What can I do with my CS/IS/IT degree?




David Carr

You may be beginning out your university experience, or, like myself, you may be nearing the end of your degree. Undoubtedly you’ve done quite a bit of coding over the years, in your spare time and for papers you’re studying, but the question in the back of your mind is there: “what can I do with my CS/IS/IT degree, skills and experience?” Perhaps you are considering further study, or what to go into research, but if you are like me, you’re thinking how will creating a linked-list, or a connect-four game, or a database application for recording book titles help me to get a job with a cool company, working on exciting projects, and earning the big dollars?

As I see it, there are a few options to consider when planning the roadmap to your career in IT.

You could work in IT for a corporate. In New Zealand, IT seems to split into specific functional tasks operating over different sections of the SDLC, including Business Analyst, Developer, Tester, and Support.

You have two options here, the first working with a tech company, who focus on IT products and services, examples spring to mind like Microsoft, Bravura,or SilverStripe. Perhaps if you are studying a conjoint or double-major, you might want to look into non-technical roles within an IT organisation – for example, IT skills are a huge help in marketing roles.

The other option is to work in IT for a non-IT company, such as any of the large banks or insurance companies, or large motor companies like Ford or BMW. Again this gives you the ability to work in an industry which really interests you, such as automotive, while building a career in IT.

In general, corporate companies can be well set up for training and on-the-job learning, and there’s nothing quite like getting a name-brand employer on your CV.

You also have the very exciting opportunity to work for yourself. New Zealand a great place to start a business, for so many reasons, each of these alone is worthy of its own blog post. Personally I have been very interested in this space, taking my spare time now-and-then building small websites and business tools (invoicing and pricing Excel workbooks, etc) for friends or business contacts, being paid increasingly more as my experience and skills develop, and I hone my business acumen. ‘Going it alone’ is an exciting path which often allows you to learn and grow faster than with a corporate, but on the converse, you are limited by your own motivation (or lack thereof!). If you still have a while to go at uni before you graduate, why not get coding, and get a web 2.0 app online. If you work hard on this before you graduate, you may have created yourself your ‘first job.’

Information Technology and more generally computers have an incredible crossover with business, which has only become more apparent to me as I have progressed though uni and the workplace. Working part-time in IT at an insurance company for the past two years, and I am frequently reminded of the way IT is so closely linked with the way a business generates its revenue, and how vital IT is in today’s businesses. This gives you, the up-and-coming IT professional, an excellent opportunity to help mould the successes and triumphs of New Zealand’s businesses, no matter which path you choose to follow in your IT career.

What about you, though? It would be great to hear your experience or views on what you plan to get up to post-graduation.

David is the Microsoft Student Partner for the University of Auckland, check out his blog here: http://www.davidcarr.co.nz