May 12, 2023

How to Move Up from Entry Level in IT (Updated)

One of the best things about getting your foot in the door with a career in technology is the opportunity for advancement. Beginning your career in IT is a great launching point for future opportunities that can help you grow both your income and responsibilities over the years.

We have moved away from the way our grandparents worked; we no longer stay in the same job for 30 years in order to one day get to the top pay scale and retire with a cushy pension. Instead, advancement can be achieved much sooner in your career, and with limitless possibilities, if you choose to put in the hard work and stay dedicated to enhancing your skills and looking for growth opportunities.

Particularly for a career in technology, you should see entry level work for what it is - the first step in an exciting future. The most important thing to remember when starting your career in IT is to begin with a plan for how you will move up. One great place to start is with this article. Keep reading for five tips that will help you personalize a successful career path in IT.

1. Don’t work in isolation.

When you jump feet first into your career, it can be easy to become so focused on your daily tasks that you forget to build relationships with your coworkers. It’s a fine balance between the time you spend directly on completing tasks and the time you invest in forming relationships with those around you. Both serve an important purpose. When you have effective relationships with other professionals and team members, you are more likely to enjoy your day-to-day. Building relationships in the workplace is also important for career success. Not only do relationships with colleagues in the workplace assist with networking, but they can also offer you the guidance and encouragement you need to succeed in your role. 

If you don’t invest in forming relationships, you’ll quickly begin to feel isolated and out of touch with what’s going on around you and in the business. This can cause you to miss out on announcements or be passed over when opportunities for advancement arise. Strive to make genuine and professional connections with your coworkers and supervisors. Also make a habit of developing relationships with people from different teams within the organization. When people get to know you and your strengths, they can alert you to opportunities in the organization that may be a good fit and allow you to take a step up.

2. Make use of a mentor.

Early on in your career you should make it a goal to identify a trusted and relatable mentor. Look for someone who emulates a lifestyle and career you hope to one day achieve. This mentor can help you navigate your career, offer reassurance and advice, and help you view obstacles and opportunities through a different lens. It’s important to keep your mentor relationship professional and career-focused. Rather than a casual friend, they should be viewed as a respected elder. 

In order to get the most out of your mentorship, be sure to first do your own research and come to your mentor with specific questions they can answer. This will give you the most useful advice that you can directly put into action. Most importantly, be respectful of your mentor’s time and talent. They are offering their help often for nothing in return but good will, so when you do call upon them for a favor or advice, show gratitude and be mindful of boundaries. 

3. Ask for new responsibilities.

Taking on new responsibilities is an effective way to advance within your career. First, be sure you are delivering in your current role. If you’re not excelling in the tasks that are on your plate right now, it’s not likely that you’ll be offered greater responsibilities. Next, arm yourself with new skills. On your own time, read articles, refine your skills, or invest in certifications and online courses (many of which are offered for free) to increase the tools in your arsenal. Then, look for areas where help is needed and come to your supervisor with a plan for how you can help. 

Schedule a sit-down conversation to present them with your new skills and where you feel you can take on responsibility. This conversation is the opportunity to leave a lasting impression and to walk away with an increased role within your organization. Finally, only ask for added responsibilities when you know you’re ready to add them to your current workload and feel confident you can deliver exceptional results. You may go months or years before you’re ready to have such a conversation. Keep your eyes open to when the time may be right!

4. Welcome new partnerships.

Partnerships bring teams and organizations closer together and collaboration makes you more efficient. This is why partnerships can be a very powerful way to move up from an entry level role in a short period of time. Similar to taking on new responsibilities, keep a sharp eye for partnership and teamwork opportunities. There will be things you can bring to the table, and different skills other colleagues can offer. Combined, you will create a more powerful and skilled team that can excel at tasks. Taking the initiative to forge such partnerships will also reflect well upon your work ethic, morale, and teamwork. All around it’s a win for individuals as well as the company!

5. Never stop learning.

And finally, you should always stay hungry to learn and grow within your role. This is how you advance, after all! This can be informal learning gained over time by taking on more tasks, or this can be a formal arrangement for continuing education courses that your employer supports. Start by asking about tuition reimbursement for continuing education courses. Your current company may offer a program where they pay for part of all of your investment in continuing education courses or professional certifications. Even if this is not offered, you may weigh the cost-benefit and determine this is a personal investment you’ll choose to make to advance your career. Beyond a formal education, you should seek out local events you can attend for low or no-cost. Professional events offer education as well as networking opportunities. And one more very accessible way to gain knowledge is to subscribe to industry blogs and newsletters that feed you regular and relevant information related to your career field.

The big takeaway here is that when you begin your career in IT, keep in mind that an entry level role is a launching point for future growth and success. Don’t be deterred by a position that may seem like the lowest man on the totem pole. Everyone needs to start somewhere! By following these five pieces of advice, you will enter your career with a plan to advance quickly and consistently over time. Visit our program page to learn more about enrolling in the 6-month training programs with NuPaths to build upon your current IT experience.

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