I think there are numerous ways to break into Information Technology career. However, it should be understood that to enter virtually any career, you must understand the dynamic nature of career development and think more creatively. For instance, there is a misconception that IT careers start and end in the IT department of a larger company. Many new technologists believe you start out in the help-desk for a year or two, move to tier-2 support, then to network support, and so on. That is a mythical and typically inefficient way to build a technology career.
I believe there have been a few vocal technologists struggling in the market. It really sounds much worse than it is. Part of that is due to the sharp contrast with the ease in which people were hired in the late ’90s. It was an unrealistic market and skewed people’s perspective. Technology is still a growing industry – both here in the Pakistan and abroad. It will continue to provide tremendous opportunity for performance-based advancement. In that regard, few careers can match it.
Emphasize the skills you are strongest in. Even if that was lab experience, emphasize it. Also, make sure you include those intangible soft-skills – communication skills and problem solving where applicable. You have to realize that to break into the field effectively, you are not likely to land your dream job as you enter the market. But I will emphasize again the idea of working outside of the IT department to gain exposure and knowledge. Once a department head finds out that you are technical, you become a very valuable resource – allowing them to take on projects internally – without necessarily being put on a six month wait for IT department resources.
Beware of unrealistic expectations. For some reason, if someone has not attained a senior level after 5-7 years they feel they are failing. I am not against good financial compensation but often that is the only gauge people use to assess their career’s progress. Of equal or greater importance is the business experience you accumulate, the professional relationships you develop, and the value of the projects you get to work on. Doing so will pay financial dividends down the road and tend to make for a more enjoyable career anyway.