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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 dracocat (554744) * on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:36PM (#15182176)
    I have been hearing about the doom of the industry for a very long time. The fact is, is that IT and Computer Science follow a cycle.

    Will there be a high paying job waiting for you the moment you graduate? That is impossible to predict, but long term you are almost assured to find a healthy career waiting for you.

    Proof that the offshoring is an overexagerated issue? Look at average salaries of graduates. They may not be as high as you want them, but compared with any other fields they are consistently towards the top. Even now, with so much media attention focusing on the downturn in the tech economy, I doubt you would receive very much sympathy for having to receive a starting salary of over 51k. (Starting Salaries) [cnn.com]

    Anyone complaining about the lack of jobs and low pay in the industry is an anomaly. I am not saying it is their fault, but there will be people that simply have bad luck finding a job no matter what field you look at.

    In short, the reason there is so much noise is simply because some people have unrealistic expectations of both finding a job and the pay they will receive. Take that away and what you have is an industry on a whole that is actually more healthy than a lot of others.

    All of that being said, it is always better to specialize if your goal is more money. Almost any job will base your pay based on your expertise in the area they are looking for. If a job is looking for a C# developer and you have a little knowledge of everything then you will get paid for having a little knowledge of C#. If on the other hand you are a Java expert and have been doing nothing but Java for the previous 5 years you may not get that C# position at all, but when you find a company looking for someone with knowledge of Java you can definitely expect a higher pay.
  • Yeah, too much CNN (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RunFatBoy.net (960072) * on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:37PM (#15182182)
    You're way too caught up in picking a career by the "current market trend". If you're great at what you do, there will always be a market for your skill set.

    If the current trend of outsourcing has you scared, what about other adverse situations? What about the next recession; are you going to run back to school and become a CPA? I'm suspect that you have a deep love for programming. When you love development, you feel it in your bones; you think about problems on your lunch break, you stay up until 3am to get that last bug worked out. If you don't have this sort of passion for creative logistics, then maybe you should reconsider other options (because you're likely to get burned out fairly quickly).

    Jim http://www.runfatboy.net/ [runfatboy.net] -- A workout plan that doesn't feel like homework.
  • Up, not down (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Marlow the Irelander (928776) <marlow@vatican.org.uk> on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:37PM (#15182183) Homepage
    As I understand it, IT employment in the US is increasing, not decreasing; you'll have a better chance if you develop skills in things like project management rather than just being a code monkey.
  • Young People. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sglider (648795) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:38PM (#15182187) Homepage Journal
    I am one of those young people. I'm finishing up a stint in the Army, and going back to finish my final year of my BS in Computer Information Systems. ( I was mobilized during my senior year of college.)

    I firmly believe that there is plenty out there for me -- but not in something like programming, rather I believe my talent lies in being a Systems Analyst for a business, or something both technical and managerial in nature.

    Sure, the off shore folks have us beat when it comes to programminng, no doubt about that -- but that's only a problem if you want to be just a programmer.

    They still need people to lead and manage these teams of programmers, and perhaps that's where the value of the American IT professional is.
  • by deanj (519759) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:39PM (#15182202)
    Don't worry about what CNN is saying. They're not programmers. If you're a decent programmer, you'll always have a job.

    Here's the bottom line, though:

    If programming is something you love to do, then do it. If it's just something you want to do because you've heard it'll earn you "big bucks", don't.

    Not that you can't make a good living...you can. It's just that unless you love something, you shouldn't go into it. You might be able to handle it for 10 or even 20 years, but unless your heart is really into it, you'll regret it long term.

    Good luck.
  • by crhylove (205956) <rhy@leperkhanz.com> on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:40PM (#15182206) Homepage Journal
    And you'll be useful to somebody. Get really good at something, and you'll be useful to everybody. Almost doesn't matter what field. Whatever it is you REALLY enjoy, there is a way to make money at it, and a way to make yourself valuable in that field. In fact, if you REALLY enjoy it, create something new and market THAT. That's the way to make real money. I don't know anybody who makes a lot of money solely based on their education credentials. I'm sure they exist, but that breed is becoming rarer and rarer.

    rhY
  • Outsourcing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Metabolife (961249) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:40PM (#15182209)
    Most of the programmers I see working in the US have something to go along with the CS major. Having an english degree with the CS degree, for example, makes you multifunctional and can specialize your work (real world example).
  • by Heretik (93983) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:46PM (#15182229)
    if your primary concern is writing software and getting a job making money doing so. You want Software Engineering.

    I suggest you do some research into what Computer Science actually is before assuming you'd like to go to University for it, because if you think you'll spend the majority of your time programming, you'll be unpleasantly surprised (The obscenely high first-year dropout rates of Computer Science programs are due mostly to this misconception)
  • by Keruo (771880) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:46PM (#15182230)
    Parent was bit trollish, but he has a point though..
    Asia is currently worlds fastest growing economical area, and knowing how to speak japanese, mandarin or hindi might be rather useful.
  • Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NitsujTPU (19263) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:46PM (#15182231)
    Do this with your future: What you want to do with it.

    Do you really feel so tied down that you have to choose your career based on current trends? The trends won't last through when you finish your degree. Do you think that people who started their BS during the dot com boom made a dime of the millions that people made hawking their crap?

    Seriously, pick a career based on what you want to do. You'll be a happier person for it.
  • by cryfreedomlove (929828) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:50PM (#15182237)
    I am a hiring manager in Silicon Valley. There is a shortage of great talent among the IT work force. In the last 12 months it has gotten harder to hire great talent and there is a definite salary inflation situation going on right now because most great candidates are seeing multiple competing offers.

    Do IT only if you love it.
    Consistently renew your skills. Commit yourself to a lifetime of learning new tech.
    Live where the jobs are (e.g. San Jose, CA or Austin , TX).
    Find a business where you are excited to apply your skills.
    Avoid arrogance and treat people well.

    Do these things and you'll always be in a high paying job.
  • by LowneWulf (210110) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:51PM (#15182241)
    I wouldn't worry. Sure a lot of even development tasks are being farmed out to India or China. But there's still more than enough demand and competition for the top CS graduates to ensure a healthy and lucrative career.

    My only advice is to get a good education, and build a good resume while you can. If you spend 6 months getting a certification-of-the-week, write a little text adventure in Visual Basic, then wonder why you're not getting six-figure salary offers to start, you're probably next on the list to be outsourced. If you've got a CS undergrad degree (or better yet, a master's degree) from a top school, then people are going to be literally fighting over you, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:52PM (#15182244)
    Just don't let yourself get too overly specialized. I can find a programmer at any time of the day for any of the projects I have. It's far harder to find someone capable of management of a project.

    I would say if you love the tech, do the tech, but don't forget... the MBAs are the ones that are making the choices over who does and does not get offshored. I'd rather make the choice, then get the roughshod end of the choice.

    A solid tech (or anything for that matter) education + a solid business education means being able to afford that great $2mm house in SF.
  • by daeg (828071) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:52PM (#15182246)
    The best advice I can give you is have stunning writing skills. You will be writing every day. E-mail, IM, proposals, agendas, reports and presentations are part of any job, even if they are a small part. Some companies don't care if you have good writing skills, but no business will complain if your skills are higher than they want.
  • by Mustang Matt (133426) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:56PM (#15182263)
    The offshoring problem is grossly overexaggerated and all it does is separate the men from the boys.

    That being said, I would focus on doing something you enjoy regardless of money. It makes the difference in life. I bet a lot of people claim to enjoy their job on here, but I bet a lot of them are lying about it. Usually the money makes these jobs worth tolerating but working in a "the office/dilbert/office space" style environment is detrimental to the soul.
  • Re:Up, not down (Score:2, Insightful)

    by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:58PM (#15182272) Homepage Journal
    skills in things like project management rather than just being a code monkey

    Yes, but the items in /dev/staff are the trickiest to keep running of all.

    Hence the fact that /dev/staff/phb makes more money than anything in /dev/staff/code_monkeys

    There is no shame in honing your skillz in /dev/staff/code_monkeys for a while before

    mv /dev/staff/code_monkeys/ok_this_is_getting_tedious /dev/staff/phb/is_my_lobotomy_scar_showing
  • by Gramberto (738223) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:58PM (#15182273)
    Computer Science, computer engineering, and electrical engineering are far more powerful degrees. They are also much hard than IS. I took some IS classes to learn some new things at a local state college. I thought the classes were a joke. The classes were easy. There was no low level theory at all. No you will never directly use the theory, but if you understand the concepts its much easier to grab a book and learn the practical stuff on your own. The same school has very hard computer science courses.

    Even if you want to be a network engineer. You will learn ALOT more with a computer science degree. You can then do a minor in information systems and take a few classes that you are interested in.

    Computer engineering is probably the most valuable to employers. The reason is that the barrier to entry is higher. For a network administrator or a programmer you can learn it without school. You really can't learn computer engineering without school.
  • by RyoShin (610051) <tukaro.gmail@com> on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:59PM (#15182278) Homepage Journal
    I'd say you do have a future, but you have to actually work for it. Too many programmers think that their years of Visual Basic and HTML mean they can truly code, and too many people used to just Windows AD get shunted into the field.

    At a non-profit I worked for as an intern, I was under three different head admins in a year and a half. The first guy was pretty good- while he didn't know everything, he could do the common stuff and figure out other things as they came around. After he left (he worked for a company that contracted out per-yearly) he got replaced by a guy who was lazy as all hell. I, the intern, had to remind him about such things as ping and ipconfig. He was also lazy, and got canned soon after starting. The third guy was alright, but also lacked some common knowledge, despite years in the field.

    In short, don't limit yourself to what you know. Don't learn one programming language, learn five. Know how to administrate in both Windows and Linux/Unix. The things that are being offshored are helpdesks and jobs that don't require heavy expertise. Make yourself useful, and you're made.

    You could also try going into some "different" areas. I have a year or two before I graduate as a CS major, and I'm thinking about being a computer forensics guy. With the increase in crimes done through or related to the internet, there's a growing demand by law enforcement, both local and federal, for people who can get into confiscated computers and retrieve deleted files. If not with the police force, I could work as a private detective, contracting to large corporations when they get hacked to trace it and try to find the perps.
  • by canuck57 (662392) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @06:00PM (#15182280)

    As a young person considering various choices for the future career...

    There are far too many people in this I/T business for the wrong reasons. In part, because there is a shortage and a marginally compentant employee is better than none is a currently accepted norm. That being said, your career is a life long endeavor. Those that succeed to the top in any profession have one thing in common, a passion for what they do.

    So if you pick a profession and don't have a passion for it and then become a mushroom in a chair do not blame the business... blame yourself.

    So before you pick a career, ask yourself will you do it with passion?

  • Career choices (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bytesmythe (58644) <bytesmytheNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday April 22, 2006 @06:02PM (#15182285)
    I've noticed a number of problems with IT as a career choice. Back in '97, I graduated with a degree in computer science and started working like everyone else. I hopped from job to job for a number of years. The longest I stayed at one place was about a year and 4 months. After a while, I finally realized my problem. I absolutely hate working in IT. There are a number of reasons why. I'm not saying that these will apply to you or anyone else, but if you feel they do, it might be a good indication that IT is not the field for you.

    1) I can't stand having to work on other people's stuff. I don't like being given assignments that I'm not interested in and having to complete them. I'm sure people with stronger "work ethics" can force themselves to muddle through, but I'm not going to do it. Worse, there are a lot of mundane administrative tasks (like timesheets, etc.) that have to be dealt with. If I'm working for myself and getting paid based on those things, it would be different, but it always just seems like a waste.

    2) Having to constantly keep up with new technology got kind of old for me. I like low-level programming in C. I don't really care for web apps and such. I tend to find the various frameworks overly complicated for no apparent reason. Most places I've interviewed with want to see lots of solid job experience with particular technologies, which can be difficult if you weren't working somewhere that used it. .NET is the newest example I can think of.

    3) "IT" type programming isn't very interesting. I would rather work on low-level stuff, simulations, academic problems, etc. I don't really care a bit about data migration, or making loan payment GUIs, or whatever. There's relatively little problem solving to be done, which is the whole reason I liked programming in the first place. Instead you get handed some half-assed specs and spend all your time chasing people down to figure out what needs to be done, even though none of them really know or have the authority to decide. That's when the meetings begin.

    4) Did I mention meetings? I hate meetings. I can't decide if conference calls are worse or not. On one hand, you can mute the phone and make faces, but on the other, it's frustrating to have to listen to people you can barely hear, deal with flaky connections, etc., and you still have to pay attention because someone will certainly end up asking you a question.

    5) Outsourcing. Not just to foreign countries or migrant H1-B visa holders, but to any third-party contracting group. There are several problems with this. Many times, consulting companies (Accenture) will put people on a project who have never programmed before. They don't even have degrees in programming. The consulting company will use a project to train them. It's real fun explaining what recursion and stack overflows are to someone on a major project.

    6) If you ARE a contractor though, you might be in luck. You're more likely to get to work with newer technology, so it's easier to stay ahead of the curve. From what I've seen, full-time employees tend to have to work on maintenance rather than new development.

    Right now I'm transitioning out of IT as a career. I'm still working, but as a training consultant. It pays enough that I can finally risk going into business on my own. (A non-IT business at that!) The only way I'll ever feel motivated to put effort into a "job" is working for myself. I'll never give up computers and programming, and will pursue it as a hobby (and possibly as an academic career in the future) for the rest of my life.

    But work in IT in the modern business world? No way.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 22, 2006 @06:05PM (#15182293)
    I totally agree. I code in the valley, and there are tons of jobs now. Only problem is housing prices around here are too high to justify staying in this area. We are looking to leave - go to portland or something.

    But if you're down with living in an apartment and making a decent wage, it's looking really really good.

    (You'd have to make about $250,000 to even look at decent house in the bay area (not to mention have $120,000 in cash for the down payment) - while the pay around here is good, it's not that good)
  • CNN and College (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Saturday April 22, 2006 @06:07PM (#15182301) Homepage Journal
    It's laudable that you are concerned about college, but you have the rest of your life to worry about job security. On the other hand the days in which you may bang 17-year-olds are numbered. Get your priorities straight.

    -Peter
  • by reporter (666905) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @06:17PM (#15182328) Homepage
    The free exchange of goods and services (including labor) between the United States and India damages how the (relatively) free market operates in the United States. The (relatively) non-free market in India has destroyed much of its economy. The majority of Indians are unemployed or underemployed. Although the news reports describing the tech boom in India is accurate, that boom is largely restricted to the tech sector. The remainder of the Indian economy is in terrible shape. Indian government intervention in that economy generates hordes of desperate labor that flood into the United States or into the Indian tech sector.

    The final result is that, due to the free flow of services (including labor in the form of outsourcing) between the United States and India, Indian government intervention now indirectly damages the operation of the American free market (for high-tech labor), suppressing wages and diminishing working conditions.

    You see a similar phenomenon in the unskilled-labor market. Mexican government intervention in the Mexican economy generates hordes of desperate labor that floods the American market for unskilled labor. The presence of Mexican illegal aliens in the American market suppresses wages and diminishes working conditions as American employers exploit a nearly limitless supply of desperate workers willing to work for slave wages in dangerous or grueling conditions.

    No job in America is safe from this destruction to the free market.

    You should select the job doing the kind of work that most interests you. In your spare time on the weekend, stay abreast of international news. Vote for populist politicians who support free trade between the United States and only other (relatively) free markets like Canada and Japan, not Mexico nor India. Support policies that terminate trade between the United States and (relatively) non-free markets like Mexico or India.

    Also support policies that compel Washington to aggressively intervene in both the Mexican government and the Indian government. The nature of the intervention should be at least as aggressive as the Mexican meddling (by Vicente Fox and his corrupt ilk) in the American Congress. Washington should eliminate Mexican politicians and Indian politicians who promote the economic destruction that has generated hordes of desperate labor fleeing to the United States.

  • Re:Young People. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ClamIAm (926466) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @06:19PM (#15182336)
    Sure, the off shore folks have us beat when it comes to programminng, no doubt about that ...

    Sure, managers and PHB-types might think it's a great idea to outsource programming. By doing this, you can get a similar-quality "product" for a much lower cost. But it's not all roses and cherub farts.

    Programming is hard. There have been countless times where a project has not met the needs it was supposed to, and this often has to do with poor communication. Now throw in a few thousand miles difference from the customer and the coders, a time difference and possibly a language barrier. Is this going to make it easier to get what you need? The chance for miscommunication here goes up a huge amount. What also gets worse is turnaround time. The factors I've mentioned will definitely slow down some parts of the development.

  • by joekampf (715059) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @06:25PM (#15182359)
    No, most of us with our CS degrees are not creating the next processor, or the next programming language or OS. However, what I have found to be invaluable, and what makes ME more valuable than the masses of IS majors or even the offshore/inshore cookie cutter programmers out there is that I understand what is going on under the covers. So when I decide to use a feature, or create a system, I'll know how it will scale, what the implication are when the damn thing is running on something other than my desktop. I can't tell you how many developers out there have no idea about things like, threads, transactions, I/O, networks. What can go wrong when those things break or are not handled right and what that means to the system they are developing. Thus you get crap that has to be restarted every day, or isn't robust.
  • Re:Young People. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by El Cubano (631386) <robertoNO@SPAMconnexer.com> on Saturday April 22, 2006 @06:26PM (#15182364) Homepage

    I am one of those young people. I'm finishing up a stint in the Army, and going back to finish my final year of my BS in Computer Information Systems. ( I was mobilized during my senior year of college.)

    You have a couple of serious advantages that your peers (other recent college grads) simply don't have:

    • Employers know that you are disciplined (that is a given based on military experience)
    • They know you are already well trained (it doesn't matter at what) and apt to learn since you had to go through a good amount of training for your MOS (unless you happen to be a cook or truck driver)
    • You probably have a security clearance (even if it is just a Secret-level clearance)
    • You are probably more mature (in terms of age, where the people graduating with you are likely 22-23 years old, you are probably 25-26 years old), which makes a difference in how potential employers view you

    In summary, you have nothing to worry about. Same with others in similar situation to yours. The moral of the story, if you want to be better off in the job market, consider a 3-4 year hitch in the military. Even if you are not in IT, the added experience will be a huge benefit and establish a track record that you can show to future employers.

  • The Catch (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DanTheLewis (742271) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @06:34PM (#15182384) Homepage Journal
    As long as you survive the Iran deployment.
  • by Jerry Coffin (824726) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @06:35PM (#15182387)
    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.

    I'd say that if both are showing up, either the testing methodology is a mess, or else you need to give considerably more thought to what you really want. At least IMO, the mindsets needed for IT and computer science are enough different that almost no one person is likely to be particularly good at both.

    IT mostly involves applying existing knowledge. It's true that you need often to write bits of code, typically in some scripting language to apply the existing knowledge to your exact situation.

    Though the term is often mis-applied, computer science is really about research into things like algorithms, languages, computability, etc. For a true computer scientist, writing code is mostly a sideline, and the code s/he writes will often be little more than a proof of concept to demonstrate something they've invented (e.g. a demonstration implementation of a new algorithm). The code he writes will rarely have much practical applicability -- if he's demonstrating a sorting algorithm, it'll probably have a nearly unusable user interface. OTOH, if he's doing user interface research, it probably won't implement any real algorithm behind that interface.

    More or less halfway between the two is software engineering. At least as I'd use the term, software engineering is what many "computer scientists" really do. Specifically, a software engineer is somebody whose primary job is to develop software. The software engineer should be aware of what the computer scientists have invented, and (particularly) needs to have a broader perspective, to help produce complete applications including both (reasonably) optimal algorithms and decent UIs.

    From a corporate perspective, computer science falls under "research". Software Engineering falls under "development", and IT falls under operations.

    Consider a single task: doing backups. A computer scientist might deal with something like inventing a faster method for coalescing incremental updates to a file to produce the final output more quickly. The software engineers write the backup program that implements this algorithm, along with a decent UI, etc. The IT person is responsible for ensuring that the backup program is run at the right times, ensuring the correct backup media are in the drives at the right times, etc.

    A computer scientist will usually be absent-minded, idealistic and will focus on future possibilities. An IT specialist will be pragmatic, focused on the here and now, and his single largest strength will often be presence of mind.

  • by iplayfast (166447) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @06:36PM (#15182391)
    Do a job that you love. There are up sides and down sides to this but the up side is that you can enjoy going to work where you will spend a significant portion of you life. The downside is that your love may change and what used to be fun is now a chore. I was first a musician, and after 3 years on the road decided it was not fun anymore. I then went back to University and learned about computers. Luckily, I still love it 25 years later.

    Another up side, is that if you love to do something you will get better at it. This means that you will become the craftsman that people want to have working for them. Your salary will increase and you will be employed.

    A third upside is that your enthusiasm about your work will show. When you go for job interviews it will show. People feel more comfortable hiring someone who they can see has enthusiasm and a proven experience.

    The nice thing about the computer field, is that it's large enough that you can partition your hobby and work into 2 different types of work, so you don't become overexposed in the one at work.
  • Re:Up, not down (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GoofyBoy (44399) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @06:37PM (#15182404) Journal
    As the AC clearly points out, you need more than just coding skills to stay employed. You also need interpersonal skills.
  • by coleblak (863392) <coleblakdotcom@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Saturday April 22, 2006 @06:50PM (#15182442)
    It really doesn't matter how well they speak English if I still can't understand them through a thick accent/crappy headset. Face-to-face, it's a lot easier than on the phone with someone wearing a headset that was bought since it was the cheapest model on the market. Half the time I talk to a Tech, in the US or out, I constantly have to ask them to repeat, speak up, and/or move the mouthpiece closer.
  • by tedgyz (515156) * on Saturday April 22, 2006 @07:00PM (#15182479) Homepage
    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.


    Well said. To put it another way, the really good IT workers will always have jobs. During the dot-com heyday I saw far too many people that had no business working in software. If you are only in it for the money, then you have already failed.
  • Re:CNN and College (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cgenman (325138) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @07:05PM (#15182492) Homepage
    Only on Slashdot is a comment about banging 17 year olds considered "insightful."

    It's not wrong, mind you. Don't be so concerned about your future that when you get there you regret your past. But do choose better verbs, or it's not going to happen.

  • Re:Career choices (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kjella (173770) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @07:08PM (#15182499) Homepage
    1) I can't stand having to work on other people's stuff. I don't like being given assignments that I'm not interested in and having to complete them. I'm sure people with stronger "work ethics" can force themselves to muddle through, but I'm not going to do it. Worse, there are a lot of mundane administrative tasks (like timesheets, etc.) that have to be dealt with. If I'm working for myself and getting paid based on those things, it would be different, but it always just seems like a waste.

    That sounds like working in any reasonably sized company in any position. I think you will find that even working for yourself you have to do a lot of work that isn't interesting, but the authorities or your clients demand it. Timesheets are annoying to track in any case but unless you track time and see which assignments are winners and losers your business will fail quite quickly, not to mention you normally need it for invoicing.

    The rest of the points are fairly on target, but if that's your 1) reason to quit, good luck. My experience is that the grass isn't greener on the other side. I went from being independent (co-owner) to working for a major company. Why? I know what my paycheck will be, it's not stellar but it's predictable. I get to do more of what I want to do - in a small company everyone's a handyman where needed. And at the moment, I feel a slowness in work is more my boss' problem than mine, because I know I have specific skills they need and can't make anyone else cover for. I could imagine trying to make it on my own again, but then I want to have what I consider a sure-fire winner. Going out there again just to have all my clients be my "boss" instead of the one I have? No thanks. It's not all it's cracked up to be.
  • by Brandybuck (704397) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @07:10PM (#15182503) Homepage Journal
    The starting salary only applies for those graduates who get jobs in the first place.

    Having recently interviewed several candidates on campus, I'm starting to see why they're not getting hired. Most are unmotivated, but a lack of income will soon fix that. The real problem is that they don't have any real world skills. A university CS/CE graduate should either have enough hand-on programming experience to know which end of a compiler goes up, or enough theoretical knowledge to know the difference between the basic data structures. I'm not getting that from the candidates I'm interviewing.

    Unless the universities straighten up, I think the future of university graduates is an extra year at DeVry/ITT just to get the skills to be employable.
  • Do what you love (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ggambett (611421) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @07:22PM (#15182531) Homepage
    Do what you love. Be the best. The rest just happens.
  • by Stiletto (12066) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @07:35PM (#15182574)
    If you're great at what you do, there will always be a market for your skill set.

    Tell that to the great buggy-whip manufacturers.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Saturday April 22, 2006 @07:38PM (#15182586) Journal
    A university CS/CE graduate should either have enough hand-on programming experience to know which end of a compiler goes up, or enough theoretical knowledge to know the difference between the basic data structures. I'm not getting that from the candidates I'm interviewing.

    I find that the quality of applicants varies enormously, even from the same school. I do see rather a lot of "grade inflation", but new CSEE graduates who had a 3.0 or better GPA are usually at least trainable.

    What I try to seek out is whether a newly-minted CS degree holder likes the field, or just got steered to it by a guidance counselor. If the interest is there, the talent can generally be trained in.

    -jcr
  • by say (191220) <sigve@@@wolfraidah...no> on Saturday April 22, 2006 @07:53PM (#15182640) Homepage

    No job in America is safe from this destruction to the free market.

    This must be the least insightful comment on globalization I've ever seen. What constitutes a free market seems... vague. Do you really have any proof that government intervention in Canada is any less than in Mexico?

    Here's a mind bending newsflash for you: The difference between the countries you want to trade with and the ones you don't want to trade with is that the non-tradables are _poor_, while the tradables are _rich_. You don't want free markets. You want protectionism, where the rich world is allowed to keep its benefits by keeping the poor away through immoral trade barrier.

    So it isn't the free market that is being destroyed in the US, it is the protectionistic privileges. That's the true essence of the free market: it makes sure that cheapest (per quality unit) is preferred. And it's no way the US can remain cheapest without dropping some of its (relative) riches.

  • by chicago_scott (458445) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @08:12PM (#15182689) Journal
    I suppose the first questions to ask yourself is why you are looking at going into IT. Are you looking for a stable career? Are you looking for fortune? Do you really enjoy computers and programming as a hobby and think it would be cool to earn a living doing something you enjoy or are you just looking for any job that you can earn a living doing?

    I went into technology as a programmer/software enginner because I loved working with computers and I saw a way make a living while doing something I love. Ten years later I still love it. I've always prefered hands on development and prefer coding and on some project I like being the technical lead, but otherwise I have avoided the management-side of IT. I could make more money, but at a huge cost to my personal satisifaction.

    Why do you want to go into IT?
  • by Hao Wu (652581) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @08:20PM (#15182713) Homepage
    If programming is something you love to do, then do it. If it's just something you want to do because you've heard it'll earn you "big bucks", don't.

    By the same token, don't confuse "programming" with "playing computer games 21 hours a day".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 22, 2006 @08:25PM (#15182732)
    will like inflating real estate.

    Gambling on real estate is like gambling on stock. It's only fun as long as you can find someone stupider than you, who will pay you more than you paid someone smarter than you for a used house. When you're at the bottom of the chain of stupid, you're screwed.

    The solution is to not treat your house as an investment. It is not the "american dream". It is where you live, and thats it. If you want to play with "investing" do it with money other than what you're using to live on.
  • by DaedalusHKX (660194) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @08:36PM (#15182765) Journal
    Those are two VERY different things.

    *Job in computer science = programmer getting paid 51k/year. You might end up actually building software, though most likely you'll get a job in the so called "defense" industry, making a living rewriting code for yet another way of bringing death to others. If you have ethics, or lack friends in the business of death, then this job will be closed to you and you'll have to go wait tables, flip burgers, or reeducate yourself, and consider comp sci as something that prepared you for the future... and not much else.

    *Job in IT = 40 hours plus overtime hourly pay as a windows only troubleshooter at 6 to 10 bucks /hour. If you have a degree in comp sci, you will be expected to work weekends recoding the Microsoft Frontpage 98 website of the company, and making it compatible with the 'latest IE6 technology' by "integrating innovative software solutions with Microsoft Front Page 2003" (or whatever the latest piece of trash from the Micro Shaft is... If you're lucky they'll even pay you for it, that or buy you lunch (probably the latter).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 22, 2006 @08:53PM (#15182812)
    Your post reeks of the typical myopic CS mentality that I have become familiar with over the years. CS classes are harder than BIS? Did you ever take business law, managerial accounting, business statistics, economics, or strategic management? You're missing the whole point of what a BIS degree is about. They're not supposed to be competing with CS majors. The classes are not "easier", they are entry level, because a typical IS student probably doesn't need ten programming classes.

    What you need to consider is this: what types of business skills are CS grads missing?

    I'd choose my degree over CS again and again because its so much more flexible, and the people I work with don't have much space for cowboy coders that don't understand the business world.
  • The Real World (Score:3, Insightful)

    by billybob_jcv (967047) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @09:15PM (#15182864)
    I'm an IT director at a corporation with an IT staff of ~20 people. Our IT budget is fairly small - we typically have funds for 1-3 decent sized projects per year. But, like most companies our size, we do not have the full-time staff to continue maintenance on our existing systems AND run a dedicated project team to implement a new system. We bring in an implementation partner to staff the new projects - and members of our full-time staff generally act as the project manager and as part-time technical members of the team. The dedicated project team is primarily contractors. I worked for a while as a contractor when I was younger - and as many here can testify, it is not an easy life, and not for everyone. Traveling from customer to customer all over the country, staying in one place for only a few months at a time - and always having the threat of lay-off over your head if you don't find a spot on the next project. What's the problem? There are many. The full-time staff doesn't really get involved enough in the new system implementation - they are too busy with maintenance. Tight budgets make us push the schedules too hard - because we want the high-priced contractors gone as soon as possible. The contractors aren't in-house long enough to really refine the solution to match our business processes - they try to slam it in, get paid and move on - leaving us to clean-up the messes and deal with business users who are disappointed with 80% solutions. The real-world of corporate IT is an ugly place - full of long hours & weekends, clueless corporate execs and $500K software packages that won't even install unless you spend a thousand manhours patching and tweaking code. Schools don't teach this stuff - they show you a few theories for building data models and writing compilers and send you on your way. I'm not saying a degree is worthless - on the contrary, the discipline required to complete a university program is extremely valuable and I won't hire non-degreed script kiddies. It's just that IMO the university curriculum is completely unrelated to the world of corporate IT. One of my university professors told me something that has stuck with me for 20 years: Technical people are complete idiots. We believe we have a Holy Calling to be techies, and we like being techies so much that we would do the work even if we didn't get paid. Lawyers and accountants get paid so much because they charge you just to have a talk with them. If techies did the same thing we would all be making millions of dollars!
  • by rolfwind (528248) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @09:27PM (#15182896)
    I don't know, they might have switched to BD/SM products;)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 22, 2006 @09:40PM (#15182938)
    Hear, hear. I've been doing IT for 20 years and it's amazing how important this is. Be able to write in a way that communicates clearly - not only the technical and/or business case, but also the enthusiasm and confidence others should share in your proposal. Be able to make it easy (and if at all possible) entertaining to read - without turning it into a joke.

    This gets close to my next point. Polish up your people skills. Learn how to listen and learn how to communicate your interest and sympathy in others. Make other people want to spend time with you. There are enough bullshit artists who can get by on this alone. On the other hand there are enough folks with good technical chops who are still living in their mother's basements, lacing up their torn sneakers with leftover UTP odds and ends and reducing all their interactions with others to "I'm smart and you are a moron."

    If you can be persuasive and engaging AND technically on the ball, there's no way you can't do very, very well.
  • Re:Go for it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Vulcann (752521) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @09:56PM (#15182972)
    The guy in India just can't sit across the table from a user of whatever you are making and discuss options, quickly estimate 'lots of effort' or 'pretty easy', and help the users tell you what to create.

    Terribly sorry to disappoint you but I'd like to add another little bullet point to you're list:

    5) Never underestimate you're competition.

    If everyone remains in a pipe dream of high caliber work never making its way to Indians, it'll lull you into a complacence that is hard to justify. What makes one assume that an Indian who works hard as hell, is more driven towards excelling in his education, and often works for sheer survival is going to fare worse than you ? In India, seeking a higher education is almost a "non-option" for most people. Everyone who is anyone will either try like hell to get into Engineering or Medicine. After they graduate, they face ten times more competition than Americans do in securing a job. All this makes Indians work they're asses off to differentiate themselves from the competition. When they go abroad, typically the odds are much much better in they're favour. I have friends who barely made the top 20 of the class in India and they excelled beyond belief in the US. One of them now is a tech lead in a firm with 30 people under him and all he was in India was a commerce graduate (read non-engineer).

    So if you assume that all Indians are good for is being "code monkeys", think again.

    Indians typically dont take risks (like starting a business) but they have all the technical muscle it takes to run a business to the top and charge a fraction of they're US counterparts. Thats the reason they're keenly sought after in the first place.

    You wanna keep you're job. I suggest you develop and differentiate you're skills to compete at the plane Indians/Chinese do.
  • Re:And yet... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DaedalusHKX (660194) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @11:01PM (#15183145) Journal
    I was presuming you are american, our government took out about 120% inflation on us (~3.4 trillion federal debt - 8.9 trillion last november when they cancelled the M3 report) when they went to war in Iraq.

    Because of the sheer devaluing of the dollar against foreign currencies AND gold/silver/commodities... the dollar lost value big time (I haven't kept up on GBP). You may have made 50k, but if you were american, you would've noticed (well probably not) that the 50k you made has less buying power. Take rising transportation costs, food costs, housing, heating, power. If you think I'm just parrotting Lou Dobbs, I have gas powered heat. I paid nearly 90 dollars in January for heat. I drive for a living, which means I was home roughly 4 weekends and for the rest the heat was off... (except to keep the water heater running so the pipes didn't crack, but that is a minute amount.) I thought I got overcharged and went to talk to my neighbors... they fared even worse!

    You see however, this concept isn't understood easily so I'll make it simple.

    [Example:]

    If you earned 10 dollars for a day from me for your labour, and there is only 10 dollars in the whole economy (its an abstract, bear with me), and I suddenly printed another 90 dollars, (don't ask why, the people never ask the government why they're being gouged), you suddenly have 10/100, your value has just dropped to 1/10th. You might still make a "profit" if you sell something you bought for 10 dollars for 12, but your overall economic power has dropped to 10% of what you used to have.

    But to shut you up, I'll raise your pay tomorrow to a WHOPPING 15 dollars (a whole 50% pay increase!!)

    [/Example]

    However, fuel, power, food and housing costs will go up respectively, not immediately, but more gradually, to keep you from getting mad and doing the american thing... reaching for a gun and blowing my usurious international banker ass away.

    As you can see, I'm referring to your buying power. Internally in your own economy you've got inflation beat. Congrats. A house is actually what is known as a "store of value" (or it would be in an economy dictated by solid assets/moneys instead of the fiat inflatable/deflatable paper/credit currency). If you're wondering, it isn't your house "appreciating" it is the fact that the national paper currency is depreciating, and thus the fixed "store of value" is simply reflecting that the little pieces of paper you sell your life for, are worth less and less each year.

    Have you ever wondered why there was never inflation in economies based on Gold and Silver? Because the supply is controlled by nature. As gold and silver are not easilly printed like paper, one cannot simply print another 300000000000.00 in gold bullion bars at their local mint. That would require a few hundred trucks, and the material would be a set weight. On the opposite side, paper has NO intrinsic value... the same ink and paper is used to print 1 dollar bills and 100 dollar bills. The paper isn't worth the numbers on it, and the government acknowledges this by not allowing you to redeem any valuable assets against them, try redeeming gold at face value at Fort Knox sometime, and see if you can buy a bar from them. (You're likely to get shot first, the last time Congressmen tried to inventory Fort Knox assets, they were turned back by Army enforcers, it seems that Fort Knox is off limits to them... strangely since our Constitution states that Congress is in charge of coining and evaluating currency, which shall be made of nothing but gold or silver (according to Article 1 Section 10, I believe)... but hey, nobody reads those silly documents anymore...)

    Just in case you're wondering, look up the Colonial Scrip (American Colonies), or the Talley Stick (England), and find out their uses.

    Currencies were used to facilitate the transfer of goods, not as a Store of Value, that is saved for physical assets, gold, silver, houses, etc. Inflatable currencies were not meant to be used as S
  • by fisternipply (215177) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @11:34PM (#15183242)
    Not true!! The playing field isn't level between the first and third worlds, and that's the fundamental cause of the financial incentive for companies to use overseas labor. Yes, we exploit people in third-world countries, but this "truly free market" of which you speak would include creating comparable labor conditions for all countries who trade with each other. That currently isn't the case. Demanding comparable labor conditions isn't protectionism, and would actually lower the "immoral" trade barrier.
  • Re:Young People. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 23, 2006 @12:25AM (#15183375)
    You have a couple of serious advantages that your peers (other recent college grads) simply don't have: * Employers know that you are disciplined (that is a given based on military experience)

    This is funny stuff. Good stuff, really.

    Rule number one in our office is never hire anyone from the military. They generally show a complete inability to understand that military experience doesn't relate to ANYTHING in the real world, and are complete asses in the process.

  • by twasserman (878174) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @01:33AM (#15183536)
    There are smart people and talented developers all over the world. The results of the recent ACM Programming Contest http://icpc.baylor.edu/icpc/Finals/ [baylor.edu] show that very clearly. Salaries and overhead costs for developers (and everyone else) in Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia, and India, are far less than salaries in North America, so American developers are at a significant competitive disadvantage from purely a financial perspective. US companies will continue to send software development work offshore. Thomas Friedman explains all of this very well in The World Is Flat, which I highly recommend.

    That said, there are lots of great opportunities for developers in North America, as long as you think about how to differentiate yourself from an average cubicle-based, head-down code jockey. One way is to develop an outstanding professional reputation as a developer, perhaps through a visible role on a popular open source project. That recognition can sustain a successful consulting business.

    Another way is to use your technical skills in a customer-facing role, perhaps as a system engineer at a software or system vendor, providing onsite support and custom development for a customer. That role requires good communication skills and an upgraded wardrobe, but can't easily be replicated by someone halfway around the world. The downside of this role is that you don't get to contribute to a product and you may find yourself in a product niche. But companies always need technical people who can talk to customers and prospective customers.

    A third way is to envision a career path leading to become a senior engineering manager or a CTO. You can start as a developer with the full expectation that your code-writing days may be limited. Accordingly, you begin to network with managers to learn more about their work (and let them know of your interest in a management role), and take some management and/or business-related courses. Make an effort to understand how your current and envisioned future positions fit into your company's business strategy, since that can help you pick the projects on which to work. Speak up in meetings, volunteer to be the techie in your company's trade show booth, and generally make yourself visible as someone looking for more responsibility. Be prepared to leave your current position if that responsibility isn't forthcoming.

    The US has become one of the most expensive countries for employers, not just because of relative salaries, but also because of health insurance costs, litigation, and regulatory costs. As a result, if a job can be done effectively elsewhere, it is either already there or likely to migrate there soon. This is true not just for software development, but also for lots of other "white collar" jobs. Of course, most of the manufacturing jobs are already long gone. But that's a whole other discussion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 23, 2006 @01:41AM (#15183560)
    And why exactly should US be the cheapest? American advantage has always consisted of knowledge, technology and productivity. That is what USA has been selling ever since the end of 19th century. Tesla came to US to patent alternating current and to build a power plant on the Niagara Falls. GE and Westinghouse have been profiting handsomely from that. I wasn't the price that decided the battle, it was technology. Marconi came to US to work on radio waves, von Neuman came to work on the mathematics and information sciences, so did Andy Grove, now retired founder and CEO of the Intel Corp. He didn't come here for the cheapest solution, he came here because this is the place where he could develop technology. THAT is what we are selling to the world. By outsourcing, cutting taxes and implementing idiotic policies like "no child left behind", US is becoming more on pair with India and Mexico, not more competitive. The edevelopment of technologies was effectively stopped during Reagan administration. Last spectacular technology developments were boner pill and precision ammo needed to topple Saddam. Now, Microsoft and Oracle are doing development in India and US has bullets smarter then its president, programmed in Bangalore, India. If you don't find it alarming, I do.

    As for giving away relative riches, why don't Bill Gates and Larry Ellison give up some of their relative riches? Why is it breaking over the backs of the middle class?
  • by DerekLyons (302214) <(fairwater) (at) (gmail.com)> on Sunday April 23, 2006 @01:51AM (#15183593) Homepage
    So there, I said it. I was born here, went to college here, gained expeience here...


    And 1.5 years and 1000s of resumes (with college degrees and experience and all) later, I am still without employment in the US.

    Of course your mishmash of experience and lack of a clear focus couldn't possibly be part of the problem. (What exactly kind of work are you looking for? Your degree indicates CS, yet the experience you cite is IT.)
  • Re:CNN and College (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nEoN nOoDlE (27594) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @02:38AM (#15183721) Homepage
    It's laudable that you live your life to the fullest with no worries about tomorrow, but he's got the rest of his life to worry about.

    As one of those people who worried about college when I was in high school, did well in college because I wasn't out getting drunk every night "living life to the fullest" and now have an awesome job that I love shortly after graduation and now have money to burn on alcohol and women while most of my graduating class doesn't... I'd say his priorities are pretty straight.
  • by mcrbids (148650) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @03:01AM (#15183770) Journal
    I'll be glib. I'll be gleeful. And I'll be right.

    Make your own damned job. It's the American way. Start your own business, hang a shingle, make some sales, do some cold calls. It hurts at first, contracts don't come with a 401k. But, pretty soon, you get the whole customer-relations thing figured out. Then, not too horribly long after that, you get the whole tax/accountant/bank thing figured out.

    Next thing you know, you're swamped with highly paid work! You've stretched your wings, you've gone out, you landed a few key contracts, and suddenly, you have more work than you can do.

    So then you figure out hiring and firing. It's a painful lesson, as you often really like the people you're firing. It can be very expensive, if you miscalculate and pay people to make up stuff to "look busy". But, if you come even close to getting it right, it pays, too, and sometimes quite nicely.

    If you're half as skilled as you make out to be, you can follow this path, and make better money than your graduate peers in as little as 5-10 years. You can be independently wealthy (retired, never work again) in as little as 20 years.

    That's the American way.

    Do you want to be the kind of person who mopes when you can't afford your own private plane for at another year? Do you want to be the kind of person who ends up paying more in "recreation" than most people earn in their jobs? Do you long for the stability of knowing you can never be fired, because you're not only the boss, but the owner of the business?

    Take your skills, and find a way to market them. A business license costs around $50 in my home town of Chico, CA. A fictitious name statement and accompanying bank account can be had for around $300 most places in California. Everything after that is up to you.

    When you take the time to dissect business models to see which works for you, you grow in ways you can't easily convey. When you shoulder the responsibility of keeping the show running, even when your cashflow is bleeding red, you become a bigger, more capable, and more powerful person. When you run the show, you become a bigger, better, more capable, more responsible person in ways that years of college can't even begin to approximate.

    I strongly recommend that you turn your frustration into success, and turn your own personal lemon juice into sweet, refreshing lemonade!

    Once you've done this, the whole idea of a "job" just seems... well... stupid...
  • by killjoe (766577) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @03:11AM (#15183791)
    One important reason why developers can work for cheap in india is the prevelance of slave, indentured and child labor there. Because of a permanent underclass of slaves and near slaves the developers get all their needs for housing, food, clothing etc met dirt cheap. When your bricks are made by 14 year olds who have been sold into slavery it's pretty cheap to build a house.

    If India ever outlaws child labor or the buying and selling of humans and gives the untouchables full rights the cost of development will go up there and the outsources will move to africa or use chinese prison laborers.

    In actually a plummer gets just as much money as a code monkey if not more and your job is not likely to be outsourced. Think about it.
  • by wenchmagnet (745079) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @07:45AM (#15184235)
    Tell that to the great buggy-whip manufacturers.

    If a buggy-whip maker was gifted with working with leather he could just as easily move on and start making car/coach seats.

    You have to be flexible - the world changes. Keep you skills current - there is room in every field for the truly gifted.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 23, 2006 @08:37AM (#15184357)
    Speaking as someone who has done defense contracting, I can say some of the most interesting work is in the government contracting sector. You will typically get into much bigger and longer term projects. Most private sector projects are smaller Yes there are exceptions such as people working on the new version of Windows or the new version of the Oracle database. Those projects probably have a 1000 people on then(between all the groups). It's not just the defense sector. All the public sectors have interesting projects.

    One word of warning. Try to avoid being onsite with government employers. They are difficult to work with, have life time employment, and never work 5 minutes of over time. Try to be in a shop offsite.

    I have found that on the most part hours are more reasonable doing government work then private sector work. Yes you sometimes have to work late and weekends, but private companies can kill you with hours. There are some government contracts that have long hours. These are typically smaller companies that got the contract by underbidding opponents.
  • Re:The Real World (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Narc (126887) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @08:56AM (#15184433)
    Lawyers and Accounants also get paid to deal with people and interface with them. I don't want to sound stereotypical when saying techies are social retards, but I am by any stretch of the means in the workplace. I'd rather get my head down and do my job as opposed to get involved in politics. Therein lies the problem. If I had the skills, (give it a efw years to develop, I'm still young) I would do techy consultancy. Techies may grok at the idea.. it takes you away from the techy side and you get more involved in the BS we all hate, but face it... if you want the cash then thats where you have to go.

    Everyone has that ubergeek thats been there for ages, knows it all and is generally well respected and admired. I'd assume compensated well also, but these spots are limited and few and far between.

    Comes down to asking yourself 'what do you want?' sometimes you cant have both. Other times, right place and the right time you may strike it lucky. Sitting there and getting on with it goes unnoticed for a majority of the time, sad but true. Just look at Milton from office space. ;)
  • by Michael Petrov (970185) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @09:00AM (#15184450)
    I completely agree with your take on this job "crisis" - and I am an actual example of how it can be done!

    I had a passion for programming since I was 10 years old and as other posters have said, that makes all the difference. I have been working independently in the industry for only a year now - my work consists of a wide variety of programming: C++ development, web programming work (PHP / MySQL), and other programming related work. At this time I do not have a formal education and I was never even asked for it throughout my relatively short career - when you independently do contract work, credentials become irrelevant. Starting a year ago doing a lot of monkey programming to increase my actual programming skills was a great way to learn the new technologies and gain practical experience, the pay was at that time relatively low ($10-$20 per hour). It has then grown into more interesting work, and now I'm getting consistently paid $60 / hour and more.

    I am not implying that this path is easy to take: there are countless late nights, constant weekend work, and it's at times interfering with my studies. MY point is that it took some effort, but my passion for programming did the rest. I am constantly developing my own side projects to gain passive income, reading marketing books, and improving my investment skills. I am proud to say that I accomplished all that between the ages 16-18 - so my advice for the original poster would be to take action and start a business. I am currently 18, therefore in September I will be going into a top Canadian University for Computer Science. I decided to try getting a formal education - I am not going to University to become employable, but merely to gain some new knowledge and take many business courses. Therefore working in North America within the CS industry can definitely be done - but you have to become the one outsourcing the work or hiring local workers.

    Once you've done this, the whole idea of a "job" just seems... well... stupid... I completely agree with your take on this - currently all my peers are being brainwashed to "get an education and a safe secure job". When I hear that line, especially combined with job stability - I merely laugh and take note of who could be employable for a minimum secure wage. If you want to live out "The American Dream" - then just do what other great people did: work hard and learn skills in all areas (accounting, investments, programming, selling, marketing).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 23, 2006 @10:17AM (#15184779)
    A few companies (Apple and Google) have HR reps who actually understand what they're talking about, but the rest of them are only trying to play buzzword bingo.

    This is my personal experience and opinion. I was working on contract for a number of years at Apple and finally, after 4 attempts, I finally achieved my goal of working there. The first 3 times I went through the HR system and got nowhere. The final time, I had worked there long enough to know a lot of people so I went directly to who is now my boss and got the job after two informal chats and one more informal chat with my future co-workers, completely bypassing HR. Now that I'm there, its funny because I have met the people I would have worked for in those other positions and they wonder why they couldn't get someone like me in their department. So that's my view of getting a job via the Apple HR system.

    As for Google, if its true that they ask irrelevant and obtuse questions like how do you get out of a blender in 5 minutes if you were the size of a nickel, then no thanks, I'll pass. I apply for a company because I think I can contribute value to an organization that I like, not jump through stupid HR hoops. If that's the price of admission at Google, then I'll have to pass. Being that what I do is directly in line with many of the job postings at Google, I would not be surprised if at some point I'll be headhunted by Google. My only condition is to not have put up with a Stupid Job Interview(tm).

  • by FredFnord (635797) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @12:04PM (#15185265)
    I'll be glib. I'll be gleeful. And I'll be right.

    Glib, and gleeful. And right for you. And a bit, sorry to say it, self-centered, because you assume that something that would work for you would work for anyone. There are people who are comfortable doing this sort of thing and people who aren't. And if you aren't, you're not going to succeed at it. And of course, the possibility of doing this sort of thing depends on not too many other people doing it.

    Make your own damned job. It's the American way. Start your own business, hang a shingle, make some sales, do some cold calls. It hurts at first, contracts don't come with a 401k. But, pretty soon, you get the whole customer-relations thing figured out. Then, not too horribly long after that, you get the whole tax/accountant/bank thing figured out.

    If you're lucky. And you're cut out for that kind of thing. And you're lucky. And you're not in a market that's oversaturated with people who can do what you can do. And you're happy to work fifteen hour days, seven days a week, at the beginning at least, because that's what it's going to take to satisfy some of your more demanding customers. And you have enough money to get you through the first year. And you don't accidentally alienate your first employer though not doing something they assume you will know to do, because you're not experienced. (Pleading inexperience doesn't work; they only want people who are experienced.) And you don't get a company that signs a contract and then doesn't pay you for eight months after you finish the job, when you can't really afford the time and money to sue the hell out of them. And you don't get companies that make you give them a cost up front and then continually add features while you're working. (I lost two clients that way, because I told them I wasn't going to put in extra work that wasn't in my contract for no extra money, and they said, 'Well, then, I'll find someone who will.')

    And the sorriest thing is, you only get a chance to run into those problems at all if you're lucky, or at least not unlucky.

    It's really the smugness and superiority that drive me nuts. 'It was right for me, obviously it's right for everyone!' I've tried it. It's hard, it's nasty, and it's not a situation that fits every personality type. I made it okay for a couple of years, but I was delighted to return to a job where I was working 40 hours a week for decent pay and had health insurance that couldn't be cancelled (three times) for no reason other than a single, low-cost, low-mantenance health problem. I like to have a social life that doesn't require me to choose between it and sleep on any given day. I like to have coworkers to interact with, and to ask when I have a problem, and to go out to lunch with. And God, do I hate billing.

    Perhaps this is the business model of the future: work 15 hours a day every day with no health insurance and no guarantee that you'll actually be paid before you starve to death or else you won't have a job at all. If it is, I will probably live through it for as long as I decide it's worth living through. But don't try to sell it to me as some kind of goddamned paradise because I know what hell looks like.

    -fred

  • by ErikZ (55491) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @10:49PM (#15187722)
    Eh? You were serious about that?

    What isn't part of a network or a system when dealing with computers? And all of IT I've been exposed to can be boiled down to "Problem solving."

    I don't see how you can say you don't have time to train someone. You're filling in the IT position, on top of what you already do. For over a year. You've been interviewing for months, you see what your ad is bringing in.

    So, it's either one of two things,
    1. There's something wrong with the ad, it's not communicating effectively.
    2. You're not perceiving the environment correctly, and acting in a way that isn't bringing you the results you want.

    Hey look, it's problem solving. ;-)

    Ah well, I'm sure posting on Slashdot has gotten you a nice stack of resumes. Good luck.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 24, 2006 @04:09PM (#15192860)
    A person who is ignorant of basic economic science wrote, "Mexicans take the jobs that nobody else wants (cleaners, dish washers, gardeners, cotton or tomato pickers, etc) filling inneficiencies in the US economic system (if the Mexicans did not do those jobs, who would Mr Sherlock?)".

    Now, here is the reality. The market for unskilled labor operates just like any other market for goods or services. If a shortage occurs in the market for unskilled labor, then wages will rise, and working conditions will improve as employers attempt to attract potential employees. When those wages rise, more and more Americans will enter the market for unskilled labor.

    Shortages are a normal part of the free market and do not need to be fixed by a guest-worker program or illegal-alien labor. If all the illegal aliens returned to India, Mexico, Phillipines, etc., then the American economy would function just fine.

    People who claim that shortages are "abnormal" and need to be fixed by importing dirt-cheap labor from foreign countries are, at best, morons or, at worst, political demagogues.

    Again, shortages of labor are a normal part of the free market. Shortages correct the underpricing labor. When government intervenes (by importing desperate labor from Mexico) to fix (i.e., eliminate) the shortage, then the price (i.e., the wages and salaries) of labor stagnates or falls. So, yes, "intervention damages the normal operation of the free market" (to quote the original poster).

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