Continuing on our January blog post “Choosing a career that’s different from your degree”, guest blogger and our own Enquiries Officer Toslima Khatun shares her interview with Sufi, who went into the field of I.T. -but had actually studied psychology! Read more about his career journey and get inspired about how you too can apply your unique knowledge, skills, attributes and experiences to new horizons.
Everyone says that the future is in technology but not everyone studies it at university. This can seem like a whole career option is cut off from you when you start considering your next steps towards your future. But never fear – if you have a genuine passion for I.T., the lack of a computer science degree does not actually stop you!
Sufi is a Senior End User Services Analyst at King’s College London, and shares his journey from a Psychology graduate to a computer wiz.
So what do you do now?
“I am a senior technician at Guy’s Campus of King’s, equivalent to a supervisor, as I look after a team and make sure that everything runs smoothly. Looking after various projects and labs and also approving requests for new equipment and seeing where it’s needed. But the main thing is the people. It is less a technology-based job and more a people-based job. Understanding how people work and what they need and how to facilitate that. For example, recently we have seen that our students prefer MacBooks so we are trying to facilitate that right now and find how we can best help them at King’s.
How did you get there?
‘’Well, I originally got a degree in Psychology and upon graduating went into the retail sector, helping stores be more successful by targeting their customer needs and requirements a lot better better. I was good at studying people and that was what I was interested in. Then, I gradually moved on to the Library Services at King’s. This was at a time when the Library Services and I.T were in the same department. When I.T. started to expand, I realised that I was more interested in my hobby that I was in my main job. King’s facilitated that transition and helped me train upwards. King’s has that sort of supportive environment where, if you are interested in something and express that wish, they will do all they can to help you.’’
“I realised that I was more interested in my hobby that I was in my main job”
The King’s Careers take: We know that career inspiration comes from many places. You can reflect on your passions, values and interests by looking at what you enjoy doing in your free time. Realising the employability value of your hobbies might give you some new ideas and even inspire the next steps in your career journey!
What barriers did you overcome?
‘’I am one of a number of senior BAME members of staff in IT and that comes with responsibility and challenges. When I started, 14 years ago, I was the only Asian male that was in a senior position at King’s and that came with some responsibility and challenges. This was also a new field for me professionally and so I have had to navigate that side too. But King’s has since gotten better at helping us navigate these challenges – we are now hiring more people from the BAME community which also includes students.”
What do you wish you knew when you were a student?
“The thing was when I went into university that everyone was telling me that the average graduate earns £25,000 per year. Whilst that may be true for some – it is not automatic. Yes, you will eventually get there, but it is not the standard base to which you have to aim instantly upon graduation. It takes time and you have to be willing and open to work for it. So, try not to put so much pressure on graduate benchmarks like that. But do try to prepare and gain as much experience whilst you are at university as you can. Whilst you are at university you have this chance to look into different sectors and take the skills you are gaining into any of these directions.”
“…do try to prepare and gain as much experience whilst you are at university as you can”
The King’s Careers Take: It’s true – maximising your time at university is key, and taking active steps to discover your interests and narrow down your options is the way to go. Talking to lecturers, careers consultants or employers at careers events are great ways to find information and begin to take action. Come discover our Keats pages with event lists, podcasts, industry guides, tips and information for all things careers!
Do you have any tips for people interested in working in your area?
“Just be willing to work and learn. This is a job that anyone can do as long as you want to learn and want to help people. We currently have people at all levels, including graduate trainees, apprentices, and interns as well as student helpers who help us run the day-to-day operations. All of the positions are paid, and they are all there to help students gain as much experience as they are willing to take part in and are all during working hours. And they know how important they are to us! We tell our students that once they have the experience, they do not necessarily have to work in I.T. but the skills are there for them to transfer anywhere in the professional world. If people want to find out more about our grads scheme please go to this link https://www.kcl.ac.uk/it/grad-scheme”
If you would like to find out more about working in I.T., make sure to look for our “Discover Careers In..” events for tech, data and information sectors. If you are thinking about changing the path and switching to a new career, our KEATS pages have a PDF resource for you! Also, don’t forget to look via King’s CareerConnect for current job opportunities.