A Message to Recent IT Graduates

recent graduates - Visha AngelovaI received a phone call recently from a student at CalTech.  He was doing a phone survey as part of a project for one of his classes.  The questions involved projected company growth, (are you hiring or firing) and what kind of direction the company is going in.  He asked about Virtualization and ERP database systems, and whether or not we use them.  Most of the questions were to be expected, but one in particular caught my attention:  he asked for a few examples of how a ‘noobie’ can find a job in the IT world today.  This got me thinking.  I’ve been working in the IT industry for about 16 years, and I have held a few different jobs.  It took me a few years to find what I really wanted to be doing.  To quote David Byrne, “Well, how did I get here?”

When I graduated, it was at the very beginning of the Dot Com boom.  At that time, finding an IT job wasn’t hard.  Finding the job you wanted to do, took some patience and hard work.  Even though the job market is quite a bit different today, some of the advice I received back then is just as good today.

Attitude is everything.

Arrive at least five minutes before your boss.  Stay at work until five minutes after they leave.

Put your time in.  No one starts exactly where they want, and it takes awhile to get to where you want to be.
Pay attention.  Help and advice will come to you, sometimes from places you didn’t expect.

Get rid of the ear/nose/eye piercings.  Your buddy the chemist might find a job with a ring in his nose, but not you.  Tattoos are okay, just wear long sleeves.

Buy a suit.  Hold off on upgrading your iPhone, and instead put your graduation money into something that will make you more money.  Wearing a nice suit to your job interview says a lot about you.

Cut your hair.  Justin Bieber is a criminal, and so is his stupid haircut.

Learn how to network with people you know.  Facebook can be your friend here, but your Uncle Frank knows a guy who knows a guy who can help you find a job too.  Give him a call.

You will most likely NOT get the job you want when you first start out.  Find the guy that does the job you want to be doing, and shadow him.  Try to convince him to mentor you, whether he wants to or not.  Your mentor may never like you, but he will respect you and show you everything he knows.

Whatever job you get, do your best at it.  Work hard, put a lot of effort in, and your boss will notice.  Before long, you will have the job you always wanted.



Chase Reitter
Network Consultant
[email protected]