A job contract after studying coding and project work for two years? That’s exactly what happened to Markus. Although it has been barely one year since he graduated, Markus has already been five years on the job. This spring he landed a managerial position.
The IT sector has a high demand for experienced veterans, but active new talents can also quickly find a position in the field; 28-year-old Markus Karppinen is a good example of the latter. He has been working at Solteq for several years, even though he just graduated last summer with a Bachelor’s degree in ICT from JAMK University of Applied Sciences.
It has been a long journey since autumn 2010, when the media assistant working in a photo studio began his studies at the University of Applied Sciences. Although Markus had dabbled in all kinds of IT-related activities during his life, neither the profession nor coding was familiar to him during his early days studying in the field.
He was enthusiastic about learning the basics during his first year at school, but in the second year he focused heavily on different technical courses and on-the-job projects. That foundation gave him a solid footing to apply for an internship in spring 2012.
‘I applied for an internship, but in the end I got a summer job leading to a specialist career path. It was a relief to realise that I didn’t need to be a full-fledged professional, as the importance of learning on the job was emphasised. During that summer, I got the chance to develop e-commerce sites, and in the autumn, I already signed a permanent employment contract to do the same kind of work. And that was it – a job in the industry after two years of studies.’
Markus continued working on developing e-commerce sites. When his team’s project manager took up new duties, it was once again time for something new. At that point, Markus moved on to architecture-related tasks for a few years. The latest change in his daily work routine was to take up a managerial position.
‘A few months ago, my job title changed to Service and Project Manager. I haven’t done active coding work for over a year. Instead, I manage my team and its operations, and I am a contact person for customers. For example, I bring forward customers’ development needs, find the right people and technical solutions for the job, estimate workloads and so on. Communication, problem-solving skills, listening and developing are all important for the job,’ Markus says describing his role.
Work + study = Mission impossible?
Students are often intimidated by the idea that a job will take up all their time and they might not graduate. It isn’t always easy to combine work and study. Markus’ studies took longer but he didn’t abandon them.
‘I must honestly say that for a long time, full-time work took precedence over my studies. But I wanted to complete them, because a degree is very important. I know a few stories where the recruitment process stalled over the lack of a university degree. Fortunately, I received credits for the many skills I learned at work, and I eventually forced myself to complete my thesis as well. And so I graduated in the summer of 2016.’
‘IT companies need talented workers, so it’s worth studying for the field. Students often have the best knowledge of modern technologies, which professionals who are already employed might not necessarily have time to master because of their daily work. The fiercest competition in the field is for experienced experts, but you can improve your own position while you are studying. Getting an internship in this field is a major step, because at Solteq, at least, the aim is to also hire most of the interns for “proper jobs”.’
Markus’ 3 tips for preparing for the job search
So, what can you do while you’re studying to improve your chances of finding work? Here are a few tips from Markus!
- Take full advantage of your study opportunity
The opportunity to influence your studies is important and should be fully executed. In addition to subjects you’re personally interested in, it is useful to boldly venture outside your comfort zone, even while you’re studying. I personally ended up taking every technical course possible regardless of how difficult they sounded.
- Actively go after projects
If it is at all possible to get involved in small programming projects with real customers, either directly related to or alongside your studies, it will prove highly beneficial in your job search. Apart from getting good references from them, it also built my confidence for job hunting and for actually starting to work.
- Update your portfolio regularly
It is also worthwhile to compile a portfolio of all your accomplishments during your studies. Perhaps on a simple website. Add all kinds of content to your portfolio, regardless of whether the effort seems worth showing off: employers will most certainly be interested!
Would you like to work with Markus and other Solteq team members? Got your portfolio wrapped up and experience in your back pocket? Find out more about us and take a look at our open positions.