In the pre-digital era, it was the tinkerers and nerds seeking computer science degrees. IT professionals were seen as technology alchemists. Today, the world of IT looks very different and requires an ever-evolving set of skills.
Tech-savvy millennials and Gen Zers who grew up on YouTube, Google, iPads and shows like “The Big Bang Theory,” which celebrated nerd culture, are taking over the workforce in larger numbers every year. And they’re often choosing tech over more traditional careers like finance. In fact, Glassdoor data shows that the role of software engineer is currently the most in-demand job for Gen Z applicants.
Why? What’s really motivating people to want to work in IT today? And why is tech still a rarity for women, who account for just 26 percent of the IT workforce, according to McKinsey & Company?
Digital DNA and Good PR
Being digitally savvy at an early age and having a higher profile for tech are two factors motivating people to build careers in technology, according to Ganes Kesari, co-founder and head of analytics at data science firm Gramener in Princeton, N.J.
“Having been raised digitally, [younger generations] are tech-savvy and hence more inclined towards a career in technology,” he said. “Inspirational success stories of tech titans and tech giants build interest in tech companies and IT roles.”
A generation ago, tech leaders weren’t household names, except for maybe Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Today, most people know of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and Tesla’s Elon Musk among many other tech industry leaders. Now that IT encompasses the center of our universe, IT roles that offer a slice of the action look “too good to resist,” Kesari said.
“People want to be in the thick of things, where high-profile progress is being made,” he said.
And while everyone probably has a unique reason for choosing to enter this particular industry, certain common denominators stand out. In addition to digital familiarity and the “cool” factor, experts cited early exposure to coding, a passion for problem-solving and a deep desire to impact the world as motivators.
Most Valued Tech Skills
Will those passions dovetail with what tech employers need?
A recent study by LinkedIn identified cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and analytical reasoning as the top three hard skills companies need most in 2019. In the IT sector, experts also pointed to machine learning, DevOps and big data.
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“There is rising demand for all of these skills,” said Kesari. “And given the chaotic state of development, expect to discover new designations and skill combinations within these careers. Along with exciting new career options and pay, continuous unlearning and relearning will be the norm.”