From education to employment

From classroom to career: how to get into tech as a school or college leaver

As technology continues to advance, the world of work has become more reliant on IT for day-to-day operations. Businesses are now looking to close their digital skills gap and harness the power of technology to grow their organisations. With the high demand for digital skills in the job market and the advances in technologies such as artificial intelligence, there has never been a better time to start a career in IT.

With school officially out for the summer, lots of school and college leavers will be weighing up their options. In this guide, we’ll help you start a career in IT (without having to go to university!).

Explore all the different career paths you can take within IT

The world of IT is incredibly vast, with many different roles to suit many different types of people. Here are just a few of the areas you could look to pursue:

  • If you love maths, logic and engineering, a career in software development/ engineering might be for you.
  • Do you love tinkering with hardware and exploring the world of emerging technologies? In this case, you may want to consider a career in tech support or networking.
  • If you possess a keen affinity for problem-solving, an analytical mindset, and a passion for safeguarding information, a role as a cyber security technologist could be the perfect match for your skills and interests.
  • If you are a creative mind who loves all things digital, why not give digital marketing a go?

Once you have some ideas of the path that you would like to specialise in, make sure to do some research into what is involved in the job role and what your career progression could look like. There is plenty of content online that covers all the different career paths that you can take in IT. Look out for blog posts and YouTube videos that will explain what a job in your chosen field looks like day to day. You should also talk to any IT professionals you may know (they could be your teachers, family or friends) about what the different disciplines of IT are like so you can find the one that will suit you the best.

Look into what kinds of qualifications and experience you will need

Now that you have decided on the specialisation that you want to have a career in, you should take a look at the experience and qualifications that employers are looking for within your chosen field. Simply go over to online job boards like Indeed, Reed, LinkedIn and Glassdoor and search for entry-level jobs in the field you want to start your career in.

You will most likely find that most if not all the jobs you look at will ask for experience, so how do you get experience when you are starting out? Being able to clearly display your passion and interest in the subject is a great place to start. Perhaps you’ve built your own gaming PC, helped your family with setting a computer up, or even started your own blog. At this early stage of your career, being passionate and ready to learn are the top qualities employers look for.

Consider a digital apprenticeship

An apprenticeship is a fantastic way to kick-start your career as you will be able to gain the valuable experience and knowledge needed to become a professional in your field. You will also gain a recognised qualification that you will be able to show employers in the future to prove that you have all the skills needed to do the job well. Plus, you’ll be immersed in the world of work, earning a salary and building your network for the future.

When looking for an apprenticeship you will need to keep in mind the right level for you. If you are a school leaver who has just completed their GCSE’s, your next step should be a level 3 apprenticeship which is the equivalent level to A-Levels. If you have completed a level 3 qualification you will be able to do a level 4 apprenticeship, however, if you think a level 3 apprenticeship is more relevant to the skills you would like to learn, you can of course do that too.

Take advantage of online learning resources

There is a wealth of great online platforms that offer a wide range of tech-related courses. Here are some top suggestions to kickstart your learning journey:

  • Skillshare: an online learning platform that offers a diverse range of creative and practical courses taught by industry professionals and experts.
  • Codecademy: Master programming and coding languages like Python, JavaScript, HTML/CSS, and more through interactive and engaging lessons.
  • LinkedIn Learning (formerly Learn from industry professionals with a vast library of tech-related courses, covering coding, project management, and IT certifications.
  • Google Digital Garage: Gain digital marketing, analytics, and other tech-related skills with free courses offered by Google’s Digital Garage.
  • OpenLearn: Fantastic free learning from the Open University.

Network, network, network

Making the right contacts could make all the difference when it comes to getting your foot on the ladder. So, attend any IT-related events that come up in your area, reach out to potential mentors or innovators on social media and start getting your name out there. LinkedIn is an excellent tool for networking so make sure you have your profile set up and you’re using it to keep up to date with the latest industry news.

Writing the perfect CV

A great CV is crucial to landing a job. An employer will usually receive a lot of CVs for every position that they have available so you need to make sure that you sell yourself and get across why you would be a great addition to the team.

Crafting a compelling CV as a school or college leaver without industry experience requires focusing on transferable skills, relevant coursework, and personal tech projects. Highlight your problem-solving, teamwork, and coding abilities gained from part-time jobs or extracurricular activities. You should try to include a section on personal projects you’ve completed to demonstrate initiative and self-motivation.

Remember to keep the CV well-structured, error-free, and visually appealing to increase your chances of landing a role.

Landing your first role

At escalla, we are committed to helping you find a great job where you will be able to learn and develop your skill set. Our expert resourcing team will be able to place you into a role that will be the perfect start to your tech career; so, what are you waiting for?

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