There is no doubt that computing is one of the most in-demand industries on the planet right now. Everything from cloud computing to data science, personalized device configuration to cyber security is at the top of many businesses’ priority lists.
The reason for this is simple. Almost everyone in the developed world uses computers for one purpose or another – whether it be to attract more customers, sell products, interact with one another or to do their job.
As a result, there is a seemingly endless demand for computing specialists – people who can set up devices and keep them functional, as well as help businesses get the most out of their online presence.
However, while computing is a compelling career choice, it still necessitates a lengthy process of developing computing skills, meeting contacts within the industry and gaining real-world experience.
Naturally, this is easier said than done, which is why it is useful to understand the usual career progression of a computing specialist, and how you might get started.
This is how you can forge a successful career in computing:
Gain a masters in computer science
The first – and most obvious – step in pursuing a career in computing is to gain the necessary qualifications. Not only does this help give you a foundational understanding of the various different computing specialties, but it will propel you further along the career ladder at an earlier stage.
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Potential employers want to know you are an expert in your field, so look for a degree which suits you.
For example, you may want to enroll in a masters in computer science online, which allows you to maintain the flexibility of your current lifestyle, while studying for the necessary degree.
This last detail is particularly crucial to keep in mind.
Finding the right degree course is not just about the prestige of the university or how specific it is to the career you’re looking to pursue. It is also about being able to complete it in the most productive and sustainable way possible.
There is no point joining a course which renders you unable to sustain yourself through a part-time job or gain valuable work experience in computing, so choose a degree which offers a good level of flexibility.
Find an area which suits you
Another key area to consider before embarking on a career in computing is to decide upon a specialty. This does not necessarily have to happen until later in your training, but it is a good idea to consider it from the very beginning.
The reason why you need to specialize in a certain area is because it will help you to become an expert – and subsequently find work.
It is impossible to become a leading expert in every type of computing – the field is simply too vast – and you will be seen by potential employers as a jack of all trades, rather than an expert they can count on to deliver a particular service.
Finding an area to specialize in can be daunting, so start by jotting down what you are most interested in – both in computing and life in general. This could even include the type of lifestyle you want to lead or life goals you want to tick off (which will help you decide which types of jobs you want to aim for).
Once you have done this, it is time to find a specialty which best suits your tastes and requirements. It is rarely a perfect fit, but it is far more pleasant than landing yourself on a career path you loathe.
Build a strong network as early as possible
They say it is less about who you are and more about who you know. While this is a somewhat cynical phrase, it does at least partially speak of reality.
You can be the most talented computing specialist in your field, but if no one within your chosen industry knows who you are, then you stand zero hope of landing a job anytime soon.
Rather than pressuring yourself to reach out to hundreds of businesses and individuals at once, it is best to ease into it as early as possible – whether it is through networking sites like LinkedIn or by cold emailing contacts directly.
Keep a log of all the contacts you have (both ‘hot’ contacts who are interested in your services, and people you have the details for, but have not yet reached out to). By doing this, you will quickly establish yourself as a go-to expert within your industry and find it easier to land clients or jobs in the future.
Hone specialist skills in your free time
Forging a successful career in computing is about more than jumping through academic hoops or doing what everyone else is doing. If you want to make a real success of your career and leap ahead of your competitors, then you need to put in a little extra work.
Developing additional skills in your free time is one such method of separating yourself from other computing specialists vying for jobs.
This might include developing your social skills, learning how to market your services, incorporating additional services like copywriting or website building into your armory, or even more business-related skills like accounting or people management.
By building a strong, rounded skill-set, you will find it easier to land jobs and perform at a high standard whatever your work environment. While many computing specialists believe it is their expertise alone that gives them success, any accomplished specialist will tell you it takes rather more than that.
Search for new areas which are increasingly in-demand
Enjoying a successful career in any profession requires you to keep your fingers on the pulse of your industry, finding out which skills or areas of computing are increasingly in-demand, and deciding whether it is a demand you can fulfil yourself.
When you are constantly looking for fresh opportunities, you will rarely be caught out by job shortages, lack of work or a repetitive working routine – instead you are looking to the next big thing.