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Discard the e-textbook: What tech candidates really need to know

Want a career in tech? Forget the glossy publications, hear from an industry insider about the skills and experience you actually need.

A candidate is interviewed at a job interview. Image: Alan Cleaver via Wikipedia (CC BY 2.0)
A candidate is interviewed at a job interview. Image: Alan Cleaver via Wikipedia (CC BY 2.0)

With college and university graduation season happening, it is time to for those in the technology sector to turn their attention to recruiting graduates. Technology continues to represent one of the most fruitful job markets and one of the largest workforces in the world.

For the top positions, demand continues to outpace supply. So what does it take for college graduates seeking to begin their careers to break into the industry and succeed?

Clara Angotti, President & Co-Founder at Next Pathway, the Automated Cloud Migration company tells Digital Journal what hopeful IT professionals need to bring to the table.

What stills and experience are required?

According to Angotti: New graduates should not only come with experience with the latest technology and toolsets, but also they need to have a good foundational knowledge of computing, distributed programming, data structures, math, and computational theory, as examples.

How can any skills gaps be addressed?

Angotti says: We can’t expect new graduates to have experience in all the nuances that we encounter when implementing technology; this is a given. So in order for these graduates to be able to adapt and contribute, they need to have a strong foundational understanding of computing and math. This will allow them to extend their learning and apply it to unique implementation-situations. There are ‘no textbook’ cases when applying technology to real-world scenarios; but having a solid foundation allows graduates to have the confidence and understanding to apply and extend their knowledge.

What aptitudes stand out?

Angotti: When I see someone with a high-level of education, like a master’s or PhD, then we consider them very high in our hiring selection process because we know that they have the right technical skills, but more importantly, they have an aptitude to solving difficult problems by applying both creativity and technical skill.

What about basic technology skills?

Angotti: There is a certain level of experience in programming that we expect, but we also look for a deep understanding of the foundations of computing such as functional programming, distributed programming, discrete math and data structures. Once we see both (skills in practical programming plus knowledge in computing foundation), then we know we have a well-rounded skilled applicant.

Going beyond technology skills

Angotti: Outside of the technical skills, we look for individuals with a growth mindset. These are individuals that understand that they are in a constant state of learning and are open to the idea that they will fail along the path, but that it is critical that they take each step-back as a learning opportunity and are able to course-correct and self-motivate themselves to move forward. These are people who in their heart (in every sense of who they are) are able to accept a new challenge, have a positive approach to solving a challenging situation and don’t get discouraged when they fail. You can always teach someone a technical skill, but having the right attitude is something that you can never teach – someone has it or they don’t and for that reason we will always choose attitude over technical skill every day.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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