Blog Authors: Valerie Skinner 060000VKGS is part of the IBM developerWorks team, getting to know the real developers who make up the My developerWorks community and exploring the world of social networking. I'm enjoying learning what makes developers tick! I'm very interested in exploring online communities and social media and understanding real world application - how they can help people solve problems and work together.
The top 3 things students can do to prep for the IT workplace
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  developerworks academic_iniative students student_portal ai interview 6 Comments 6,595 Views
When I first moved from academia (as a college student) to a cubicle it was a jarring leap. At times I felt my nights working in restaurants, juggling trays, cooks and customers, had been better preparation than my days skimming textbooks (although one spectacular writing professor stands out as an exception). I regret that I didn't take advantage of things like web sites, professional associations, and mentors to better prepare me for a transition to the professional world.
That's why I am excited to put the spotlight on new resources for technology students in this interview with Laura Niemi. Laura's focused on the developerWorks outreach to students, and so I wanted to hear, straight from the horse's mouth, what's new for students this year.
So, the fall semester's officially kicked off... What's IBM doing for students this year that's new?
We put a renewed focus on students as an audience we want to reach out to - they are the developers of the future that we, our customers and our business partners need. Last spring we conducted a survey asking students what they want from an IT portal, what technologies they need skills in, what formats they prefer their skill-building materials in - all sorts of information that helps us meet their wants and needs. Over 1500 students from 46 countries replied - a terrific response.
We want to make sure that students can find the resources they need from IBM, on developerWorks and elsewhere, so we enhanced our Student Portal and added news items, more beginner learning resources, a community page with a number of social networking links, and information on Professional Certifications geared towards beginners. We're now working on additional enhancements and would love to hear from students via our Student Group on My developerWorks or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What kinds of things do technology students need?
Technology students today need a broader set of skills than ever before. Businesses are looking for people with an interdisciplinary focus, not just a detailed technical background. Communications, business, economics, social sciences - all these fields deepen a person's background and make them more valuable in the workplace. Creativity, problem-solving capabilities, collaboration - you need all of the above since the world is so interactive. You can't work in a vacuum.
How can developerWorks help?
My developerWorks is a great place to get started - set up a profile and use the community to network with IT industry professionals, fellow students and professors around the world.
What are the top three things you would advise a student to do this year to take advantage of what IBM offers?
First, understand the job market that exists today, with all its challenges. Get experience - from your classes, projects and work experiences - that focus on technologies the market needs.
Second, focus on networking, both to learn about the IT industry and make contacts in the field.
Third, take advantage of the developerWorks skill-building resources through the Student Portal. Encourage your professors to join the IBM Academic Initiative and take advantage of our no charge offerings designed to prepare you for the IT marketplace.
I'd like to add a postscript to Laura's responses... If you want a glimpse into the everyday world of IT professionals, what kinds of jobs are out there, what people are working on, and where they get inspiration, subscribe to my blog's RSS feed. Each week I enjoy interviewing a new member of the My developerWorks community. These are multi-faceted people, with a variety of skills, experiences, and passions working on all sorts of projects, giving you a peek into what's happening in the IT professional world. You can also add them to your colleagues in My developerWorks and contact them with questions.