6 ways to find an IT job as a student
You're writing your first CV, browsing for available jobs, but you're not really sure where to start or how to present your skills when you don’t have much experience yet.
We know how difficult it is to enter the labor market, which is why we try to be present at universities and share our experience with young programming students. Last week, Marek Berkan talked about recruitment for IT companies at the University of Warsaw, Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Mechanics. If you’ve missed it, read the summary below. Here are the 6 things you should know before you start looking for a job in the industry.
1. Start by finding a company
Before you start to worry about how your CV looks or nervously browse job offers, think about what kind of a company you would like to work for. What matters to you?
Money is important, but it’s not everything. If you’re serious about getting a permanent job, you will have to find motivation every day to go to work, come back from work, engage in it and grow within its structures. Therefore, it’s worth thinking ahead and also consider other factors, such as:
- atmosphere (How do you want to feel at work? What kind of relations are important to you? Are you bothered by stress? Do you need a sense of security? Do you like to see your actions in a broader context? Do you prefer small or large teams?)
- company’s projects (What does this company do? Are its projects interesting or archaic and not very professional? Do you like them? Do you want to co-create something like that?)
- technologies (What kind of technologies does the company utilize? Are they outdated? Will they contribute to your development?)
- methodology of work (perhaps you already know that IT projects can be managed in a variety of ways, and how a team’s work is organized is of great importance not only for the end result, but for the comfort of work, as well. In e-point, we believe in agile methodologies)
- tools (what kind of hardware will you be working with? Think not only about the computer, but the chair, lighting, and the building itself too; do employees work in small rooms or in open space?)
- company values (Different organizations profess various values and have different objectives. Think whether you identify with the company’s mission. Do you share their philosophy?)
- corporation or a small business? (Each of them has its pros and cons. In a corporation you can expect a big salary, but at the same time you will feel like a cog in a relentless machine - get ready for situations where decisions on matters that affect you will be made without your participation. On the other hand, smaller companies often offer a more friendly atmosphere, smaller teams, and individuals and their opinions have a greater impact on the entire operations).
- conditions of employment (Does the company employ on the basis of an employment contract?)
- development opportunities (Will the company subsidize your training? Do they practice the culture of development?)
- location (You do not want to spend three hours a day commuting. It seems trivial, but for some people such inconvenience may, in the long run, be a factor that completely ruins their pleasure from working)
Start by profiling your expectations. It is not about being entitled, but about knowing what you want. This way, you will save yourself a lot of time and frustration.
2. Find reliable information about a company
Very well, you say, but where do I get information about a company? After all, you won’t find much in a job ad! Remember that you have 4 more important channels at your disposal:
- Go regularly to industry events: meetings and conferences are not only a great opportunity to broaden your knowledge, but also to get to know people in the business. You'll meet many employees of IT companies there: just shoot them a few questions. Not only will you gain a different perspective (which will allow you to verify the information published on the company’s official website), but you will also make valuable acquaintances.
- Join Facebook groups and other social media. Listen to other people’s opinions about working in various companies.
- Access the industry’s business catalogues.
- Ask your friends, e.g. senior students. They already have some experience and will advise you on where to turn. Or maybe they will even decide to recommend you themselves?
3. Look beyond job portals
Portals such as Pracuj.pl aggregate job offers, but you will pay a certain price for the opportunity to use their services: your CV - especially when you don’t have much experience - can get easily swallowed up in the crowd. Therefore, try to use other ways.
- Write to the HR department of the company you’re interested in. Have you already chosen a company? Speak to the HR representative and establish a relationship with them. Tell them something about yourself: what you’re studying, what you want to do, and ask whether they have anything for you. You may find that this approach will pay off only in the future after you graduate, but it may also be that the recruiter will show you what you still need to learn. Even if you don't get your dream job right away, you can count on valuable feedback.
- Go regularly to job fairs, such as those organized at the University of Warsaw (the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Mechanics), the Warsaw University of Technology (the Faculty of Electronics and Information Technology and the Faculty of Mathematics and Information Sciences). There, you will meet real employees of the company, and you will be able to ask them questions and probe the atmosphere that prevails in the company.
- Ask your friends: tell them you’re looking for work. Companies like to recruit people recommended by their current employees - it is a guarantee that the recommended person has something valuable to offer (would you recommend a person with a low skill level to your boss?)
So, before you start sending out your CV, look around calmly and see how things look. Do not be afraid to take the initiative - write to the HR department and search for companies at job fairs and conferences.
4. Research the programmer’s career development path
Remember that in good organizations the path of development is not strictly vertical (down – up; from a junior programmer to a programmer, to a senior programmer, to an expert), but also horizontal (sideways). In other words, you may find that you start somewhere as a junior programmer, but then find another vocation or unexpected talent. From the programming point of departure you may end up in a number of different positions: front-end developer, analyst/designer, system architect, administrator... And maybe you’ll realize that instead of working in a technical field you’re better off in a typical business environment and you prefer working with customers?
Why should you remember this? To not be afraid that taking up the job locks you into many months (or years!) within a particular position which you don’t yet know and you're not sure it is a good fit. A good employer will recognize your skills and will give you an opportunity to find your own place and develop your potential. That’s why it’s so important to find a company that understands this and will help you discover what’s best in you.
5. Develop a programmer’s CV
You’ve already targeted a great company and you see on their website that they’re hiring. It's time to send your application!
Your CV should clearly communicate your value to the company. Our experience shows that applicants make the following 4 common mistakes:
- Listing all the information in chronological order. First of all, put the most important information at the beginning. No one is going to look for relevant information in the middle of the third page. Remember to filter information carefully - is it really necessary for your future employer to know that you went to a high school in Szczecin?
- Links to weak projects and profiles. If you put links to your projects or the profile on GitHub, consider whether they present you in a good light. Maybe the website you made ten years ago does not reflect well on you?
- Spelling errors. To be 100% sure, use the editor’s spell checker on your application text. When you’re working on a document while tired it’s easy to make errors. Before sending your CV, give it to someone to read: a fresh pair of eyes will catch awkward wording or errors much easier.
- Inappropriate photo. Choose your photo wisely. If none of the ones you have are any good, just don’t attach one. It’s a better solution than surprising recruiter with your beach selfie.
6. Treat the interview as a two-way dialogue
Remember that the interview is not only a test of your qualifications - during the interview you should also learn whether the company meets your expectations. Does your future boss inspire confidence? Are you satisfied with the tools and technologies? Do you feel like staying here longer?
Do not be afraid to ask questions! If you already know what's important to you (see point 1), you can verify that the employer meets your needs, either by observing or asking questions.
Also, be prepared for the question about your preferred salary - we think it’s fair to inform potential employees about a salary range in the job ad, but some employers leave this topic for the interview. Do research on the web and among your friends and see what salary you can count on.
So? Are you ready to start your career in IT?
We hope this guide has proven helpful! Or, maybe you want to start working right away - with us?
We’ll be glad to see you there!