To begin with, we will look at the most stereotypical position in IT – the programmer. However, there are various types of programmers one could expect to work as. We can discern the following types:
The Back-end developers – they take care of the elements that are not seen by the end user while on the website. The way they work is by implementing changes on the portal and preparing the data source. In short, they work “on the server side” where programming languages like PHP, Ruby and Java are very useful.
The Full-stack developers – their work involves programming both on ‘the client side’ (front-end) and ‘the server side’ (back-end). We could say that they combine two positions in one
The Business analysts
They are the link between IT and business. The analysts gather requirements (that the product must meet) from the client. Next, they need to explain them to their colleagues from IT in such a way that the whole team knows how to satisfy the client’s expectations. They also model and analyse the business processes in order to find the optimal solution for the client. Business analysts must demonstrate empathy and strong communication skills – they are not only needed at the beginning of the project when the specification of the requirements must be established, but also later, during the consultations between the client and developers.
The Data analysts
Data analysts are those who gather, prepare and process data in various statistical programmes. They estimate risk (for example, in banking or insurance) and analyse the outcomes of areas related to financial markets, marketing or pharmaceutical research. A person in this position should know some statistical packages (R, Statistica, SAS) and be familiar with relational databases (in particular with SQL). Furthermore, a data analyst should be scrupulous, conscientious and – as the name suggest – thinking logically and analytically is a must!
The UX Designers
They focus on the feelings that the developed product arouses in customers. In other words, the product should give the best user experience possible (the sum of impressions experienced while using the product) to the customers. UX designers are responsible for keeping the product intuitive and user-friendly. They discover the needs of future users and try to meet their expectations. In order to achieve that, they have to create initial drafts of the project during meetings with the client. They also prepare prototypes of websites, for example using Axure tool. UX Designers stay in touch with developers in order to plan new functionalities of the application together. This position requires a lot of empathy, creativity, aesthetic sense, but also technical comprehension and analytical thinking.
Well, testers are often disliked by developers and analysts, because… they point out their mistakes. From the beginning of the project, they monitor the quality of the product: they check if it meets the determined objectives and whether it works flawlessly or not. Consequently, testers must check the completeness of the documentation and make sure that the project reflects business processes appropriately. On the basis of the code developed by programmers, they perform their own scenario tests and scripts – then they report the tests’ outcomes. A tester must be a perceptive, critical person that can imagine oneself in the user’s role.
The IT Project Managers
PMs coordinate the work of all the staff members that are involved in the project. They are responsible for the time, budget and team that are assigned to the project. At the same time, the PM must possess some knowledge about the various systems and tools that the team uses on a day-to-day basis. Management skills are also very useful – The Project Managers deal with creating a schedule, delegating tasks and solving conflicts in the team. They should be calm, able to work under pressure, with strong communication skills – they are necessary to assure that communication within the team and with the outside, like the client, runs smoothly.
The IT security managers
They manage the maintenance of IT systems in order to protect their data against unauthorised users. Such specialists create security policies and procedures to identify and report a security breach. They should be familiar with the law regulations concerning information security and should have a good understanding of current trends in the sector. On the one hand, they are supposed to possess great technical knowledge about the maintenance of the network and systems, but on the other hand, having strong communication and analytical skills is crucial for this position.
Let’s come back to the myth of the basement programmer…
The stereotype that people from the IT sector only interact with computers and do not have to deal with other people should be definitely broken. Every position in the IT industry – even the programming-related one – requires excellent communications skills. It is essential that programmers, analysts, testers (and so on) are able to explain even the most complex issues to those outside the IT world. Another key character trait is empathy – all IT staff members should be aware of users’ needs – fulfilling their expectations.
At the same time it is clear that an interesting job in IT awaits not only those who studied in this area, but actually everyone that has an analytical and organized way of thinking while being open to lifelong learning.
Last but not least, we should bear in mind that even if someone gets a job in IT, it does not necessarily mean that they will be able to repair a broken computer.