IT as a Career Choice

This article was published in Times of India on 15th Jan 2007.
What kinds of students are best suited for IT courses?

The best thing about IT as a career option is that anyone can make a career out of it. The day when a guy had to write in assembler language for simple instruction and only IIT toppers joined computer science stream is now well and truly over. Today, it is open to a large number of people with a very wide variety of aptitude. The question is not so much what kind of students is suited for IT courses as much as what kind of an IT course suits one’s aptitude and join that.

From the labs of IT firms where operating systems and systems software is written which are suited for the likes of engineering toppers to web site designing which is suited for artistes, a whole spectrum is available for people to choose from.

In this FAQ, we shall deal with jobs related to application programming in detail and others in brief.

Application Programming – the preferred segment for Indian middle classes

Let us focus on application programming, the fastest growing IT job segment in India and the current favourite of the Indian middle classes. For this segment, a typical IT pro is from among the thousands of engineering graduates coming out of the multitude of private engineering colleges of Karnataka, AP or Maharashtra. However, there are an equally large number joining after doing MCA courses from govt universities and doing as well if not better than the private engineering college walas.

Anyone having good analytical skill, logical thinking and with a creative bent of mind is suited for such IT courses. To be a good IT professional one needs to have a good aptitude for problem solving, willingness to learn and adapt to constant change. Good learning ability, process orientation and penchant for quality work can take one far. One can compensate for the lack of any formal degree by simply having these competencies and getting practical exposure to on job training.

IT career has various streams like system analyst, technical architect, software coding, application maintenance, among others. There are about 2 lacs jobs every year in this segment alone.

International Careers in IT and the thrills of the job of an IT Pro

Many of the IT companies abroad do not even ask for a formal degree in IT while hiring. However, formal education helps one to assimilate and organize ideas and add more process orientation and improve the quality of work. While Aptitude and Attitude are not related to any stream or does not require any formal education the skills can be built by different means like classroom training, crash courses, distance learning etc.

Some of the best icons of the IT industry don’t even have a formal degree or dropped out of college.

One must also understand that it is fascinating work on cutting edge technologies, interaction will people from different cultures and places, globetrotting and fast paced life but behind all this, one needs to be really persevering, ready to toil and adapt to difficult situations to make a mark in the field of IT.

Technical Skills are going to be more important as Indian IT industry moves up the value chain. Basic data structure and algorithms knowledge is good for Product Companies but Services companies do not emphasize it much. Also as one moves up in the IT career one needs to have good people management skills and ability to handle diverse situations and multi-cultural team members. Technical ability helps one grow in the initial 1-4 years of the career but as one starts playing the role of team or module lead, ones ability to manage teams and meet expectations from various stakeholders becomes critical.

So once you decide the choose IT as a career, one need not just look at skills and competencies required to get into IT as a career option ,but also as a long term career choice which must be taken after analyzing one’s interest and future of the Industry.

Do all courses involve mathematics?

Knowledge of I.Sc level mathematics is desirable for the IT pro type of job described above. However, there are many types of IT related jobs which require very little knowledge of mathematics. Some of the roles in IT do not require complex mathematical skill. IT career has various streams like software development, technical architect, application maintenance, voice based operation, package practices, research associates, quality, sales and marketing. Some of the streams like research require understanding of complex mathematical functions like Algebra, set-theory, calculus. For Application Programming, basic mathematics is always helpful for becoming a good programmer but it does not need advanced mathematics.

How does one choose a course?

Course selection requires a desired match of one’s expectation, interest area and market/industry requirements. One needs understand the variables which will ensure right selection of courses. If one is pre disposed towards a particular domain like telecom, embedded systems, banking or product development then the course selection must be based on current industry requirements. However some of the courses like Java and .Net are mostly required by IT companies and one need not have niche interest areas to undertake these courses. Choosing a course just because someone likes it or there’s a huge market demand but no personal interest could lead to faculty selection of course. It’s important that a right balance exists.

What kinds of courses are available [ref Bihar…]

Various graduates, under graduate and masters levels programs are being offered by IGNOU, Patna University, and other Magadh university. We also have lot of courses offered by autonomous and deemed private universities through associates who conduct various IT related courses under the banner of different universities. Some of the details of these courses can be found at the link given below. http://gov.bih.nic.in/depts/HigherEducation/Invitation.htm

What is the scope… what are the jobs one can get… what sort of money [low end and high end..]

Scope of IT related jobs..

IT industry is witnessing a phenomenal growth in the last decade and the current trends are indicating a very robust growth at least for the next 4-5 years. We are witnessing the same kind of employment generation in IT as we have seen it in the field of agriculture in the agrarian society, manufacturing in the industrial society and now IT in the information society. One of the best things about IT industry is the varied and diverse talent pool required for development in various fields. So be it a technical writer, creative writer, design artists, research scientist or a gaming expert, the opportunities are multiple from diverse fields and background.

On what kind of jobs one can get..

Till last year most of the IT jobs were primarily offered to engineering graduates,BCA and MCA students of someone who has been trained in the IT domain or has some certifications. The situation is changing drastically now with the huge demands of IT professionals in India. This year Indian IT industry is going to generate around 7 lakhs new jobs and the current talent pool is inadequate to meet this huge requirement. So now we are also going to see B.sc, and M.sc graduates being employed in the IT industry for entry levels jobs. The starting compensation for an engineering graduate will range from 2.5 lakhs to 4 lakhs per annum at entry level Software engineer role.

How does IT fit into Medical field, Management field?

IT is an enabling tool for all the different career and industry streams, be it Agriculture or medicine, manufacturing or entertainment industry there’s a huge demand for IT skilled workforce in different streams. The emergence of IT power has transformed the landscape in the fields of medicine research, bio technology, information management, financial trading, communication and infrastructure, banking and commerce. There’s no part of Human life which has not been touched and transformed by the use of IT enabled services. Different fields of study have integrated use of IT as a means to bring greater precision, reliability, speed and efficiency in its operations and project execution. Infact we can assume that IT is a common thread which will find its prominence in each and every sector. So be in management or medicine IT services are critical lifeline which supports business and all related transactions and process.

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