The computer and technology club hosted technical recruiter, Elle Armistead for a presentation about available careers and marketable skills in the technology field on Tuesday evening. Armistead leads a junior-level technical consulting program at Brooksource which helps entry-level candidates find jobs in the growing industry.
Throughout her presentation, Armistead explained what employers value in potential employees and suggested specific software systems tech students should learn in areas like software engineering, analytics, project management, infrastructure support and quality assurance and testing.
Armistead also encouraged students to create and actively utilize their accounts on Github, Stack Overflow and Coursera, where students can engage in conversations about technology and hone their coding skills.
“Something to note is that I have a ton of managers that I work with that say, ‘Don’t bother sending me a candidate unless they have a Github profile that they actually use, that they have code and repositories on there,’” Armistead said.
Armistead also shared that when candidates lack a portfolio or profile that displays their work, employers view them as people who are not truly passionate about tech.
“If you’re thinking over the holidays ‘what am I going to do’ that would be a great [use of your time],” Armistead added.
In nearly every facet of the tech field, Armistead said employers seek candidates who actively contribute to the tech world and who have website links to published projects they’ve worked on rather than people who just claim they “want to code.”
Candidates should also be prepared to articulate the specific role they played in a group project and be able to explain exactly what skills they developed while completing it.
Armistead also gave an overview of careers that integrate both technology and management. Many entry-level graduates can utilize communication and multitasking skills in jobs like project managers, user experience designers and business analysts.
In these roles, Armistead said having presentation skills and decorum when giving constructive criticism is essential. “A lot of the conversations you need to have as a project manager are tough conversations especially if you’re a junior-level candidate because you’re usually telling people with like 10 or 15 years more experience than you how to do what they’re doing.”
Armistead also emphasized strong writing as an important skill to recruiters and employers, which is an area where many tech minded individuals usually fall short. To improve their writing skills, she encouraged students to practice drafting professional emails and pay close attention to their grammar.
“When I get an email and there’s like six typos and misplaced commas I’m like ‘how am I going to hire this person?’ because I can professionally coach you on a lot of things but I can’t teach third grade English again,” Armistead explained.
Concluding her presentation, Armistead suggested basic resume tips and important questions students should ask their employer during an interview. She also added that driven individuals who build their own computers and test the codes they’ve written will ultimately stand out during the application process.
Although there are many opportunities available in the vast tech field, entry-level jobs may seem difficult to come by at first. To overcome this, she recommends that candidates diversify and expand their job search as much as possible early on.
Following the presentation, students introduced themselves to Armistead and asked specific questions related to their area of study and level of experience. Many students who were unsure about exactly what field of technology they want to pursue found the presentation informative.
“I was unaware of all the jobs, and especially the differences between software engineering and business analysis,” said Pradhyumna Wagle, sophomore computer science major and president of computer and technology club.
“In any industry it’s so important that students are looking at what types of companies are important to them, what values are important to them … so they can tailor the courses they take to better them and shape them as a professional,” Armistead said.