With new developments unfolding on a weekly (even daily!) basis, the technology industry is booming, and as a result an increasing amount of students are choosing to study IT and Computer Science.
With most tech courses integrating work placements into their curriculums, the majority of IT graduates are now entering the job market with valuable experience. This is excellent, but it can also make it difficult to stand out, and for companies to separate one good candidate from another- in turn it can make it more challenging for graduates to secure entry-level roles.
If you’re an IT graduate who’s currently searching for your first role, then be sure to take note; VANRATH has three ways you can set yourself apart, by networking into your first role.
Technology is evolving at such a rapid pace that it’s hard for IT professionals to remain constantly up to date. In order to remedy this, a large number of IT Meetup groups have been set up, led by some of the most knowledgeable IT professionals in the industry. These Meetups are essentially honey-pots; they’ll provide you with the opportunity to connect and learn from key players in some of Northern Ireland’s most innovative tech companies. This is a brilliant way of getting to know the right people and showcasing your talent. You can also include this information on your CV/cover letter to demonstrate your enthusiasm and interest in the topic, which will be attractive to any prospective employer. For more information about the different Meetup groups on offer, and to receive updates and calendar invites, sign up to Meetup’s website (which is entirely free to join). If you’re not sure which Meetups to follow then be sure to check out Sync NI’s ‘Find Your Tribe’ series here, which provides in-depth information on what to expect from a variety of groups.
If you’d prefer to commit to something less frequent, then why not investigate some of the industry-led events Belfast has to offer? If you’re willing to buy a ticket, events such as Digital DNA, BelFOSS, and the Annual Big Data Belfast Conference are well worth attending; you’ll hear thought-provoking talks from some of the most innovative leaders in the industry. When it comes to networking, make sure you research the topics beforehand and come with some questions prepared. You can also ask attendees if they have any guidance for you, as someone at the beginning of your career. One word of advice: don’t forget to take notes during the event- these will provide you with interesting discussion points to flag during an interview, which will undoubtedly impress your interviewer. If you’ve never been to one of these large-scale events and you’d like to learn more about what to expect, why not read VANRATH’s blog on the Annual Big Data Conference 2017, which details a number of talks from the day. To see a full list of upcoming events in Belfast, check out Eventbrite online.
Forming connections with the right people is one thing, but demonstrating your skill set is another. This is where coding challenges can be incredibly useful. They have different forms, but are most commonly coding tournaments and hackathons (which can last up to 24/48 hours!). These are usually sponsored by leading tech companies who provide a panel of judges. Depending on the challenge, you can compete on your own or in a team. The winner(s) will usually receive a prize, but the biggest prize of all is catching the attention of key members in the tech space. What better way to convince someone to give you a job than showcasing your talent? Regardless of whether you win or not, this is a fun activity you can enjoy with like-minded people, which you can also include on your CV/cover letter as a bonus.
If you’re an IT graduate looking for your first role, be sure to contact VANRATH on 028 9033 0250. We have a number of consultants who focus specifically on graduate/entry-level roles who will be able to advise you. You can also browse our live jobs page here for all current postings.