By: Vid Sista, Data Center Practice Director, Accudata Systems

One quick job search for information technology careers returns thousands of opportunities with a variety of technical skills and certifications required. For young professionals, the opportunities are endless – but the career ladder can seem daunting at times, especially in today’s ever-changing IT landscape. Below, I’ve shared advice for standing out among IT professionals, along with specific skills and areas of expertise that I look for when reviewing applications.

Obtain Industry Certifications

I recommend developing an extensive networking background by obtaining certifications, like CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) or Network+, in order to build a strong foundation in networking technologies. Securing data is securing a network, so if you don’t know how a network works then you’re at a severe disadvantage. Networks are crucial to businesses, which is why it is incredibly valuable to possess a thorough understanding of these systems – especially in today’s cyber security threat landscape.

Knowledge of security concepts and best practices, obtained through becoming a CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), is critical to understanding the industry standard by which many professional consultants abide. Although you will need at least two years of experience to qualify, we encourage young professionals to familiarize themselves with these concepts, as eventual certification will demonstrate a deep understanding of technologies, regulations and standards.

Master Knowledge of Cyber Attack Protections

Knowledge and experience with pervasive networking security technologies will help you learn more about protecting organizations from sophisticated attacks. Technologies that are critical to building knowledge include understanding web proxies—like SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)– and demonstrating intelligence in standard security technologies.

The Center for Internet Security (CIS) Critical Security Controls are great resources for learning more about securing a corporate network and protecting users from cyber attacks. Understanding these concepts will ensure that you are prepared in event that your organization faces a similar issue.

Understand Wireless Technology & Cloud Solutions

Understanding wireless networking is extremely important – and grasping the intricacies of establishing a network and vital terminology, such as RF signal strength, packet loss, network noise and other related best practices, will serve as a strong foundation. Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is also critical as professionals continue to rely more on mobile devices.
Over the past five years, experience with WAN (wide area network) technologies and cloud connectivity has become increasingly important. Understanding cloud solutions, such as Office 365, ServiceNow, or Amazon Web Services (AWS) is invaluable, and will help build credibility because they enable you to automate business processes and deploy workloads into the cloud.
Additionally, a deep understanding of data center technologies like Software-Defined

Networking (SDN) and the benefits of cloud integration and on-premise resources is important for managing a modern network. Finally, professionals with a strong foundation in storage, networking, and scripting and certifications in cloud-based platforms will remain in high demand.

Embrace Soft Skills

Several members of the Accudata team operate as IT consultants, which requires substantial consultative thinking. In this role, we need our experts to look at the 360-degree landscape before diving in to pinpoint the issues and solutions. Whether you are working for a firm like Accudata or directly for an organization’s in-house IT team, a consultative mindset will set you apart as a strategic thinker.

It is also critical to adopt an always-learning attitude. The IT landscape is constantly changing, and new threats and technologies arise daily. Staying on top of trends, potential issues, and best practices for keeping corporate and public data safe is one area where new graduates can shine.
Wherever your career takes you, remember to stay sharp with industry changes, seek out certifications, and think like an industry consultant. The rest will follow as you build on past knowledge and success.