Careers in Technology
“CompTIA, a major information technology (IT) industry trade association defines IT as the “utilization of computing via hardware, software, services, and infrastructure to create, store, exchange, and leverage information in its various forms to accomplish any number of objectives. Additionally, the term encompasses the workers that develop, implement, maintain, and utilize IT directly or indirectly.”
Key elements of IT (from CompTIA) include:
Hardware: computers, servers, storage, tablets, mobile phones, printers, network equipment
Software: productivity and business applications, network and security applications, mobile apps, video games
Services: deployment, integration, custom development, repair/upgrade, managed services
Infrastructure: Internet backbone, telecommunications networks, cloud data centers
Information: data, documents, voice, video, images
Business objectives: commerce, production, communication, collaboration
To succeed in this field, IT professionals need strong analytical and problem-solving skills, flexibility, a minimum of a bachelor’s degree (for most positions), the ability to keep up with the latest technology, and a solid understanding of computers, the Internet, and IT basics. However, the technology of today may be obsolete in months, if not weeks, and only those individuals who work to remain on the cutting edge will have long-term growth potential during their career.” Read more in the Vault Guide to Information Technology (create an account using your GU email address).
There are multiple ways to discuss careers in technology, but for our purposes, we will break technology down into two distinct categories: 1) technology companies, and 2) technology jobs. Many people have technology jobs in organizations not in the technology industry. For instance, you might be a web developer working for a federal government agency. In that case, the job is a technology job, but the industry is government. Or you might work for a tech company in a role that requires no advanced technology skills, such as a marketing role. In the past couple of years, for instance, Oracle has hired many Georgetown graduates for their business development roles.
Read trade magazines, newsletters, and popular websites in your industry area. Places to start include ComputerWorld, Wired, Software Magazine, Information Security, and IEEE Internet Computing. Join relevant listservs; follow industry insiders via social media; and research the types of positions that are available in those fields. Vault, available to Georgetown students for free through the career center’s website, is a good place to start your search. Company websites, O*NET, and the Occupational Outlook Handbook are equally helpful resources. You must show not only an interest, but also knowledge about the industry.
Vault Career Insider Guides (Cawley website):
- Vault Guide to Information Technology
- VaultGuide to Information Technology Jobs
- Vault Guide to Computer Software Jobs
- Vault Guide to Computer Hardware Jobs
- Vault Guide to Internet Services and Security Jobs
- Career Launcher: Computers and Programming
Check out the Guide to IT Careers to learn more about careers in IT.
To learn coding skills
- take courses at Georgetown
- take courses on LinkedIn Learning
- Code Academy (free)
- General Assembly’s Dash Tool (free)
- join GUWomen Coders
To learn design skills
- take classes in graphic design and web design.
- See Stanford’s guide to design thinking to learn about design as an approach to problem solving in relation to user experience design.
Attend employer information sessions, industry events — on and off campus, and connect with popular professional organizations regionally and nationally. Most relevant professional associations in IT include Association for Computing Machinery, Association of Information Technology Professionals, Information Systems Security Association, and IEEE Computer Society. Professional associations host a variety of professional development, educational, and networking events. If the cost of membership is prohibitive, contact leadership and ask if there are sliding scale prices for students. Volunteering for a conference, educational, or social event is another great way to connect with leaders in the industry.
Develop a LinkedIn profile that communicates your personal and professional brand. Joining groups related to your industry is a great way to meet new people, find mentors, contacts, and ask questions. Reach out to alumni through Hoya Gateway, the alumni section of Georgetown’s LinkedIn page, and Georgetown’s Alumni Career Network. The Cawley website provides helpful guidelines on networking and informational interviewing and LinkedIn offers a checklist to help you build an effective profile (PDF).
Making Connections at Georgetown
Georgetown offers a number of opportunities for Hoyas to get involved. Joining a school club is an excellent way to learn more about the industry, develop your skills, and get hands-on experience. Some technology-related clubs include GUWomen Coders (learn programming skills without a computer science major), Computers and Electronics Club, Hoya Hacks, STEMME, DCode, National Society of Black Engineers, and Association for Computing Machinery. You can also participate in a group based on a personal interest and develop your professional skills. For example, if you are interested in web design, build a website for a student group that interests you. On and off-campus jobs are another excellent way to build skills valued by employers.
To better understand what skills you need to highlight on your resume, check out internships, fellowships, and entry level positions in the technical industry. Your technical skills make you a valuable commodity so be sure to list those on the resume with proficiency level. Your resume should be one page. Use strong action verbs and focus on your skills and accomplishments to show (not just tell) an employer you have the required abilities. Be concise. See our resume section for more tips and advice. Use specific examples to demonstrate your skills and abilities. The purpose of a cover letter is to convince someone to interview you. For more on cover letters, see our cover letter tips.
You may be required to solve technical problems in the interview. Use free practice sites, such as Pramp, InterviewBit and interviewing.io to prepare. Katie Thomas, a self-taught Software Engineer at Google, shares advice how to ace a technical interview. Check out the book, Cracking the Coding Interview, by Gayle Laakmann McDowell. For listings beyond our campus recruiting platform, Handshake, visit Dice or AngelList (start-up jobs).
- Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies (2019)
- Inc. Fastest Growing Private Companies (2018)
- For a list of tech startups searchable by area of interest or location, check out YCombinator, AngelList, and Crunchbase (Cawley has access to the entire list due to a subscription)
- For Profit Employers: Google, Oracle, Facebook, Amazon, IBM, Dropbox, Microsoft, Pinterest, Palantir, TripAdvisor