Information Technology refers to the use of computers and software to manage information. IT professionals focus on improving the usability and efficiency of technological systems and processes while ensuring their organization's computers and networks are free of bugs, glitches, and interruptions that would negatively affect business.
How to Get Started
- Explore the different concentrations within the Engineering and Information Technology field such as:
- Big Datay
- Health Care Technology
- Signals and Communication
- Sustainable Infrastructure
- Get involved in a student organization based on your interests or in an industry-specific student organization. Obtain a leadership position as well. If you want to build your IT skills, try becoming the webmaster of the group.
- Network with professionals at Career Fairs and other events on campus. The STEM Career Fair on day 1 of the Mason Career Fair in early October is a great place to meet employers. See Handshake for event details.
- Produce IT projects on your own time and share your work on a site such as Github. Employers want to see what you are capable of producing, no matter the size!
- Obtain experience through an internship. Experiential learning is consistently the best way to earn a full-time position. Testing a field first-hand during the semester or over the summer is the best way to learn how you fit into the industry.
- Seek out a leadership role in class projects and Senior Design
- Technical (programming, debugging, database design, and more)
- Problem solving /Troubleshooting
- Ability to function in a fast-paced environment
- Time management
- Commitment to continuing education
- Attention to detail
Degrees and Certifications
The type of certification required to advance professionally in your career will vary based upon your level of experience and the position you desire. Below are a few certifications for entry level positions in the IT industry. In addition, many positions may require a Master's degree for career advancement.
- CompTIA A+
- CompTIA Network+
- CompTIA Security+
- Microsoft Certifications
- George Mason University TechAdvance Program
- Top IT Graduate Schools
- Use this certification locater to find additional certifications which may be useful in your career.
- Peterson's can help find degree programs that align with your career interests.
- Find Tech and Engineering Companies in Northern Virginia
- ONet Career Center
- Occupational Outlook Handbook
- CareerShift: This is an excellent resource to use to make a list of 50 to 100 target companies
- Develop your own projects in your free time to practice and hone your skills
- Volunteer with local organizations to assist in their IT needs
- Complete an internship during the school year or summer
- Participate in competitions such as Hackathons or business plans
- Use LinkedIn to conduct informational interviews with alumni working in the field
- Find research opportunities within the Volgenau School of Engineering
- Authentic Jobs
- Careers Info Security
- USAJOBS: the Federal Government's official one-stop source for Federal jobs and employment information
- Association of Information Technology Professionals
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
- Association for Computing Machinery
- Information Systems Security Association NOVA Chapter
Visit Associations Unlimited to find more professional associations.
View the many scholarships options available for funding a degree and career in information technology.
Computer Network Architects design and build data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Intranets. These networks range from small connections between two offices to next-generation networking capabilities such as a cloud infrastructure that serves multiple customers.
Computer programmers write and test code that allows computer applications and software programs to function properly. They turn the program designs created by software developers and engineers into instructions that a computer can follow.
The role of Computer Support Specialist is an entry-level position, dealing directly with customers using working knowledge of the product.
The role of a Computer Systems Analyst includes elements of sales in that it's more involved with onsite and other direct support of clients. As a result, this position requires knowledge of the client's needs and the ability to troubleshoot and act independently.
Database administrators, or DBAs, participate in database design and maintain, develop, and test database environments. Often, the DBA is responsible for making backups and ensuring that information is recoverable in the event of a disaster.
Information Security Analysts are responsible for securing data, devices, and networks against unauthorized external and internal access. They also ensure that policies are adhered to by all staff members.
The most valuable traits in a Network and Computer Systems Administrator are a willingness to take things apart and the patience to put the pieces together again. System administrators design, test, and evaluate data communications systems such as local area networks.
A QA engineer has to think of every accidental thing a customer might do to and with a product, from using a keyboard in the bathtub to clicking 1,000 times repeatedly on an ornamental on-screen widget. QA people support product teams, track bugs, and write documentation.
Software developers mainly write code, connect application modules and functionalities, debug, and import/export to other OS platforms. Senior engineers also work with end users, OEM customers, and others. They also take a more supervisory role in team structure.
Smaller companies, in particular, tend to roll the areas of Web architecture, design, implementation and management into the role of the webmaster. Webmasters may even be responsible for content creation and editing, working in conjunction with the marketing department.