What do employers look for in an IT grad?
As a graduate in Information Technology what will the future hold for you? You may use state of the art software to produce animation for the movie industry, or design the first keyboard free computer or an 'expert' system that can diagnose the earliest stages of disease. You may help develop a computer chip for human implantation or design a probe to travel through a black hole in space. The industry is so fast paced that it's possible, even likely that you'll be working with technology that simply doesn't exist yet.
A degree in ICT gives graduates a foundation on which they can build and keep up with the play. Hardware and software may change but the underlying principles stay the same. Employers look to hire people who want to keep learning new skills and to apply those principles to evolving technology.
Whilst good grades and technical skills are important, employers also look for:
- Learning agility - the ability to constantly and proactively update technical knowledge and skills and quickly apply that learning to new situations.
- Interpersonal skills - the ability to listen, influence and manage people in both team and leadership roles and build strong relationships.
- Communication skills - excellent grasp of technical information and industry jargon but also the ability to explain complex ideas in simple terms.
- Analysis - being a sharp thinker; drawing on technical skills, people knowledge and commercial awareness to grasp key issues, explore options and identify appropriate solutions.
- Problem solving - persistence and confidence in the face of what may seem insurmountable problems and impossible deadlines. Resourcefulness and good judgement in handling difficult situations.
- A 'can do' attitude - a reluctance to say "this is impossible" just because it's never yet been done; a commitment to new learning.
- Initiative - the ability to challenge how things are done and think laterally, proposing new ideas.
- Commercial awareness - an understanding of how technology supports the objectives of individuals and organisations.
- Life experience - what candidates have done in their lives outside of education so far.