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Campus to Career Blog Series: Collaboration in the IT Workforce

In today’s tech industry, gone are the days of the lone, highly skilled programmer toiling away in some dark corner office, churning out code and stopping briefly for a quick lunch and a jolt of coffee. Most companies in the IT world utilize Agile principles that are aligned with project management and rely heavily on working in teams. Employees are faced with the continuous opportunity to embrace change, deliver feedback, keep the development moving forward and ultimately deliver customer satisfaction.

“In the IT workforce, collaborating as a team is an essential skill set,” said Robin Diana, Training Specialist, Talent Management, LED FastStart. “While the ability to self-organize and maximize the strength of individuals is very important, these skills must contribute to the overall betterment of the team.”

Teamwork is a must!

As Scrum Master at DXC in New Orleans, Ceceille Palmer Malcolm’s job is to manage projects and help her team “take the ball over the goal line from start to finish.” She stresses that teamwork is a part of her company’s culture. The team constantly bounces ideas off of each other, and understanding the delicate balance of not overriding colleagues and allowing everybody a chance to speak to ultimately arrive at a workable solution, is a skill set to be mastered. “On every project, we review each other’s code to see if it could be done another way,” she said. “Our work is deadline driven and the scrum team works together to ensure everybody does their part. If one person’s work is not done, we swarm to help them as a team.”

Peter Pappas, Human Resources Business Partner, DXC, New Orleans agreed. “At DXC, everyone works in pods—small teams that rely on each person completing a task or a role,” he said. “I love that everyone is collaborative and working in an Agile environment. We may start a project and the client may change their requirements, so you have to be adaptable and agile as an individual to change from an execution standpoint.”

Robin Diana said one of the nuances of communicating in a collaborative environment is learning how to frame and express questions the right way to ensure you get the right answer. Also, conflict is inevitable, so being able to offer a logical argument and support your ideas with evidence while still focusing on the betterment of the team is key. “You are more than likely going to be working with a diverse set of team members,” she explained. “Employees need to quickly understand their role in collaboration. What expertise do you as an individual bring to the table. If you are strategic, then that should be your focus—and don’t be shy about expressing your talent to the group if you feel it will benefit the team.”

The Advantages of Teamwork

An advantage to functioning as a team is that you’re also working to develop yourself by using the skills and experiences of others. In a sense, everyone is learning together—promoting, supporting and growing—ultimately taking the steps to work more effectively and become better employees.

To work effectively as a team provides a healthier and happier office environment where employees find satisfaction in their workday. “Google research found that the number one skill set that creates the best teams is trust,” stated Pappas. “Teams that are accountable, supportive and collaborative and can openly express approval or disapproval are more effective and productive. Teams that have individuals doing their own thing and failing to be accountable become dysfunctional and everyone suffers.”

As you can see, collaboration is an integral part of today’s tech world. By gaining experience through course work or extracurricular clubs and volunteer organizations, you will learn to work with others, which will help you gain an advantage when it comes time to land your first job.

This blog is part of our continued “Campus to Career Blog Series.” Read the earlier posts and learn how to combine the proficiencies you mastered in college with the essential business skills needed to navigate the workplace and so you can learn how to land a high-quality tech job and advance quickly.

And after graduation, don’t forget to use Louisiana Job Connection to find your new career!