Last 27th of April, I volunteered to give a talk in one of DevCon’s (Developers Community) events at iAcademy Plaza in Makati.
Themed Diagon: Experiencing Acads in New Dimension, the primary target of the event was mostly Senior High School Students now graduating to Tertiary level.
With Information Technology (IT) industry experiencing a stable boom through most of the season, due to constant availability and demand for jobs – it made sense for me to give a talk entitled Building your Career in the IT industry.
Part of my presentation was discussing how to “leverage” oneself before even beginning to step into the corporate world – and here are my five (5) tips:
1. Be Proactive; Avoid Procrastination
“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” – Abraham Lincoln
My first tip might be a very generic one, but in general its one of the hardest habit to break – even more so today with the plethora of distractions from all over the place.
Even I’m a victim to this; and while my fight with my own demons continue, there’s always that keen reminder to myself to keep moving forward, else stay the same and never change.
For those who’s yet to get started with the IT industry – here are some proactive things you can do while you’re still studying, or still currently applying for a job:
- Attend seminars/lectures; Get certifications
- Participate in extra-curricular activities
- Explore opportunities (e.g. hackathons/volunteering events)
Always remember what your goals are. If you wish to become a Software Developer, then attend code camps, do online courses and study at your free time. Likewise, the same tip is also applicable for other professions.
Your future employer will most certainly look at your pro-activeness as a sign that you’re a hard working employee.
And who knows what opportunities you may find when you stay active.
2. Diversify your skills; Specialize in at least one (1)
The world of IT is a diverse field; And there are plethora of skills to master.
And this is why “specialization” is important, especially if you’re just starting out.
Have a skill that is in demand at the current market, something you’ll be able to sell yourself into (e.g. Php Developer, Network Administrator, Graphic Artists, etc.)
Once you have reached a level where you’re able to compete at a professional level, you can then look at other skill sets to specialize on.
Ideally, this new skill must be interrelated to your current specialty (e.g. Web Development to Mobile Development), but this does not always have to be the case. Once in a while, its also great to learn an entire different skills outside your normal field (e.g. Like basic accounting for instance).
Always have an open mind to learn new skills and diversify yourself. At the same time, never forget to sharpen those you’ve already mastered – cause even the best blade rusts when not used.
3. Build your brand and portfolio
Like corporations, plenty of successful people have been known synonymous with their brand – like Mark Zuckerberg for instance: Founder of Facebook, and a successful developer.
Even outside the technology industry, names like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or Lebron James can immediately be related to either fitness or basketball.
Why is this so? Its mainly because these people have established their own personal brands – and you should strive to do the same.
Start first by sharing what you do; Market yourself. There’s plenty of ways to do these now with the prevalence of social media. One good way to establish your brand is to have your own website.
You can get a domain + hosting nowadays for less than 1k Php for the whole year.
Once that is done, then start by creating your portfolio. Have sample work ready to show to your future employers or clients. This will give them a good idea on your current skill level and whether your are fit for the job that they are looking for.
4. Gain experience; Find freelance work
You’ve now mastered a a skill; You’ve just finished developing your sample work.
Now its time to get paid.
A good way to establish your brand, gain network and actually earn some income is to start freelancing. This will not only give you real-life experience (aka Adulting), but also actually give you an idea on how much value your skills have on the market.
You can look at Upwork, Freelancer, 199Jobs, others or even through your personal network for freelance opportunities.
Start with small projects first, then over time when your credentials and confidence goes up, start taking on larger projects. Scale as you see fit – and take opportunities you believe will be great for you.
Just remember to be careful. As a freelancer, you must know for yourself the signs of a scam job.
Here’s a great article on some common freelance scam: http://www.zonealarm.com/blog/2014/10/how-to-detect-online-job-scams/.
5. Grow and maintain your professional network
Over the course of your lifetime you’ll connect with several people.
Some of them you’ll connect at a personal level (friends, families, etc.). These people will be regarded as your personal network.
Others, equally important, are those people that you’ll connect at a more professional setup (clients, employers, colleagues, etc.) and this will be regarded as your professional network.
Just as you are keen on growing your personal network, never forget to also grow your professional one – as they might be the key to landing your next job or career opportunity. Avoid burning bridges.
Also have a calling card ready for quick introductions.
And no, you don’t have to be employed to have a calling card – take the initiative to create your own ones especially when actively participating in networking events.
Featured image from: https://pablo.buffer.com