Coding and programming used to be a rare skill to have. Most people were clueless about it, and once the digital revolution hit, there were jobs everywhere for somebody that knew how to do it. The rise of computer technology caught us by surprise, so we didn’t make preparations by training a workforce that could deal with the demand. The few people that did have in-depth knowledge of coding and programming could find work easily. Now we’ve started to catch up; the competition is growing rapidly. Increasing numbers of young people are opting to study computer sciences at college, saturating the market with graduates, just like any other industry. You might be at college right now, dreading the day when you have to find work in your chosen field, but all is not lost. There are still thousands of jobs out there, you’re just going to need to make yourself stand out if you want to land one. So, how do you set yourself apart and pave the way for a career in the tech industry?

Start Now

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is waiting until you graduate before you start making inroads into the industry. Getting qualified is the first stage, and you’re doing that right now, but that isn’t enough. All of your competitors will be in the same position and they might be at a better college than you. The thing that will get you ahead is having valuable experience. Spend your summers, and any other spare time you have during the term to get any work you can with a tech company.

Freelance

The easiest way to get good work experience is to freelance. You won’t be relying on a company to hire you full time, you can go out and get some work yourself. During the summer you will have plenty of time to freelance, and it’s a great way of getting a bit of extra money in. If you have the time, consider doing it all year round. You’ll need to scale back a bit while you are studying but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything at all.

Finding work can seem quite daunting, to begin with, but there are plenty of places to look online. Fiverr, Upwork and Freelancer are some of the best. They tend to be ratings based, so to begin with you will have to take on relatively low-paid, and sometimes boring work. However, as you start to build a portfolio people will offer you more lucrative work. The key to success as a freelancer is quality. One bad job and the review will be on your profile, making it that much harder to get work. Download a free trial from QASymphony and use it to check any code you write before handing it over to your employer.

Internships

Alternatively, you could try finding yourself an internship. Most of them won’t pay you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean freelancing is the better option. While freelancing does help you get experience and build a good portfolio, internships can help you get more valuable experience. Landing yourself a summer job with a large tech firm and contributing to bigger projects, will look better on your resume than doing minor jobs for unknown companies.