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Degrees and Certifications
A question that school leavers who want a career in I.T. have to face is whether to invest 3-4 years getting a degree, or instead get certification in networking or PC repairs or other I.T. qualification while getting actual work experience.
Many I.T. managers in Trinidad insist on a degree, at least for the more senior positions in the company. A degree demonstrates that a person is intelligent and has the discipline to learn. Some consultancy companies insist on a degree so they can prove the high calibre of their staff to their clients.
There’s another school of thought that actually discriminates against graduates as being too arrogant and having too high expectations of their worth. This can also apply to people who have invested in very expensive certification.
It is interesting to note that In North America and the UK, the requirement for a degree is usually waived if an applicant can show strong work experience, i.e., from the “University of Life”. So it is frustrating for non-nationals with extensive I.T. experience, who have acquired T&T citizenship, to be faced with this cultural barrier here.
Certification provides excellent training in specific I.T. areas and in some cases, such as networking, is essential to get a job. Trinidadians tend to work hard at improving their credentials and their résumés are often an impressive listing of certificates, diplomas, first and second degrees and various short training courses. So, if you don’t go this route, then you lose out to the competition for the best jobs.
My own view is that, if it is at all possible, you should get that degree under your belt. It doesn’t matter that what you learn is soon obsolete (if it’s I.T. related). A degree gives you better job options all through your life. The latest must-have certification will become obsolete at some point too but the difference is that once obsolete, it only serves to show that you’re not keeping up-to-date with technology.
A degree is expensive and you have to invest years of your life in its pursuit. These days, however, there are options available to allow you to do classes in the evening so that you can work during the day (see http://sta.uwi.edu/evening/ for information on the University of the West Indies evening degree programmes). No matter how experienced you are, getting a degree is a passport to the best jobs in this part of the world.
Tell Us What You Think
Letters to the Editor:
There is one other aspect I think is worth considering before taking a job with a TT firm: the culture. As you said, very rightly, managers here may be blown away by the resumes some IT professionals [who have worked abroad] can present. But they may also be blown away by the level of initiative that foreign workers have, and may react defensively and indeed try to shut down the new employee, fearing they will show up their colleagues or bosses.
Our clients here are mostly Government and large organizations, and we see it from the outside all the time: an entrenched culture of obeying rules and sticking to the prescribed job description, suddenly is upset by a proactive, enthusiastic individual who is accustomed to being rewarded for innovating and doing more than his/her share.
They can’t both win, so either the co-workers begin to feel resentment, or the new addition begins to feel his team is working against him. A lot of maturity and wisdom is needed to enter a new work culture without causing upset–and without losing the very ‘edge’ you bring with your new ideas! …… Repatriated National
This is a sad indictment of our work ethics. However, I don’t think it’s true for most private sector companies. My experience is that Trinis are very hard working (at the professional level) and display a keenness to get the job done even at great sacrifice to their personal lives. Trinis tend to do very well abroad because of this.
I was very impressed by the strong work ethics and team spiritedness I encountered while contracting for a chemical company and then a bank when I first returned to Trinidad – much more so than what I experienced in nearly 20 years of working in many types of companies in the UK. What is everyone else’s view on this? ….. Ed.
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