When it comes to careers in demand in South Africa, those in the technology industry are definitely on the list. And there are many different types of jobs available in tech, from developing websites or writing code to working in IT support or creating updates and new products. This fast-growing industry is known for having a variety of career options and, as time goes by, more opportunities are being created for people who love technology and want to earn a living from it.
The only problem is that it can be a difficult industry to get into when you are just starting out. The tech business is unlike other disciplines and career choices for a number of reasons. For starters, what you learned in your textbook at college last year might already be out of date. Everything is constantly changing and what is considered best practice today could be completely wrong tomorrow. And another thing you should remember about the tech industry is that it’s both technical and creative at the same time. Lastly, there is no sure-fire way to start your career in the tech industry. But there are some tips you can follow to help you make your way into the business.
Don’t focus only on the big names or the latest startup everyone is talking about
Too often people try to start off their careers in the technology industry by focussing on applying only to the well-known companies or the “next big thing” that the whole industry is buzzing about. But here’s the thing, everyone wants to work at those places. The competition is fierce and your CV is likely one of hundreds or thousands that are scanned for certain criteria and then either considered or discarded. And since you are only just beginning your career, there will be more experienced people applying for the same positions as you. Yes, even the junior and internship positions.
Instead, try apply for lesser-known or smaller companies in the beginning. It may not seem as cool or exciting, but it will at least give you some experience in the industry, as well as in the working world. And in smaller, less-established businesses, you are more likely to be able to try out different roles and departments.
Always stay on top of industry trends
As mentioned earlier, everything is constantly changing in the tech industry and you need to know what is trending right now. As new issues arise, you need to know how to solve them in the most efficient way. When popular software or hardware is updated, you need to be able to work with the latest version. And if there is a brand new algorithm that is shaking up the whole industry, you need to know everything there is to know about it.
Know a little bit about everything and a lot about one thing
Let’s be honest, it isn’t likely that you will be developing cutting-edge software after three days on the job. As in any industry, when you start out, you will need to do the grunt work. This means that you will be tasked with everything from solving issues your coworkers aren’t interested in to performing small tasks in random areas of the business that no one else has time for. It may seem unfair, but you need to earn that coveted experience. This is why you should at least know the basics of most disciplines within the technology field.
However, it is also a good idea to consider specialising in a certain area. That way, you can focus on that particular aspect of the industry and develop your skills and knowledge to the point where you are an expert. In the beginning, it’s a good idea to show that you are particularly interested in one area, but have the basic abilities to perform tasks in all areas of the business. This will make you appear both motivated and ambitious, but also useful to a potential employer.
You can’t be picky
You need to focus on gaining experience and adding to your CV at this point in your career. This means that even though driving to Stellenbosch for work is a long commute, if the available jobs are in Stellenbosch, that’s where you need to be. Apply for all the jobs you qualify for that will offer you experience in the industry, whether they require you to work in Stellenbosch or Sea Point.
Of course, when you’re looking for a job in any industry, you know where to go.