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Careers Centre

Computing and IT

Sector Overview

The relevant Careers Adviser for this occupational area is Dr Bhavya Rao. To see how you can meet Bhavya, or any of our advisers, visit our website.

The IT sector is one of the fastest growing employment sectors in the global economy, with vast opportunities to work within different types of organisations. There is a significant skills gap for those with the right technical skills – it is estimated that 53% of the UK’s leading companies will require IT graduates to join them in 2015 (High Fliers Graduate Market Guide 2015), meaning that those with an interest and passion for IT have numerous opportunities to find challenging and interesting roles. From software developer to systems analyst, programmer to games developer, there are numerous roles to choose from for those interested in this sector and the fast paced and ever changing nature of the industry means that various technical skill sets will be in demand in the future.

Areas that are likely to see increased recruitment over the next few years include cyber security, big data and cloud computing. Some organisations have started accepting applications from bright graduates who have no specific technical skills, but have an interest (i.e. have taught themselves some programming/coding skills) and are willing to learn. Only 23% of the workforce in the IT industry is female, compared to 45% across the UK’s working population. [Source:BCS]

 

Computing and IT attributes profile

 

Key attributes needed for the role  Where you could develop these skills or attributes
Problem solving skills.

Through academic studies and relevant work experience.

CAPOD offer maths support for particular problems or even if you just wish to build your confidence in your maths Skills.

Practical problem solving skills are particularly valued for example taking on the role of treasurer for a society.

Technical aptitude.

Through academic studies and relevant work experience.
Commercial awareness. Keep up-to-date with business and sector news, and develop this through extra-curricular activity in student-run societies such as the Computing Society.
Analytical skills.

Through academic studies and relevant work experience.

An enthusiasm for IT. Through networking and being part of IT related societies.

 

Nature of sector or roles

If you want to work in computing or IT there is a huge variety of roles and sectors for you to consider. Many employers will accept graduates of any discipline for some of their IT vacancies. There are also more specialist jobs where a degree in computer science or IT is required. Graduate entrants tend to start in either development or service roles. Apart from technical ability, key skills that employers look for in this field are an enquiring mind and problem-solving ability.

You need to consider whether you wish to work for a developer of software, systems etc. or a user. Users are the organisations which apply these computing and IT systems in their production methods, their products or their administrative operation. The number of users far exceeds the number of developers. Another consideration is whether you want to work in a large organisation or a small to medium enterprise (SME). Issues to weigh up include the variety of work, degree of responsibility, access to training, formality and culture of the organisation. Some graduate schemes offer rotational experience whilst others recruit direct into specific jobs.

Computer Science

If you have a Computer Science or related degree there are opportunities in research, development and technical careers in many sectors of the economy such as defence, communications, aerospace, patent work, information security, optics & electronics, energy, computer games, and of course IT. The public sector also offers options in defence, intelligence & security, communications, meteorology, academia and teaching. See the ‘How to find a (graduate) job’ section below for more detail on employers.

Information Technology

There are graduate IT opportunities in virtually every sector of the economy. Some require a relevant degree but others are open to any discipline. Here are just a few examples: IT companies, finance, communications, management/IT consulting, pharmaceutical, retail, energy & utilities and the public sector. See the ‘How to find a job’ section below for more detail on employers.


Some of the most common programming languages sought by recruiters (based on MyCareer adverts) are: .NET, C/C++, C#, SQL, Java, C#, PHP, CSS, MySQL, ORACLE, HTML or open source knowledge/experience. You should bear in mind that different IT companies’ technical requirements will vary widely, so always research them individually prior to making an application.

If you’re interested in working in a technical role, but don’t have any coding skills, you may wish to consider undertaking a relevant online course. Examples include:

Read the Guardian article - 10 places in Britain where you can learn how to write computer code.

Networks - why and how to use them

Networking is particularly important and can help you succeed with your applications. If you have been in contact with someone working for the organisation then you have extra information to back up your case for why they should employ you.

Use social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook (many organisations have their own page) to connect with organisations. Recent St Andrews graduates have gone on to work for Accenture, Royal Bank of Scotland, IBM, Skyscanner and JP Morgan. Alumni can make extremely useful contacts, giving you an "edge" with your applications and interviews. There are several ways to make contact with alumni.

Have a look at the Network with Alumni section of our website for more advice and information.

How to gain experience/internships

Having relevant work experience in computing/IT can be advantageous when applying for graduate jobs. It will also demonstrate to a potential employer that you have an understanding of and interest in the sector and can help you decide if this is the career for you.

Internships

Many larger organisations run formal structured internship programmes. They can, however, be very competitive. These are normally open to penultimate year students and take place for a couple of months during the summer. Many employers use their placement schemes as the first stage in graduate recruitment - interns who impress may be fast-tracked through the graduate recruitment process.

Employers who have offered Computer Science and/or IT internships in the past include:

Insight Programmes

Big employers of computer science graduates (including some of those mentioned above), often advertise 'insights programmes' aimed at first years, (or second years on four-year degree course). They are short (1 day to two weeks) introductory events which normally take place over the Easter break. They may consist of team challenges and some mentoring and are a great introduction to a company and to network. Investment banks, a big employer of computer science graduates, are increasingly also holding short 'insights programmes'.

Making speculative applications

If you’re interested in working for a small company, or a company that doesn’t offer a structured internship programme, speculative applications can be a great way to generate opportunities - contact them directly to learn whether or not they might offer work experience, shadowing or internships - see our web pages on networking and speculative applications for more advice.

Job search websites

The following websites include listings of relevant internship opportunities:

Organisations which offer internships in technological areas

Additional resources

How to get a (graduate) job

In order to find the right type of graduate IT job with the right employer, you should check job descriptions carefully prior to making an application so that you understand the skills, experience and responsibilities required of the role.

Here is a selection of employers by sector who offer graduate training schemes (this is not an exhaustive list!). Some of these employers may not offer graduate positions every year so check their websites for the latest vacancy information.

 

Computer Science Employers
Private Sector
Public Sector
IT Employers
Private Sector Public Sector

 

Computing/IT job search websites

How to find a job in Scotland

These websites contain listings of employers that may have vacancies in computer science/IT roles.

 

Additional resources

Applications, interviews and assessment centres

Application deadlines

As graduate computing/IT jobs can be found in a wide variety of organisations and business sectors, there are a range of recruitment cycles within the IT business. It’s vital to regularly check each organisation’s recruitment schedule so that you don’t miss a deadline.

IBM states on their website: Please note all roles will be filled on a first come first served basis and we recommend you apply early to avoid disappointment. We often fill some roles well before the closing date for applications!

If you’re considering technology internships and graduate programmes within financial organisations, primarily the investment banks, you need to apply early as some banks have application deadlines as early as the beginning of November.

The process

The application process for computing/IT jobs will vary according to which company (and vacancy) you are applying, but will usually consist of one (or more) of the following steps:

If you apply for a job with a large employer that runs a graduate recruitment scheme, its interview procedure is likely to be much more formal than for a smaller one.

Most firms will provide advice on their application processes - check individual websites for details.

Relevant Postgraduate Study

Postgraduate study is not essential for a career in the IT sector. If, however, you wish to specialise in a particular technical role (eg software development), there are postgraduate study options available which may enhance your employment prospects. Contact your preferred institution to establish specific entry requirements, or try to visit before making an application. Assess what you may gain from such a course before committing yourself to considerable expense and ask questions about how successful these courses have been in gaining jobs for their past students.

Further information on postgraduate courses can be found on the Postgraduate section of the Careers Centre website.

IT Conversion courses

Postgraduate IT conversion courses provide a grounding in the basics of IT and computing for non-computing graduates. They are typically a year-long, taught masters course. TARGETjobs has some good advice on Postgraduate IT conversion courses.

 

Key UK links and resources

Careers Centre resources

Online

Use CareerConnect, your central careers hub, to:

Takeaway

The Careers Centre has the following free take-away brochures which contain careers information and listings of graduate opportunities:

General Computing /IT careers information

Professional Bodies, Trade Organisations & Journals/Magazines

 

USA resources

The USA job market and recruitment timetables, for both internships and graduate jobs, for sectors of employment often differ from the UK.

The Careers Centre subscribes to the reputable independent USA careers information and vacancy provider Vault. The link below will take you directly to Vault subscription resources which cover this sector. You may find further useful and relevant resources linked from there as well.