What to look for in a first job: Lessons from the IIT Careers Day

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As we walk into the halls of BMICH at 9 AM, the IIT Careers Day buzzing with activity. Students in clean white shirts roaming around carrying multiple copies of their CV’s. Meanwhile, the HR representatives from various companies setting up their stalls inside. The students are here to walk away with either an internship or a job. The HR representatives are here to hunt for the best talent they can find. But what exactly do companies look for in fresh graduates and interns? And what to do these students look for in their first job? These were the questions we wanted to answer.

What do companies seek from fresh graduates & interns?

At the IIT Careers Day, we spoke with a number of companies from the local tech industry. These companies were Informatics, Sysco Labs, WSO2, Virtusa, Pearson, London Stock Exchange Group, and Brandix. We asked all of them exactly what they were looking for when hiring interns and fresh graduates.

IIT Careers Day
Proficiency in cloud technologies were a popular skill sought after by tech companies we spoke with (Image credis: raconteur)

Speaking to these companies, we found that all of them were looking for candidates with a strong technical background. This is, of course, a very basic requirement for any company in the tech industry. All of them wanted to hire graduates that had experience with the technologies they use. The specific technologies differed between companies. But we noticed that cloud technologies like AWS were quite popular.

What to look for in a first job: Lessons from the IIT Careers Day 3
Companies seeking to hire the best talent at the IIT Careers Day

Nonetheless, there were differences. Some like Informatics wanted to hire graduates that had strong skills in Java. Whereas Sysco Labs was more geared towards those experienced with JavaScript. Hence, the companies we spoke with also highlighted the importance of self-learning. They all stated that it was essential for candidates to be able to learn new skills and technologies due to the constantly evolving nature of the tech industry.

IIT Careers Day
While companies want employs with strong technical skills, the ideal candidate has strong soft skills as well (Image credits: IT career central)

Yet, technical skills aren’t everything. The companies we spoke also highlighted the importance of soft skills. This refers to an employee’s communication skills, attitude, and ability to work in a team. Speaking to ReadMe, Chandi Dharmaratne – Senior Director of HR at Virtusa highlighted, “Speaking with clients and working with your teams, these skills are important. We highly recommend spending time at university building those skills.”

But what do the young graduates seek from their first job?

At the IIT Careers Day, we also spoke with the students who were there hunting for their internship or their first job. To these students, we asked them what it was that they look for in a company they want to work with. For many we spoke with, money wasn’t the first priority. Rather, the biggest priority was whether there would be opportunities for growth.

IIT Careers Day
Many young graduates we spoke with prioritized growth opportunities over salary (Image credits: startupstories.in)

This meant having opportunities to learn and use new technologies. This extends to the projects the company chooses to tackle as well. Many of the fresh graduates and interns we spoke with describe companies giving such opportunities as, “a place where I can grow and become a better person.”

IIT Careers Day
Students exploring opportunities at the IIT careers day

But alongside these opportunities for growth, another key factor for the students at the IIT Careers Day was the culture within the company as well. The graduates and interns we spoke with said they wanted to work in a positive work environment. In other words, a place where the people are friendly and generally gives them a feeling of excitement to head to work every morning.

Valuable learnings at the IIT Careers Day

At events like the IIT Careers Day, there are valuable learnings. For both the companies looking to hire the greatest talent and for the young graduates seeking their first job. There are different expectations. Yet, none worlds apart. Companies have long acknowledged the need to create a positive work environment, which the young graduates seek, and ensure their employees have opportunities to grow. Thus, as the day winds down, many of the students in clean white shirts head home. Tomorrow they’ll begin to take their first steps into the corporate world.

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