The IT industry can often sound like such a nebulous world, and it seems that many people are unsure of what it really means to work in tech.
We all know that working in tech is considered one of the better careers these days. Technology is only getting stronger and the need for highly skilled tech workers is growing every year.
But for many, a career in the IT sector sounds so vague that they’re not really sure what it entails.
As an agile lead, Ronan McLoughlin has always had an interest in technology. Here, he helps us pull back the curtain on what a career in IT looks like, sharing his experience and personal journey.
What drew you to a career in IT?
I’ve always had an interest in computers and software; I always wanted to know how computers actually worked and how software was built. IT is also a very dynamic industry and always evolving.
What’s the best thing about working in IT?
I am constantly learning and developing my personal and technical skills – the IT sector is very fast-paced.
What’s the most exciting development you’ve witnessed in IT since you started working in it?
The change in the way software is developed, such as moving from traditional waterfall to agile, using frameworks such as Scrum.
The agile transformation is fantastic! We now have product owners, a scrum master and developers all in the one team, working together.
What aspect of your job did you struggle to get to grips with?
When I left university, I had to start learning about source control (SVN, GIT etc) and CI/CD deployment pipelines.
These were things I didn’t even know existed while I was a student.
What’s been the hardest thing you’ve had to face in your career?
Recently, I have been performing the role of scrum master within my team.
It is hard changing my mindset (and being a facilitator for the team) after being in a technical role for several years but, at the same time, I am enjoying it as I have a lot of support from the leadership team, training and my agile coach.
If you had the power to change anything within the STEM sector, what would that be?
From an IT/software perspective, I feel that students in primary schools need to be introduced to code in general from day one. It’s great to see things such as code clubs, but I feel it should be part of their day-to-day learning.
Which of your personality traits makes you best suited to your job?
I am a very outgoing and sociable person, always wanting to help others and share my knowledge, experience and learnings with other team members.
I am always looking to help solve problems and come up with solutions. With that in mind, I think I now fit into my scrum master and software engineer role very well within my team, and the wider organisation.
Is there something in your personal life that has helped you in your job?
I was always interested in computers and technology from a young age. The first computer I ever owned was one that I built myself.
I got the parts from a local computer shop, bought a book and got going. It all started from there, really.
How do you make connections with others in the STEM community?
I am a registered STEM ambassador with STEMNET and regularly attend STEM events throughout the year, such as speed networking, careers talks at schools, coding workshops etc.
I was also a member of the STEM working group at a previous employer, which helped organise STEM events and build relationships with communities and schools.
Has mentorship or coaching been important in your career?
Very much so. I have been on some coaching workshops in the past and scheduled to attend some more this year.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about a career in your area?
Grab the opportunity! There are a lot of jobs available in the IT sector, ranging from developers, business analysts, data scientists and system admins, to network engineers and scrum masters – the list goes on – IT affords endless opportunities.
Updated, 2.05pm, 5 September 2017 and 12.17pm, 6 September 2017: Ronan McLoughlin currently works as an agile team lead with Kainos and reference to his former employer has been removed from this article by request. A mistaken reference to Limerick Institute of Technology has also been removed.