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How To Get Extensive Hands-on Experience In Information Technology

When it comes to the Information Technology Industry, getting more hands-on experience is one of your most important professional development activities.

In this post, I will explain how information technology workers including business analysts, computer programmers, database developers, data analysts, project managers, software testers and infrastructure / networking professionals can gain extensive, high visibility, career defining hands-on experience!

More Opportunities To Get Hands-on Experience

By far, the number one place to find hands-on project experience in the information technology industry is in web or software development projects!

Now, does that mean that you need to become a software developer?

Absolutely Not!

An enterprise software development project employs a diverse set of software testers, project managers, business analysts, computer programmers, infrastructure specialists, database developers, technical writers, etc.

So, dis-abuse your mind of the notion that software development is primarily a coding or programming effort, because it is not!

Business Analysts / Project Managers

Before a single line of code is written, project managers and business analysts have to gather the specifications and then plan the amount of work that needs to be completed at each phase of the project before handing over the coding to software developers.

Infrastructure Specialists

The Computer Networking / Infrastructure team has to plan or architect the servers, computer networks and workstations that will be used by the entire project team.

They may have to install software testing, development or planning software and they will also have to monitor all the equipment used in building or hosting the software, so that they can guarantee that it is up and running!

Software Testers / Quality Assurance Analysts

After computer programmers finish with their coding, software testers, business analysts or quality assurance specialists have to test the code and assure the client or project sponsor that the software being delivered is reasonably bug free and designed according to specifications.

And while all this is happening, the project managers are busy monitoring the cost and resource usage versus estimates.

With all this mind, here is why software development work provides you with the best opportunities for hands-on experience regardless of your career, industry, domain or background.

Following The Money Trail Works

Better Pay / Compensation

Software development project experience is guaranteed to boost your career options because employers pay more for software development experience regardless of whether the project is outsourced, maintained in-house or developed from scratch.

Software development experience also provides you with better career stability. Since there is so much work available, employers are always looking for or hiring motivated, talented, experienced, skilled workers.

Software development projects are readily available because they cut across all domains and industries!

Highly Portable Experience

Regardless of the industry you work in: healthcare, pharmaceutical (pharma), telecommunications (telco), insurance, banking and finance, securities, utility, customer relationship management (CRM) or sales and marketing, you will find plenty of software development projects.

Software development experience is also highly portable because you can move your experience from one industry or domain to another.

For example, as a business analyst, computer programmer or project manager; you may transition from a web project in the CRM industry to another web development project in the Healthcare / Medical Management industry.

You can significantly improve your chance of getting your foot in through the door even when you don't have the required domain experience by gaining web / software development experience because that is portable across industries, jobs, careers or domains!

For example, even when you transition from a software development career to a business analyst or project management career, your software development background will still be relevant or useful helpful to your new project or employer.

Why Is There So Much Work In The Software Development Industry?

The software development industry employs professionals from a wide, extensive and varied background.

There is a lot of software development project work available because:

  1. Software development projects cut across the mobile, desktop, web, system development industry

  2. A large number of software development projects fail which means that software development projects last longer than they are expected to

  3. Websites are now integral to the marketing and sales functions of many organizations which means that funding website development is a top priority

  4. Organizations are constantly retooling or upgrading their websites because of competitive forces, marketplace or technological changes

So, if you are looking for a well-paying, portable, cutting-edge career, start building your web / software development project experience now.

When it comes to the information technology industry, your hands-on experience trumps your certifications or post graduate college degrees.

One Good Reason, Why This Won't Work For You!

Here is one good reason why you may fail to gain hands-on software development experience ... looking for a hands-on position without first taking the time to gain the requisite knowledge or skills that will qualify you !

Hear me now, I do not recommend you walk up to an employer and ask for a position for the purpose of gaining hands-on software development experience ... except if you are truly qualified to be on the team.

Look, regardless of the position you are interested in: business analysis, computer programming, project management, software testing, etc., you must first take the time to study for the position before you start working on getting hands-on experience.

Why? because without the prerequisite knowledge, you have little or nothing to offer the employer, who therefore, has no incentive to hire you.

Why Is Knowledge A Prerequisite For Hands-on Experience?

When it comes to gaining knowledge, what matters is whether you have the requisite knowledge and not how you did you gain the knowledge; college, coaching, training, self study, articles, professional textbooks, on the job, etc.

Here is why you must gain the requisite knowledge first before you start focusing on building hands-on experience:

  • Can You Perform?: software project teams typical focus on delivering working software and not on mentoring or coaching team members.

    So, without the requisite knowledge, you will be a liability rather than an asset to the team since you won't be able to keep up with the pace of work.

    Furthermore, you may even slow others down who stop and try to help you or wait upon you to deliver.

  • Return On Investment (ROI): don't assume that an employer will pay for your hands-on software development experience because most employers want a quick return on their investment (ROI).

    This is because of the costs associated with training information technology (IT) professionals which makes employers picky about who gets to work on their projects.

    You are going to be limited in your ability to gain software development experience, if you do not first take the time to learn your discipline: business analysis, computer programming, project management, etc. so that you are prepared to run when the right opportunity presents itself.

This article is #1 of a 2 article series. The second installation of this article (part 2) may be viewed here ...

You may review the references for this article series below.


  1. Learn more: The Most Important Thing on Your Resume

  2. Learn more: Which Courses or Certifications Guarantee A Job?

  3. Learn more: Can Certifications Take The Place Of Experience?

  4. Learn more: How To Get Computer Programming Experience

  5. Learn more: Stuck in a College Mindset After Graduation

  6. Learn more: Which Software Development Life Cycle Is Best?

  7. Learn more: Can You Perform? Prove It!

  8. Learn more: This Type Of Hands-On Experience Can JumpStart Your Career!


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