Guest blog written by: Michael Hennessy, Marketing & Editorial Assistant (Inside Careers).
There are several myths that pervade the IT profession, discolouring what is a vibrant, inclusive and attractive career option for graduates of almost any discipline.
While entry-level salaries in IT are comparable to the average graduate job, there is a relatively steep curve of salary maturity. According to XpertHR’s 2012 Computer Staff Salary report, the average basic salary of an Analyst is £30,866; rising to £47,178 for Project Managers; and reaching north of £130,000 for IT Directors.
IT is also an increasingly global business – programming languages are universal – allowing for plentiful travel opportunities, while the constant stream of emerging technologies provides a steady spring of interest.
With these benefits in mind, it’s worth redressing some of the more persistent myths that plague the profession.
Myth 1: IT is a profession for geeks
Perhaps the most common myth surrounding the IT industry is that it is the domain of so-called “geeks”. Leaving aside the insensitivity of those who use the term disparagingly, the reality is that the profession requires certain levels of business acumen and interpersonal skills that don’t cohere with the stereotype.
The technology needs of businesses are becoming increasingly outsourced, with many IT professionals acting in a consulting capacity. This role requires client-facing skills, encompassing high levels of communication and relationship management.
It’s surprising that the stereotype persists in an age where seemingly everyone is tech-savvy. These people are not geeks. They are technology professionals.
Myth 2: IT is only for Computer Science graduates
IT welcomes any degree, and its recruiters seek skills that aren’t exclusive to Computer Science and related subjects. Along with those named in the above section, recruiters want to see evidence of analytical, project management and problem solving skills. If you’ve made it through university with a degree intact, you should be able to demonstrate these skills, regardless of your subject.
These are skills that can also be acquired or sharpened in an extracurricular fashion. Commercial awareness, for one, can be developed during work experience, or by taking an interest in industry.
Many companies will provide the requisite technical training to round out your competency for the profession. Make no mistake, though, a genuine interest in and capability with computing is essential to success in the field, and must be exhibited during the application process.
Myth 3: IT is a boys’ club
This one is a half-misconception. Only 23% of the workforce in the IT industry is female, compared to 45% across the UK’s working population.
In spite of these figures, employers are increasingly keen to recruit females. This is because women tend to excel in a number of desirable aptitudes, including team work, data collection and analysis, customer service and presentation skills.
Many employers will take measures to ensure they attract and retain the best female staff. Many IT roles are project-based, allowing for a flexibility that is encouraging to women who want to combine families and work.
The IT profession is more diverse than is commonly thought. There is diversity in the skills that fuel it; across the members that compose it; and opportunities within it.
To find out more about graduate careers in IT, visit Inside Careers.
Inside Careers publishes specialist careers advice about a range of professions. Research your career, and apply for internships and graduate jobs at www.insidecareers.co.uk/