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University of Sunderland

Networking to build your computer science career

Posted on: April 14, 2022
Group of people networking

Computer science is a varied, ever-evolving field that boasts excellent career prospects and job security. Not only do tech and digital jobs sit within the fastest-growing industries in the UK, but there’s an IT skills gap creating a huge demand for workers in the field. 

Possible careers can include:

  • web design
  • systems analysis
  • IT consultancy
  • application development
  • information systems management
  • database administration
  • software engineering
  • UX design
  • cybersecurity 
  • cloud engineering or security
  • blockchain engineering
  • data science.

If you’re looking to build a career as a leader in computer science, a relevant degree is crucial, but it also helps to make sure you’re building up a professional network, too. Through professional networking, you can gain – and demonstrate – expertise, make new connections within the industry, and uncover new job opportunities. 

Networking tips

Networking within computer science doesn’t need to follow a traditional format with small talk and business cards. Not only are traditional, in-person networking events difficult for anyone who isn’t an extrovert, but the Covid-19 pandemic has made many people wary of large-scale public events. Instead, there are a number of other, more modern networking options available.

Try social networking

Social media platforms such as LinkedIn offer excellent opportunities to meet people and create a strong network within the industry. IT and tech professionals use platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter for sharing information, building relationships, and discussing shared interests with other professionals around the world. There are even TikTok accounts dedicated to digital tips and tricks.

Attend virtual conferences, webinars and forums

As long as you have a good Wi-Fi connection, online events offer great networking opportunities. Make sure to ask questions if you can, and follow up with people who you’d like to build a professional relationship with. You can do more than just attend as a guest, too. Get involved as a speaker to share valuable information and help others. 

Share your hacks

Level-up your networking skills and demonstrate your expertise in your industry by creating and sharing useful content. If you specialise in automation, maybe you could write and share an article about emerging trends in the field, and post it on LinkedIn. If you work in computer networking, perhaps you could share some of some best-practice tips that you use on the job and share it with your network on Slack or Microsoft Teams.

This is also an effective method of business networking – you can build a positive reputation that gets you noticed by your peers and colleagues, relevant product and service providers, and employers.

Find a mentor

Mentors can be invaluable founts of knowledge. They can help build confidence, provide constructive criticism, and offer career advice. They can also enable highly effective networking, putting you in touch with the people best-placed to help you succeed as you move through your career. Thanks to virtual meeting channels like Zoom and Teams, they don’t need to be in your local area, either. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who you think would make a great mentor. This can include a professor, a colleague, or a manager, inside or outside of your current organisation.

Join a professional association 

There are a number of organisations dedicated to professionals within the IT and computer science fields. Through these bodies, you can meet like-minded professionals who are happy to debate routers versus an ethernet switch, or discuss topics like network cabling or the internet of things (IoT) with you. A professional association is also a good access point for things like training, certifications, and awards.

These bodies include:

  • BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT. This is the professional body for computing in the UK. It provides a community for computing professionals, offers qualifications and certifications, and hosts events and awards.
  • techUK. This is the UK’s technology trade association. Its focus is on shaping policy, driving innovation, and connections and collaborations within the field.
  • BIMA (British Interactive Media Association). BIMA is a voice for digital and tech in the UK, and represents a community of businesses, charities and academia. Its focus is on innovation through knowledge sharing, showcasing best practice, and developing talent.

Sign up for a training programme

IT and computing are constantly changing, so it’s a good idea to stay on top of new trends and meet new voices in the industry through short training programmes. Many of these can be attended online and can help you to continually hone your craft after you receive your degree.

Examples include:

Don’t forget your colleagues

Remember that it’s not just fellow computing professionals who you need to connect with. Think about the people and teams you work with regularly. Getting to know your colleagues and your organisation as a whole is a great way of making sure you’re adding the most value in your role as an computing or IT professional.

Build your network at the University of Sunderland

Your career in computer science starts with a degree, and develops with your professional network – and you can gain both with the 100% online MSc Computer Science at the University of Sunderland.

This flexible master’s degree has been designed for ambitious people from any background who want to launch a new career in computer science, or who want to incorporate computer science expertise into their current role to progress their career. It’s also suitable for computer science professionals who want to enhance their credentials and career prospects. 

The degree is studied entirely online, so you’ll gain the knowledge and skills required to effectively specify, design, implement and support IT systems, while still attending to your other commitments. 

Once you’re enrolled on the course, you’ll join a community of your peers in an interactive, online learning environment that features discussion boards, forums and group learning activities. You’ll also learn from professionals based all over the world. This means you’ll have a unique opportunity to greatly expand your global professional network as you begin or develop your computer science career.

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