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I changed my major

I was majoring in mechanical engineer then I realized that it wasn't met for me so now I'm doing information technology . Any advice?
Entry-level job?

#information-technology #entry-level
#internship


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Paul’s Answer

Hi Nancy! I can echo Aneree's answer. A focus on cybersecurity should be the largest growing area of IT in the foreseeable future.

I worked for a tech company where we were developing cybersecurity products. Let me tell you, the things we learned about computer hacks over the last few years was downright chilling!

We desperately need good cybersecurity professionals, and will not let up anytime soon.

Thank You. What's a good start-up job, I can apply for? Nancy O.

My suggestion would be to simply "cold call" computer security companies in your area. Houston is a huge city, and is bound to have companies you can talk to. 1. Research the companies in your area that are most highly ranked. Call each of them, and explain you've switched your major to cybersecurity, and would like to interview them as part of your new major. Some will say they're too busy, but many will take the time to schedule a meeting. Paul Bordenkircher, CTS

2. Be prepared! Have a list of questions that are very business-like - in other words, don't go in begging for a job. In fact, I'd recommend having a script. "My name is Nancy, I've just switched my major to cybersecurity, and I'm doing research to be sure I'm best prepared when I graduate." Then dig into the questions that matter most to you. Ask things like: Paul Bordenkircher, CTS

- "What areas of study would you suggest students like me should focus upon ?" They may suggest particular coding languages like Python, courses of study like forensics or statistics. They may even recommend a school with the best programs. - "What do you see the industry looking like in X years when I graduate?" While this will not give you an answer on which to build a career, it lets them know you're thinking ahead to when you are done with school. Paul Bordenkircher, CTS

- "Are there any associations I should consider becoming a member?" This one's about networking. The main members of an association are going to be companies who will probably be interested in hiring you. - "What are your suggestions for students to get practical experience before they graduate?" BTW, that's the big one. If they know of any internships or work-study programs available in your area, they'll tell you. Paul Bordenkircher, CTS

BTW this is a great way to make a really strong impression. You are being proactive about your studies and future career, and a meeting like this will immediately put you in the top tier of hiring candidates. While it's entirely possible they may offer you an internship or even part time position, do NOT expect it. If they're impressed with you, they'll probably ask you to keep in touch - they might even give you their card so you can contact them as you go through school. These kinds of connections are absolutely invaluable, and can literally make your career. Paul Bordenkircher, CTS

Wow!! Thank You So Much. Nancy O.

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Aneree’s Answer

Hi Nancy,

I believe that information technology is a great field to explore for it is very lucrative. I personally went through a similar dilemma when I was in college. I started off as a finance major and switched into information technology ( concentration in cyber security). One thing to keep in mind is that information technology is such a vast field in itself, you can choose more of the business route or a technical route depending on your skill set and the respective industry you would like to dive into. In terms of finding a career within IT, I believe that the market is vast and there are a lot of oppurtunities!

Wow, thank you so much. Did you start off as a help desk? I recently just switched my major and I don't know where to pick my specialty. This summer was supposed to be my first day in IT classes, since I'm still finishing up my core curriculum. But I won't be able to experience it because of the pandemic. Nancy O.

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Jennifer’s Answer

There are so many opportunities within IT. You can work for a technology firm or work within the many industries out there. I have a computer science degree (focus on information technology) and I have always worked in Insurance. It was not that I love insurance, I sort of fell into it. You really need to figure out what your interests are. Do you like the medical field, insurance, mechanics, math, art, etc. Technology is taking over and every industry needs an IT professional to keep them moving forward with technology. Also, within IT there are position that are required to make technology work: analysis, development, quality analysis, project management, etc. You may want to reach out to people in the IT field and interview them or do job shadowing to understand the things that you can do with an IT degree. Good Luck!

Thank you so much. I will take your advice. Nancy O.

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Jay’s Answer

Are there opportunities at your college? If you are doing work study at your school, the experience working at the college help desk is much better than sitting at the school's library or gym scanning ID cards. Look for internships where you can leverage the engineering courses you have already completed for mechanical engineering to show your aptitude. I would suggest finding a job like help desk or computer support technician to gain experience and to get exposed to other IT specialties. That way you can decide if you want to focus on cyber-security, network/system/database administrator, developer/programmer, project management, auditing, or consulting.
Also, you don't technically need a degree for an entry level IT position.. it depends on what job you are willing to take/do and the experience/education/certifications you hold.

Thank you so much. I was doing a work-study but my University shutdown. So, I'm jobless right now. I have been applying for job like the help desk for a long time now, I still haven't received a call back. I think I need a certification at least, to start the entry-level. Nancy O.

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Katya’s Answer

Hello Nancy. It seems like your shift in your major is very timely. Due to this pandemic, companies are forced to reinvent themselves by making sure they remain operational. How do they manage? They have the work-from-home scheme. Those employees with low-level IT skills may be left hanging. I am a teacher and my school is ready to implement distance learning through various platforms namely MS Teams, Edmodo, Google Docs etc.

You can work anywhere you want if you have IT skills: academe, healthcare, government, law enforcement, WHO, you name it. The sky is the limit.

Thank you so much, I appreciate it. Nancy O.

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Pui Han’s Answer

Great job of knowing that something isn't for you.

My advice is to continue taking classes in your new major and find what interests you the most. Also join associations at your school and network. Meet with your professors, attend meetings, apply for internships, etc. that will give you a broader view of what is out there as a career. I'm an engineering major and loved by classes but when I started interviewing the jobs out there were more lab related - I probably would have known that if I had talked to more people vs just doing my classes.

Good luck!!!

Thank You. Nancy O.

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Dexter’s Answer

Hi Nancy,

No need to fret on your future career opportunities. I think once you graduate, you'll have plenty of opportunities, though I would like to advise you on a few things to stack the tables to your benefit.

Just to start, I want to tell you that I graduated my university with a major in electrical engineering, but couldn't find a job. I was lucky that I had worked part time as a desktop support tech during college, so I was able to get a help desk job once I graduated. I then became desktop support on six months, then a web developer six months after that.

I would advise you to do the same, if you can, and try to find a part time job working in IT while you get your degree. Having previous experience really helps in finding a job. Secondly, I was able to take advantage of internal mobility opportunities because I had lots of hobbies in highschool and college. I was able to get that first part time job supporting a 100% MacOS environment because I had lots of experience with linux and windows, and much of that transferred over (being a quick learner helped). Then my linux knowledge came in super handy as my full time company needed a linux desktop support tech, so I was able to transfer from the helpdesk. Lastly, I had built up web development skills as a hobby, and that led to a career as 14.5 years later, I'm still working on websites.

So yeah, get as much technology experience as you can. Be inquisitive and curious. If you run across something in tech that you don't understand, study it, ask questions, and learn. It may seem silly in the moment, but at least in my experience, it comes around to help in ways that I never dreamed of.

If you need experience, I'm sure you can find volunteering gigs where you can help people with their computer issues remotely. I would just try any way to get experience working with people, as if you do this, you'll have a much more interesting resume than those that don't, and a more interesting resume will help you get that job you want when you graduate.

Best of luck and I wish you all the success!

--
Dexter

Thank you so much, I appreciate it. I will take your advice. Nancy O.

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Pui Han’s Answer

Great job of knowing that something isn't for you.

My advice is to continue taking classes in your new major and find what interests you the most. Also join associations at your school and network. Meet with your professors, attend meetings, apply for internships, etc. that will give you a broader view of what is out there as a career. I'm an engineering major and loved by classes but when I started interviewing the jobs out there were more lab related - I probably would have known that if I had talked to more people vs just doing my classes.

Good luck!!!

Thank You. Nancy O.

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Terhan’s Answer

If you like this major finish school and get as much volunteer/internship as possible. You will find your career then.

thank you so much. Nancy O.

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Stoyan’s Answer

Hi Nancy,

I was at the exact same crossroad 15 years ago, a mechanical engineer but an IT professional at heart.
I did switch my major which came with a bit of difficulty on the study plan but it was totally worth it.
University degree will give you a basis to build upon, it is your drive and motivation that will make you an expert in the field, not your diploma.
I remember being frustrated when I failed an exam where I had better real life knowledge than my professor and I was paid(pretty good) to do what I was being examined on.
Academical education comes with its shortfalls, but is a great stepping stone. You’ll learn things with the assignments which are very applicable to any professionals career, but in my experience not more than 30-35% of the academic knowledge transfers to real life challenges.
But the approach is very close. This is what makes the education very valuable plus the networking you’ll build in your university.
If IT is what keeps you working late at night without feeling hunger and sleep - absolutely switch your major.

Hope this helps, let me know if I can help you with any other question you might have.

Cheers,
Stoyan

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