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Planning your Future in IT
By Rayaprolu SS Sarma, Manager, Graduate Talent Program, Virtusa
IT is the most sought after destination for job aspirants in India today. From jobs in data entry to the ones in high end technological transformation, there are opportunities which get created every day. This presents the opportunity to choose and build expertise, which is not the case with many other careers. So how does a student plan to build a career in IT?
Students can look at building a career in IT by exploring three stages; Eligibility, Suitability and Sustainability.
Eligibility is that aspect of our candidature which certifies that we possess the knowledge to execute a job. The graduation, the specialization of the graduation and others are indicators of the knowledge level a candidate should possess for a particular role. Suitability is more around role readiness. This consists of eligibility and experience along with expertise gained through the candidate's work. Sustainability is the ability to continue to work in a role or move upwards overcoming challenges of competition, opportunities and changing work dynamics.
For individuals who want to plan a career in IT, the first step would be to do a reality check on all these aspects. Eligibility is the easiest to find out. Most job descriptions would call this out in detail and one would be able to identify opportunities which suit her/his eligibility. While this is the first step and IT has really opened doors for many graduates irrespective of their discipline of study, it is only a baby step towards a career.
Specialization and differentiation of the individual's core skills is important. Identifying an individual's pull towards different tasks such as designing, programming or solutioning earlier on in their career will help in preparing for the next steps. An individual's penchant for all tasks in IT is not always the same and spending one to two -years in the industry will start providing indicators of where success can be pursued. It is important to build on these early signals and choose paths which strengthen the core interests or expertise.
Suitability is always in context of a job role; a technology or a domain. Some amount of suitability is also around the kind of work done, such as services, product development or Research and Development. When one misses out on the context, part of suitability is lost and mistakes are made. Understanding career paths, having discussions with seniors in the respective careers will allow for informed decisions which will increase suitability to a particular role or career path. Certifications, investments in learning, exposure to risk can only take shape if the context and the career path are clear. With the dynamics of IT, it is prudent not to plan beyond three years since newer roles open up and with them, newer learning opportunities.
An individual's ability to manage ambiguity, adaptation to multiple cultures and acceptance of new work ethics are all an integral part of the IT world. Many millennial workplaces are built around the same. While the work in IT companies is becoming transformational, suitability is about having that personality which can be productive in spite of these dynamics.
Sustainability is about understanding the dynamics of the industry like competition, changing work environments and other things which will make or break the growth prospects. While the first two aspects of career planning are easy to figure out, it is very difficult to work on one's sustainability. Staying relevant and profitable in an ever changing world is not easy.When it comes to sustainability, planning has to happen conducive to not just the professional aspects but also the personal aspects of one's life. Job changes, geography changes etc. contribute to sustainability and clarity of the self will help in building this aspect of one's career.
IT world is fast, dynamic and many times careers are unpredictable. There are multiple opportunities which allow for precision specializations and sustainability become difficult. Someone who is indispensable for one business model might suddenly become irrelevant overnight in another. There are many methods to work on this. Personal mentors, counsellors, workshops, keeping oneself up-to-date and other methods are tools which will help one stay relevant.
Figuring out all the three aspects of career planning is an ongoing process. The IT world is very exciting and when one wants to start a career here, it is better to be flexible towards opportunities rather than being rigid! Be ready to explore, be surprised and to break the shackles of your conditioning. Learning, unlearning and relearning, it is here that they matter each day of your career!