Defining a career path in IT is not exactly a one-size-fits-all process. There are so many different professions within IT and many different educations and interests that have a place within the trade.
There is no distinct path to success, but having a plan will certainly help you along the way. Use these tips to help carve out your own personal IT career path.
Identify Your Options
The very first step to defining the path you want to take in terms of a career is to identify what’s out there. Research the industry and the specific skills and daily responsibilities that come with each position. Align these with your skills and interests to gauge whether they would be a viable option for you. Reach out to companies operating in IT and see if they have internship opportunities or if the position you envision for yourself exists. Do enough research so that you know when a job is worth taking and when it’s not. Keep in mind that these positions will likely change and some will even become obsolete as technology continues to move forward. More on that later.
What aspects of IT are you interested in? What skills do you possess that you want to sharpen and utilize on a daily basis?
When you’re planning your potential career path, prioritize the values, tasks, and skills you want to work within each day. Be honest with yourself about what kind of company your values and goals are aligned with. If you know that you want to work in a corporate environment, but aren’t entirely tied to a specific job title, place the size of the company as a higher priority for you than a job title. Really spend time understanding the things you consider deal-breakers and the things are just added bonuses.
Specifically, set SMART goals. That means each of these goals should be; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Include short and long-term goals surrounding salary, promotion, and any other career goals you want to achieve. The most important part of goal-setting is keeping track of your progress. Assuming the goals you’ve made are indeed SMART, you should be well on your way to checking each one off your list.
Network within The Industry
It really does pay to know people. Don’t be afraid to network with people who are or have been in the positions you want to be in. No matter what position or level of education you have, take advantage of your colleagues or networking events around you. It could just mean meeting someone who offers you a job, gets you an interview, or becomes your mentor. Career exploration and expansion will always involve networking. Using social skills to interact with thought-leaders may just be the easiest way to get a foot in the door. Don’t underestimate the power interaction.
Remember when we said to keep in mind that the specific position you’re looking for will most likely change? Well, we weren’t kidding. IT is ever-changing. If you enter into a position and refuse to grow or change, you may just have selected the wrong field. The career path you choose may not be as straightforward as you originally anticipated. It’s important to continue to work hard, stay flexible, and remain open to learning new skills and insights about your company or the industry at large.
Another inevitable change to be aware of is time. Time changes just about everything, including the job market and the demand for different positions. Working within a technological industry means being able to adjust and adapt to the advances that continuously come with it.
Now that you’ve determined your career path in IT, it’s vital that you become aware of the certifications you’ll need to stay relevant and ready to advance in your career. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with our certifications infographic.