Graduation is just around the corner, meaning another crop of talent is about to hit the job market. In order to make sure new graduates are prepared to join the workforce, here are five tips from Karen Tegan Padir, CTO of Progress Software.
1. Never stop learning
Learning doesn’t end when school ends. “You don’t want to graduate and enter the workforce and think you are just going to keep doing what you’ve always done and that you’ve learned everything that you need to know,” Padir said.
It is important to keep skill sets fresh. “You may come into a company where there are people who learned how to program 30 years ago, and there are all these new programming languages that these people have never heard of before,” Padir said.
By learning the programming languages that veterans in the field aren’t familiar with, it helps you stand out, according to her.
Padir also advised that graduates pay attention and participate in online developer communities in order to learn more and keep on top of what is happening in the market.
2. Find a mentor
There are informal mentors everywhere. Padir suggested finding mentors online in developer communities or at work.
“You want to find someone you are comfortable with, that you can take risks with and that can tell you when something might not be the best approach,” she said.
Find someone who has a different perspective, a different background and a different job role, Padir suggested. #!3. Think outside the box
Today, technology is everywhere. Padir suggested that graduates look for jobs that aren’t necessarily in an IT organization.
“When I graduated, there were certain jobs and companies that I looked for, and they were all technology companies. But today the industry has changed and there are plenty of things happening in tech in fields like retail, healthcare and fitness,” she said. “Don’t limit yourself to traditional software companies.”
4. Look at job specs
Do more than what you’ve been asked to do, said Padir.
“Once you land a job, go above and beyond your regular duties,” she said. “You want to prove you belong in a company, prove you can do more and prove that you are capable of taking the next step in the company.”
5. Continue to build and maintain a well-rounded skill set
Instead of worrying about specializing, Padir said to look across an organization for things to achieve and increase your value with by understanding the way the business works.
“I majored in computer science, then got my MBA to add that business aspect to it. I spent a lot time working with the support organization. That was invaluable to me,” she said.
Special advice for women entering the field
For women entering the software development field, Padir said be comfortable in your own skin and don’t try to be one of the boys.
“You have to prove yourself, but do it in a way that is accessible and approachable,” Padir said. “Be comfortable in what you know and demonstrate what you know.”