Top 5 tips for a future-proofed IT career

By StudyLink

How do you prepare for an IT career that may not exist yet? How can you make sure you learn the right computer science skills? What’s hot in computer engineering right now? Find out in our global guide to the future of IT.

You may have noticed that the global financial crisis slashed job opportunities in almost every industry. But information technology has escaped the crisis remarkably well. In the US, the Bureau of Labor Statistics July 2009 survey showed that the number of computer systems design and services jobs actually increased over the previous year. In fact, tech-industry careers website believes there are 400,000 technical jobs remaining unfilled in the USA right now.

And it’s not just happening in the US or UK – in India, the rush to outsource technology jobs is creating unprecedented opportunities for IT graduates, especially in services and maintenance.

The truth is, technology has changed the way we live to such an extent that it has become the centre of our social and economic lives. And that means that in the future, basic IT skills will be essential for just about every employee.

But how can you, as a globally-educated IT student, prepare for success in the next decade? We asked the IT experts for five ways to make the most of your computing skills.

1. Keep your skills up to date

The thing about technology is it changes so fast. The programming skills taught just a few years ago at university are probably out of date now. So it’s important to commit yourself to a lifetime of learning.

Michael Golden, Vice-President of Education at Microsoft, says “Success comes through hard work, being a lifelong learner, and finding inspiration in what you so.”

Make sure you keep up with changes in your chosen field – read industry magazines, website and blogs. Many IT companies, including Microsoft, run programs for both students and IT professionals to help them keep up with new applications for their technology.

2. Get your hands dirty

If you’re studying IT, it’s probably been a hobby of yours for some time. And playing around with hardware or software is really the only way to be a technology leader in the future.

In fact, as one Developer Executive admits; “most high-tech software companies have been started by a student in a dorm room somewhere. Time and again, we’ve seen students lead technology shifts. (They) are the ones who get to engage with technology and make it real for us.”

So keep pushing the boundaries of innovation in your spare time – and you may end up creating the next Yahoo!, Google or Facebook.

3. Learn 21st century skills

Being technically proficient may no longer be enough. To compete for the top IT careers that don’t yet exist, you need to develop 21st century skills – such as problem-solving, collaboration and critical thinking.

A good university IT course, with plenty of hands-on team assignments, will help you – and so will an internship with a local IT business.

4. Recession-proof your career

Nowadays, job security is probably even higher on the wish-list than a top salary. So if you’re looking for a ‘safe’ career, focus on IT skills in sectors that have guaranteed work for the future. Health, education and government are where it’s at.

We’re also seeing a cross-over between computing and other sciences – biotechnology fuelling incredible developments in medical care, for example. IT professionals are at the forefront of solving the world’s most pressing problems, such as climate change.

A broad education, that combines IT skills with other areas such as biology, ecology, robotics, nanotechnology or DNA research, will prepare you for a career that provides opportunities way beyond computer science.

5. Become essential for everyday business

Businesses of the future will need faster access to information and analysis just to survive. Business productivity – how we work, where we work, and how fast we work – has changed beyond all recognition. And that’s where IT professionals come in.

“When I joined the company more than 20 years ago, we used overhead projectors with transparencies and printed memos out and put them in mailboxes,” says Bob Muglia, President of Server and Tools (Business) for Microsoft.

In those prehistoric days, the idea of business analysis barely existed. You couldn’t even access the data. Now, new tools and analytics make it fast and accessible. “There is a great need for people to understand and analyse the business, process and customer requirements, and create truly differentiated strategies,” says Muglia.

SEE ALSO: Business Analyst Course

It’s an information-centric role – and a degree in information systems will help you be part of it. Or, a computer engineering degree will give you the skills to develop the architecture to manage all this analysis for a specific business.

Because in today’s competitive market, information is power. And businesses around the world depend on technology to make every part of their operations possible.

To find out more about studying IT and Computing, have a look at our Computer Programming Degree Guide and our Web Development Degree Guide.

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