IT - for non-Computing students
Overview of the Sector
IT is one of the fastest growing sectors in NI. It has a reported 1,570 Digital Tech businesses (Tech Nation 2019) and Belfast alone saw 97 new Digital Tech businesses in 2016 (Tech Nation 2018). Looking at the broader Knowledge Economy, of which IT is a major component, NI is the 2nd fastest growing region int he UK for the 5th consecutive year (The 2018 Northern Ireland Knowledge Economy report).
The demand for IT professionals is outstripping the supply through Computing degree programmes so many employers are broadening their recruitment to graduates of other degree programmes who have an interest in the sector and an aptitude for the work.
- Main Roles Within the industry
Software Development: Development of software by programming with code.
IT/Technology Consultancy: Work with clients to provide guidance in relation to how they can use IT to meet their business needs.
Software Testing: Carry out tests on software created by the developers to ensure it can do what it is intended and integrates with other systems and processes.
IT Support: Ensure that systems and networks within organisations are maintained and kept up to date.
- How to get a job in the IT sector without a computing degree
There are a number of different ways to gain entry to the sector without having a computing degree.
- Professional Services firms e.g. EY, Deloitte, KPMG, PwC usually consider graduates from any degree for their technology consulting roles and many companies will consider graduates from STEM degrees such as Maths, Physics and Engineering for IT graduate schemes and graduate jobs. These employers will look for graduates who can prove an interest in the sector and an aptitude for technology –see below for tips on how to do this. Gradcracker is a useful website for finding these vacancies.
- You could undertake a postgraduate conversion course such as the MSc Software Development run by Queen’s. This course has been specifically designed for graduates of non-computing degrees. You can find more details through Queen’s online prospectus. You can find postgraduate conversion courses in Computing at other Universities through the prospects website.
- The Assured Skills Training Programme provides graduates of any discipline with training that will suppot you to get a job in certain areas e.g. data analytics, software development, software testing, cyber security. Programmes run at different times in the year depending on availability. Check the website for details.
- Some employers (e.g. FDM) offer IT training programmes whereby the graduate is initially recruited onto their training programme for a period of time before going into work. Be aware that there are conditions attached to these programmes which can include: not being paid for the period of training and being liable for the training costs if you choose to leave before the end of your contract.
- Tips for Developing Skills and Getting Experience
- Undertaking optional courses can help you to develop relevant skills and prove an interest in and aptitude for technology. Examples at Queen’s: Code First: Girls, ECDL. Examples online: FutureLearn and Udacity
- Look on MyFuture for opportunities throughout the year to get involved in Hackathons.
- Attend Meetups. There are lots of tech meetups and networking events throughout the year.
- Look for volunteering opportunities. The Volunteer Now website has lots of volunteering opportunities related to Computing for people with varying degrees of experience.
- Use websites such as MyFuture and Gradcracker to look for internships.
- Speak to employers at presentations and fairs. Check MyFuture for relevant opportunities.
- Key Employers
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Local/ Northern Ireland Opportunities
On Campus resources:
- Careers Fairs– Key employers in this sector attend many on-campus fairs throughout the year including the Engineering and IT Graduate and Placement Fair in October, the Work Experience and Placement Fair in January, the Mini IT Fair in February and the NI Graduate Recruitment Fair in June.
- MyFuture– Internships, placements and graduate opportunities.
- Hard copy resources at the SGC Hub– A number of very useful magazines come into the Hub every autumn e.g. TargetJobs: IT and Technology. These are free to take away from the Hub and are also available online.
- Hackathons– these may be facilitated by companies or the School of EEECS
- School of EEECS Facebook page and the School of EEECS Twitter feed
Many of the roles will be advertised on local and national job websites as well as on MyFuture.
Unadvertised roles & networking:
Even though many of the roles within the sector are advertised, it is still beneficial to network with relevant individuals. The IT industry within Northern Ireland is small. Many of the individuals have worked in more than one IT company and tend to know each other well. Therefore networking with potential employers at careers fairs, employer related events and with alumni is recommended to help you sell yourself further and stand out from the crowd.
Make the most of social media by following companies on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as some of the roles may also be advertised through these portals.
Job search websites specific to NI include:
- UK and Global Opportunities
On Campus resources:
- ‘Going Global’–database of jobs and internships, key employers and country guides available through MyFuture -> Jobs -> Goinglobal
- Opportunities to internationalise your degree (US NI Mentorship, Infosys - India, IAESTE - worldwide). Some roles are advertised on MyFuture.
- Engineering and IT Graduate Recruitment & Placement Fair– annual showcase of NI/international firms with vacancies
Useful sites for finding student and graduate jobs in this sector in UK, Ireland and further afield:
Within IT Companies:
Many of the roles with local IT employers can involve some travel depending on the clients they are working with. Therefore there are good opportunities for travel within the sector.
- Further Reading and Information
Prospects industry insights and Gradireland sector career guides will help you to search for employment in this employment sector.
Further information resources are available at the Student Guidance Centre Hub (Opening hours: Mon- Fri 09:00- 17:00), including free copies of Gradireland, TargetJobs and Prospects guides plus self-help guides and employer brochures. The Student Guidance Centre Hub has free wifi, tea and coffee.
This information is obtained from a variety of sources, including the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS), Association of Higher Education Careers Services (AHECS), Prospects, Gradireland and relevant professional organisations and other appropriate resources, as available.
We endeavour to ensure that our online resources are current and contain relevant information. However, we cannot accept responsibility for the contents of external websites.