The Importance of Computer Skills for Career Development

computer skills

It is easy to sit back and think IT skills are only important for those pursuing IT work, but this is 2019. We are becoming more and more reliant on computers in even the smallest aspects of our lives. Banking jobs, finance jobs, accounting jobs and others that historically didn’t involve computer chips and programming know-how have evolved. Candidates today can distinguish themselves not only by having job-appropriate knowledge and experience but also by being more tech-savvy than their competitors.

Moreover, understanding how to code can help you in various situations in life. Not only it will help you with logical thinking, problem-solving, get a well-paid job, create a lot of side-job opportunities, but also allow you to make your ideas reality and create software, games, websites or apps. Most importantly, the demand for programmers is so big, that it led to creating many free and paid courses and tutorials for anyone to learn programming. Therefore, if you’d want to change careers, you’ll be able to easily do that by learning at home in your spare time.

For detailed advice on why computer skills are important independent of one’s field, we spoke to IT veteran Mark Herschberg. Currently, the CTO of Madison Logic, the premier provider of intent data solutions for over 1,000 of the world’s leading business-to-business marketers and publishers, Herschberg has helped launched many successful startups and created educational programs at MIT and Harvard Business School. Here is some of what he has to share:

Programming Can Save You Time

“For anyone working with data,” he begins, “having some basic programming skills is a real advantage.  Sure, you can calculate an average in Excel, but if you can do even basic macro-programming you can do some really advanced things faster and easier than your peers. Sometimes your data sets are too large for Excel — being able to do basic processing using a language like Ruby or Python can also help you do faster analysis. This certainly applies to those in financial service and online marketing or even public health (places where we typically find large data sets).”

Broader Basic Skills Give You an Edge

“For general computer skills everyone should of course be comfortable with basic tools: not just word processing, Excel, and email, but also concepts like file-sharing services, using websites and tools to research competition, or people with whom they’re meeting,” he says. Especially when seeking finance jobs and accounting jobs, having background on the person conducting your interview can only help to set you up for success. “Being able to look up people beyond their LinkedIn profile is a skill not everyone has, but should.

Plenty of high-paying and rewarding careers open up if you decide to pursue advanced computer skills or a coding language. If you earn a degree in a field such as Information Security, then you are potentially eligible for a number of excellent jobs. Since nearly every business, large and small, relies on computers for a number of important tasks, they will need to hire a professional who knows what they are doing. Additionally, careers in the field of forensic investigations are likely to hire an individual with advanced computer knowledge as well. There are plenty of career choices for you to consider and even more opportunities for advancement.

Speaking the Language Helps All Involved

While the job you have might not involve tech-heavy lingo, odds are at some point you will need the services of a department that does. When that time comes, you’ll want to be able to get on the same page as them as fast as possible so your needs can be met quickly and easily.

“At any company with a development team,” explains Herschberg, “it helps to understand basic concepts like the meaning of an HTTP request, or the difference between an SMTP server and Web server. Sooner or later you’ll be asking the development team to build things for you; the challenge is that while developers should understand the business, many don’t. This creates a knowledge gap between the business folks who requested the new functionality and the software developers doing it — and those gaps lead to problems. The more you can understand how they work (or they, you) the smaller the gap and the more likely the functionality will work as expected as efficiently as possible.

“In some cases the engineer might go off and spend weeks building something overly complex wasting time and money; e.g. they might spend weeks building a report when they could have, in just a few hours, generated a CSV file on the file system which you could then drop into an Excel template. Ideally both the developer and business person should understand the different potential solutions, their costs, and their benefits. While that’s an ideal situation, the closer you can come to it, the more efficient you and your team will be.”

When you are getting started with programming, there are a lot of terms and phrases to learn. That is partially why learning to program seems intimidating, but the quicker you learn the terms, the better off you will be. For example, while most individuals won’t know what it means for a tool to accept logs from a Node.js app, you will need to know that and many other terms to become proficient.

A Note For Those Serious About Upping Their Game

Finally, Herschberg offers this thought for those seeking top banking jobs and finance jobs who understand how IT-savvy can push them ahead of the competition. “The other things advanced finance folks might want to look into is picking up some basic skills in languages like R or SciPy, which will allow them to build really complex models, but could take a few weeks to a few months to learn,” he concludes.

What are your thoughts about the importance of having solid computer skills?

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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