When you’re just starting out in the IT industry lack of relevant experience can make it really difficult to land that all-important first job, even if you have certifications such as CompTIA A+ and Network+. This can make things very disheartening, and it feels counterintuitive that companies are asking for candidates with significant experience for supposedly entry-level jobs. But don’t give up, there are creative ways to build your professional experience and enhance your resume. Here are some strategies to try:
Education and Volunteer Opportunities
- Internships and Apprenticeships: Look for unpaid or paid internships and apprenticeships. Many companies offer these positions to help individuals gain practical experience. Even if they are unpaid, they can be valuable for networking and resume-building. Keep in mind that if you work hard and impress, these types of roles can lead to full-time positions within the organization.
- Volunteer Work: Non-profit organizations, schools, or community groups often need IT help but may not have the budget to hire professionals. Volunteering your IT skills to such organizations can provide real-world experience. As with internships, taking volunteer roles builds your reputation as a good employee and demonstrates your transferable skills. This can sometimes lead to permanent positions within these organizations.
Projects and Freelance Resume Builders
- Freelancing: Offer your IT services as a freelancer on platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, or Fiverr. While you may not make much money initially, this can help you build a portfolio and gain experience.
- Personal Projects: Create your own IT projects. Build a website, set up a home lab, or create a network at home. Document these projects and use them as examples of your skills when applying for jobs.
- Open Source Contributions: Contribute to open-source projects. Many open-source software projects welcome volunteers to help with coding, bug fixing, or documentation. This can be a great way to gain experience while working on real-world projects.
- Create a Blog or YouTube Channel: Share your IT knowledge by creating a blog or YouTube channel where you discuss tech topics, tutorials, or troubleshooting tips. This can help you build a personal brand and demonstrate your expertise. If you go with this idea, make sure your content is targeted to the area of IT you wish to be employed.
Certification & Networking
- Certifications: Consider pursuing additional certifications relevant to your desired field within IT. Certifications like Cisco's CCNA or Microsoft's Azure Fundamentals can help demonstrate your knowledge and commitment to potential employers.
- Networking: Attend IT meetups, conferences, and webinars to network with professionals in the field. Networking can lead to job opportunities and mentorship. Networking is a critical component of the job search. Keep in mind that many jobs are not advertised, and if you network, you may get to hear about opportunities earlier than others.
- Soft Skills Development: While technical skills are important, don't forget to work on your soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving. These skills are highly valued in IT roles. Project management is a critical skill in the IT industry, so consider taking a course in PMP, CAPM, or Agile.
- Seek Guidance: Reach out to IT professionals in your network or on platforms like LinkedIn for advice and mentorship. They may be able to provide guidance on how to break into the industry.
- Online Courses and Labs: Take advantage of online platforms like Coursera, edX, or Pluralsight, which offer courses and virtual labs that can help you gain practical knowledge and skills.
Real-World Professional IT Work Experience
- Apply for Junior Positions: Look for entry-level or junior IT positions that require minimal experience. These roles often provide on-the-job training and can be a stepping stone to more advanced positions.
- Temp or Contract Work: Consider temporary or contract positions. These roles can provide you with short-term experience and potentially lead to permanent positions.
Depending on your available time, you could try one, or a combination of these tactics to gain the necessary experience to support your certifications and gain that all-important first IT job.
Remember that building a career in IT often takes time and persistence. It's important to keep learning and staying up-to-date with industry trends, as technology is constantly evolving. Additionally, tailor your resume and cover letter to emphasize your relevant skills and any practical experience you gain through these creative methods.
How Can We Help
If you’re reading this blog, you’re likely curious about working in the IT industry. TrainACE has been helping people like you get into and succeed at all levels of the industry. Our focus is on helping you get the certifications you need, but our staff have years of industry experience and are happy to give advice and impart their knowledge as you start your journey. So give us a call at (301) 220 2802 and let us know how we can help.