How to get started in IT - this question troubles many of us today. There is no denying it, in recent years the IT industry has been growing at a dizzying pace, and the job of a software developer is one of the more desirable on the market. There is no shortage of candidates for this position.
According to an Evolution survey, as many as 24% of Poles want to rebrand themselves and apply for jobs in the IT industry.
So how do you get started in IT?
I come to you with an answer to this question. Over the past 8 years, I have met a lot of people on my path who are eager to start a career in IT, watched how juniors develop and supported them in this journey. Now I want to help you at the start, answer your questions and concerns, and pass on the knowledge I have acquired over the years.
If you prefer video content, below is a link to our webinar, in which we discuss the topic of IT startup in detail. The blog entry is a collection of key findings and advice but also includes additional information. We encourage you to check out both formats.
You can watch the full webinar (PL) here:
What do bootcamps not teach?
Bootcamp is certainly an option that many novice developers choose as a start in the IT world. No wonder, after all, bootcamps advertise themselves as an intensive course that allows you to learn in a short period the knowledge you need to get started as a software developer. That is, in short, IT knowledge in a nutshell. But only theoretically.
Certainly following this path has many advantages, such as:
- quality, helpful materials,
- unlimited access.
However, it's worth bearing in mind that this is not the only ideal option that will provide you with all your programming knowledge after one course. And this, unfortunately, is often the belief, and this is how most bootcamps advertise themselves.
It's easy to get into an average bootcamp
- A bootcamp will teach you the basics of programming, but these days their quality varies. You may come across a great bootcamp, but the course you choose will offer something other than real knowledge.
- Bootcamp will NOT give you a guarantee of finding a job.
- Bootcamps often fail to teach the right skills.
- Knowledge in the IT industry is changing rapidly, a lot of news is coming out, and unfortunately, not all bootcamps keep their materials up to date. Bootcamps simply can't keep up with what is expected in the market.
- Resumes and portfolios that bootcamp helps you prepare are often more damaging than helpful at a job interview. Why? Because they are repetitive. It's better to show off your solution, or project and not necessarily take shortcuts.
If you're already deciding on a bootcamp, sign up for the one most often chosen by others, after which most participants find a job or internship. A good bootcamp can give you valuable knowledge and even make it easier to find your first job - but you need to choose carefully. Do some decent research before you decide to spend your time and budget on it.
Earnings in IT, and the reality
Unfortunately, but as with bootcamps - the reality in earnings is different from how advertisements and a job offer portray it. Unfortunately, at the beginning of your career, your earnings will not come close to those advertised. Why? Because there is an oversupply in the market - there are a lot of juniors and interns applying for their first jobs. The employer overstates the requirements. It is required to have a basic knowledge of a particular programming language, to know what Scrum is, how to apply agile programming methodology, and what are the differences between QA, DevOps, and so on. Realistic earnings of juniors are in the order of 2.5, thousand to 3.5 thousand zlotys, and the ranges are much higher - unfortunately, these are marketing tricks of bootcamps and recruitment agencies.
It's worth keeping this in mind at the interview and, when asked about expected salary, don't immediately offer huge amounts for regulars or seniors.
The most common mistakes at job interviews
- Doomed fate in bootcamps - as discussed earlier
- IT is all about hard skills - Such a belief is wrong. Recruiters do not only expect technical knowledge, but also soft skills, which you will need - in working in a team, with a client, and in good communication.
- I can program, and now I'm making money - Unfortunately, Rome wasn't built in a day, and you won't shoot into the Senior Developer role at the beginning of your career. It's worth gaining some humility here and the belief that everything will come with time - including promotions. To begin with, focus on gaining knowledge and experience.
- I am running for a role to which I am not necessarily predisposed - The IT industry is a myriad of different positions! You don't necessarily have to be a front-end developer just because it's the most popular one. QA Engineer, Project Manager, and many other positions may be a better choice for you. Check all your options carefully.
Is this even the job for me?
If you want to start a career in IT, it's worth considering whether it's definitely for you. Answer these 3 questions for yourself:
- Do I have the right amount of knowledge?- Gained at bootcamp and in my free time.
- Do I have interpersonal skills? - Respect for people, hardworking, and willing to develop.
- Do I have a passion for programming, reading every IT news with blazing eyes?
If you answered yes to all the questions - this job is for you :)
Roles in IT, or if you were a character from James Bond
If I were to describe to you most simply the roles that occur in IT, I think the reference to characters from the iconic Agent 007 movies would be apt.
- Software Developer - The most popular profession in IT. Q is the man, producing gadgets for Bond.
- QA (Quality Assurance Engineer) - An agent for special tasks, he likes to spoil what Q has produced.
- DevOps - Bond girl, a bit inaccessible, but turns out to be a computer magician.
- Project Manager - M - disposes of tasks for the team and makes sure that everything works like a well-oiled machine.
- Business Analyst - MI6 interviews, takes photos analyzes, and forwards to M.
Freelancing as a gateway - or if not through the door, then through the chimney
If you have tried to find a job through various methods - through recruiters, referrals, and internship programs - to no avail, there is another option, which is freelancing.
Being a freelance developer has its pros and cons. By advertising our services on portals such as Fiverr or Useme, we have a chance to catch our first assignments, build a portfolio and earn money from it at the same time. Freelance rates are often higher than those offered on a full-time basis, but maintaining the continuity of assignments and earnings is much more difficult in this case. However, don't give up - by building a portfolio, collecting client feedback, and documenting your work, you gain initial experience and become a better developer. This can be a gateway to later work in a software house or a system for working independently and earning money.
Why IT is different from other industries
- Dynamics of change - Frequent changes in trends, languages, and approaches
- High entry threshold - The knowledge you gained yesterday may not be relevant today
- Low entry threshold - Freelance, no educational requirements
The times when a developer sat in the basement are a thing of the past, and interpersonal skills can be learned.
Target one technology, don't grab a few pigs by the tail. The rest will come later.
Don't be shy about what you would like to achieve in IT, ambitious people are valued.
In addition to these 3 most important aspects, I can also give you some valuable advice that I wish I had heard myself in the past. Be authentic. This may seem like a cliche, but it's true. Technical knowledge can be made up quickly, it's the character work that is the hardest. Remember that your success is not the finish line. If you get to your dream job, don't rest on your laurels. An internship is just the beginning. Well, and don't give up too quickly! One failed interview is not the end of the world.
Hopefully, this collection of key information and tips will help you start your career in the IT world soon. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and wishing you good luck!