8 Simple Ways to Get into the IT or Networking Field
Updated By Staff Writer on March 26, 2021
You can find information technology jobs in every industry because almost all industries need computer technology, software, and information storage to succeed. If you have the interest and aptitude, a career in IT holds a lot of possibilities.
IT is a compelling career choice because it often allows for flexible working arrangements, tends to have attractive salaries over time, and offers ongoing opportunities to develop your technical skills and knowledge across a range of specialties—for people with the right mindset, skills, and talent.
If you’ve got what it takes to be an IT professional, how do you break into the field? Here are eight simple ways to get a foothold and then grow your IT career.
Get a Degree in Information Technology
While most technology careers require on-the-job training, employers look for college graduates—people who have demonstrated they have the basic set of skills necessary to pursue a technology career. Not all IT jobs require a college degree, but you can set yourself up for more opportunities for advancement over the long term with a degree. You can complete an Associate’s Degree in your specific area of interest, whether that’s programming or networking, in as few as 20 months.
It’s possible you aren’t thinking about advancement opportunities just yet. If there’s a chance you can get into networking or IT in general without a degree, why go to the effort? It’s true that you can work without a degree, but it can be very difficult to get started in the field that way. If jobs all expect you to have two or three years of experience before you apply, but none of them are willing to give you that experience, you’ll never be able to find a place to break through.
That’s where a degree can help. A degree can act as those first years of experience and make it possible for you to enter into the job field.
Expand Your Professional Network
Learn about 4 technology skill sets you need if you want a new career.
Getting into information technology at school is great because you’ll make valuable networking contacts, from instructors who have experience in the field to fellow students who will eventually work at companies in different industries. Connect with them all and you can end up with an address book full of names and numbers of people who can give you advice, plus professionals who can give you a heads up on job openings or provide letters of recommendation.
Another way you can expand your professional network is by being an active participant in online communities and forums. Immersing yourself in the community and continually sharing and communicating with other professionals can help you find a position that fits your skills and experience, and also can serve as a powerful resource when you are on the job and need help with a particularly difficult task or issue. Most online IT communities are friendly and are willing to help when they can.
Seek out relationships with people in the field—and make sure you’re as generous with your own time and information as you hope they’ll be with theirs. Networking is a two-way street.
Develop Real-World Skills
Breaking into the IT field requires dedication. Take an online class or start teaching yourself through an online platform to make sure you enjoy the work and have some aptitude for it.
Then start looking for ways to put what you’re learning to use. Do you have a business-owner friend who needs tech support? An overworked colleague who would appreciate help with some of their basic tasks (with approval from your boss, of course)? A friend who has a big idea for a new mobile app or a simple computer game? Take advantage of any opportunity to learn and practice your growing IT skills.
Employers are looking for candidates who are passionate about the field and who are continually working to expand their skill sets. When you accept an entry-level position, you’re demonstrating your interest in information technology and your willingness to learn. The entry-level jobs are the ones where you can learn the most and are most likely to be mentored by more experienced professionals who take an interest in you, your talent, and your ambition.
Accepting an internship can be a great first step in your career. An internship gives you the opportunity to get your foot in the door and work in a professional environment. If you make a great impression and show you are capable at your job, there’s a chance the company will promote you from an intern to part of their staff.
Even if you do not get a job offer from your internship, it is a chance for you to gain the experience you need to qualify for other positions. Internships also serve as a way to strengthen your professional network. You can use your manager or supervisor as a professional reference when applying to other positions.
Starting small can help you take great strides once you’ve demonstrated your commitment and your talent to your supervisors.
Learn Business Along with Technical Skills
While technical expertise is vital in the IT industry, the ability to relate to your customers and understand how technology addresses their business needs is equally important. It is essential to develop your customer service and communication skills in any business setting, but especially in an IT setting, where you are the liaison between the technology you work with and the people who need to use that technology.
Look for Crossover Opportunities
If you already have a career, but you’re wondering how to get into the IT field, use your current experience as a starting point. Because almost every company relies on IT in one way or another, when there is an opening or a need for more IT support, you might have the chance to fill that position.
Even though you might not have the experience needed with IT, you do have the knowledge and experience of the industry you’ve been working in, which can give you an important edge over other IT professionals. You’ll start at the bottom in IT, but this is one possible route to help you gain your first year or two of IT experience.
Become a Lifelong Learner
Technology is constantly growing and progressing. If you want to learn how to get a job in networking or be part of the IT community, you need to have a strategy in place for staying current with new tech and procedures. This can include reading magazines and professional publications, but it can also come through watching videos online, being part of online communities, or even earning certifications.
Make it a habit to take time every week or month to learn a little bit more about developments in information technology. This will help you get up to speed when you are first entering the IT field and is an invaluable habit to keep as you continue throughout your career.
The hardest part of gaining this habit is starting. Once you have a basic level of understanding, you have something to build from and modify. For example, learning your first programming language might be tricky and difficult because you are new to coding and don’t understand all of the complexities involved. However, once you learn your first coding language, it’s easier to pick up similar languages and build off of what you already know.
Contribute to an Open-Source Project
Just because you’re not a pro doesn’t mean you can’t contribute to an open-source project. Open source projects need help with testing, coding, debugging, writing documentation, and many other tasks. With each project you contribute to, you can help grow your professional network as you interact with the rest of the open-source team, learn valuable skills, and gain experience you can include as part of your resume.
Earn Your Degree at Independence University
You can earn your Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity and Networking in as little as 36 months, which will kickstart your path to getting into the IT field. We break down our courses into four-week modules instead of four-month semesters. This makes it easier for you to start earning your degree while keeping each module focused on the curriculum you need to succeed.
Learn more about our Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity and Networking today.
Information technology can be a rewarding career in every way—if you’ve got the chops. Make sure you take the right steps now to launch a successful career.
Want to know more about our information technology programs? Request info today.