Finding your dream tech job isn’t determined solely by how well you did in college. Nor does having a high GPA guarantee that you will get the job of your dreams.
Here’s something they don’t tell you in school - finding your dream job begins before you graduate.
A quote I remember hearing this quote my freshman year:
A Computer Science degree is one of the last things an employer will be looking for on your resume.
How not to Get your Dream Job
Just go through your Computer Science (or related major) courses and do the bare minimum. Never do anything outside of classes. Don’t find an internship.
Ending up in a mediocre job is the likely option if you are majoring in Computer Science (or a related major) without achieving outside of the classroom. Academia is very different from the tech industry; though what you will learn from a CS degree is still valuable, it will only help you so much in finding a job.
Start Learning Real-World Skills Now
A CS degree focuses on math, basic programming and theoretical Computer Science. While all of these are helpful, it’s not enough to find your dream job. Academic skills alone will start you at the bottom of the barrel when finding your first job out of college.
Read Tech Books
Find a beginner tech book that interests you and read it. You would be surprised how well written these books can be. In school, you’re required to buy a $100+ textbook that you probably will never read again. On the contrary, books you purchase at a bookstore (or Amazon) make money by people who actually want to read them and usually cost no more than $40. Read some reviews and find the best one for you!
A good book can increase your skill level from beginner to intermediate, or from intermediate to advanced.
The For Dummies series is a good beginner book. O’Reilly Media books are also an excellent choice.
Do Projects in your Spare Time
You are competing against all of your classmates for jobs when you graduate and you want to stand out amongst your peers. Doing projects outside of the classroom during your spare time is one of the easiest ways to do this. Even better, find a group of people to do a project with. This is even an excellent opportunity to learn how to use version control, such as git. For bonus points, put the project on GitHub for future employers to see!
Doing side projects alone isn’t really enough, but it will help you with the most important part of finding your dream job.
Find an Internship
This is the most important step to land an awesome job after college. An internship is an amazing way to learn real-world skills that employers love. As a bonus, often times people with years of professional experience will mentor you during your time at an internship.
An internship is one of the best deals you could possibly find while in college. In school, you pay a lot of money to be in a large classroom while a professor lectures you on stuff, 80% of which might not be applicable to your next job. In an internship, 80%+ of the things you learn will be applicable to your next job and you might even get mentoring from a professional in the field.
An internship does not have to be a large company, such as Google, Amazon or Microsoft. In fact, working with a smaller, local company can be just as good, or even better! What’s important is that you have real world experience, which is what will make landing your first job so much easier.
Stick with an internship throughout your college career and you can graduate with 2+ years experience on your resume!