Are you a student or an early-career professional seeking to kick-start your career in tech? Do you feel a bit overwhelmed by the possibilities out there, unsure of yourself, and lacking a clear idea not only of where you'd like to go, but how you can get there? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. As someone who has walked in your shoes recently, I’ve found that it’s what’s inside that counts so much more toward establishing yourself in industry than any particular skill set or prior work experience that you may have had. This is only fair when one is first starting out on their career journey.
Consequently, I’ve compiled a list of the following five things that have helped me persevere and eventually achieve success on my path to establishing myself as a young professional in the tech industry.
1. Be curious. Let’s face it: if you’re not the kind of person who enjoys learning about new things and always wants to know what’s coming up next, you’re probably not going to enjoy a career in tech. Curiosity should ideally be channeled toward learning new skills and meeting new people. Do some research on local events such as industry meetup groups, conferences and networking events.
2. Be proactive. Leisure time is important for the happiness and health of us human beings – but there IS such a thing as too much Netflix. Go on, be accountable for your own career. Make an effort! You never know where it might land you.
3. Be passionate. One could argue that life is hardly worth living if you do not enjoy it. Since most professionals spend a majority of their waking hours at work, it makes sense to choose a career path that you love instead of a mere sequence of jobs that destroy your soul. Technology is an extremely broad field, as it is heavily utilized in just about all industries these days. It has a lot to offer everyone, so theoretically, you should be able to find something you’re passionate about!
4. Be open but not overwhelmed by opportunity. It’s important to get as diverse an array of experiences as possible when starting out in your career, to help you decide upon the right path for you. It’s also important to not waste energy upon too many irrelevant distractions, either. Learning how to evaluate opportunities is a skill in itself. Find that balance, and you’ll find your career path a lot quicker.
5. Volunteer. You might be frustrated by some companies’ desire for graduates with volunteering experience, particularly if you are a struggling university student trying to find the time to study effectively AND pay the bills. Volunteering is, however, its own reward. You can not only drive positive change in the world for the causes you care about, but volunteering also gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your professional skills and attributes to others.
Editor’s note: For more resources on this topic, visit www.isaca.org/young-professionals.