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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 beheaderaswp (549877) * on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:38PM (#15182189)
    Well, my experience has been that offshoring has had little impact on my business, which is security, deployment, and maintenance of internet facing computers.

    I do a little coding. Some stays in house, some gets GPLd.

    But from a services perspective, most of my clients have migrated to my company because we don't have tier 1 tech support, we have engineers- and our customers *hate* doing business with a company that offshores their support or engineering staff.

    Every single client I have is a refugee from a services company with offshoring. Every Single One. They pay more... some times a lot more... for the services we provide. But we are also a lot more accountable to them.

    FWIW- I've been successful in making a good living by being the opposite of the offshoring trend. But I think to make this work in the market place you have to run your own little business rather than seek employment from someone else.

    On the down side- prepare to be awoken at 4:30am by a client calling your cell phone... because you have the shift... and both of your other engineers are in the Bahamas or Canada vacationing.
  • IT is still worth it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wiseleo (15092) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:52PM (#15182243) Homepage
    One one hand we have rapid education growth globally, on the other we have rapidly growing complexity of technology.

    My prediction is that as we get out of the Bush dark ages, corrective measures will be passed to stop certain forms of offshore activity. Additionally, consumer backlash is very real these days and as the requirement for high level technology rises in general so will the demand for those who can make it work correctly.

    A lot of companies are in fact abandoning or at least reconsidering their offshore initiatives. I have several clients who have offshore operations and they are scaling them back and bringing some of that work back home.

    Why is this important? I support a product called Microsoft Small Business Server 2003. I am one of the leading experts on this product today. It is something you can literally buy off the shelf and setup easily. One would think that is the end. :-) SBS2003 is comprised on Windows Server 2003, Exchange Server 2003, SQL Server 2000, Windows Sharepoint Servers pre-installed, ISA 2004 Server, and a few sophisticated web applications. Some clients also add other stack components such as Small Business Financials and MS CRM 3.0 Small Business Edition.

    In translation, that means that we sell a $4700 application suite for $1500. These are full products that require enterprise expertise to use them. Small Business Financials is a friendly name for Great Plains (yes, THAT, Great Plains), and MS CRM 3.0 Small Business has no feature limitations on itself either besides the maximum number of users.

    If you take a typical small business owner who uses Quickbooks and throw them into this environment, they are lost. Make no mistake, they demand these applications from us and they do love them when they are customized.

    I think the next era of highly complex networks is about to begin. A competent software developer specializing in making this process easier will make a killing. I know how much money my company is set to make this year and I am truly amazed at just how many untapped markets there are. :-)

    There is a lot of opportunity in IT, but I think you have to own a business to truly succeed. Working for someone else will not make it happen. That means, take some basic business courses in addition to IT when you have the opportunity.

    Good luck!
  • by autophile (640621) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:55PM (#15182260)
    All of this is, of course, IMHO.

    "Programming" conjures up visions of some guy with pale complexion staring into his monitor, banging away at the keyboard, trying to fix yet another bug. Or, in a better light, maybe reading some API and/or design specification and banging away at the keyboard trying to implement it. A "programmer" can be thought of as a construction worker.

    "Software Architect" is what you get when you take away the specific implementation: the programming language, the operating system, the specific database. What you're left with is the high-level big-picture design. You get to draw boxes, arrows, flowcharts, ping-pong diagrams... you get to be the guy up at the marker board smiling at the camera, pointing to a complex diagram, your vision for the product, that you don't have to spend nights implementing because that's what they pay the keyboard-bashers for. A "software architect" can be thought of as the high-paid and lauded building architect.

    In a sense, software architecture is the creative side, while converting the design to code is the mechanical side.

    I'm not even sure you want to talk about "going into IT". I thought IT was more like the maintenance guys of the building after it's built. Like in the UK's "The IT Crowd". It certainly wouldn't be as rewarding to me as programmer or software architect. In any case, even if all this does fall under the general heading "IT", you can at least narrow down what you want to do.

    Anyway, what's this have to do with outsourcing? I think software architecture is what you want to get into, since I firmly believe that is what the US is not going to outsource -- or at least not to the extent that keyboard-bashing has.

    That being said, it definitely doesn't hurt to know at least one major programming language -- either Java, or (shudder) even C#. That way you at least have some idea of the common idioms of the code, and then you don't have to specify every nut and bolt in your diagram.

    --Rob

  • by Greventls (624360) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:59PM (#15182277)
    I am graduating in a week. The hard workers I know all have jobs. The slackers and incompetent people all do not have a job. If you aren't going to go into IT, what are you going to go into? In terms of people having jobs out of college, engineering and then business degrees are the only other ones I see. So you could go into engineering or if you want to be someones bitch, go into business. I feel bad for liberal arts majors.
  • Go for it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Derkec (463377) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @06:01PM (#15182284)
    If what you're interested in is computer programming - go for it. Money magazine just ranked 'Software Developer' it's top job largely because of expected growth in the field. That said, be sure that you can write and speak well. Your key advantages over someone in India should be:
    1) Timezone
    2) More experience (developers there are often promoted to management too quickly)
    3) Superior command of English (they'll speak it, you need to do so better)
    4) Assorted cultural advantages

    You will need to be able to talk to people and sort out requirements to be more valuable. 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.

    At the end of the day, you'll still need to be able to write code, but you'll need to do a whole lot more as well. These days, I'm thinking that the 'whole lot more' may be more fun, but that's just me.

    As for the guy who joked 'speak hindi', I'd point out that there are dozens of languages in India and when Indians from different parts of the country speak to eachother, they usually do so in English.
  • by Grendel_Prime (178874) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @06:09PM (#15182307)
    Truth to tell, asking the crowd here a question like this is going to inherently bring you biased results; but this may be what you wanted. Ask any given group of mostly construction workers if construction is a good profession to undertake and they will probably tell you it's a great profession. Ask any given group of mostly IT nerds the same question and you will get the same answer. If you are worried about job stability, don't worry; there is none anymore. Companies and jobs come and go in IT just as they do in every other industry (Enron, anyone?).

    The real question you should be asking yourself is what do you truly enjoy doing naturally? Take away every task that any given job can consist of and break it down to your personality traits. If you like problem-solving then look at the types of jobs that can fulfill your needs as a problem-solver. If you like helping people, consider the kinds of jobs where you will have more interactions and impact on people directly. College and high-school students tend to think more linearly, as if taking a job in a hot profession will mean success. The truth is that the best way to be successful is to maximize your desire to do your job and do it well; otherwise you may as well work at McDonald's.
  • by Jerim (872022) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @06:16PM (#15182325)
    I agree. IT is no diffirent than any other sector. The problem is that the IT industry went through this idealic phase where anyone who knew how to turn on a computer was making over $50k a year as a computer programmer. So yes, compared to the 90's the industry would appear to be in a slump. But if you look at the 90's as being the result of stupidity that should never have existed, you will see that the IT industry is just like any other sector. You can make a living in whatever industry you want.

    The difference being your expectations. If you are expecting a fantasy land of 20 companies offering you $70k jobs the day you graduate, then you are stuck in the heydays of the 90's. Do what you love knowing that you will always have a job somewhere in the IT industry.
  • by Faramir (61801) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @06:17PM (#15182331) Homepage Journal
    At least in the Twin Cities, if you know SQL you're golden right now. Desparate shortage up here. My company has been searching for someone since January, with very few applicants, and even fewer qualified. The only two who were qualified turned us down for other offers. I came from Austin, TX, where I had spent 3 years looking for a new job. No luck -- too much competition from laid off workers. But up north there is high demand for C#, Java, SQL. Even finding a straight up, skilled HTML guru is difficult here.
  • Too much Lou Dobbs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by crmartin (98227) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @06:24PM (#15182353)
    The fact is that the offshoring fad is fading as people find out that it's not the cost per line that matters if you aren't getting the code you need. I'm engaged in helping save a project that went down that path too far; we got lots of code, it didn't do what was needed. We now hope to recover some value, but all development has moved back to the US, where we can interact with the customers in real time.
  • by NitsujTPU (19263) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @06:24PM (#15182354)
    Everything that I hear says that Portland's a good deal. The area is heating up a bit, and you can still get a house at a good price. If you can hop on a developing area, and then ride that rising tide, that's the way to get ahead financially (if that's your goal). It's also nice to be in an expanding area, and an expanding (or new) business.

    I think it's all a matter of taste, but if I weren't floating around stodgy old academic institutions, I'd be looking at shiny new tech companies.

    I'm not industry analyst, but I'd say that you're right on the money.
  • Re:Starting Salaries (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dracocat (554744) * on Saturday April 22, 2006 @06:37PM (#15182405)
    That may be, but the amount of money being paid is also a correlation to the supply vs demand ratio for a particular job.

    You may also notice in the same study that more jobs were offered in IT than registered nurses, and I dont think anyone who is a registered nurse is complaining for lack of employment.

    The fact remains, it is not difficult to get a job in IT. You or someone you know may have had some bad luck, but the industry as a whole is very healty; and when comparing IT graduates with those of other industries is nothing short of spectacular.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 22, 2006 @07:01PM (#15182482)
    After thirty years as an ironworker, I plan on early retirement to go to school to learn programming properly, first love was metallurgy right from high school, then high places. Construction has been good to me in the range of 80-90 k/yr for the past 8 or 9 yrs, but I have an insatiable desire to master computing. Just remember if you do what you love it'll never seem like work and above all work to live don't live to work. /offtopic
  • by firedragon852 (837972) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @07:23PM (#15182537)
    As someone who has worked in both the Silicon Valley in the US and the Far East, I can only say that I haven't looked back the day when I stopped hiring US software engineers and moved the development center to China. For companies like Oracle etc, what they are doing now is stop hiring in the US but continue to increase their headcount in India and China. The reason is simple: US IT staff salaries are just too high to be competitive. I can get the Chinese engineers to produce the same code for 10% of the cost. Then when you look at the skills that the US software engineers possess apart from the usual technical skills, they are just pathetic. For instance, I need all my software engineering staff to be able to read and write English and Chinese. That rules out 99% of the resumes I received in the US. When I started hiring in China, 100% of the local candidates can read and write English (though not perfect). The reality is it is only going to get worse for the US IT staff.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Saturday April 22, 2006 @07:47PM (#15182615) Journal
    The (relatively) non-free market in India has destroyed much of its economy.

    I think you've missed the real story here, which is that India's economy is improving at a drastic rate as India gets over its traditional habit of trying to follow the Soviet central-planning model. High tech isn't the only area where the difference is dramatic. India was unable to feed itself only about fifteen years ago, and today is a major food exporter to the rest of Asia, for example.

    -jcr
  • 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).

    As a person with a Bachelors in Computer Engineering, I can tell you that the first year of my major or the Computer Science major (which has the exact same classes the first year), is mostly about Math (Calculus), Science (either Chemistry or Physics or both), Electives (e.g. Humanities/Social Sci) and Intro to programming classes. You might have to take a discrete (sp?) math class first year also. These are largely designed to be weeder classes to get rid of those that can't cut it as an engineer and for the most part have nothing to do with what you will do after graudation as a programmer. They are however very useful as weeder classes. So, I agree with the GP. The first year is more about Math and Science than hardcore programming. You don't get into games, robotics, graphics, ai, or databases until year three or four. Of course when I say that I'm not talking about using a database in an application or even creating simple games like tic tac toe or concentration, these could be done in the intro programming classes, but the theory behind db, ai, and graphics are certainly not covered until year three or four.
  • And yet... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by DaedalusHKX (660194) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @08:56PM (#15182819) Journal
    I haven't met many FAT or extremely LAZY swedes. They're also better educated and many of them can figure things out for themselves, (manage to stay abreast of news and the like).

    Their currency is currently a paper currency, subject to the inflation / interest based Central Bank system pioneered by the wonderful Rothschild family (originated by Mayer Amschel Bauer, renamed MA Rothschild later). However, the Swedish Krona is trading at nearly 25% higher than the USD... or was... currently 6 or 7 krona get you 10 dollars... and the price is only dropping on the dollar.

    If you recall, Volvo was a swedish company, and Ford, despite buying them out, realized that they had a lot to gain by letting the swedes do their thing without screwing them over (too much). As a result, Ford is doing okay... and selling product... GM... heh... well GM ain't doin' so hot. (Plus, nationalized healthcare, I believe, is helping Volvo keep the single most killer cost of business down... unlike US based labor markets that tax the employee like nuts, yet offer nothing, forcing the company to offer benefits, healthcare and retirement.)

    The fiat currency is what is killing everything, however. And until the geeks don't wake up, they'll keep working their asses off to pay the interest on the money in their pockets.

    Ever wonder why solid assets retain their value... ahem... "appreciate" in value?

    That house you bought for 100k before the Iraq war might be worth 150k now... why? Oh I dunno, because the "federal" reserve (read "Privately Held United States Central Bank") issued nearly 120% inflation in one brazen stroke to fund the war. So while you might get 150k back for your house, you really will not have gained a thing. You're thinking in numbers, instead you should be thinking in "relative" or "perceived" value. If the inflation went up 120% that means there is double the money "in play" (which is understandable as the "fed" has recently STOPPED printing the M3 report which issues how much currency is issued and in what forms...)

    Lets say you sell your house, at 180k, you had bought it at 100k, and you paid it all off so you get what you sell it at. Now, according to the no longer published figures, to retain its buying value, the house should sell at 220k... (100k +120%), however selling at 180k, while your house "appreciated" it didn't beat inflation. Yep, you LOST money. But what do I know, you got more paper, right?? that makes you... uhhh... rich?...

    Oh well, I've only watched the feces pile up... and everyone defends the system to the death.

    It makes me feel like I'm awake but still trapped in the matrix.
  • by Evilest Doer (969227) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @09:17PM (#15182870)
    Chinese and Japanese will be far more useful.

    I would say that Chinese would be the best one to learn overall. The Chinese I have known tend to take it as a compliment if you speak even some Chinese.

    The Japanese I have known seem to be offended, even if your Japanese is perfect. Plus, if your resume does not have you in the precise little required sub-group, they won't even consider you for a particular job. And I'm not even getting into the whole racism issue. The Chinese aren't perfect, but I've been treated a damn sight better by them than any of the Japanese I have ever dealt with.

    ***note to mods: This is not meant as a troll. I am simply explaining my own personal experience...

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @09:40PM (#15182939) Homepage
    HVAC installation and repair. That's a popular career change in Silicon Valley. Somebody has to go there to install and fix the ductwork, the fans, the chillers, and the controls.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 22, 2006 @09:45PM (#15182947)
    The guy is a loser. Really. Always negative.

    I started out with a degree in compsci working for 12K a year and doing grunt work. Worked 60 hour weeks.

    Its 25 years later and I'm in charge of the technology for a fortune 1000 sized firm, I make $150K and I work 45 hour weeks.

    Life sucks when you get out of college for 2 or 3 years. Big deal. If you're not willing to struggle a little bit, then you deserve to flipping burgers. Like this guy.

    Final piece of advice. Don't get "certified" in anything if you want to do anything more than be a sysadmin. Get your B.S. in compsci/ims from a big-time university (doesn't matter which), work hard, develop a way to communicate like a professional, and you'll be at six figures within 10 years.

    Or you can whine about the reason you have a sucky job is because you have "ethics". It's too bad this little whiner won't get taken out by some virulent disease, because I know he's making me sick to my stomach. Little puke.
  • by Triode (127874) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @09:47PM (#15182952) Homepage
    "...long term you are almost assured to find a healthy career waiting for you."

    Don't belive that for a second. I have a BS in EECE/CompSci, MS in Physics, and took
    all of the courses to get a Ph.D. in Computer Eng. I have 15 years unix experience,
    10 years hands on sysadmin experience, can design and write software, and in fact
    hardware at the device level.

    When I was in the Ph.D. program, people from other countries were getting the internships,
    job offers, etc. The four (out of almost 200) grad students who were "local" to this
    country did not get jack, myself included. I was told by a friend of mine who went to
    work at Intel that they were not hiring US citizens, as it costs too damn much.

    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.

    Like the other comment mentioned, knowing a second language may not be a bad thing right now.
  • Global perspective (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SuperGus (678577) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @10:14PM (#15183020)

    I agree with other posts that first and foremost you should choose something you enjoy doing. Poor and happy is better than rich and miserable.

    Once you've cleared that criterion, I think there is always a lucrative niche for technical people that have language skills (e.g. Chinese, not Perl) and are willing to work in the global economy. I'm an engineer, I have three languages, and have worked as an expat for companies in three countries.

    There are thousands of MBAs who speak Chinese. There are vastly fewer people who have technical ability and can function overseas. Do a couple of years locally polishing your tech skillz, then you can go abroad as a project manager. Do a good job and soon you will be asked to decide whether to stay in a tech track or continue upward in management. Even companies that outsource need competent people who can run the show.

    My recommendation: If you enjoy CompSci, then go CompSci major and Chinese or Japanese minor. How to choose Chinese vs Japanese? Trying firing up your favorite ethnic pr()n sites and see what tickles your fancy. Remember, do what you enjoy... :->

  • Re:And yet... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DaedalusHKX (660194) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @01:10AM (#15183480) Journal
    Okay, you're digging for a hostile reaction... what year psyops class did you graduate from?

    Seriously. If the government borrows (with interest) money (which is unconstitutional also, but that is besides the point, i'm sure that the US constitution is "inaccurate" for your purposes also), and then uses that money to pay its mounting war debt, then please enlighten me how it is that we can pay off that debt?

    I can fully understand your love of the debt based fiat money system. You've probably read plenty of brochures and very little of the writings of our founding fathers or even those preceding them.

    You remind me of the American "Christians"(televangelists like Pat Robertson notwithstanding) of today, screaming for the blood of Iraqis, Venezuelans and whoever else is the enemy flavor of the month based on the constant repeating of 9/11 9/11 9/11 remember 9/11... on news, in speeches, you name it.

    You are well indoctrinated my young "friend". Which means I'm going to try to talk to you until I'm blue in the face. You return back to your 2006 economics manuals, while I'll try to figure out why it is that Eric Blair's 1984 Proletariat is so prevalent in the USA...
  • by leabre (304234) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @04:13AM (#15183911)
    Your idea of a software architect is flawed. I interview people for a Sr. Developer position that says that are also an architect. Problem is, in over a year, we haven't found a single person that knows what software architecture truly is and it sounds like you don't either.

    Is software architecture all about flowcharts and design specs but the architect not a competent programmer? Not in my shop (we make insurance and accounting software). A truly competent architect will be deeply acquainted with various design methadologies, techniques, tips & tricks for that various technologies/paradigms being implemented, industry trends and will have been through quite a lot in the trenches before they can truly design a system like ours that scales to tens of thousands of concurrent users daily and millions of financial & non-financial transactions per day.

    We get applications that think they are an architect because they know what the Factory or Strategy patterns are but can't write explain or write code that explains why one would use a quicksort over a bubblesort or why one would use a list traversal over a binary search for finding sorted information. The same people say they are competent in distributed architectures but can't explain when to use SOAP and WebServices instead of a custom TCP/IP server or how a message-based system works. They can't explain the difference between a Factory and an Abstract Factory or any suitable definition and implementation of the Provider and Observer design patterns. I'm not talking about rocket science. I don't expect my architects to be one with design patterns but if they put on their resume that they are expert with patterns they better impress me regarding that topic.

    The same people can explain the difference between .NET/ASP.NET and Java/JSP but can't come up with any good comparitive strenths/weaknesses between both. The same "architects" know very little about clustering and load balancing but somehow feel competent in designing systems that scale to potentially millions of users.

    They can't explain (or more importantly, demonstrate) very well how to both invoke and prevent against cross-site scripting attacks and SQL-Injection attacks alike. While a few applicants appeared to be well acquainted with preventing SQL injection attacks neither could write code that has the vulnerability or explain certain practices/mindsets that can contribute to both the cause and the solution to the problem. When asked how they would design a destributed component over a network, they would write "chatty" interfaces and thus, consume more resources, network bandwith, and impede performance and act surprised when asked if there was a better way.

    Many have the attitude that they know everything and what they know is how they'll do anything. While not wrong if they are truly that competent, in general, a good architect will be open to new ideas and will refuse to lock themselves into a box. I don't want a COBOL architect on my team that hasn't opened their mind to newer ideas and methadologies, more importantly, an architect that full well is aware they don't know everything and always double-checks and verifies their designs/ideas are the right way vs. assuming such is the architect that gets my praise and will have the best success anywhere they go.

    When asked to about transactional system (both at the database level and at via compensating resource managers for non-database transactions) only one demonstrating any understanding of the topic, problems, concerns, and good design skills relating to the topic. Others had simply avoided using transactions for the past 15 years of the "architectural" career. They don't udnerstand the nature of insurance accounting, and related banking, I suppose. About all were uncomfortable discussing transactions and transactional systems/concerns during the interview (to their defense, no one ever made a point of it on their resume either, at least; the one guy who did was truly amazing
  • my own 2 cents... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Czapahnda (965474) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @06:36AM (#15184130)
    I will pass you the very, very boring details about the economics behind it all but here's a couple of points you may find interesting that I garnered during my *exciting* academic career studying the economics of the software industry:

    - Yes, jobs are moving abroad. But most of the time they are what are known as "low value-added" jobs - not the leading edge, cool, revolutionary new programming but the mundane old stuff such as debugging, maintenance, hotlining (gasp), etc... A lot of what is done abroad is actually adapting American or European programs to local languages.
    - High value-added jobs will probably still be found in the states for a few years to come. Why is this? Well as mentioned above, the training you will receive in the US will always carry some kudos (here or abroad) because of the US's reputation as a technology leader. Secondly, knowledge in IT tends to be geographically concentrated (see Route 128, SV, etc). This is in large part due to the *nature of knowledge*. I'll pass you the boring theory but basically, interaction with your peers, frequently possible in such an environment as SV, has been found to be very important in learning about new techniques, languages, etc. Also as there is a concentration of skilled labourers in those areas, firms keep wanting to settle there (self-reinforcing geographic concentration)
    - Excellent coders will always find work. All right, you may have to compromise and be willing to move abroad if required. But if you're good at what you do, keep up to date with the latest languages etc, you will always find work.
    - IT is everywhere. Even if you do not end up working in the industry per se, ALL industries use computers, and there are a lot of possibilities in that. Take for example the bio-technology industry: there is a shortage of biologists who know how to code, so a lot of their bioinformatics development is done by IT graduates.

    Now my advice to you, young grasshopper: go into IT if you really want to. Believe me, unless you love it, the many many years at college as well as the hours devoted in your spare time learning new languages and garnering experience on your own projects etc, will be pointless: you'll end up not liking your job, and chances are you won't be very good at it (there is a strong element of passion required, I believe, to be the best at your job). If you want money, go into consulting, bio-technology, or run for Congress.

    If this is what you really want to do, my tips would be:
    - Start learning now: there is no substitute for experience. You can already pick up the basics - it will make college easier anyway
    - Keep up to date. Languages evolve, and it's always worth keeping up to date with what is relevant in the marketplace nowadays
    - Open Source software is an excellent opportunity to learn (if not only by looking at code other have written and seeing how stuff works, but also by adding your own bits and getting feedback on your work). Your contributions also work as a signal to the marketplace: when writing your CV you can add that you contributed to X/Y/Z project, and your potential employer can actually track down what you wrote and be astounded by how wonderful you are, decide to hire you on the shot, and give you a billion dollars (well maybe not the last part)
    - And just to be safe, learn mandarin...
  • by David's Boy Toy (856279) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @09:04AM (#15184465)
    Do your employees really need to all know how to read/write Chinese? Sounds like a convient excuse. Translation work isn't something programmers need to do. You need a small handful of people who can do that.
  • by Ex-MislTech (557759) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @12:28PM (#15185378)
    Yes,

    The steel industry is gone here, thus billy joel's song allen town .

    The mercantile industry is not totally gone yet, but its going to china and malaysia .

    Farming got so bad here that many bands got together to do farmaid for the
    bankrupt farmers and we now subsidize thru tax money some farms by paying them
    to not grow anything at all .

    GM recently shuttered 5 major facilities, and opened a new one in India,
    with more to come from all US auto manufacturers .

    When GM closed the plants here Delphi a supplier also had huge layoffs,
    and other suppliers got hit by trickle down effect as well .

    It is my opinion and that of others as well that soon the US will make nothing here .

    We will have zero manufacturing, and with that the engineering for it will follow suit .

    India and China have engineers being trained "right here" in our schools , funded
    with our tax dollars + the students tuition . Yes, some tax dollars still go to pay for
    the university and its expansion . Look it up, me and my frieds did .

    Wal-mart is building the largest building on earth in china for direct warehousing
    of products to come from china .

    Like in rome, all the ppl cared about before the fall was "Bread and Circuses"

    Oh well...

    Ex-MislTech
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 23, 2006 @04:24PM (#15186339)
    I got an IT internship position for the summer at a well-known, respected company in the NE. My salary I'm receiving would be about the same as your "comp sci programmer" that makes 51k/yr. And that's only an Intern position.

    I e-mailed 10 different companies in February of 2006, and received respones from 3. I had a personal interview with one, and phone interviews with the others. I was offered positions at all three companies.

    I'm a 1st semester junior at a technical university, with about 4 months of tech support in a call center experience. The fact that I had 3 different companies to choose an offer from with very competing wages, translated into a very healthy IT industry in my mind.
  • by John Murdoch (102085) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @09:59PM (#15187571) Homepage Journal
    [OP:] 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

    Hi!

    Sorry, but you happened to trigger one of my pet rants. People DO still make buggy whips [smuckersharness.com]--and they make buggies, and carts, and drays, and all sorts of horse-drawn conveyances. And they have web sites. [bennington.co.uk]

    And since I have some knowledge of how prosperous some buggy manufacturers [smuckersharness.com] are, and also recruit and hire [lutron.com] electrical and computer engineers, I'd venture to guess that the original poster was correct--if you're good at what you do, you'll succeed at whatever you do. I'd be willing to bet money that the family that owns Smucker's Harness does substantially better than your average electrical engineer.

    Cheers!

    John Murdoch
    (Who spent the late afternoon breaking a pony to drive a carriage, and has two buggy whips on his shopping list.)

  • My viewpoint (Score:2, Interesting)

    by HonerJetso (685034) on Monday April 24, 2006 @05:21AM (#15188694)
    Having been recently dismissed from a 6 year IT career in the UK I have witnessed the market shift totaly. This may just be the organisation that I worked for but I get the impression that it something that is occuring in all the major organisations, specifically those who are outsourcing. In my first few years on the job, my IT skill set kept me in my position. My ability to provide solutions to problems and know my way around a number of languages, products etc. Towards the end of my tenure what became more usefull was my ability to sit in meetings, say yes to the right people and stop my ear catching on fire when on 4 hour long conference calls on the mobile phone. My eventual dismissal came after breaching health and saftey regulations (Driving too many miles in a day, completing a task that was neither IT related or with any significance to the business from what I could see). I am lucky because my previous management team had left the shop floor a number of years ago and have been after my services within an hour of the announcement being made. The new breed of IT people being recruited have no technical degree, infact an IT degree is not a requirement, knowing who to call and who to outsource too is the current requirement. I would like to say that I took the fall as a cost saving measure, but the new breed start on significantly more. Personally I love working in IT, or IT as it was before. Now I have serious doubts, everyone I speak to tells me to contract and to be honest if working in a permanent IT position means that I have too spend a whole morning speaking to dozens of different people in a number of countries to arrange for a task to be completed that would honestly only take up 30 mins of my own time if I was to do it myself then I don't really wish to stay in the industry. I am hoping that I have got out at the right time, I doubt it though....
  • by jotaeleemeese (303437) on Monday April 24, 2006 @02:56PM (#15192276) Homepage Journal
    When Spain and Portugal joined the EU, the cries of panic from the workers (and populists, xenophobes and all such distinguished ilk) in richer countries (Germany and France back then) was immediate.

    The rich countries were going to be swamped, the jobs were going to be gone, disaster could not be averted.

    20 years later Spain and Portugal are prosperous countries, France and Germany are struggling.

    But you will find impossible to find any sane economist of politician that would blame Portuguese or Spanish immigration for the problems of France and Germany.

    Most likely you will find that the protectionist policies of France and Germany combined with a rigid job market are to blame. Most serious imigration studies (i.e. not sponsored by Neonazis) say that immigration has a positive net effect in the society that receives the immigrants.

    You say that unskilled Mexicans take US jobs. Well, if my unskilled compatriots can take jobs that US people could be doing then you should question how bad your education system is, since unskilled people can take those jobs (you guys have an average of High School education or thereabouts. If we can beat you with 6 or 8 years less of education, either we are tremendsouly clever or you are brain dead. Most likely we are not competing for the same jobs).

    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?)

    And Mexicans do it gladly expecting little or nothing in return. Until now at least, we are a patient bunch. We demand nothing for long, but once we get tired we get down to bussiness to get what is rightly ours.

    Mexicans (and other poor immigrants) are not taking skilled or semiskilled jobs, they are taking the jobs they can do (unskilled ones), so square this circle for me Sherlock:

    -Who would do the jobs Mexicans are doing now?
    -How would you remove 10 million or more people doing productive work?
    -Who will be rushing to cover those positions once the Mexicans were stopped or gone?

    I really wish that the US goverment and racists and xenophobes that circle them were really serious about building that 2000km wall in the Rio Bravo.

    Nothing would provide me more pleasure than them retreating once the people doing productive work in the US, the families that otherwise would not have a clean house or a nice nanny looking after their children and in general the people benefitting from Mexicans' work in the US, once these people gave the xenophobes a reality check.

    But the US government is not stupid. They know that by pretending to be though without actually doing anything they get to have their cake and eat it: on the one hand they placate the xenophobes, on the other hand they get fresh workers (never mind if a few hundred die while crossing the border every year) badly needed by the US economy (hint Sherlock: if there were no jobs in the US Mexicans will not go there. We are badly treated and insulted in the US, it is the need that make us go there).

    Finally, before you blame the Mexican goverment for not taking care of its citizens, I just want to remind you that when we elected our first democratic leader your embassador backed a murderous general that executed it. That was followed by 70 or so years of a "perfect dictatorship" as one of the greatest writers in Latinamerica put it.

    Your country keeps our countries poor, and reaps the cheap labour, pretending to be offended by the "invassion" in the process. A real work of evil genius.

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