Some thoughts and follow up to KAM careers fair at KTH Stockholm

The last 3 weeks of my UK day job have been a tad boring, but this is the case sometimes. I’ve just been trying to get a task out the door which involved lots of large TSQL code for reporting and data analysis. This type of thing leaves me cold and is not something I get involved with very often (well not in this century at least, I used to do this stuff in ’97/98 but hey….it was a favour for someone and it’s nearly done now!) anyway fortunately I was in Stockholm last week to talk at the Royal Institute of Technology careers days (Kungliga Tekniska högskolan Arbetsmarknadsdag for those Swedish speakers amongst you) which was a fantastic time.

I met some seriously intelligent people and enjoyed chewing the fat with many of them about starting out a career in the IT sector. I hope that I provided a rather different outlook to some of the speakers and exhibitors at the conference as I left school at 17 with no higher education whatsoever (let alone a bachelors or masters degree) and it took me 6 years or so to even get someone to give me a job remotely close to IT and another 2 to actually get myself placed in a real IT job in a software house. Add to this my rather varied career paths since which have veered between investment banks to year one start-ups and Microsoft, and I hope that I gave a different perspective to some of the students. it certainly felt like a success and the company I was representing (Basefarm – who I still consult for regularly) received a large number of applications for internships and employment.

As well as being on the Basefarm stand all day just chatting to whoever came along, I did a talk in the afternoon entitled “This much I know……” where I expanded on some of the above thoughts and compared and contrasted a number of different companies, company types, job types and locations and what they were like to work for, and how they had helped or hindered the development of my career. Hopefully those present learnt a few tips to help them mould their own career paths. I try to not make the talk into a lecture, because I don’t want to give the impression I know too much, or that I’m teaching people how they should act, it’s far more an approach of hoping that people will pick up tips and trends based on some of the things I’ve experienced along the way (both good and bad).

I’ll probably be doing similar stuff at other universities in Sweden over the next year so, but I’d be happy to be involved in any UK based ones as well, so if you’re organising a careers fair in the UK, please drop me a line if you’d be interested in having me along. My current employer in the UK, dotDigitalGroup, has taken on a large number of IT graduates over the years and I think it’s a testament to the company the number of technical employees that they still retain where it’s their first job after university. It’s quite uncommon in my experience for an organisation to be able to maintain such loyalty and I think it speaks volumes for how much people like working there. I think we’d be able to share some interesting career thoughts and possibilities with UK based students, so feel free to drop me a line if this sounds interesting to you.

By Graham Kent

Code Club teacher, IT Director, currently living in London, misses being in Stockholm