Tech Minors Have Major Career Benefits
Job seekers and college students often enroll in high-tech majors like Computer Science, Electrical Engineering and Computer Systems. Demand for high-tech skills is still high as mentioned in this article on Boomers and High-Tech. There is still a critical lack of skilled professionals that can deploy and effectively manage information storage systems. Students should choose a major that offers relevant, hands-on experience on how to manage the explosive growth of digital information.
While the demand for skilled professionals is still high, so is the competition for high-tech job openings. I’ve proposed that certification can offer job seekers an edge. New employees are often immediately sent to these certification courses to be trained. If your resume contains proof of certification, then you’ve differentiated yourself. Hiring managers like someone that can hit the ground running. It saves them both time and money.
Another strategy is to complement your major with a minor. Electrical engineering students, for example, can also pursue a Computer Science or Programming minor in order to present a well-rounded resume. For high-tech students this option is fairly common. If they are disciplined enough to pursue both branches, they qualify themselves for a higher cross-section of jobs.
A different, non-traditional choice for high-tech students is reflective of the shift we are seeing in the world economy. An International Relations minor, when combined with an engineering major, is a new and unique way to differentiate yourself. It communicates that you have recognized the changing dynamics in the global market for high-tech products.
An International Relations minor (also called Global Relations or Global Studies) usually takes the student down one of two tracks: business or governmental. Both are valuable and students should choose one or the other based on their interests.
A business track will give the student a feel for a new trend that is taking hold in high-tech: reverse innovation. This trend dictates that markets in developing countries will see the most economic growth in the coming decade. For high-tech this trend means that products should be designed specifically for those markets, and perhaps exported into the United States at a later date. A business minor in International Relations should expose the student to the more important aspect of building, marketing and selling products in global locales. This awareness will become more and more common in the years to come.
The governmental track gives exposure to the international laws and regulations that directly impact the deployment of high-tech products in different countries. For example, some countries will block the sale of high-tech products if they do not meet the environmental standards that are unique to that region. Each region will also have unique regulations regarding the protection, retention, and deletion of sensitive data. Issues such as human rights violations may influence the selection of hardware components that are integrated into a high-tech product. Intrapreneurs that are plugged into these global realities will build better products.
Of course, if your high-tech minor includes international travel, consider visiting the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). These markets are experiencing strong growth in high-tech adoption. The fact that you have visited these places may enable you to travel again as part of a corporate experience.
Add global scope to your education! It will be to your advantage.
-Posted by Steve Todd, EMC Distinguished Engineer. Read more of Steve’s posts on careers in the tech field on his Innovate with Influence blog.