Sunday, January 23, 2011

How to select an IT job in Sri Lanka?

How to decide whether to do computer / IT studies in Sri Lanka -Part 2

There's a saying that "Life is too short for the wrong job".

Therefore today I want to discuss how to decide whether to do an IT job or not. How to choose what sort of a computer job is suitable for you. More importantly I want to stress on the fact that how to decide whether this is the correct field, correct industry for you to settle down.

What you should decide if you are interested in doing a computer / IT job in Sri Lanka

Parents often tell me.

"My daughter is graduating in computer science in next year. Then can you find her a job?"

Then I ask,

"What sort of a job she is looking for? What type of a company she prefers?"

Then they say

"Anything is fine".

Any place, any job can be fine for a labourer. But it's not applicable to each and every job. Specially for the jobs which requires high level of creativity and mind work. Therefore I always advice them to first check all the options they have. If you want to get a job in any field, you must know what are the jobs available in those sectors, in those particular markets you live in. You must know the pros and cons of each of it. You must pick what is best for you.

If you are hoping to enter in to the IT industry in Sri Lanka, there are many things you should analyse before hand. 

1. Do you like computers?

Before anything else, you should ask your self, whether you like computers. You may love to be a doctor and help innocent patients. You must be liking photography and wishing to be a professional nature photographer. You can be a student interested in singing or dancing. If that's the case, why do you want to do a computer job?

Unless you really like to play around with computers, unless you love to spend time in computers, unless you are a technical and logical person, you should not think of doing a computer job.

2. What can you do?

It says that

"There are 10 types of people in the world. Those who understand binary, and those who don't"

(If you don't understand the above quote, you belong to the second category. 10 is how you write 2 in binary).

The next question you should ask your self is "what can you do"?. In other words, "What are you good at"?. This is very important. You may be a student who loves to play computer games or who loves to spend days and nights in Face book. But that alone do not make you a "computer person".

What you should think is, have you ever done anything important with computers? Have you ever tried to write a program? Have you ever tried to assemble a computer? Have you ever tried to design a web page or have you done any graphic designing?

If you haven't tried any of those, atleast try now. Try to look at a book, take information from internet and try something on your own. If you can't do at least a simple thing, even after much reading if you don't get head or tail of how the computers work, then you should seriously think whether it's suitable for you. It may not be your baby even though you love it.

3. What sort of a person are you?

Some one showed me a T-shirt and asked me what that was.

I said "It's a T-shirt".

He showed it to another person and asked what that was.

He said "It's a T-shirt, with blue straps on white background. It has a stain mark on it. It is a Nike brand and has a V-collar".

That's the difference between a normal person and a person with "attention to detail".

To be a "successful" software engineer, you must be an "attention to detail" person.

Same as if you are not sort of a person who can sit down and concentrate, then its difficult.You should be a logical person. If you never get good results for your algebra, doing a computer job may be a headache to you. If you think  of specialising in cryptography, you must be good in mathematics.

Therefore personality traits are a deciding factor in selecting a computer job.

4. What are the types of jobs available?

 If you want to analyse the existing types of jobs available, easiest thing is to refer to the recruitment web sites or week end papers with job advertisements. Two links are below.

IT-Software/DBA/QA/Web/Graphic designing jobs in Sri Lanka

IT-Hardware/Networks/Systems administration jobs in Sri Lanka

5. What are the companies which offer such jobs?

You need to decide what sort of a company you want to work. There are mainly two types of companies.

(a) . Computer jobs in IT companies

There are companies who involve purely with IT related work. Companies in Sri Lanka mainly involve with product based development and client based development. Usually if you want to be an expert in IT, you need to target on a company like this.

(b) Computer jobs in organisations other than IT companies

There are IT jobs in commercial organisations / universities / Government departments and many other places. These organisations may have their own IT department or a single IT manager to administer the systems. There may be temporary projects which requires IT personal to assist on project work. In places like banks and financial institutions, there are specific duties such as maintaining ATM systems and managing web sites.

For these jobs, you may require knowledge on business and other areas as well. If you like IT, but still you don't want to do a hard core IT job, then you can select a job which has a mix of IT with some other area.

6. What do people in the industry say?

Before you decide on a job, always discuss it with an experienced person in the industry. If you don't know anyone personally, you can just search in internet. There are thousands of articles written by professionals on each field, what are the pros and cons of it.

There are facts you can only obtain by discussing with the people in the industry. Some jobs, some companies may not actually what outside world think those are.

You better know the devil before you deal with him.

7. How much of salary you want?

For some people, this is the only deciding factor.

Upton Beall Sinclair, Jr once said that "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it"

I know an expert accountant who is driving a Taxi now. Because he is getting more income from it than from his prestiges accountant job. What is important for him  is money, not the fame or status or career. He made the right choice and he is a very happy person today.

There are companies who pay very little, but you get very exciting work to do and you get a very good training. Same as there are companies who pay very high salaries, but those experience is not be of any worth. Some employers give high salaries to those who perform well, where as some bosses can be easily taken for a ride by pretending to perform well. There are companies who has policies of rewarding only the people who demand high salaries. If you are a silent person who are not good at bargaining, these companies won't do any good to you. These are the information I said you can only obtain by discussing with someone in the industry.

My advice is, in the start of your career, don't care for money. Don't go for salary. Go the company which gives you good work. That training, that experience will take you long way.

8. What are the requirements asked in these job vacancies?

Albert Einstein said "I have no particular talent. I'm merely inquisitive". Level of talent required for different jobs is different. You got to know, whether you are the man for it. The best people in the software industry are the people who finds things on their own. They always are very inquisitive. They find problems and then they don't have any peace in mind until they find the solution.

There's this story about a small child who came to Beethoven and asked to teach a Symphony. Beethovan has told him that he is too small to learn that. Then the kid has told,
"But you did it when you were at my age"
Beethovan replied,
"Yes. But I didn't ask anyone, how to do that".

That is the part I'm talking about. If you are a person who don't find things on their own, you are not suitable for this industry. If you think someone should teach you things, do some other job. This is not the field for you.

People in the industry often says that, juniors ask too many dumb questions and they don't have any thrive to learn on their own. Interview criterias are very rigid due to obvious reasons. If you want to be a star, you should think like a star. And you must shine like a star. For that, you need to learn on your own. For god sake, if you think you are a computer person, log in to a search engine and just type what you want to know. Learn the required things on your own before you come to the job.

If you are a man with a plan, you should know what's your dream job demand from the person to handle it. These job requirements can be easily figure out by reading couple of job adould advertisements of similar category. (I will write a separate article on this)
Below is set of requirements I've obtained from a vacancy advertisement to recruit a Java/J2EE Architect.

Java/J2EE Architect - Skills & Experience required
  • 7 years software development experience
  • Solaris/Linux or Windows operating system experience
  • Expert knowledge of products, services and solutions in chosen domain
  • Ability to craft responses and design solutions to customer requirements
  • Experience with OOD / UML, Spring, Hibernate, Weblogic / JBoss, Tomcat and Oracle a strong plus
  • Knowledge of the following is also desirable:, JSF, EJB, J2EE, Ant, Struts, JUnit, XML, WAP,SMS, WML, GPRS, 3G, UNIX, Solaris, Linux, mySQL
  • Experience in enterprise scale application development and the ability to understand and apply design patterns based on this experience.
 This is only one example. My advice is read the advertisements for vacancies. Read the requirements. Apply it. That's it.

If you are a person who wish to get this job, you should know these are the things you should master. These are the areas you should be an expert of. Then before you take the job, you can be the expert they are looking for. When you get the job, you already know what to do. That will build a good reputation for you. Anyone who work with you will recommend you for a job. Thats how you create the image, the reputation in the market. Thats how you become an expert with a demand. Thats how to get head hunted in long term.

9. Whats your career expectations and does this selected job cater for those?

If you want to go up the career ladder, before you joing just think what will be your life after 10 years. How you want it to be. Does this job will lead you there? Does it have any blockers? Does it have only a flat structure where you have no chance to go to the next layer? Does this salary brings you happiness?

There may be jobs which needs frequent travelling. Can you balance you'r family life with work then? If you had to work on a night shift, how would you cope with it? If you have plans to migrate to another country, what are the requirements for it? Does this experience counted? Then its good to work in an international organisation. Likewise there are many questions you should ask your self before you decide.

10. What your life will be like if you select the job?

Once Scott McNealy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems said that

“Yes, we have a dress code. You have to dress.”

Life in computer industry is different. You should know. You may not have a fixed eight hours office job. Your colleagues are the people who do not have a dress sense at all. They may not be interesting people to associate with, but geeks. But that life may have its own advantages for someone who would fit in to that life.

If you don't like to learn new things, if you don't like to always read, try out things and get your knowledge updated, then this is not the job for you. Computer industry is something which is changing everyday. If you can't cope up with change, its best for you to find a routine job which hardly change the procedures.


Most people I met are the people who complains over many things. They are not happy with life. Those poeple feel inferior about them selves.

I have met only very few experts in this industry. Only few people are doing their job happily.  For a person who love to make new things with gadgets / legos / electronics / wires / digital  or anything technical, being a software developer  brings them limitless opportunities. For them, their job is their hobby as well. They enjoy what they do and they are getting paid for their hobby. They are the very successful people in the industry.

 Hope this will help ateleast little to make a right choice.


Rajitha Senanayake said...

This gave me a very important message to be aware of what are the requirements to select a job in IT field and how to be a successful person in IT field.I'm still an undergraduate who is looking for what sort of qualifications that I should have to be a good professional.So also I prefer to do a computer job in the future.So this information was very important for me.Thanks!

Nishadee said...

Thanks for leaving a comment Rajitha. I'll write a proper reply soon.