In 2015, Kelly ran a survey designed to identify the elements of work-life balance that employees across the globe valued most highly. What emerged wasn’t a consensus so much as a jumbled wish list that included things like ‘flexible work arrangements’, ‘wellness programs’ and ‘highly collaborative environments with cross-functional teams’. Importantly, the authors of the survey report noted that “worldwide, regional cultures play a strong role in determining what matters most to workers”.
In other words, when it comes to designing an optimal workplace, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution. This might be especially true in IT, where graduates are as likely to find themselves working for a playful startup (think foosball tables and beanbags) as they are a more traditional corporation. To ensure the best start to your career, it’s critical that you give some thought to the question of where you’ll fit in best. Here are some questions that will help you make the right choice.
If you’re trying to find the best fit for you as a graduate, it’s helpful first to know what your options are.
The main employers of IT graduates include:
Other significant IT recruiters in the graduate market include finance and professional services firms, including:
In addition, there are many other organisations that advertise specific roles within their IT departments.
Retail, media, games development and public services organisations are also major players in the technology employer landscape. There are also many smaller employers, such as specialist software houses and boutique consultancies. Therein lies the good news: you could potentially start your IT career in any type of business.
With a wide range of options on offer, it’s important to find a career that matches your passions, talents and short- and long-term goals. You can start by considering the type of work you want your job to involve. Do you love coding or are you longing for the days when you have nothing to do with it? Would you prefer to be business focused, or do enjoy solving technical problems? Do you want to be dealing with a new challenge every day, or would you prefer to work on long-term projects?
If you have clear answers to the above questions, they will help you to narrow down your graduate career options. Alternatively, if you’re still unsure of the area you’d like to focus on, you can consider employers with graduate programmes that will allow you to experiment with different roles and responsibilities.
As we’ve mentioned many times before, tech spans almost all industries which means pretty much every company out there requires some sort of technical expertise. Asking yourself if there are any industries that you particularly want to pursue work in is a good way of narrowing down your options and targeting your job search. It could be that you’re passionate about healthcare, or education or even the not-for-profit sector. Whatever you choose, your technical skills will likely be in demand.
According to the Kelly report mentioned above, more than 60 per cent of ‘Millennial’ employees highly value flexible work arrangements - 28 per cent would even consider sacrificing higher pay in return for opportunities to work remotely. An increasing number of companies are trying to meet this desire for increased mobility, but it’s worth bearing in mind that your opportunities (or obligations) to work remotely will be determined largely by the position you enter.
For example, if you become an IT consultant, you can expect to work wherever your current client is based, even if this means catching a plane home for the weekend. Graduates in IT services companies may also be frequently required to visit client premises.
By contrast, if you choose a very technical role such as developer or software tester, you’re likely to spend most of your time in the same office.
Business and management-focused roles (eg project management) tend to fall somewhere between the two – they often require a degree of travel but this can vary depending upon the precise role and company.
There’s a reason why, in GradAustralia’s annual surveys, Google, Microsoft, IBM and Atlassian consistently rank among the most desirable IT companies for new graduates. It’s not just that they’re prestigious and offer amazing opportunities for career advancement - they each also have unique cultures that attract graduates from far and wide, and make them want to stay.
If you’re trying to figure out the best fit for you, it’s a good idea to think about the type of workplace culture that might help you flourish. Are you attracted to dynamic startups that emphasise social opportunities and on-the-job fun? Would you prefer to work for a business that prioritises community engagement? Or are you an ambitious graduate who wants the challenge of pursuing success in a more traditional organisation? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you find a culture that brings out your best qualities.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, it’s important to think about the academic and personal requirements of your ideal roles. This will help you to assess whether you really are a good match for the job and your chosen employer. It will also help you identify any extra skills and attributes that you’ll need to bring to the table. After all, it’s often not enough to have studied computer science - you’ll have to go several steps further to get the job of your dreams.
A word of advice here: as important as it is to identify what your employer and your role will require of you and to cater to this when you are drafting up your CV and prepping for your interviews, don’t ignore the other factors mentioned above which focus on your own preferences. It is true that when you are just starting your career it’s harder to be picky about your job – sometimes you just have to get your foot in the door and aim for that dream job further down the line. However, it is helpful to know what you want from an ideal job right from the start as it will shape your job search and hopefully affect the end result as well.