’ – make a plan and get there. Remember, it is a lot easier to get a job when you already have a job!
Brightwater’s IT division has a variety of roles available at all levels, on permanent, contract and temporary basis. To discuss these roles or to talk about your employment options within IT please contact:
Stephen Waters – firstname.lastname@example.org 01-6621000