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Entry-Level IT Jobs: How You Can Stand Out From the Crowd

by | Mar 5, 2021 | Recruiting

Are you everyone’s go-to when their laptops and phones aren’t working? Do you love tech or enjoy working hands-on to solve problems? Maybe you enjoy tinkering with technology or coding basic applications for video games. A career in information technology could be a rewarding path. As an IT intern or employee, you’ll work to create processes and tech tools to ensure the business runs smoothly. 

If you’re interested in learning more about this career path, keep reading. We wrote this guide to entry-level IT jobs so you can see what opportunities are out there, understand what qualifications you need, and discover tips to land the job. Whether you’re a recent college grad looking to take your first leap into entry-level IT jobs or a student scoping out a tech career path, you’re sure to find helpful tips in this handy guide.

Types of Entry-Level IT Jobs

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Information technology (IT for short) is an industry that focuses on the use of computers and computer systems for businesses. As an IT intern or professional, you’ll work to solve technology problems and leverage these tools to help businesses track, store, and manage data. Here are some of the best entry-level IT jobs for recent graduates.

1. Technical Writer

For many students, it can be disheartening to find out that even entry-level jobs require some prior experience. If you haven’t done an internship or worked a summer job in a technical role, you may feel stuck. Fortunately, there are entry-level roles — like a part-time technical writer — that you can use to build your resume. 

A technical writer is someone who writes documentation for various products and services. This documentation consists of white papers as well as user manuals and instructions. You’ll still need high-level technical skills to excel in this position, but it’s a great way to get your foot in the door if you aren’t ready to dive into a full-time career or a more advanced role.

Technical writers should be able to present information in a clear, concise, and easy-to-understand format. You’ll need to think analytically and anticipate any roadblocks when creating guides for services and products. You’ll also need great communication skills and you should be able to organize complex topics into sections that are easier to digest and understand.

2. Help Desk Analyst

A help desk analyst is tasked with offering technical support to customers. The role is a blend of customer service and technology so you’ll need excellent communication skills and extensive technical knowledge. 

Since you’re essentially a support specialist, your daily duties will consist of answering phones and emails regarding technical issues. You may be required to solve those technical issues if it’s within your skillset or you may need to connect customers with more advanced technical support agents at the company.

3. Applications Developer

Applications developers create apps for mobile and web-based browsers. These applications can range from gaming and entertainment to security and healthcare. Since most industries need apps to compete in the market these days, it’s a great career path for people who are interested in working for more than one industry.

App developers are also among the highest-paid entry-level positions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, applications developers earn a median annual wage of $107,000 per year.

Most app developers need a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related subject. You’ll also need to be able to use programming languages like Java and ORACLE. In addition, mathematical and problem-solving skills are key to succeeding as an app developer.

4. Web Developer

Web developers are like app developers except they specialize in optimizing web-based technologies. These employees work closely with management and customers to identify ways to speed up the performance of websites, products, and services. 

Within the industry, you can be a front-end web developer or a back-end web developer. Front-end developers focus on the look and usability of the site including visuals, graphics, and presentation. Back-end developers are concerned with managing the database, focusing on security and site performance.

As a web developer, you’ll need extensive knowledge of programming languages — JavaScript and Ajax for front-end developers and Java, PHP, and Ruby for back-end developers. Most web developers also need to know coding languages such as HTML and CSS. Since this role also focuses on users, UX and UI knowledge are key.

5. Network or System Administrator

Network or system administrators are tasked with maintaining computer networks, usually within the company. They are in charge of solving any technical issues as well as setting up and configuring the system itself. These networks include general internet and intranet systems as well as WLAN, LAN, and various hardware and software.

Most entry-level system administrator roles require a bachelor’s degree in a technology field or business management. Since your role involves solving tech problems for customers and colleagues, you’ll need to have great interpersonal skills. In addition, you’ll need to possess attention to detail, patience, and problem-solving skills.

Qualifications You’ll Need for Entry-Level IT Jobs

entry level IT jobs: three men looking at the monitor of the computer

Whether you’re applying for an advanced entry-level role like a system administrator or you’re looking to get your feet wet by working as a technical writer or administrative assistant within a tech department, there are certain qualifications you need. Aside from technical skills, many entry-level IT jobs require personal skills and soft skills.

Here are some essential skills entry-level candidates should highlight when applying for IT jobs:

  • A college degree (usually a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related subject at minimum)
  • IT experience (an internship, passion projects, past work experience for example)
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Problem-solving and troubleshooting skills
  • Logical thinking, organizational, and mathematical skills
  • Technical knowledge of programming languages for web, applications, and software developers
  • Technical knowledge of information systems, computer hardware, or software for administrator roles
  • Knowledge of internet and data security protocols and best practices

When applying to entry-level IT jobs, having prior experience is key. Not only does it show that you’ve utilized what you learned inside the classroom in a real-world environment, but it also shows you’re passionate about the industry. One of the best ways to get experience is to land an internship. 

Here’s what to expect as an IT intern when it comes to benefits:

  • Get a leg up on the competition as many companies hire interns as full-time entry-level employees
  • Know which industry you’re really interested in and if it’s a good fit for you
  • Troubleshoot real technical issues and see what skills you excel at and what needs work
  • Build relationships with other IT professionals
  • Build your resume with valuable work experience and connections to future jobs

Internships enable you to build a network with like-minded professionals, offer concrete skills in a real working environment, and can help boost your confidence when it comes to employing your technical skills. They are invaluable when it comes time to apply to any role, but especially an entry-level IT job.

Ace the Application and Interview Process

man looking at the monitor

You have an idea of what type of entry-level IT job you want to apply to, now it’s time to do the work! 

The first step is to find companies you’re interested in working for. You may already have some local companies in mind or maybe you’re dreaming of working for one of the large IT firms like Apple, Microsoft, or Dell. Whatever the case, start your job search by perusing the company career websites. Most companies post their open job opportunities and you can sign up for job alerts to get notified about new entry-level IT jobs.

Once you find the roles you want to apply to, it’s time to get your resume and cover letter in order. Make sure to include the hard and soft skills recruiters are looking for. This means highlighting your technical skills as well as your ability to communicate and organize information. Ensure your documents are error-free and tailor them to each individual position so you can make your resume stand out.

Make sure to do some research on the company and find out what they value in candidates. Learn what skills they prioritize and make sure to prominently list these skills on your application. Remember, equal opportunity employers in the United States can’t discriminate based on age, gender identity, sexual orientation, or national origin so you don’t need to include this information on your application.

You can also reach out to recruiters and hiring managers on LinkedIn or at campus events to make a great first impression. Show your interest in the position and ask specific questions so you can craft an application that will blow them away.

If you’re fortunate enough to make it past the first application stage, you’ll be set up with an interview. IT job interviews may be one-on-one or group interviews and you may also be expected to pass a technical test or assessment. 

Here are some of the most common IT interview questions:

  • How do you keep your technical skills up-to-date?
  • Explain [a difficult technical tool] in simple terms as if I don’t have any technical knowledge.
  • Tell us about a time when you struggled to find a technical solution.
  • What are your favorite and least favorite technologies and why?
  • What are the pros and cons of working in an Agile environment?
  • Tell us about a tech passion project you’ve completed.

By knowing some of the most common interview questions, you can practice and prepare answers. Don’t try to memorize your answers word for word. Instead, think of a few talking points that you can reference throughout the interview. Focus on your skill set and how you use your strengths to work through problems. Use concrete examples whenever possible and quantify your successes in school and as a recent college graduate.

How To Find an Entry-Level IT Job

woman using a laptop

Whether you want to be a software engineer, a programmer, or a system administrator, there’s an entry-level IT job for you. When it comes to tech jobs, you can find opportunities at large websites like Indeed and Monster as well as on the career pages of specific company websites. 

It’s also a great idea to attend campus career fairs and similar events. There, you can connect with hiring managers, create a good first impression, and learn more about the available roles and specific job descriptions. By making a personal connection, you can show recruiters that you’re serious about building your career and are interested in the company and its services.

Want an easy way to get access to entry-level IT jobs and internships? Join Scholars. You’ll get exclusive access to jobs and content from some of the biggest companies in the industry. Plus, you can sign up for job alerts so you always know when your dream company is hiring. Check out our blog and podcast for more information on available opportunities, what it’s like to work at some of these companies, and how you can benefit from an internship.

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Want early access to insights, content, and news about your dream employer? Join our community! We send one email per week so we won't clutter your inbox.

Congrats! You've taken the step to gain early access to information about your dream employers.

The Report Card: January 2021

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