career decisions / career development

How to develop a technology career with a humanities degree

Humanity is living through a digital and technological revolution but there remains a global shortage  of people in the Information Technology sector. Businesses, organizations and governments alike are desperate to close the gap in the IT market, and are creating schemes and initiatives  to meet the demand for IT-minded graduates. Fortunately, such amazing opportunities are not only aimed at those in STEM related subjects (although some companies prefer them over non STEM). Have you ever considered what prospects exist for humanities students in Information Technology? There are more than you might think!

A Computer System Hacked WarningThis blog is not meant to put anyone off the plethora of options that exist within the humanities, but rather, discuss a means to accessing the IT job market as a humanities student. This guide is for anyone from the humanities, but there are hopefully plenty of tips that all students can benefit from. I based this article partly on my own experiences, which saw me receive a competitive graduate scheme offer in ethical hacking with a background in undergraduate history. Here are some of my top tips:

Carefully consider any conversion course/masters

Programming source code abstract backgroundDon’t think that doing a masters conversion in Information Technology will magically give you a job in IT. Ask yourself whether such a course is really what you want to do or whether you are trying to simply buy time (which isn’t the point of further study). However, if you find that a conversion course/masters is for you then go for it! There are plenty of great courses that will provide you with foundational knowledge in IT as well as demonstrate to employers that you are serious about your transition to IT.

Learning IT outside of further study

One of the great benefits of being a Warwick student (or alumni) is access to the library. There are plenty of online and paperback resources on everything from coding to computer ethics. Go wild! Seriously. Take advantage of the IT workshops available at Warwick, which offer qualifications in Microsoft Office as well as coding languages like Python. Don’t forget to check out free coding workshops online online too, including ones from the creators themselves, as well as the goldmine that is YouTube.

What interests you within the field?

When searching for a job in computing, it helps to narrow down what you want to do. Maybe you’re interested in becoming a penetration tester – start to try out Linux-based operating systems and brush up on hacking in the media and popular culture. Perhaps you want to work as a software engineer – experiment with coding languages such as Python, Java and Perl. If you know what you want to do, you can streamline your learning to get the most relevant experiences for use on your CV, at interview and beyond to really shine to employers.

Work experience doesn’t necessarily need to be in IT

Learn Something NewDon’t think that you need to net a big IT internship at a top-level firm in order to be noticed for IT jobs. Lots of part time jobs that you may already be doing likely require computer skills. I myself worked in leisure and retail, so I was used to working with databases, email, tills etc. If you can find IT-related work experience – great! Otherwise (or additionally) think about how you use technology in any part-time jobs, volunteering or extra-curricular activities that you do.

Don’t shy away from your degree

Even if your degree is not explicitly linked to IT, it has no doubt provided you with a variety of experiences that you can mention to employers when going for jobs in the field. Analytical abilities, for instance, are highly prized in the humanities but are also necessary for many jobs in IT (as I found out when applying as a history student). If you go into a job interview for something like cyber security with a background in the humanities, it can work in your  favour since you can demonstrate how you have dedicated yourself to a new field and transferred your hard skills across. If nothing else, I found that it was always a fantastic ice-breaker in interviews and assessment centres since candidates and interviewers will find the transition interesting to discuss!

This guide is by no means complete, and I have only skimmed the surface of a broad topic. Perhaps you have better suggestions to add from your own success story – feel free to share your thoughts in the ‘Leave a comment’ link. Seriously though, keep pushing! There are companies out there who want what YOU can offer them, and so long as you keep trying you can make it. IT isn’t only for STEM graduates – it’s for anyone willing to push themselves into one of the fastest growing job markets on the planet.

(Blog writer: Harry Williams, University of Warwick History graduate) 



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