As befits such a large and diverse industry, there are a variety of jobs to please all types -- not just shaggy guys with 1970s eyewear who think it perfectly reasonable to wear socks with sandals. In a 2008 report by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, the computing and IT industry is projected to grow by 6.4 percent to 2012-13.
What employers generally struggle with is finding graduates with the right mix of skills, both IT and interpersonal. It is an old stereotype, but the image of the anti-social tech "geek" appears to persist. Employers are discovering that it is often easier to recruit a graduate with a non-IT degree such as history or English, and train them in the technical aspects of a job, than it is to take an IT graduate and train them in social or linguistic skills. There is also often a need for graduates working in IT or telecommunications companies to work alongside sales, marketing and business development colleagues. So the ability to present a project outline or a marketing plan can be just as important as the ability to write code.
Do you have what it takes?
Although many IT and telecommunications companies hire people without technical degrees (many Microsoft recruits "come from backgrounds such as the banking, law or pharmaceutical industries"), it certainly does you no harm to have a degree in computer science. What companies are ideally looking for is someone with a computer science degree who has had a well-rounded education and has an outlook beyond the IT world. The main skills and experience that are valued by employers, besides technical ones, are business aptitude, interpersonal and presentation skills, problem solving and quick learning ability.
Employers are also looking for people with a passion for what they do. Too often, they find that applicants are attracted by the relatively large salaries on offer but once they are in the job, they grow bored and restless. One recent ad for a job at Google read: "Are you passionate about technical and process details? Do you enjoy explaining technical implementations to legal counsel?" These are serious questions. If you are not passionate about these things, you probably wouldn't like doing the job, and employers don't want people who are unhappy about their jobs.
Certainly the working environment in some IT companies is enviable. For example, Google is widely known for its proud unconventionality. In Australia, the firm has foosball tables, pets in the office, shoreline running trails and free lunch every day. Employees also follow unconventional paths; "Googlers range from former neurosurgeons, CEOs, and US puzzle champions to alligator wrestlers and Marines. No matter what their backgrounds, Googlers make for interesting cube mates."
Prepare for odd questions
Some companies in the tech industry -- notably Google -- are notorious for their oddball interviewing tactics. Google actively seeks out techy types that have also written books or started their own companies, and has been known to recruit people by putting brainteasers on billboards. Not every company in the industry uses such off-the-wall strategies, however.
Insiders report that interviews usually have several rounds -- sometimes as many as three phone screens before a face-to-face interview. Interviews for jobs that require specific skills, like programming expertise, generally have a technical component where the job seeker must demonstrate his/her skills. Common interview questions of the non-brainteaser sort include the standard behavioural questions: "stories about leadership, teamwork, dealing with ambiguity, multi-tasking, project management, conflict management," according to one source at a major hardware company.
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