How to improve your IT career in 4 simple steps

Did you know that social media behemoth Facebook, plans to phase out the smartphone in 10 years’ time? According to the CEO and founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, there are plans to make Facebook and other apps available through augmented reality (AR), he announced this at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference.

You might be wondering when was the smartphone created that It faces extinction so soon, well that’s how fast the IT world evolves.

To understand the massive pace at which the IT industry is growing, we need to understand how we got here, the era of social media, smartphones, additive printing, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and so on. Let’s take a quick look at the evolution of the industry over time.

GROWTH OF THE IT INDUSTRY OVER TIME

When you see the pace at which this industry has grown over time, you’ll be surprised as I was. The millennials have enjoyed most of the benefits of the IT industry. A few years back the concept of social media was unheard of; there was no Google for your physics project.

The Information technology has outpaced every other industry in the world. This industry (IT) has helped in various ways than any other industry. It has helped better and improve productivity, hence making it a key driver in world economic growth. The limitless and insatiable demand of consumers and economies of scale from both enterprises and consumers illustrate this fast growing sector

All these technological advances had profound political, economic, and even philosophical effects on the civilization and the entire human race. Economically we became globally interdependent, industries rely on raw materials found outside of their countries, while less developed countries rely on goods produced by their industrialized counterparts. The global interdependence led to the adoption of the worldwide gold standard to smooth over complications of international trade. Although, the gold standard has been abandoned, most national economies still work together as one integrated global economy.

AUTOMATION IN THE INDUSTRY

This is no surprise to anyone – automation is the new and hottest trend in the world right now. According to studies, automation which includes both mechanized robots (drone shaped or humanoid) and artificially intelligent software programs, is predicted to take over 6% of the jobs in the U.S. in the next five years. And it’s not just low-wage personnel that need to be concerned, highly skilled, knowledge-based personnel in some sectors, including accounting and legal, could see their jobs decimated in the next decade. Deloitte estimates that 39% of jobs in the legal sector could be automated in the next ten years. A different research has concluded that accountants have a 95% chance of losing their jobs to automation in the future.

The IT industry is the only industry that will outpace other industries due to automation. Automation in the IT industry refers to using computers to execute or perform repetitive or less intricate tasks. Automation reduces errors; people can then be used to perform more intricate tasks, while automation takes care of the less complex tasks. This means that fewer people are needed while the quality of work done by humans improves considerably.

Automation in IT can also be seen as a control system that makes a process run on its own accord without human interference. As a result, it increases ROI and productivity also decreasing cost. Various organizations provide automation services for their clients which include cloud automation, automation testing services, industrial automation, etc.

This has made the IT industry highly productive leaving humans to face more complicated problems. One of the most used messaging apps in the world Whatsapp has a staff strength of 16 people, yet it has more than a billion users on its platform and still runs efficiently.

All these are achieved because most of its services are automated which is a very common feature in the IT industry. More can be achieved with fewer people at lesser costs. More time can be focused on research and development which has made the IT industry outpace any other industry. With the results of automation is achieving, I bet you’re wondering if your job is safe, let’s find out.

DEMAND FOR IT AND SOFTWARE SKILLS

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but automated systems definitely need IT experts and software engineers to design, code and run them. Each of these systems built to perform repetitive and less intricate tasks was built by experts from the IT sector.

Only people with software and IT backgrounds can build automated systems. The knowledge of programming language is one of the key requirements for automation.

As integral and important as IT is to our lives, there haven’t been enough engineers to meet the demand of the industry. Universities worldwide haven’t been able to churn out enough engineers that can adequately meet the demand placed by the IT industry.

According to world economic forum – only 10 countries in the world are able to produce more than 100,000 engineering graduates, which isn’t enough to meet the worlds IT demands, giving the pace at which the IT industry is moving.

RISE OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)

In some Sci-Fi movies, we see them projecting a world where artificial intelligence plays an integral part of human lives, some show AI taking over the world and all. They may be works of fiction, but they aren’t too far from the truth. Artificial intelligence is truly on the rise in every walk of life.

The advancement in the field of AI, big data and data science – coupled with the inability of universities worldwide to produce enough graduates in the IT sector, it has led to a shift from human capital to artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence has been experiencing a major renaissance in recent times. In 2014, there was an injection of nearly half a billion dollars into the AI industry. What could be the cause? Availability, infrastructure speed and sheer scale have led to bolder algorithms to tackle more ambitious problems. Not only do we have faster hardware now, it’s supported by a specialized array of processors (e.g. GPUs), it is also available as cloud services. At the fraction of a cost, what used to be run in specialized labs with super computers is deployed to the cloud easily. This has led to access to the necessary hardware platforms to run AI, enabling a number of startups to spring up,

The financial stimulus from the recent investment in AI has led to an unprecedented expansion of the industry. More companies are creating smarter solutions to their clientele and a set of new AI related companies are aiming at providing these solutions springing up. Most industries don’t want to be behind the trend as they’re looking to use AI in one form or the other, the pace at which AI is going, there’s ample room yet to be explored. AI has various potentials, but as self-learning and intelligent as AI seems, its algorithms still have to be compiled by humans. Algorithms are mathematical instructions; they are step by step procedure for calculations. All these can only be built by IT and software engineers, that where you, the generic programmer come in.

TAKE YOU IT OR SOFTWARE ENGINEER CAREER TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Recently, LinkedIn analyzed lots of data points and all of the hiring and recruiting activity that occurred in 2016 to identify the most sought after skillset; IT skills were the most sought after by employers. According to LinkedIn career expert Catherine Fisher in a press release. “While some skills expire every couple of years, our data strongly suggests that tech skills will still be needed for years to come, in every industry. Now is a great time for professionals to acquire the skills they need to be more marketable.”

Learning an in-demand language like JavaScript, Python, GoLang, etc. is a greate way to start your IT career. For a lot of non-engineers, becoming an IT or software engineer may seem like a Herculean task. However, thanks to a large pool of resources that have been put online, either paid or free, learning to code has never been easier.

With all the reasons and facts stated above, the need for IT experts and programmers cannot be stressed further.

Yet once you are in the IT industry – how do continue to grow and take your career to the next level? Even though there is an overall demand and supply disparity in the IT sector – the pool of IT programmers and engineers is still quite large. With a lot of people offering the similar or overlapping skillset. Be honest are you one of those people who make the mistake of not specializing, marketing, investing in yourself and socializing with others in the field.

Here are a few tips on becoming indispensable in the IT sector;

1. SPECIALIZE: It is no secret that generic programming jobs pay quite well. Entry level software developers can expect to earn an average of 65,000 USD annually. But the problem here is, there’s a relatively large pool when it comes to pay and promotion, to combat this, you have to specialize.

The importance of specialization is not limited to the IT industry alone; other industries are equally affected. Many doctors and lawyers choose to specialize in their respective fields so that they can give higher value to their clients and in return make better money. The annual Medscape from WebMD physician compensation survey of more than 19,600 doctors in 26 specialties found the average compensation for a specialist in 2014 to be $284,000, while primary care physicians made an average of $195,000. According to The Balance, there are three types of lawyers that earn the most money and they are attorneys working for contingency fees, equity partners at profitable firms and high ranking in house counsel at major companies all earning above 200,000 USD per year. There’s a stark difference between lawyers and doctors who specialize and those who aren’t. All these show the importance and the need to specialize in the IT industry.

When your skillset is focused on a single, core area that is done quite well, it means you become the best in that area. Specialists are not distracted by other areas, the quality of work soars considerably, hence, standing out from competitors. Specialization increases client’s base considerably making those that offer the same skillset as you in the field scarce, hence increasing demand for your services. Specialization has many advantages to a lot of people and increases the prospects of employment greatly. Several IT organizations need workers that are well knowledgeable and vast in particular languages. This increases your potential value as a programmer. Specialization gives job security which is something most workers don’t enjoy, when you have a skillset that’s rare, and in demand, you become more valuable than your peers and cannot be disposed of easily.

Since job specialization makes you skilled, your productivity becomes high with little supervision and time wastage; there’s no time wasted by changing from one job to another. Hence flow is continuous leading to higher productivity. Because of the value you offer, the pool of specialists with similar skills as yours becomes smaller, you receive higher pay because you’re in high demand and you’re also offered better incentives and remunerations.

2. MARKET YOURSELF: Just like companies need to market their product and services – it is very important IT engineers to reach out to their respective communities and market themselves to the right people using the right medium. Having the right skills, experience and certificates aren’t enough to get you a job you dersve and the promotion you deserve, you must know how to effectively market yourself to get noticed. Good marketing is about establishing the needs of your intended audience and aligning your brand as a programmer to meet with their demands. With more people registering with social media accounts, employers now have the opportunity to find out about their potential candidates before you’re interviewed. This is an opportunity to effectively market yourself and give a good first impression. Here are a few platforms that can be used.

LinkedIn is a great tool to build a professional profile, network and presence through a social media site. By creating a profile, focus on your key skills, past experience and effectively use it as an online CV. Make sure you write in first person, in an engaging and less formal style than on your CV. Employers are now using LinkedIn for searching suitable candidates and headhunting, so it’s a great way to get seen. One great feature of LinkedIn is the ability to recommend your skills to people in your network, which can add value to your applications.

Twitter is another great tool that can help in marketing your skills, it’s also becoming a common tool for job searches. Start by following leaders and key people in the industry, this lets you get information on current job opportunities and developments. Write a professional twitter bio to capture your skills, personality and experience. It makes you take a preemptive approach in your job hunt by using search tools to keep you updated on available roles, also giving you industry knowledge through hash tags and tweets.

A great way to promote yourself apart from writing a professional resume is to create a blog. You can link your online profiles to the blog, this can help create a buzz around you. You don’t need something too sophisticated, a simple and free blog should do. Ensure you post about relevant happenings in the IT industry so you can develop a loyal following. This can also be linked with Twitter and LinkedIn allowing potential recruiters so see your blog posts. The reason for this is to show that you have in depth knowledge and experience in your field. By creating a brand via the same terminologies and information, you will be a step ahead of those with just a CV, hence, you’re more likely to be found by recruiters and employers.

3. INVEST IN YOURSELF: There’s a popular saying that goes “If you want to invest in something with minimum risk and a guaranteed big return, invest in yourself.” To achieve this, a significant amount of money, time and effort is required. The biggest tech giants in the world, Google, Microsoft, and Apple invest five times more the amount spent by the largest US defense companies on research and development in 2013. In all, the three big tech companies spent $18.8 billion more than the defense companies on these R&D projects in 2013, according to data compiled by a noted defense analyst Byron Callan (an analyst with Capital Alpha partners). This shows the importance tech giants attach to research and development. In the same vein, to be relevant in the industry, one has to develop accordingly.

With the pace at which the IT sector is moving, if you aren’t regularly updated with the newest trends, tools, frameworks, and applications in a few months you’d realize you’re out of touch with the happenings in the sector. To improve your IT skills you have to learn how to use the latest and greatest tools for the trade, know the relevant programming languages in your niche, meet people of like minds online, take tutorials and dedicate a few hours a week absorbing and practicing all that has been learned. You can contribute to open source software and work on various free projects to expand your portfolio.

 

4. SOCIALIZE: Being in the IT sector, you’re already part of a special and driven community. The next step is to socialize with other techies in the community by joining online groups, meetups, etc. You should join or create one to grow and strengthen your network. If you’re living in a small or large city, you should be able to find a local chapter, but if not – you can always take the initiative to start one.

Meetups focus on bringing people together in person and help them find like-minded people they’ve never met. In such groups, it’s important to be visible and to be an authority figure rather than to be relegated to the background. The success of whatever group you start will depend on your willingness and ability to provide whatever leadership it requires. Starting a new meet up is a quite simple, just put together a group online, set a time and place and see who shows up. If the first meeting doesn’t go as you want, just try again at the next one.

The rate with which automation will be adopted into the offices will differ, and the effects on employment, on national economies, and on businesses and workers globally will play out in myriad ways. At its core, however, the IT industry represents a considerable opportunity for the global economy at a time of weak productivity and a declining share of the working-age population. For corporate leaders, the IT industry will reshape the business landscape and create considerable future value. How to capture the opportunities and prepare for the possible consequences will be a key political, economic, corporate, and social question going forward. This is not something that can be watched from the sidelines; you have to be part of it. The age of information is here, disruption is upon us, automation is here, and the technological breakthroughs will continue. It is never too early to prepare.

Ultimately, if you are an information technology expert, professional or starter; and you want to improve your IT career, gain more experience and knowledge in Information technology, get a huge promotion at work, or most importantly those that are stuck in their jobs and needs to learn more skills in other to create more value; you should visit www.tetratutorials .com/courses

There is a wide variety of courses and skills in information technology and related fields that you can learn to be a better professional and expertise in what you already know or what you are vying to learn. Learning these in-demand skills will make you a better expert in your field than you already are and for those that are just starting out as IT professionals, this could be the opportunity for you to have a bragging right at work, home, amongst friends and foe about your newly acquired skills.

See you at www.tetratutorials.com/courses

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