By: Elisabeth Jackson
While the tech industry is in constant need for new talent, there is no getting around the fact that a Bachelor’s degree isn’t enough to land you a software engineer position. The National Center for Education Statistics tracked that 11.6% more Americans in the 25-29 age range hold a
Bachelor’s compared to those in 1995. Meaning, a Bachelor’s degree is quickly becoming the new normal for job requirements; not the outlier. I have found that these are the main factors to understanding how to stand out in a sea of degree holding twenty somethings:
Start Applying What You Have Learned Now:
A large percentage of graduates are still unemployed, and it’s not just because of the competition. Employers like that you have a degree, but they need to know you can actually do the job. Meaning, can you apply your knowledge to real world problems outside of the classroom? Think of your degree like a prerequisite: it prepares you for the workforce, but doesn’t have a yellow brick road for you. One example for my fellow web developers is to start using the knowledge you have gained and challenging yourself outside the classrooms. Start doing passion projects, getting involved with hackathons, and even looking into certifications that test how you handle real world problems. I promise you — the fact that you have a degree in communications doesn’t automatically disqualify you from getting a job as a programmer at Google.
Start Working On Your People Skills:
95% of employers say they look for employees whose skills translate into out of the box thinking and innovation. That isn’t something that can be taught in a certain degree program, but is indeed something that can be learned intentionally. Employers want to work with someone who can communicate well, can lead, and isn’t for lack of better word, a jerk. In fact, Silicon Valley is starting to look for more graduates with a Liberal Arts degree as opposed to the standard tech education. Utilize this time to work on your people skills, work ethic, and time manageability.
Continue to Keep Learning (Even Outside the Classroom):
Take Classes Outside Your Major:
No matter what your future career is in, you will always need to know how to make money right?
Signing up for a few business courses in Economics, Management and even Statistics can give you the foundation you need in order to advocate for yourself when you do business on your own, or understand the way a company works while you are an employee. Another great discipline to study is acting. I was lucky enough to have a flexible schedule in school to take a few acting courses, and my speaking and communication ability skyrocketed. Acting in itself is the art of human behavior, and what better place to put that knowledge to use than when looking for a job?
Build Your Professional Network:
Jobs come from relationships above anything else. Internships, meet ups with industry professionals, and speaker series are great avenues to building up your professional networks.
For web professionals, you can even find and connect with some of your favorites on Twitter or their own blog. I used to go to alumni pages of my program’s website and connect with alumni who have noted they are employed. The great advantage that students have is that most professionals love to talk about their career journey. Ask questions, see if you can meet them for coffee somewhere to pick their brain; start making those initial steps to get to know a person who has been there. Nurturing those relationships will only help you when you graduate. I was fast tracked through the application process of my current job because of a contact I made in my freshman year!
Earning your degree is already an incredible feat to be proud of, but in order to succeed in the tech world you need to be proactive in gaining contacts, experience and additional learning will help you earn the credibility necessary to land you a job much sooner.
Elisabeth Jackson is a freelance content writer with a background in technology and marketing. Before she wrote for a living, she was an post graduate mentor and advocate for college seniors. You can view more of her writings and work on her website