We take a look at what qualifications and skills colleges can offer to help future IT professionals get their feet in the doors.
One of the best weapons you can have when hunting for an IT job is a strong, relevant qualification. Attending a college course can not only provide you with the skills for the job, but it can also give you time to develop a specialisation and can provide a huge range of contacts for breaking into the industry.
“The usual undergraduate and post-graduate programmes, computing science and software engineering in general, are still there and are very attractive,” said Dr Waseem Akhtar, head of Faculty of Computing Science in Griffith College Dublin.
“Even in this difficult time, there are jobs for good programmers and good software engineers.”
The virtue of having such a qualification proves to the employer that you have the necessary skills to do the job, according to Mark Deegan, industrial placement co-ordinator at DIT School of Computing.
“While employers are looking for computer science graduates, they accept that if a student is a graduate of a known institution from a known degree programme, they have the basic skills. The rest they will learn on the job,” he said.
Numerous colleges across the country offer several core courses in computer science, engineering and software development, providing students with the essential skills needed to break into the industry.
Choosing your path within your chosen course is a big step, one that will not only shape your next four years, but also your future. Deegan pointed out that often a mature student’s perspective can help them plot out their career path, particularly when choosing an area to specialise in.
“It can be difficult for school leavers to see what their job might be in five or 10 years’ time. It’s easier for mature students to see what it might be because they may have worked there or they may have family, friends or colleagues with practical experience of working in the IT industry.
“There can be an advantage in choosing areas where they want to specialise in, whereas you need to give school leavers a flavour of different aspects of the IT industry before you can enable them to make the decision as to where they’re going to specialise.”
Most computer science courses provide different flavours of the IT world. Akhtar emphasises that, along with core computer science courses, there are also inter-disciplinary degrees that provide an alternative route.
“In Griffith College, we have an MSc in applied digital media technologies,” he said. “People with a different educational background can join these degrees and when you finish them you have more opportunities and a variety of skills. Within those, you can select what you want to do.”
Once you hit final year, deciding on what happens next becomes essential, be it continuing on with further study, taking some time out or finding a job. Choosing to look for a career can be intimidating fresh out of college, however, Deegan said companies are aware that new graduates will not be complete experts on all things IT.
“They’re looking at the raw materials of an engineer or IT professional working with them in five years’ time. That’s what they’re getting from graduation. They’re not getting a finished product,” he explained.
Deegan said a company is also aware that a student may not have honed in on a specialism straight out of college and they know there’s a level of mobility within the organisation until this is discovered.
If you do have a specialism in mind, Ahktar recommends doing a certificate around this area, to show an employer a commitment to the subject.
Applying for jobs
Having worked with many IT employers across the country, Deegan knows of the most effective ways to secure a job. He stresses the importance of getting a CV in at the right desk, rather than thoughtlessly sending hundreds into HR departments. A good way of doing this is attending graduation fairs or events where colleges invite companies to talk with students.
By networking with individuals from these companies, you can make a solid contact who may know of an opening within the company and would happily recommend you.
Deegan also said students shouldn’t wait until graduation to start handing out CVs and they should do so either before or early in the second term. “An employer is not sitting on tenterhooks waiting to see what your final degree grade is.
“In the majority of cases that’s not what’s most important to them. What’s important to them are your communication skills, your interests and involvement while in college and the subjects you took. That’s what’s important to them.”
Regardless of which institution you choose to educate yourself in IT, the most important thing is to make the most out of it. You will have access to a huge amount of resources, such as computer facilities, lecturers’ advice and the careers department. Utilising these support models will help you achieve your goal in making your mark in the tech world.
Some of the IT courses colleges have to offer
Trinity College Dublin
- BAI degree in computer engineering
- BA degree in computer science
- Diploma in information systems
- BAI degree in electronic and computer engineering
Dublin City University
- BEng degree in information and communications engineering
- BSc degree in computer applications
- BSc degree in computing science
- BSc in computing
- MSc in computing science
- MSc in applied digital media
- Higher diploma in computing
Dublin Institute of Technology
- BSc degree in computer science
- BSc degree in computing
- MSc in computing (information technology)
- MSc in computing (knowledge management)
- MSc in computing (data analytics)
- BSc degree in computer science and information technology
University College Cork
- BSc degree in computer science
- BSc in electrical and electronic engineering