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The Future of IT in America? 715

Posted by Cliff
from the stuff-to-discuss dept.
tomocoo asks: "As a young person considering various choices for the future career I'd like to pursue, IT and computer science continually reappear near the top of the list of fields I'm interested in. In fact, one of my only hesitations is the suspected ease by which programming and other related tasks can be sent to other countries for pennies on the dollar. How much of a threat do the readers of Slashdot feel outsourcing is to the American programmer? Should I and other young people be pursuing something more specialized or have I simply been watching too much CNN?"
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The Future of IT in America?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 22, 2006 @06:53PM (#15182248)
    Every educated Indian speaks English. Most misunderstandings can be attributed to slight cultural impedence mismatches, similar to the difference between American and Aussie or Kiwi culture.

    Sincerely,

    Caucasian American Software Engieer Who Does Speak Some Hindi And Doesn't Find It Particularly Useful Except For Telling Jokes
  • by NitsujTPU (19263) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @06:59PM (#15182275)
    I don't know about that.

    I'm getting a PhD in Computer Science in the Fall. I earned by B.S. in 2001, and started up as a software engineer at a defense contractor after that. Right now, I'm a researcher at an Ivy League university's Computer Science department. I write software, and lots of it, to support my research.

    Largely, Computer Science can be divided into:

    Systems
    Theory
    and
    *Wildcard (but, usually people say "Artificial Intelligence" here)

    As for undergrad CS, I'd say it's mostly programming and theory, with some application specific stuff thrown in (databases, artificial intelligence, robotics, games, graphics).

    My first year was entirely programming, and, that's what incoming freshmen can expect here. I think that what drove people out is that it wasn't networking, configuring computers, "IT" stuff. They also didn't like that it was hard. They were "good with computers," but that didn't make them programmers. The first couple classes are weed-outs to make sure that they won't hate programming too much their sophomore year and feel stuck when they're in their junior year, having only done the requirements to declare for computer science, and need a whole mess of classes to jump into Mechanical Engineering or Chemical Engineering.

    Most of the people that I know who majored in Computer Science became programmers when they got out of school, and I know relatively few schools that offer "software engineering" as its own major.

    I say this with all due respect to you, but, seriously, I don't think this is very good advice at all.
  • by jellomizer (103300) * on Saturday April 22, 2006 @07:03PM (#15182287)
    I would suggest that you take a Supplemental Major/Minor with your Computer Science Degree. Things like Computer Science/(Business, Engineering (Non Computer Engineering), Physical Sciences, etc...) That way your skills are targeted beyond just a Programmer but to a professional who is useful to your future employer on multiple levels. You can easily outsource a Programmer, but a Programmer who understands something else the business needs is much harder.
  • by JamesWJohnson (928735) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @07:39PM (#15182408) Journal
    I would agree with this. In fact, on the first day of CS2001 (a stupid pass/fail class that's supposed to help us get familiarized with the uni), the professor who was doing the class told us specifically that computer science is *not* just programming, and it's possible to have an IT job without ever programming once. Based on the people who are/aren't doing well in CS right now, I can say that you need to make sure that you know what you're getting into. In my suite right now, there are 5 computer science majors. The ones who are huge gamers and are just really good at clicking around in Windows are dropping it and moving to MIS. The guys who are always messing with how their computers work (and enjoy it) are doing well.
  • by sterno (16320) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @07:44PM (#15182423) Homepage
    Of the three, hindi would be the least useful. English is very commonly taught in India which is why a lot of the outsourcing goes there. Chinese and Japanese will be far more useful.
  • The current arbitrage opportunities between the US market and other labor markets (India, Eastern Europe, China), like all arbitrage opportunities, is on the path to disappearing. I know many of you will look at bold statement with a high degree of skepticism.

    In fact, I will go even further, within 20 years labor costs will not be a factor in moving work to India, Eastern Europe, or even China.

    How do I back up these statements? Well, in my last position I was the dotted-line manager of an India team for a major software company. The 2005 raise budget for the India campus was 18%! Yes, that is correct. And this was on top of a mid-year, across the board, salary adjustment of 10%.

    Simply put, salaries cannot grow at this rate (a CAGR of 29%) for an extended period of time without coming into line with those in the US. The ratio between the US and India is no longer 1:10, it is more like 1:4 and shrinking. This is the reality of a world which is flat. Things reach a point of balance. And in this case, the point of balance is moving up.

    When I speak to companies who are doing offshoring these days, I am not hearing issues about labor costs at the front of the back. Rather, it is about finding specific skill sets and to attract people who don't want to live in Silicon Valley, the US, etc. Least you think the last point is fantasy, I personally know of a good 1/2 dozen folks who have moved to India and China (accepting local pay packages) in order to have a better quality of life (for example, household servants).

    So, contrary to what Lou Dobbs would have you believe, IT and High Tech jobs are not leaving the US for India and China. IT and High Tech is alive and well in the US and will be for some time.

    So my words to you: go for it! You will have a blast and will be able to feed your family.

    Yours,

    Jordan
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 22, 2006 @08:11PM (#15182505)
    I'm guessing English 101 wasn't one of the classes.


    Ssshhhh... You're giving away the secret of my success. ;)

    1. There are lots of good programmers.

    2. However, there are apparently not many programmers with good skills when it comes to written communication.

    I've made a pretty good living the last 10 years or so based on #2. I'm not a great programmer, but my writing skills are excellent.

    I've little fear of having my job outsourced anytime soon, either. In fact, programmers who aren't native English speakers - and some who are - and who've tried to write books in English have had their manuscripts outsourced to me to be turned into something readable. I've picked up several co-authoring credits and not a few royalty cheques in this fashion.
  • by atomic-penguin (100835) <wolfe21@nOsPAm.marshall.edu> on Saturday April 22, 2006 @08:15PM (#15182513) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, what he said. There is more to I.T. and Computer Science than programming. I am one of those insourcing consultants. We do just about anything and everything for customers related to I.T. One of the reasons we are more valuable than having a separate developer, network administrator, system administrator, security specialist, and technical support agent is they only have to go to us for all of those services.

    We don't pigeonhole ourselves, the more services we offer, the benefit to the customer increases. It is more cost effective than paying salaries to full time employees who offer the same specialty as the services we provide. I do enough work for so many clients, it is like having several part-time jobs. I really love it too, never know what new problems I will have to face the next day.

    To the original poster:
    If you haven't started or finished College, it helps to focus on more than just programming. Take the parents advice and don't pigeonhole yourself. It never hurts to have a diverse foundation in your education. You will have more to fall back on something, in case programming doesn't pan out. There will probably be a hundred or so other posts in this article about getting a secondary degree in business. That's not a bad idea. It could be something different like engineering, physics, chemistry, graphic design, accounting, law, or literature. Don't put limits on yourself. Good luck, whatever you do.
  • by eddeye (85134) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @08:28PM (#15182550)

    Remember that an IT degree doesn't necessarily limit you to a job in the IT field. Besides the many jobs open to anyone with a college degree, you can use your technical background to move into other fields. Combine it with biochemistry for a job in the pharmaceutical industry. A solid math background is attractive to financial companies. Physics, geology, climatology, accounting, library science -- the list is virtually endless. There will always be options available to people willing and able to use their technical background outside of IT and programming.

    I went from an MS in computer science to software developer to teaching cs to law school. Law is an incredibly broad field and technical skills will serve you well in any area, not just intellectual property.

  • And, #5 (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 22, 2006 @08:55PM (#15182648)
    5) You can get a security clearance in the US, assuming you are a citizen, and jobs for which such things are required are not going anywhere, because they simply can't.

    The Federal government is a huge employer, as are the contractors who supply them with additional cleared personnel. Defense contracting also need IT folks in-house who are cleared.
  • by gnuwho? (158870) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @02:04AM (#15183465)
    I'm so sick of these alarmist IT outsourcing articles. Go to moster.com or hotjobs.com, if you live an any major metropolitian area, you will see hundreds if not thousands of jobs for skilled IT professionals. I spend most of my time at work looking for talented Java programmers and Linux gurus. My counterparts in other companies are seeing the same thing, a lack of talented developers. It is no longer 2002, people. The economy is doing just fine here in the US, the PHB's found out the hard way you can't just ship everything overseas. If you need to learn a language to better market yourself, I suggest AJAX.
  • by SageMusings (463344) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @05:45PM (#15186425) Journal
    Yes,

    Go and see all the false job listings planted by resume-hoarding head hunters. There are some legitimate ones, too. Those that demand experience with every language and methodology spawned in the last 10 years for a mere $30K per year.

    IT in America is in decline. If you pursue development, you do it because you love it. Just be warned that you will

    1) Never make much money
    2) Never have anything resembling job security
    3) Always be on the bottom rung of every coporate ladder.

    There are exceptions...but they are only exceptions.

The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford

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