Graduates are being hired in greater numbers in 2014 than they were in 2013. James Milligan of Hays Ireland examines the breadth of possibilities for IT graduates in Ireland in the coming months, and offers some tips.
So you’ve finished your exams, taken a well-deserved holiday to recharge your batteries and now you’re ready to take the first step towards the rest of your life. It’s an exciting time and as an in-demand IT graduate you will have lots of options, so which is the right one for you?
It’s not just about the job title; it’s about the type of organisation you want to work for. Below I provide analysis on the opportunities available across different types of organisations, from start-ups through to established multinationals, and across a variety of sectors, including software, consulting, telecommunications and financial services.
The first question you need to ask yourself is, “what type of job do I want?” Do you want to start off as a generalist with the opportunity to specialise later in your career or do you have a clear idea of the path you want to follow?
Large organisations versus small organisations
If you want wide exposure there is more than one path you can take. You might consider joining a consulting firm on a graduate programme. These firms will typically give you a broader range of exposure across technologies and organisations. This will enable you to make an informed decision through experience on what you want to do long term. But be warned, these jobs are highly competitive! One of the biggest challenges Accenture faced in 2013 was managing the volume of applications for graduate roles, given the variety and diversity of positions the consulting giant has on offer.
Alternatively, you could take a different path to obtain a wide range of exposure by joining a small specialist IT business. This experience is likely to be less structured and very broad – it might even include making the tea! Some people love this culture and energy.
Now let’s have a look at the options available if you choose not to join a graduate scheme.
If you are interested in infrastructure and support, your first job is likely to be first line support, where you will be dealing with customer queries, resolving what you can and escalating what you can’t. You will learn on the job and become familiar with different applications that will give you a taste for what you might want to specialise in. From here, most people undertake the relevant certifications to progress. So when considering who to work for, you might want to check out what educational support your employer offers. Over time, you may move into second line support and then more specialist areas, such as database administration or systems administration. Some companies will hire junior people for these jobs, so if you have identified this as an area of interest, keep an eye out for them.
Areas with demand
Language skills are useful if you are interested in first and second line support, but be careful you don’t get stuck in a large organisation with limited career advancement opportunities. If you have these skills then ask how long it will take before you progress to a team lead or management role.
There is huge demand for skilled graduates in the area of development, with a wide range of destinations to consider. When thinking about multinationals it is important to remember that consultancies and financial services companies often offer structured working environments with the best remuneration packages.
The second key market that has grown and will continue to grow is data analytics. Again, there are both multinational and smaller niche players in this area. If you are numeric, enjoy statistics and analysis, then this could be the job for you.
The final specialist area hiring graduates is project and change management. Graduates normally join as junior business analysts and work alongside more experienced members of the project team for a couple of years before being given greater ownership. Quite often joining as a BA is part of the journey to a project manager job and beyond. There is big demand in the insurance sector for business analysts.
Finally, what are the companies we work with looking for when hiring graduates?
- Know what you want, research the company, and be clear on what you can bring to the table.
- Academic excellence is important, but employers are looking for more these days. Look for opportunities where you can reference examples of leadership or extra-curricular activities in the selection process.
- Demonstrate a passion for technology, talk about what you have done in your final-year project or any other out of college activities, such as Deloitte’s top technology talent competition.
James Milligan is senior business director for IT and talent solutions at Hays Ireland