Your first job may well be career-defining so it’s important to consider all kinds of employer and to make the right match.
The advantages of working for a large corporation, whether in the IT department of a multinational or for one of software or services giants, are obvious. Admission to one of these multinationals via their graduate programme is accompanied by a generous remuneration package and comprehensive training. Needless to say competition for these places is fierce.
The Times Top 100 graduate employers list has starting salaries often well in excess of £35,000 per annum. Meanwhile the IBM graduate induction consisting of a two-year programme of technical and soft skills is not untypical at this level.
Additionally, a number of blue chips, including BA, Oracle and Sainsbury’s invest further in their ICT graduates by releasing them to study at master degree level a variety of ICT-related topics with the Open University. BA piloted the masters last year with 100 graduates.
The advantage of joining a smaller company can be summed up as more responsibility early on. If you’re the type who can hit the ground running and likes to feel like you’re an integral part of the team and not just the office junior, then an SME – small to medium sized enterprise – might be for you
If you identify a problem - and even better, the solution – there’s the possibility of rapid action without the delay of consulting with numerous committees, points out one smaller company.
At Yorkshire-based IT software licensing specialist Trustmarque Solutions, the infrastructure manager recently put the business case for moving to thin clients and virtualisation. The executive team agreed with the forecast cost savings and rapidly gave the proposal the green light.
Another career plus of working for a small-and-growing business is that they tend to grow their own managers, says Liz Reynolds, HR manager at Trustmarque. The company promoted five staff to managerial positions last year. The downside of a small company with more modest growth is that people may stay longer, especially if it’s a family business, and you may find career progression is blocked.
An out-of-town location is also more likely for the non-corporation and one of the virtues extolled by Microsoft certified partner, Active Web Solutions. Of AWS’s 21 employees, 13 are technical and work on a variety of cloud computing projects: "We work in a converted barn in a semi-rural location that provides us with space to think, innovate and be creative. Our customers look forward to visiting us and our employees enjoy the quality of life", says director Rob Blackwell.
Pick the right one
The knack of joining a smaller company is to pick the right one, of course. Not every technology start-up is assured rapid growth and dazzling career prospects. Nor will joining a vast corporation guarantee exciting projects as the focus may be on the more mundane work of maintaining legacy systems.
Alan Bellinger, executive consultant with the Institute of IT Training, recommends the Gartner quadrant as a useful tool for profiling early, mid and late adopters of technology, which is one indicator of career path. The typical distribution of these companies, where A is an early adopter and the C the late adopter is:
• As 15%
• B1s 35%
• B2s 35%
• Cs 15%
"The Gartner A-B-C model is a way of profiling leading edge organisations versus the laggards; in fact, the model relates to the adoption of new technology, but if you use it to profile forward-thinking organisations generally, it is helpful."
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