In the past few years the most common programming languages sought by recruiters (based on CareerConnect adverts) were: .NET, C++, SQL, Java, C#, PHP, Python, CSS, VBA, MySQL, Ruby On Rails, Perl and HTML5. C is also very commonly sought after.
There are plenty of taught courses available here at Oxford University, ranging from short programmes at IT Services (usually free of charge or priced lower for Oxford students) right up to postgraduate-level courses.
In addition, Molly, Oxford’s IT Services Learning Centre provides free access to LinkedIn Learning, which has thousands of video tutorials covering software, technology, tools and both creative and business skills. It is easy to choose your own learning pathways, and you can learn flexibly and at your own pace. See the attached Key Resource for advice on getting started on LinkedIn Learning.
Key Resource for advice on getting started on LinkedIn Learning.
If you are interested in working in a technical role, but don’t have any coding skills yet, you could start by taking one of the many ‘learn to code’ self-teaching programmes available online (e.g. Codecademy). The University’s Computer Science Society and Code First: Girls also run offer free coding courses during term time if you want to learn alongside others.
Oxford also has other student societies that have a core interest in and around the use and application of technologies and IT careers. In addition to Oxford Computer Science Society, consider seeking out Oxford Women in Computer Science (OxWoCS); the Oxford AI Society; Oxford Blockchain Society; or sign up to participate in the annual OxfordHack, a student hackathon hosted by the Institute of Mathematics each November. Students interested in entrepreneurship can investigate opportunities and activities at The Oxford Foundry, and sign up for regular newsletter from Enterprising Oxford.
Many organisations will recruit graduates from a wide range of degree disciplines - even for technical roles - if they demonstrate enthusiasm for the industry and potential to learn coding quickly. Transferable skills - such as being able to work collaboratively, communicate clearly, and to work with both data and clients - may be highly predictive of future success, and are likely to be given considerable weight in recruitment processes.
Experience is not essential to get a job in IT, but makes you far more competitive and demonstrates to a potential employer that you have an understanding of and interest in the sector.
A very large number of organisations will run structured internship programmes, some of which require no technical skills and focus more on training and personal development of coding skills (e.g. Ensoft; Metaswitch Networks; Softwire). You can meet representatives of many firms that target recruitment at Oxford in Michaelmas Term through our career fairs - think especially about attending our Careers in Computing; Internship Fair; Science, Engineering and Technology Fair, and Jobs for Mathematicians events. However, there are many other opportunities available (see live jobs on CareerConnect) and if you are interested in a company that doesn’t offer a structured internship programme, speculative applications can be a great way to generate opportunities.
Internships and work experience places are offered year-round on CareerConnect, and due to the IT skills shortage can sometimes go unfilled. At the beginning of every Oxford term look for short-term work experience projects advertised as Micro-internships by the Careers Service - you will need to apply in the first 10 days of term and the placements take place in 9th week of the same term. There are also some fantastic opportunities exclusively opened to Oxford students – all over the world, in the UK and even within the university itself – every year in the Summer Internship programme: the programme opens for applications in January each year.
Smaller companies may not have a planned programme, and will either advertise ad hoc as positions or projects come up or they may respond to speculative approaches. Contact companies directly to learn whether or not they might offer work experience, shadowing, internships or similar. Use the employer directory on CareerConnect to search firms that have been in contact with the Careers Service in the past.
Technical internships without computer science skills
Organisations which might well consider an application for a technical role from a graduate without programming skills may not be able to offer the same degree of flexibility when it comes to their internships. This is because in a placement which lasts a few weeks or months there may not be enough time to train you so that you can contribute to the work. If you’re aiming for technical roles without a Computer Science background, it might be worth initially combining a non-technical internship with a separate opportunity to learn some programming skills (see ‘Skills Needed’ above).
Short intensive technology training boot-camps are also a viable option to learn new skills quickly to add to your CV. These can sometimes be taken as an online course, or you attend a training centre.
At the top end are boot-camps targeting high potential PhDs and Masters students coming from relevant disciplines, most commonly STEM subjects including computer science, mathematics and statistics. These may be paid (e.g. ASI Data Science Fellowship) or free to participants (e.g. The Data Incubator) or offer scholarships for outstanding candidates (e.g. Science to Data Science (S2DS) programme). External companies support these bootcamps by providing some of the course materials/datasets, and may be engaged in the teaching, funding and hiring of participants - so these bootcamps can be an excellent springboard to transition from an academic track into into a more commercial field.
With the growing skills gap in these areas more bootcamp style courses are popping up to help you get up to speed on the latest tech skills. These typically last between 5 to 10 weeks. Many will charge participants however, so before committing yourself do some your research into the likely costs and possible benefits from courses you are considering. Seek to understand what outcomes previous attendees have achieved, whether participants are introduced to recruiting companies during the course, and how quickly they enter work on course completion? To start you research, take a look at Switchup.org's research and reviews online.