Natalia Fedorova, Regional Coordinator

23 October 2020

Essential Skills, Prospects, Internships: Recap of Our IT Career Track Event

On October 14, we held a career track event where teachers for our Front-End, Design, and Python courses shared their professional journeys. They also answered questions from the attendees who wanted to know how they can start moving on a particular IT track or which one they should choose.

Starting in IT

Most of our teachers already knew that they wanted to work in IT, but it was a bit different for the Python guru Humberto.

“I did not really start with computer science or software engineering. In fact, I started my career with mechanical engineering. However, I was simultaneously taking some programming courses back at the university, and I realized that I was enjoying the programming courses more than my mechanical engineering courses. It was about two years into mechanical engineering that I wanted a change. So I was like, “You know what? Forget it, I’m not really into mechanical engineering, I’m going to switch altogether”. So I did switch and never looked back; it was the best decision in my life.

In university, you learn a lot of different things (at least when it comes to Computer Science). At that time, people were mostly into web development and web design. Instead, I wanted to do something that few people were doing. Mobile apps were growing quite a lot, so I went there. Around that time, I also heard about Python but only knew that it was quite a versatile tool. I didn’t pick up the language at the university but curiosity brought me back to it. Eventually, I started using Python not only for my daytime work but also side projects and freelance. 

To sum up, my career didn't really start in computer science. It was by accident, and I’d say a good one” 

Humberto, Python Teacher

Job Prospects

Both software development and less technical branches of IT are growing. In fact, Sweden is projected to be short of 70,000 programming specialists alone. The better question here is whether you will have a variety of options whenever you feel bored or a particular branch is getting phased out. The answer is yes—even in Front-End Development which is often perceived to have little sidegrade options.

“There are two main branches of front-end development. The first option is working on web pages with a lot of cool animations and design elements at web studios. The other option is creating web applications. If you are more into interactivity and/or want to learn some design, making websites is the better choice. Otherwise, go with web applications that involve more complex logic and geeky stuff. You can always change your mind later.

Also, both branches are very wide. Web applications could be industrial products with a lot of analytics and dashboards, music players, browser games. You can always find a fun project; programming is not always about some complex logic" 

Kateryna, Front-End Development

Entry Barrier

It’s not particularly difficult to define minimum requirements for software developers. For example, Front-End generally requires HTML & CSS, a preprocessor, JavaScript and a framework like ReactJS/Angular/Vue.js. Learning UI/UX fundamentals would also help as some projects may not have a dedicated designer. Speaking of design, it is much trickier to define requirements for a creative job, but I think our teachers did a good job there. 

“An important prerequisite is using a lot of apps and visiting websites yourself. You want to see how other designers have already tackled certain challenges. The first skill is problem-solving: you need to clearly identify a problem and find ideas to solve them. Analytical skills are important as well, as you want to understand how people use products from the UX perspective and pinpoint what works and what does not“.

Sergey, User Interface Design

“The best set up that you can have is good research skills. If you can research, deduce information, and interview users, you will be able to draw good insights from the beginning. Should you study UX at a university, you would be doing all of that with a mock project. If you can identify improvements, assess the cost of introducing them, document, and explain the need to colleagues in a good way, you already have an integral skill set for UX design. In this field, it is important to be a good observer, listener, and interviewer”.

Anton, User Experience Design

Internships

A lot of IT internships in Sweden are unpaid, but money is usually not the key factor here. Internships should provide you with additional skills and experience. They could also be the path to a full-time job with the same company. If a paid internship does not have any of these, it won’t set you up further and the intern-grade pay is not worth it in the long run.

“The question should not be whether an internship is paid. Of course, it is better if it’s paid: who does not want the money? The correct question is, “What am I going to be doing?”. If you’re gonna go to an internship and give coffee to seniors, it is useless—paid or not. You will not be learning anything. The paid vs unpaid ratio also depends on the country. In my experience, most companies in Sweden try their best to pay their interns. In Panama, where I come from, there are no paid internships. It depends on where you live and the culture.

I would also like to talk about freelance. No matter the field, no matter how hard you study and how hard you value yourself, you can’t charge too much or be picky about requirements. Early in the career, you have to bite the bullet, which is for work free or less than value yourself. You’re building your reputation, and once you have that, you get the luxury of charging whatever you want and be picky. When I started, I did unpaid work (looking back, it hurts to have given my time for free) but I knew why I was doing that. I was building connections, a network, and now I have the luxury of both selecting jobs and setting the fee”.

Humberto, Python

 

This fall, we have also been holding course-specific events, most recently a design workshop on October 21. Follow our Facebook page to get notified about upcoming events.