What technical skills do you need to get a graduate job in IT?

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Jaymes Carr
Jaymes Carr
Team GradAustralia
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In 2016, the Australian Federal Government announced their plans to change the national curriculum to support coding classes from kindergarten to year ten. The reason behind this decision? In today’s data-driven economy, the ability to code will soon be as indispensable as the ability to write coherent emails or perform basic arithmetic.

As a result, coding is likely to become an increasingly ubiquitous skill. But it’s not the only one you’ll need to get a graduate job in IT. Prospective employers routinely hire candidates who possess, or have demonstrated the ability to learn, a broad range of technical skills. If you’re planning a career in IT, here are some technical skills that might help you stand out from the crowd.

Killer coding skills in more than one language

At most IT organisations, it’s expected that graduate employees will be proficient in at least one of the following: Java, HTML, CSS and C++. However, it’s best to think of these as being like the Romance languages of the IT world - most people ‘speak’ at least a little of each of them. To really capture the attention of employers, consider branching out into something more exotic, like C#, Python or new Java frameworks like Ruby, React or AngularJS.

Experience contributing to open source projects or existing code bases

One of the best ways to show off your chops to prospective employers is by contributing to open source projects or existing code bases. Sites like GitHub will host your coding projects, making it easy to share them as part of your graduate application. Alternatively (or even additionally), you can lend your talents to the development of open source programs like Mozilla Firefox, Linux or LibreOffice.

Firm understanding of systems architecture

‘Full stack developer’ is a phrase that you’ll undoubtedly come across as you peruse job descriptions. It describes an IT professional who is equally comfortable working with back- and front-end technologies, including both hardware and software. Of course, as a graduate, it’s unlikely that you’ll be expected to demonstrate this degree of end-to-end expertise. However, by taking courses in systems architecture, or mastering things like database management, you’ll be able to show your commitment to mastering the full stack in due time.  

Data analysis skills

The future of IT is data - how to collect it (such as via the Internet of Things), how to aggregate it (especially on platforms like SQL server), and, most importantly, how to analyse it to generate actionable insights. By enrolling in data analysis courses or familiarising yourself with tools like R, Tableau or Google Analytics, you can impress prospective employers with your dedication to developing a vital skill.

The ability to see a project through to completion

Strictly speaking, this isn’t a technical skill, but without it even the most accomplished coder wouldn’t get much done. The graduates who get hired by reputable IT organisations tend to be those who have a proven ability to see projects through from inception to completion. So consider enrolling in project management courses or contributing to IT initiatives for which you can take credit in interviews or applications. It’s a sure way to stand out from the crowd.