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For entry-level tech jobs, hiring managers care about passion for IT more than a diploma

Fred O'Connor | May 15, 2014
Class of 2014 college graduates looking for their first IT jobs take note: your passion for and experience with technology may prove more helpful in your employment search than your diplomas.

"The job market probably isn't as cyclical as what it used to be," Lowrey said. "You have some startup operations that are going to occur whenever they occur."

Startups — known for having flexible hours, lax dress codes and fast-paced environments — offer an environment that is similar to college, Goli said. Companies that are preparing to issue an initial public offering or have just gone public are usually in high-growth mode and are looking to hire workers, he said. They may be flexible on the skill requirements since they're trying to increase productivity quickly.

And with a range of businesses investing in IT, "all companies are becoming tech employers," Goli said, so graduates should consider jobs outside of traditional IT employers.

Given the demand for talented technology workers, some companies make job offers for roles that don't start immediately. HubSpot recruits from hackathons and other less traditional technology events, which tend to be held in the fall or winter, O'Neill said. Skilled college students who attend those events may receive an offer for a position that starts the following spring or summer.

Recent graduates should have an "awareness of the different paths you can follow within technology, none of which will paint you into a corner," Lowery said.

O'Neill, whose company develops software that runs in the cloud, said the advent of SaaS has turned IT career development into choosing your own adventure.

"Companies are becoming more and more flexible in the light of the fact that managing servers is going away," he said.

For example, learning SaaS maintenance in a help-desk position could lead to an integration developer role combining different cloud services. A person could then start building products internally that combine workflows across SaaS platforms. Ultimately, a company may decide to sell some of those products, said O'Neill.

"The opportunities for IT folks — particularly emerging IT folks —  is how can you apply a product mindset to classically what was an administrative mindset. If you can bridge that gap, your career is endless because you can actually grow into a product engineer if you want to."


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