I remember a veteran telecom engineer who worked for Ufone, LCC and NSN in Pakistan (and now working abroad) once shared that in his times, when telecom industry was learning the ABCs of telecom, anyone with GSM on his CV could get a call for interview.
The same friend boldly and rightfully suggested "become mavericks of at least one programming language. keep it under your belt at all times."
Will you agree if I say the paradigm is still same? It is foolish to say no because paradigm will always remain same; only the label shall change.
Here in our country where we majorly hire engineers to simply operate a system, these keywords have become a big hit. But now someone with GSM on his/her CV, or even UMTS/LTE for that matter, might not get the honor to walk in a glamorous office and sit in front of someone who wears a suite and speaks fancy languages. The reason is, those keywords have ceased to work efficiently; they have been exhausted and exploited over the years.
Following an interesting discussion on an online group moderated by Pakistani engineers, I was glad to find good and visionary advisors there who fell in accordance with what actually is happening. If you want a one line shot: become a software expert.
Even if you think you were born to engineer telecom networks, need of time is to be a multiplayer. It does not require immense corroboration to learn basics of software engineering principles; everything is available on the web now and is easily accessible.
- Start from databases: Oracle, My SQL. Do some tutorials.
- Come to logic development: Brush your fourth semester skills of Turbo C, C++ and Objective C.
- Head towards application development: Go through anyone of the following; Java, .net, Android and iPhone development platform Xcode.
- Small kiss to web development: Check out PHP, Adobe Dreamweaver.
These skills wont let you sit idle and will keep you going on at more than one job at a time. When i advise this to my mates and juniors they revert back saying "but we have studied telecom engineering for four years!” Sure they have; this skill set will uplift them while being in a telecom firm as well. I have seen numerous examples where the best programmer is promoted to a team lead position. Reasons are obvious.