5 Tips for getting into IT with no experience
If you have an inclination and an interest in technology, getting a job in IT is not that difficult. We live in an age where companies cannot find enough people with the right skill-set to recruit to cover their needs in IT. There is, however, a legitimate question asked by job hunters: “How do I get my first job in IT if I have no work experience in the sector?” It’s true that most companies will ask for relevant experience even for junior IT positions, so what can you do to improve your chances to get that first job? There are no quick fix solutions, but here are 5 things you can do which will greatly improve your chances of getting that first job in IT:
Do a practical course
Whether your interests lie in programming, operating systems, networks, security or any other IT sector, there is a course out there that you can do which will give you some practical experience and something to showcase in your CV when you apply for a job. Choose a course which has lots of exercises, labs and hands-on with actual equipment and/or applications & toolkits which most employers actually use in their everyday operations. Creating an Android/ios application, designing a company network infrastructure, using tools which discover systems vulnerabilities, installing and configuring Windows/Linux servers are some of the things you’ll need to prove you can do to a potential employer.
Instructor-led courses (vs video courses or reading from books), whether online or in a classroom will be more beneficial for you since you’ll have the chance to ask your questions, work in a team with the other participants as well as network with people who are already employed or in the same position as you.
You can reference the experience you’ll gain from working with actual equipment, creating network topologies, building an actual application etc., as equivalent to work experience. Employers will see the value of such experience and you’ll have a competitive edge over other candidates.
Get an official certification
If the IT sector that interests you has a prevalent certification recognised by most employers, then you should consider becoming certified. Employers value certificates because they prove that you can be productive at work with little or no training. Instead of an employer needing 6 months to a year to bring a new employee up to the desirable level, they’ll know that an employee with a relevant certification will become productive much faster, hence saving them money.
Some IT sectors do not have a prevalent certification but other ones do. For example in Networking most employers prefer Cisco CCNA & CCNP certifications, in Systems certifications in Windows Server and Linux and in Virtualization Azure and VMware are the most popular.
Use any experience you have
Volunteer or get an internship
While attending a course relevant to your IT interests, you might find it beneficial to volunteer or find an internship where you can practice what you learn. Working alongside (even for free) a professional will give you valuable experience in the field. Dealing with customers, seeing new technologies and generally being in a working environment will be an important first step into a career in IT.
Try contacting big companies as well as small local IT businesses and be prepared to work for free! If you can’t find any contact non-governmental organisations in your area. They usually have limited resources and welcome any help they can get. This investment of time from your part, shows commitment to any potential employer and adds valuable work experience on your CV.
Practice at home
Irrespective of what IT sector you want to start a career in, you can probably earn some experience by trying stuff at home. Set up a small network, install a Linux or a Windows Server, create an Android application from scratch – there are so many things you can try and which you can reference on your CV as experience.
Any kind of hands on work you do will better equip you to compete for a job and will be appreciated by potential employers. Being active in your field instead of waiting for something to show up, shows your commitment to continuous development.