IT in Telecommunications: Graduate Area of Work
The telecommunications industry is all about connecting people – whether it’s communication through traditional fixed-line telephones, computers and laptops, or mobile devices.
As one of the more technologically-advanced countries within the Southeast Asian region, Singapore has placed tremendous focus on its telecommunication industry, viewing it as the key to the development of its status as a knowledge-based economy and its various industries, particularly the services and infocommunications sector.
This is reflected in the government’s Infocomm Media 2025 plan – a strategy to create a globally competitive infocommunications media system that supports Singapore’s Smart Nation vision.
Job opportunities in the telecommunications sector can usually be found within two groups: vendors and carriers.
To put it simply, vendor companies, such as Apple, Ericsson, Huawei, Samsung, Alcatel-Lucent, and Agilent, provide the hardware and software products required by the sector; whereas carrier companies such as SingTel and StarHub make use of the products to deliver telecommunications services to the end users.
Graduates aspiring to break into the industry can also find employment with IT consultancy providers, such as Accenture and IBM.
Depending on which group that you choose to enter (i.e. vendors or carriers), your early responsibilities might differ. Those who opt to start their career with vendor companies will typically be put in a technical role to assist in hardware or software development before moving on to other roles after gaining some experience.
Graduate recruits starting at carrier companies, in contrast, have more options in terms of their roles, but most will often require specialist knowledge. Most companies will also have graduate or management associate programmes with job rotations and mentorships to ease graduates into the workforce.
Whichever option that you choose, your work will usually come to you in the form of projects, and responsibilities may include researching and developing hardware and software, product testing, setting up or maintaining the necessary infrastructure, technical sales and marketing, as well as providing support to your clients and customers.
The pace of work varies with the type of role that you’re in. For instance, a software/hardware developer usually gets a longer response time compared to their colleagues working as technical support in the marketing or customer service department.
You can also expect work-life balance from your line of work, and unless you are rushing for a deadline, most employees working in the telecommunications department do not have to stay for extra hours.
While entry requirements may differ depending on the industry and role that you’re applying for, a strong academic background and a relevant degree is necessary, such as telecommunications, information technology, computer science, and electrical/electronic engineering.
Previous work experience – through research, internships, part-time jobs, and industrial placements – has also become a necessary requirement as it provides you with some of the basic skills needed to start out right in the industry.
With enough experience racked up from the job, you should be able to progress your career into most roles, but some positions will require higher qualifications or technical certifications. It is a good idea to speak to your mentor or manager and plot out your career pathway to determine if you will need to study for additional credentials to progress.
Knowledge about the latest trends in IT, technology, and other related industries will stand you in good stead as well. With the current movement headed in the direction of cloud computing and mobile technology, it will be good to be familiar with concepts such as software defined networking (SDN), network function virtualisation (NFV), mobile money, and data privacy and security.
Aside from good technical understanding, graduates will also benefit from having strong problem solving abilities and analytical/research skills, attention to detail, as well as communication skills. It is also important that you are able to work effectively, both in a team environment or on your own.
Pros and cons
Work in this field can be very interesting due to the variety in job responsibilities, which evolves in tandem with the rapid development of telecommunications technology and the industries that you are involved in.
There is also a chance for you to work with cutting edge technology and to work on challenges involved in rolling out huge telecoms networks. Many employees working in the telecommunications industry are also inspired by their involvement in improving the industry further.
However, work can get frustrating when networks go down and you are faced with the pressure of repairing the system or infrastructure. The speedy development of the industry also means that you’ll have to be self-motivated to keep up or you might get left behind.