It’s a good year to be a college graduate. The average starting salary for entry level jobs in the U.S. is at an all-time high according to a study conducted by the Hay Group division of Korn Ferry. The study also reveals that grads in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) fields can expect to garner the best starting salaries, with software developers earning 31 percent more than the average entry-level professional.
 
This research is just the latest in a string of evidence demonstrating why a job in technology should be a serious consideration for new grads. While the compensation is understandably attractive, careers in technology also come with the exciting chance to innovate and make an impact on how future generations interact with the world.
 
The opportunities are tremendous, whether you are an engineer or possess a skillset that isn’t traditionally associated with developing technology — such as marketing or sales. I’ve seen professionals of all backgrounds excel in the field, however, there are some key traits that I feel are necessary in order to have a successful technology career.
 
CONFIDENCE
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10 percent of the workforce will be eligible for retirement in the coming years. This presents a unique opportunity for graduates in which entry-level positions could lead to accelerated paths to management. When interviewing with an organization, new grads should look for signs of these opportunities, and seize the chance to advance their careers.
 
Young people starting in the field will make mistakes — it’s inevitable. But learning from those mistakes while maintaining the confidence to ward off lingering feelings of failure is critical. Young employees need to believe that they bring important, fresh ideas and perspectives to their organizations, pushing them forward, tackling new challenges and solving problems with out-of-the-box thinking.
 
OUTSTANDING COMMUNICATIONS SKILLS
While technology professionals in particular may be predisposed to embracing the latest and greatest, the retiring generation is exiting the workforce with a wealth of knowledge. It’s important for newcomers to understand and learn from their perspectives while they share office space with them. Even in the technology industry, human-to-human communication — whether it be for customer interaction, collaborating with colleagues or simply getting along with coworkers — remains crucial. Observing and asking for advice from seasoned professionals is the fastest way to improve one’s own skills, which can be honed over time.
 
The technology industry brings together people of diverse backgrounds, expertise and working styles. While some may perceive that a career in technology only involves long stretches of sitting in front of screens, the truth is that the leading tech organizations are collaborative and dynamic. These environments require and reward effective communication and teamwork.
 
CURIOSITY AND AGILITY
In the age of automation and digital transformation, leading technology organizations must anticipate the needs of their customers and ensure they can develop and deliver new solutions, often before customers even request them. This innovation requires employees who are perpetually curious, who are willing to disrupt the status quo and who are motivated to push the envelope.
 
Additionally, agility — the ability to move and adapt quickly and efficiently — is a desirable trait in software products and gives companies a competitive edge. But it’s also important for individual employees as well. To thrive in this high-pressure, ever changing environment, tech professionals need to stay flexible and adaptable, and continue learning every day.
 
BALANCE
Today, we’re expected to be on-call 24/7, however, downtime is important. Ultimately though, the balance between work and life is something personal. New grads can be attracted to the perks that many tech companies are known to offer, but they should also make sure that the company they are considering is committed to helping its employees achieve the balance that works for them. It may take some time to determine those preferences, but those who can set expectations and parameters around success will be better positioned to establish their own personal healthy schedule and lifestyle.  
 
FINAL THOUGHTS
Despite all this advice, perhaps most important is finding a job that challenges you to be your best, empowers you to take risks, and gives you the tools to succeed. You may not know it until you find it, but there’s no better feeling than coming to work every day excited for the challenge and ready to make an impact. In a hot job market, it’s important to ensure you’re entering an industry that aligns with your desires and strengths. Congratulations to the new graduates and happy hunting!