The gradireland GRADchances IT event showcased the skills of students and the needs of employers in a vibrant and growing tech-sector, writes Fergal Browne.
This event was held on January 29th at Chartered Accountants House, on Dublin’s Pearse Street, with over 70 specially selected students and five major technology employers present.
“The IT sector is booming. There’s a lot of jobs out there, so it’s just a matter of gaining the necessary skills, putting together a strong application and communicating well”, says Joanne Anderson who is doing a Honours degree in Computing at National College of Ireland.
“The industry has performed well, even during the recession”, says Trevor Joy, a Digital Forensics and Cyber Security student in IT Blanchardstown. “Even through those difficult times, the industry continued to grow”, he adds.
“It’s still a challenge though, because you’re competing for jobs not just with Irish applicants, but with applicants from all over the world. But there are definitely jobs out there and tech-security, I believe, will be the buzz word over the next five years or so,” Trevor added.
The annual IT event run by gradireland brings together pre-selected, soon-to-be graduate, IT students with employers eager to promote their businesses and graduate programmes.
“Nowadays, competition is fierce and we are competing with a lot of other big-name companies so it’s an opportunity to interact and engage with students and give them an insight into what we do”, says Denise Airlie from software development company, Guidewire.
A diverse range of businesses participated in the event, ranging from communications company Ericsson to Smyths Toystore, reflecting the range of sectors that IT transcends.
“IT is required across every field and is one of the strongest and most diverse sectors in which to work”, says Swati Sehgal, who is currently doing a Masters in Computer Science in Trinity College, and says she is “very optimistic” of employment after graduation.
Companies not typically associated were IT were eager to demonstrate how important tech skills are to them.
“It’s probably something people don’t realise straight away, but we are a digital company”, says Katherine Norton, from Aer Lingus, which is currently accepting applications for its 2015 IT graduate programme.
This event is the first of two gradireland events in 2015 with a focus on technology. The second, taking place on April 8th, will target the STEM sector (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), and will offer IT students another chance to interact with some of Ireland’s top graduate employers.
As part of the GRADchances IT event, each employer set students a task where they were looking for them to demonstrate appropriate skills. “First of all we are looking for people with a strong technical aptitude. But we require our employees to become technical consultants, so communication and teamwork is very important also”, says Denise from Guidewire.
Aer Lingus set the task of students working in groups to come up with ‘the next big thing’ in mobile phone technology. “We are looking for people who are very good at problem-solving and are analytical. They have to have a passion for IT but also be aware of the business elements”, adds Katherine.
“Events like this are brilliant because IT is so vast in terms of the roles on offer. I feel I almost need to be in a company to see what I can offer them. Therefore, here it’s fantastic to see what companies are looking for and to see if I can demonstrate those abilities”, says Maurice Walsh, a final year student in Network Security and Digital Forensics.
“It’s great to have this first-hand knowledge of companies and to meet with them face-to-face to know what they’re looking for,” says Joanne. “It’s a great boost in terms of deciding on a future career.”