5 Tips from Our Faculty on Finding Career Success in Tech
Advice for breaking into the industry, networking in big tech, and how to gain a competitive edge.
If you're looking for a career in the world of technology or dreaming of landing a gig with prestigious tech companies, you may be asking yourself how you can stand out from other candidates and what kind of education you'll need.
At Full Sail University, in addition to bachelor's degrees in Computer Science, with specialized tracks in Artificial Intelligence and Mobile Development, we offer a 12-month Computer Science master's degree. Our accelerated degree programs are offered both online and on campus and taught by instructors with professional experience in the industry. As a student in these degree programs, you have an opportunity to start your job search strong before you even graduate.
Full Sail Computer Science Department Chair Rebecca Carroll has some advice for navigating careers in technology that you can get started on right away.
1. Research job postings for what you want to do
Start in places like LinkedIn to find the gig you want at the companies you want to work for. Search for job postings and people in your dream role and research what qualifications they're asking for or have on their resume. Do some specializations matter? What level of degree are they looking for?
And don't limit your search to recruiters. Rebecca suggests reaching out to fellow developers with the experience you're looking for. "Ask ‘What do you you need?' and ‘What are you looking for in people working on your team?' so you can start working on that now.”
2. Use your student status to your advantage
While you're earning your degree as a student, you are in a unique position for networking, finding people to mentor you, and seeking advice. Many professionals are more open to talking with students about their future rather than people who have already graduated.
Rebecca says this is a great time to flex your networking skills. “I strongly suggest leveraging your position as a student and reaching out to folks on LinkedIn, saying, ‘I’m a student, and I am aspiring to be in a position like yours. What are you looking for in your qualifications? What are you looking for in a graduate degree?’”
She also recommends attending coding meetups and networking with other students in areas where you'll meet other aspiring tech professionals. She explains that even though you may be incredibly busy and working really hard, this is the ideal time to meet other tech professionals.
3. Add extra projects to your portfolio
If you're intimidated by the competition in the job market space, one thing you can do to stand out is to illustrate your potential with personal projects. "You are what you do in your spare time," says Rebecca. "If you can show them the product of what you did in your spare time, rather than the product of what you did in your school that will go a long way.”
These personal projects do not have to be masterful, complex applications. In fact, many tech companies will not have time to review thousands of lines of code. Instead, show that you enjoy solving problems and have room to grow in your skills. Rebecca recommends working on projects that teach you something new.
"They’re going to be looking at your code. They’re going to look at your code repository, how you document your code, if you’re putting comments in there that explain things that need to have comments. They’re going to be looking at what muscles you’re flexing," she says.
4. Practice your interview skills
Whiteboarding interviews are notoriously difficult and in-depth in the world of tech. You can practice these types of interviews with sites like HackerRank or even through real interviews with companies you aren't seeking to work for.
"Don't be afraid to do interviews for jobs you don't want, even while you're studying and even though you haven't earned your degree yet," says Rebecca. She says this is a great time to hone your interview skills for the job you actually want.
At Full Sail, students prepare for career readiness with project and portfolio courses and career readiness curriculum that includes interview skills and presenting your work in a professional setting.
5. Don't wait until you graduate to start applying for jobs
"The perfect time to start aggressively looking is the last five to six months of your degree," says Rebecca. She explains that anecdotally, many students are hired for roles before they even graduate.
The tech sector is experiencing a lot of growth in recent years and the job market is hot. Full Sail's accelerated tech degree programs give you the advantage of finishing your degree faster to keep up with the rapidly evolving industry.
Rebecca says, “There is a lot of need for people who can speak to computers."
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