There are 263,200 chief executives and 414,400 computer and information systems managers employed in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. These jobs are found in every industry; however, 80 percent of these jobs are in the service industry, which is heavily involved in the Internet.
Virtually every business in the United States offers executive and managerial positions. Obviously, the larger the company is, the more executive and managerial positions it is likely to have. In addition, companies that do business in larger geographical territories are likely to have more executive and managerial positions than those with smaller territories. Businesses with an Internet presence are the norm in today's market. Almost all large retail businesses have some sort of Internet presence, and they find their Web site an essential part of their customer contact program for both sales and marketing. Besides working at large retail businesses, Internet executives may work in such areas as not-for-profit organizations, small start-up companies, and corporate consulting firms. There is a growing number of social media sites that are profitable and require careful management by executives, as well as online video and media sites that are developing audiences. These represent excellent opportunities for Internet executives.
Executive positions are not entry-level jobs. Generally, those interested in becoming Internet executives start with a college degree and gain a significant amount of work experience. After you have decided what industry you are interested in, your college career services office should be able to help you locate your first job. Many companies also send representatives to college campuses to interview graduating students as potential hires. You may also want to attend recruitment and job fairs to find job openings. In addition, a past internship or summer work experience may provide you with contacts that lead to employment. You should research the field you are interested in to find out what might be the best point of entry.
After you have gained some work experience you may want to consider returning to school for a graduate degree. Or, you may be able to work your way up through your organization's management levels. Some organizations have executive management trainee programs available to their employees; other companies pay for an employee's graduate schooling as long as the employee continues to work for the company. Many executives have master's degrees in business administration, although higher degrees in computer science and related technology fields are becoming more common. Master's degrees specifically in marketing are also very beneficial for Internet executives.
Once you have considerable training and management experience, you can move into an executive-level position by directly applying to the corporate management. In addition, some executive search and placement firms specialize in job hunting for those involved with the Internet. Digital agents, specialists who work only with those seeking technology jobs, may also be a good source of employment leads.
Most business management and top executive positions are filled by experienced lower-level managers and executives who display valuable managerial traits, such as leadership, self-confidence, creativity, motivation, decisiveness, and flexibility.
Advancement in smaller firms may come more slowly, while promotions may occur more quickly in larger firms. Advancement may be accelerated by participating in different kinds of educational programs available for managers. These are often paid for by the employer. Managers who take company training programs broaden their knowledge of company policy and operations. Training programs sponsored by industry and trade associations and continuing education courses taken at colleges and universities can familiarize managers with the latest developments in management techniques. In recent years, large numbers of middle managers were laid off as companies streamlined operations. An employee's proven commitment to improving his or her knowledge of the business's field and computer information systems is important in establishing a reputation as a top professional.
Business managers may advance to executive or administrative vice president. Vice presidents may advance to peak corporate positions, such as president or chief executive officer. Sometimes executives go on to establish their own firms.
Many CEOs are moving toward the role of chairman and away from day-to-day operations to focus on higher level, visionary strategy. The ability to understand and implement solutions based on Internet technologies is essential at this level.
Regardless of the industry, the advancement path of executives at Internet companies is limited only by their interest, abilities, and willingness to work hard. Advancement is also more likely if employees find mentors to work with at their companies, who can advise them. Volunteering to lead certain projects within a department and handling those responsibilities successfully can often lead to promotions within a company.
As more companies expand their Internet presence and e-commerce options, the need for Internet executives will grow.
Tips for Entry
Research the careers of successful Internet executives. Find out what others are doing to succeed, how they handle problems, and strategies they've developed for leading others.
Volunteer or find a part-time job that allows you to lead or supervise a team of peers in a technology-related endeavor. This will improve your expertise and your people skills.
Join Junior Achievement (https://www.juniorachievement.org) to acquire skills in business and entrepreneurship.
Continue to upgrade your knowledge of the latest technology trends by reading industry publications and joining professional associations.