Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Not Your Daddy's IT Force Anymore 342

Posted by Hemos
from the relearning-the-new-skills dept.
Quill345 writes "The days of high-paying technology-based jobs right out of highschool are over. As writers for ACM report, the skill-sets required for jobs have grown over time. Academia has responded to the evolution with novel programs recruiting women and integrating IT into MBA programs. And as technology finds its way into every aspect of business life, the NSF is creating a grant program to fund service science, a blend of IT into other industries. Researchers at City University of NY are working on an NSF-funded project to infuse technology into Liberal Arts courses taken by students who are in primary tech-producer or tech-consumer majors. What are these crucial modern skills? Knowledge of laws like the DMCA? Interpersonal and group work skills? Experience with different technology platforms? The ability to discriminate between useful and useless information sources?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Not Your Daddy's IT Force Anymore

Comments Filter:
  • by AltGrendel (175092) <ag-slashdot&exit0,us> on Monday June 05, 2006 @09:17AM (#15471678) Homepage
    How about "Listening to the Engineers, they may actually know what they're talking about."

    That would be a great course to offer "potental" managers.

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday June 05, 2006 @09:34AM (#15471792) Homepage
      unfortunately that collides with the ideals and principals that are learned in Engineering Interaction 102 and Managing effectively 103.

      Rules for management that is drilled into the students in these classes.

      1 - the engineers are lying.
      2 - the engineers are lying.
      3 - when the engineers are not lying they are covering something up.
      4 - Whatever the engineers say the cost is cut it in 1/2 to get the real cost.
      5 - Whatever the engineers say the time needed is cut it in 1/3 to get the real time.
      6 - if the project fails, the engineers did it.

      These are hard and fast MBA rules to live by. Teaching them to actually listen to the engineers and tech people? are you mad?
      • Unfortunately, as soon as an engineer (and I am one) says something in an email/public forum where they can't get basic subject/verb agreement down, you kinda lose all credibility with "management types". You can get pissed off about it, say it doesn't really matter re: the CONTENT of your message, but it is true.
        • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Monday June 05, 2006 @10:55AM (#15472311)
          Exactly. Communication is key. I'm not sure which grammar errors you specifically were referring to, but I'll highlight a few examples from the preceding messages:

          incorrect: I got a suggestion.
          correct: I have a suggestion.

          incorrect: Rules for management that is drilled into the students in these classes.
          correct: Rules for management that are drilled...

          incorrect: Teaching them to actually listen to the engineers and tech people?
          correct: Teach them to listen... (P.S. Don't split infinitives.)

          I'm sure you will dismiss this message as the rantings of a pedant, but having good communication skills goes a very long way in this modern world. So much so that people actually will listen to your comments during a meeting. Conversely, many will tune you out as soon as you show that you don't have a grasp of tenth-grade language skills.
          • by LostOne (51301) *
            Ummm, the "don't split infinitives" thing is actually bogus. In English, the infinitive has always been split and in some cases it is simply more clear to do so. It's a similar situation with ending sentences with prepositions. Both "rules" were made up by scholars a couple centuries ago.

            Now as far as "Rules for management that is...", that can actually be correct if "Rules for management" is considered a single list. In that case, one would generally want to write it as a title (in quotes or something) but
          • as soon as you show that you don't have a grasp of tenth-grade language skills.

            1. Nobody has tenth-grade language skills.
            2. Talking like Niles Crane will get your arse kicked.
            3. Ending sentences with prepositions is something up with I will not put.
        • Unfortunately, as soon as an engineer (and I am one) says something in an email/public forum where they can't get basic subject/verb agreement down, you kinda lose all credibility with "management types".
          Heh, no kidding!
      • Only by listening to the engineers can management know what they are lying about and to learn the actual base factor of cost and time that needs to be discounted. Without using engineering's numbers there is nothing to put on the PowerPoint presentation to back up the wildly insane management projections. No numbers, no graphs.
      • The parent post is too true to be funny.
    • by rivetgeek (977479)
      Engineer's motto: Good, fast, or cheap. Pick two
    • There is a flip-side to that though. Sometimes the engineers do not know what they are talking about (usually due to bad hiring by the managers) and the managers are so lacking in IT understanding that they cannot participate in making a good decision based on the engineers recommendation.

      What I see very often, is that the engineer understands fully the IT problem/solution, but is unable to see the business perspective. Many times the best IT solution is not the best business decision, there are often
  • Personel Skills (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Monday June 05, 2006 @09:19AM (#15471689)
    While technical skills are important, the ability to work in groups, follow orders, and eventually lead groups are what will advance a career. Communications skills are a key component as well. Unless you want to stay a programmer / admin forever, and always be at risk for being replaced by a newer / cheaper model as your skills decay (or are perceived to no longer be up with the latest or simply too expensive); people skills are what will advance your career.
    • Re:Personel Skills (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jedidiah (1196)
      ...so I can advance into middle management?

      No thanks. That way is even more precarious than being a technologist.
      • Re:Personel Skills (Score:5, Interesting)

        by IAmTheDave (746256) <basenamedave-sd@ ... SD.com minus bsd> on Monday June 05, 2006 @09:37AM (#15471811) Homepage Journal
        No thanks. That way is even more precarious than being a technologist.

        That depends. At my last job, managers were respected, and any developer over 30 was seen as past his/her prime and was the first to go. Maybe it's different now, but that wasn't too long ago. Development is seen by many as a young-man's sport (sorry ladies, you do good too) but once you're past a certain age, it is expected that you've moved beyond that point and are looking to management.

        Well, at least that's how it is here on the east coast in the NY/NJ/PA area. I could see it being a different mentality out west.

        • Re:Personel Skills (Score:5, Informative)

          by GoatMonkey2112 (875417) on Monday June 05, 2006 @09:45AM (#15471861)
          Not true once you get past the .com jobs. I'm the youngest in my group at 32, and nobody is seen as past their prime as far as I can tell.
          • Re:Personel Skills (Score:3, Informative)

            by XMilkProject (935232)
            Your absolutely right, and the OP is too. It depends completely on the field.

            I have worked with developers in their 60's on some projects involving more mature technologies, embedded programming, assembly, even c/c++, and have been utterly amazed at their skill set, as they had been doing this sort of work since it existed.

            At the same time, I have worked with older developers on emerging technologies, java/.net/xsl/ajax, and been horribly disappointed at their inability to apply their previous knowled
        • The life is over developer-wise at 30 mentality makes no sense to me. It's about that time that you *really* start to actually know what you're doing and stop making so many stupid mistakes.

          I just don't understand why so many places want to start back at square one every 9 years (if that long) and make themselves completely out of people that are fairly new to the game and make the same mistakes as the people who came in before them when they were their age. There really should be a mix of older and younger people on the team if you have much of a choice because there's a heck of a lot to be said about experience (and I don't just mean experience in a language, but rather in the industry as a whole - knowing what works, what doesn't, and how to get around it)
          • Re:Personel Skills (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Richard Steiner (1585)
            Most established companies follow that pattern -- there tends to be a core of older developers around to keep things sane (and act as general resources for the others), and younger folks are brought in as needed and are slowly brought up to speed with the applications and environment using a classic mentor/student relationship.

            This is particularly true of industries which have used IT for a long time (e.g., the airline industry), but it can also be true in smaller shops. I contracted with a glass-making co
          • The life is over developer-wise at 30 mentality makes no sense to me. It's about that time that you *really* start to actually know what you're doing and stop making so many stupid mistakes.

            More precisely, it's at about ten years after you start - that's about 30 if you started when you went to university. Could go lower or higher if you started some other time. It takes roughly ten years to gain expertise in any field.

            I just don't understand why so many places want to start back at square one every 9 years
          • As time progresses, an experienced and skilled programmer/it person often sees their salary increase. In addition as you approach an age where you begin to be able to draw even partial retirement, this is seen as a potnetial future cash liability.

            About 20 years ago Lockheed, IIRC, was sued for laying off everyone in technical and engineering areas just as they were approaching the age of partial retirement. There was a settlement but not before a large number of people suffered severe financial damage. And
    • In addition.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by King_TJ (85913) on Monday June 05, 2006 @09:58AM (#15471936) Journal
      I'd say that finding oneself a job where it's even *possible* to do these things is key. For example, I've worked as a computer technician before in jobs where it was taken for granted that I was going to be holed up in the "back room", doing my thing. I enjoyed it, because I was free of much of the "office politics" and could just concentrate on getting the work done. But ultimately, you don't advance that way. You're generally never given an opportunity to lead a group, because nobody in the company views you as suitable for that role. You might get a raise based on your performance, but that's only because they're treating you as a number. "How quickly are we getting broken PCs turned around with this guy working here? Do we have X percentage more capacity to take on additional repairs now?"

      Even after you leave that type of work, it's rough finding something with more room for growth. Your resume says nothing about your potential ability to work with groups or lead one. Several buddies of mine tried to "get a foot in the door" of an I.T. career by starting out on a help-desk or as a PC tech. - and except in one case (the guy got a government job as some type of PC support person), I don't think it gave any of them much of an advantage. If they spent the time as a manager of a retail store, I suspect those skills would have worked just as well for them.
       
  • I think they should call them para-technologists or some other pseudo term. Except for a rare few most of them just won't really be techie.

    It seems to me a way to get the MBSa and such integrated into the information age. They won't replace programmers or sys-admins but they may be ther new bosses of them (with just rnough knowledge to be dangerous).

  • by Moby Cock (771358) on Monday June 05, 2006 @09:21AM (#15471701) Homepage
    All those guys that landed cushy, big-dolloar jobs out of high school often failed miserably. IT projects are notoriously risky. So many have failed, and many of them have failed spectacularly. As a result the IT community is now looking for seasoned techs. Guys that have some experience and wisdom in the fiels. Its a good thing. I know where I am, the easiest way to scare the hell out of management, is to tell them we are rolling out a new application. This is based on past experience.

    An IT force with more robust backgrounds can only be a good thing. sweet hacker skills are of still relevant, but there needs to be more.
    • Of course the high school kids have failed way more than they have succeeded. The only reason they were ever hired was that there weren't any more good, well educated techies left during the .com boom.

      Now companies have decided to go overseas instead of high school to get their cheap green techies. And again some of them will succeed and grow and some will fail miserably.

      In the end you will still have your core of educated geeks that go on.

  • by jellomizer (103300) * on Monday June 05, 2006 @09:24AM (#15471714)
    The days of any hack with computer skills are welcomed to Fortune 500 is long gone, or at best is going away quite quickly.

    Companies don't want people who can get the work done, they want people who can get the work done professionally. Well Documented designed to work with their buisness needs, not change their buisness requirements to fit the computer. There are a lot of Highly skilled and well trained college educated Technical Professionals out there. There is little reason to really hire an out of Highschool Techy guy just because he know how to program the buzz words.

    A college degree at the very least shows a minum level of self control and professionalism. At least the person got up most every day to go to class and pass the exams. Vs. Out of High School who just went to school because they were required by law to go. Or a College drop out who just couldn't fit into an environment. Getting a Degree shows the company you are more then just what you want to do.
    • No, "companies" want a bunch of nodding yes men who will stroke the relevant egos. I used to work at a Fortune 500 company and while lip service was certainly paid to technical skills it was far more important that you had suitable political skills. The larger the company gets, the more that any job becomes more about playing games and BS than actually doing productive work. This isn't merely limited to IT. IT just happens to attract more people that have little or no interest in the political BS and g
    • Companies don't want people who can get the work done, they want people who can get the work done professionally. Well Documented designed to work with their buisness needs, not change their buisness requirements to fit the computer.

      you obviousally do not work in a corperation IT/IS department.

      Rule #1 is do it in the right way is not an option. Writing a specification document will only get your ass in a grinder as the specifications will change randomly all the way up until deploy date. After the project
    • by cavtroop (859432) on Monday June 05, 2006 @09:44AM (#15471854)
      A college degree at the very least shows a minum level of self control and professionalism. At least the person got up most every day to go to class and pass the exams. Vs. Out of High School who just went to school because they were required by law to go. Or a College drop out who just couldn't fit into an environment. Getting a Degree shows the company you are more then just what you want to do.

      I'm in a different boat - I have twelve years of sysadmin/networking/security experience, but I can't get large companies to bite as I don't have a degree. What I DO have is 8 years of military experience out of high school. By your logic, that should count, but according to the larger companies, it doesn't.

      If the military doesn't show 'a minimum of self control and professionalism' and required me to 'get up most every day to go', I don't know what does. :)

      • Don't you have someone waiting to kick your ass if you don't get up and do your job in the military? Many college kids could use that kind of motivation to get them to class.
      • If the military doesn't show 'a minimum of self control and professionalism' and required me to 'get up most every day to go', I don't know what does.

        I was enlisted active duty for four years. I enjoyed serving, but the experience convinced me that I needed to get a degree to advance and reach my goals. Military service is a direct benefit for many types of jobs, and in my opinion is a distinguishing characteristic among otherwise similar job candidates. But it is not a substitute for a degree in the busine
      • Speaking as one who waited until his thirties to actually finish a college degree, I can say that one can be proficient, and fit into a corporate environment if he is either college educated, or high-school educated, and has a mature attitude and work ethic. Having said this, if one has a college degree, and attended business type classes in addition to the technical classes, he has an opportunity to develop better communication skills in the work place. For example, I recall an employee that I had who woul
    • I disagree from personally experience. In the last 5 years (at a Fortune 500 company), none of the programmers that I've hired with CS degrees have worked out. One of my best developers barely got his GED. There is only so much a college degree can get you. If you don't have the passion, education is totally worthless. Professionalism can be taught, commitment can not.

      I got my CS degree 17 years ago and it's nothing but a worthless piece of paper to me today. Keeping up on technology and growing with
    • Companies don't want people who can get the work done, they want people who can get the work done professionally.

      No, they want people who can make managers feel good.

      Doing a good, professional job is well down the list of things that companies want. Far more important are things like: does not make their manager feel stupid, even when the manager makes stupid suggestions; does good work in such a way that their manager can take credit for it; does not point out stupid management decisions to management's
    • A college degree at the very least shows a minum level of self control and professionalism.

      A myth. Welcome to 2006. Many college degrees represent a period of time where the exact opposite was true. I acknowledge that there are students who work hard and take it seriously, but there are a fair number that don't, because to them, it's little more than the "ticket" they're after. It's also somewhat fallacious to suggest that someone without a "ticket" is unable to accommodate a high degree of self-control and
    • by Belial6 (794905)
      The law does not require you to finish high school. Check the drop out rates.

      As for the college degree. I may also show that the person is a severe procrastinator and took the opportunity to put off getting a real job for another four years.

      Don't get me wrong. Learning is cool, and colleges have vast reasources to learn from, but getting a college degree does not show competence, and certainly does not show that a person is will to stick to things.
  • But isn't changing a program to make it 'prettier' and (supposedly) more attractive to girls just giving them the 'dumbed down' version of things?

    Surely it would be better to concentrate more on those students who are genuinely interested in ('boring',normal) IT, whatever their gender?

    • a program being aesthetically pleasing doesn't mean its being tailored for women or being dumbed down. I for one (as a member of the male species who doesn't prefer to wear much besides T-shirts and jeans) really dig applications which can both offer as much power as possible to the user and at the same time not cause them to want to vomit in their mouth a little. Functionality and style can co-exist and are both equally important.
    • "But isn't changing a program to make it 'prettier' and (supposedly) more attractive to girls just giving them the 'dumbed down' version of things?"

      Is this the result of ages of sexist thinking when it comes to technology, or just a lack of understanding economics?

      If you want more people to buy your cars, you make sure they're interested in buying them. You want more people to come to your class, you make it more interesting for them. You want to rope more students into paying $25,000 or more per year at
    • Maybe I'm not a representative sample of your general chick. But growing up (ie, from the age of 7 onwards) I thought programming was the coolest shit ever. I was that kid who would write never-ending batch files and add them into the autoexec.bat file of the class computer; who would unpassword protect program groups in win3.1. I went to computer camp.

      What was the difference? I guess maybe that I was in a class filled with devious "gifted" kids. We were a sneaky, spiteful lot. Anything that we could "cleve
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Monday June 05, 2006 @09:30AM (#15471762) Homepage
    Women are pushed into the workforce instead of being pushed into the kitchen. Instead of breaking the cycle and pushing women to rationally choose what they want, based on comparative advantages and disadvantages, things have just shifted from one sexism to another.

    I'd like to call academic feminists "useful idiots" in that respect, but that'd be letting them off the hook as they have often whole-heartedly promoted the idea that women have no legitimate right to choose a traditional housewife role.

    We aren't much closer to a culture where women choose the lifestyle that fits them. The pendulum has just swung from one extreme to another.
    • I'm glad that women aren't denied jobs because of their gender, but I don't see why people are trying to force women into IT roles -- women can do what they want and it seems to be there's general disinterest on there part. If people want to change that, the best place isn't here in the work world, it's during the whole experience known as life -- especially childhood. Want women to be more IT savvy??? How about some more non-gendered video games (what girl wants to play "I'm a big strong man with a gun,
      • I totally agree that girls need to learn technology when they're young if they're ever going to get insto it. A person pushed into IT in their high school or college years can learn the basics, but she's never going to have the passion for it that will really make her successful and happy in that career. I got my first computer when I was 6 years old, and I love technology. Most girls aren't exposed to technology that young (or worse, their brothers are and they aren't - grrr) but it would get a lot more
    • The thing I find interesting about your post is that you seem to think that the large majority of women are natural leaders and enjoy being in the position of making all of the decisions (for themselves or others). From what I've found, women seem to act this way while in college (because they are "pushed" to act this way). After a year or two of working in the real world they quickly figure out what they really want.

      And it really has nothing to do with career opportunities. Know what it is? They want to
      • *cough*

        Here's a radical concept: all women are *not* the same. Not all women like to be led. Some like to lead. Some enjoy their jobs. Some don't like children. Some like children, but would be terrible stay-at-home moms. Some husbands are better at being stay-at-home parents than their wives. Sometimes both husband and wife work, not because they have to, but because they both like working.

        >>Writing another report for the CFO is not important. Having and raising children is. Plus it's mor
        • Don't be silly. Of course everyone is different. Duh.

          Is it true that most women like being with kids more than most men do? Yes, absolutely. So my logic and my overall point stands strong.

          My wife is better at raising kids. And she's glad to have a husband that's good at writing reports for the CFO. I work to get paid. My family needs a stream of income to survive. Someone's got to focus on taking care of the kids and somebody else has to focus on making money so the family can afford the things a famil
          • I never said that everyone needs to climb the corporate ladder. What I'm saying is that people shouldn't be limited to rigid, gender-defined roles. I would be terrible at being a housewife, and I have no interest in being one, so I'm glad that I have the opportunity to not be one. My husband is good with children, and when we have children of our own we might decide that he should be a stay-at-home parent. I'm glad he'll have that opportunity.

            I'm not against men or women being stay-at-home parents, o
      • I think you've hit on something very insightful. I'd probably add that many women have gone down the "I want a career!" route in pursuit of "accomplishing something worthwhile" - only to become disillusioned when they find out that it's a longer, harder road than they expected, and there's not always very much rewarding stuff to accomplish along the way.

        Obviously, individual situations vary, but I've certainly observed cases where women seemed to complain bitterly about "glass ceilings" and inequality in t
    • You are absolutely right. My wife, who has two college degrees, is leaving her career to become a stay-at-home full time mom because that what she *wants* to do. And she gets nothing but crap from her female co-workers who now think I'm a terrible husband for "making her stay at home". Or another comment was "You are destroying everything our mother's fought for!" To which I reply, "You mean the right to choose?"
    • I'd like to call academic feminists "useful idiots" in that respect, but that'd be letting them off the hook as they have often whole-heartedly promoted the idea that women have no legitimate right to choose a traditional housewife role.

      Nice caricature, and I'm sure it's useful to you when maintaining your worldview, but it doesn't represent reality. Feminist ideology is, and always has been, about choice.
    • You've completely left out of the economic impact of the dual-income family that affects that choice.

      Basically, because there are so many dual-income families, home prices have inflated to that market and now many people have to be dual-income to afford a home. Not really a win/win situation for society at large.
    • Women in the CS program at Carnegie Mellon [barnesandnoble.com] were interviewed in depth. They were enthusiastic about the field but kept dropping out anyway after being confronted over and over with a message of "you don't belong here".
  • Barrier to entry (Score:4, Insightful)

    by texaport (600120) on Monday June 05, 2006 @09:37AM (#15471806)
    What are these crucial modern skills?

    Uhhm, aptitude tests in the first place? You want someone with 20 hours a week experience for three or four years while in high school.

    What you don't want is someone who reads a 1" column in Money Magazine of the top growth fields by 2011 and just throws a dart.

    I've seen where nearly 40% of the incompetent tech staff that I worked around in 2001 jumped right into the field of health sciences.

    They shouldn't have been in IT, and the nursing profession (and patients) deserves better -- these folks never "heard their calling."

  • by eepok (545733) on Monday June 05, 2006 @09:37AM (#15471814) Homepage
    It really isn't just the Tech Industry that has raised its standard. Almost everyone has. The problem for most, however, isn't the lack of certifications or education, but the lack of experience pertinent to individual positions.

    My girlfriend is a university graduate and holds a pharmacy technician certification and license. She got them (and about 500 hours of experience in a pharmacy) because she planned on going to pharmacy school. Then, considering she wasn't happy telling people, "Sorry Mr. Goldman, the insurance company doesn't feel as though your Alzheimer's is worth treating. You got $283.43 on ya?"

    So she's on the job market again and has been for the last 2 months. Bachelor's degree, high quality experience in --AN-- industry and nothing. Why? Because companies and organizations no longer gauge the value of applicants by their credentials or educational degrees. All they want to see is hard experience directly working with the company database or "... at least 3+ years working knowledge of ".

    Why? I dare say as an educator that it's because the market has been flooded with bachelor degrees and MS Certification, and this certification, etc.

    How can we remedy this? Make it standard for companies to supply their applicant pool with training software. You want your applicant pool to be qualified and to integrate, achieving 85%+ productivity, within a week? Then you should really post downloadable software on the website from which you advertise jobs.

    Bsck to my girlfriend, she's applied for many positions at same University at which I work. She's no longer looking for something that will "stimulate her mind" as she's willing to work in the payroll department-- "entry level". But, of course "Required: 3+ years of the *** payroll system including , , "

    Save your time, with the education, guys. Graduate high school, get a couple certs just to make your resume a bit more full, and make a friend on the inside. Connections really do seem to be the only way to get a job today. =(
    • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Monday June 05, 2006 @10:40AM (#15472196)
      "Graduate high school, get a couple certs "

      That's pretty lousy advice. Considering you're basing this on your gf's story, maybe the lesson is don't specialize in something you think you don't want to do. Quitting your career because of uninsured people is a silly reason to piss away your experience and education. Who's going to hire someone who willy-nilly has random ethical problems? She comes off like someone who refuses to be part of the environment she chose to work in. What employer wants a flakey person like that? Here's some real advice:

      1. Finish school.
      2. Don't be a martyr.
      3. Become flexible to adapt to different environments.
      4. Have fun and make connections.
      5. Remember a job is a means to an end not an end in itself.

      Also, I disagree that the market is flooded with useless degrees and certifications. Its flooded with people competing with her for that payroll job. The person with payroll experience will win. This is nothing new. Whether or not they have degrees or certs is merely incidental. The entitlement attitude you and your gf have because you just have some degree isn't going to fly. Advising people to stop going to college because of your bad attitude is pretty ignorant and petty.
    • The only problem is that *MANY* places require at least a Bachelors degree to get in the door. This is, of course, due to the fact that the k-12 system in the US sucks to the point that buisness can not count on a HS diploma meaning anything these days.

      So while I agree with the sentiment that education does not buy you much these days.
    • What about something like pharmaceutical sales? There are a lot of other jobs that would be useful to have experience in pharmacy without completely jumping to some totally different field.
    • So she's on the job market again and has been for the last 2 months. Bachelor's degree, high quality experience in --AN-- industry and nothing. Why? Because companies and organizations no longer gauge the value of applicants by their credentials or educational degrees. All they want to see is hard experience directly working with the company database or "... at least 3+ years working knowledge of ".

      Yup. That's why it's so hard for folks who have lots of legitimate experience to find work in some markets.

  • Experience..... (Score:5, Informative)

    by hnile_jablko (862946) on Monday June 05, 2006 @09:38AM (#15471818)
    In my 8 years of experience in this industry, the most useful skills have been communication/interpersonal skills. It's strange, I leave a high paying job behind a bar (i make great money now, but made far more working Thurs, Fri and Sat nights in popular watering holes) where I develeped great communication/interpersonal skills. Problem is, most people I commuunicated during work were drunk and wanted something from me. Now I it is usually me wanting something from someone else all the while wishing I was drunk.
    Seriously though, the communication/interpersonal skills are far more valuable. I have seen many people who have no talent or skill in anything technical make it very far while the person with the technical knowledge remains where they are.
    PS. My skills learned from the bar make me a great conversationist, but not being a sycophant I am not afraid to say "NO!" to a manager who has no tech skills, but wishes to impress the client regardless the cost. This has made my career static and somewhat digressive.
  • by JavaLord (680960)
    Researchers at City University of NY are working on an NSF-funded project to infuse technology into Liberal Arts courses taken by students who are in primary tech-producer or tech-consumer majors.

    Why don't they work on infusing more real world type projects into their comp sci majors instead?
    • Why don't they work on infusing more real world type projects into their comp sci majors instead?

      Because that might make a comp sci degree that actually has some use in the real world (and thus require real work from the lecturers), as oppossed to comp sci degrees that are really only for "professionalism" checklists(Degree? check, Suit? check, ability to use sports metaphors for "interpersonal communication skills"? check) - which are a lot easier to teach.
  • Does it follow? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Distinguished Hero (618385) on Monday June 05, 2006 @09:50AM (#15471901) Homepage
    As writers for ACM report, the skill-sets required for jobs have grown over time. Academia has responded to the evolution with novel programs recruiting women and integrating IT into MBA programs.
    Is it just me, or is this quite the nonsequitur? I can see integrating IT into MBA programs as a potential solution, but how does recruiting women into IT adress the problem? Clicking on the "recruiting women" link leads to an article titled "CMU uses game maker's characters to interest girls in computer programming" which is one of the most condescending ideas I have ever come across.
  • Physics for Poets (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jodka (520060) on Monday June 05, 2006 @10:02AM (#15471954)

    Researchers at City University of NY are working on an NSF-funded project to infuse technology into Liberal Arts courses

    Well my experience in college was that many, though not all, liberal arts majors purposefully avoided technical subjects; they were incapable of functioning in that domain. It was like trying to teach a cat to play chess. The university policy though was that they should be educated on those subjects. The resulting compromise between the impossible and the ideal was that the university offered special dumbed-down courses on technical subjects. They taught physics without math. A waste of time for all involved.

    It is the educators who need to get a clue here: stop trying to teach a subjects to the selection of students who can not learn it. Poets don't need to know computer programming, most of them are incapable of learning it, so stop wasting everyones time and the taxpayers money by insisting that they learn. A society where everyone is technical expert is an impossible fantasy. Identifying the group of people least willing and able to learn a subject and choosing to teach them that is the least-efficient plan. Naturally, that would be government funded.

    • by cmat (152027)
      This I have to totally disagree with. While I would never expect anyone to be an expert in even more then a couple of areas, the point of general education is to "round-out" everybody's understanding of the world they live in. Things like geography, math, chemistry, literature, language, history, socialology; these aren't just poopoo topics. These are things that MAY be exciting to someone, and denying the opportunity for someone to discover their love of a field is saddening. In a world where education
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 05, 2006 @10:02AM (#15471959)
    10+ years experience trumps every degree and cert that I have seen, unless the company has some made up rule about degrees and salary. There are just so many things that you can't learn in college and with a cert.

    I've always heard that 80% of why you have and keep your job is people skills. I think that number is close to being true.

    Also, somebody mentioned the people going into nursing and the medical field because US News and World Reports put it as a lucrative field. I think you need to have a passion for that field to really want to help others. I can't imagine a good healthcare provider who's in it just for the money.
  • by Anon-Admin (443764) on Monday June 05, 2006 @10:09AM (#15471993) Journal
    That seems to be the first question I am asked in a technical interview. Why would an UNIX admin/manager need to know the 7 layers? 2 or 3 of them, sure but all 7?

    The truth is, The degree does not mean squat! Heck the experience does not even seem to mean anything. If it did (with my 15 years in the field) I would not be asked to name the 7 layers of the OSI model. The certs do not seem to mean anything. So what is left? HR people just call one of there technical people in and have them quiz the new applicant. The technical person seems to take the stance of "Lets prove I am smarter than the new guy" and add questions like "In Linux what is init level 3?" and does not accept "Anything you set it to when you edit the /etc/inittab!"

    More recently I was asked "Where is Apache installed on Solaris 9?" I responded with "The install is a compile time option, so it is where ever you set it to be." I was told I was wrong because the package they get from their packaging department always installs in the /opt dir.

    The issue is that HR departments and hireling managers (non-tech) have no way to judge an individuals skills. They have found that the guys with degrees do not always know what to do, Resumes are faked or fudged, and certs can be made with a good laser printer. What is left? They start to look for people that have experience in just the apps and hardware they have then have there existing guys judge there skills. Is there a better way? I really do not know, although I would start by teaching the general IT people how to interview. It mite make it a little easier.
    • First, I think you are assuming that companies want to hire good, qualified people.

      Also, depending on the context, asking someone where things are installed or about runlevels can be pretty stupid things to ask, and may be irrelevant. It's also possible, however, that they aren't looking for the obvious answer; maybe they think you are really smart and are trying to see how you handle something you don't know?

      If I was interviewing and felt the need to ask about default runlevels for some reason, someone wh
  • by TobascoKid (82629) on Monday June 05, 2006 @10:10AM (#15472003) Homepage
    If "Interpersonal and group work skills" are so important, why aren't they taught? They are not really taught at school - the sports field is not the office environment (sports metaphors not withstanding) and where the environment is closest to the office (ie, classwork) working together can bring allegations of plagarism and cheating. They're not a part of any university classes I've seen either.

    I think IT workers get unfairly lumped as people with "poor interpersonal and group work skills", simply because people with a more introverted dispostion are attracted to it than to other professions. A lot people assume that just because you're quiet, you lack interpersonal skills, completely ignoreing the fact that a lot of extroverts aren't actually that good when it comes to interpersonal skills - all that talking is assumed to be an example of "good interpersonal skills" when it's actually a lot of BS and politics (with a good amount of backstabbing). Most introverts where I know work really well with other people, while a lot of I know extroverts (and especially the ones I know at work) are great at blowing hot air but don't work at all well with other people.
    • They're not a part of any university classes I've seen either.

      When my sister was in school a few years ago as a marketing major nearly all of her marketing classes were focused around group projects. If the group didn't work together you didn't get a good grade. The program was completely about "Interpersonal and group work skills".
  • by Quill345 (769162) on Monday June 05, 2006 @10:17AM (#15472050)
    I think that the misconception in many of the comments is that this program is designed to turn the average college student into somewhat of a "quickie-techie". It is not.

    The program is designed to supplement the courses that a technology-area major takes ordinarily. The idea is that your English, Speech, Health and other core College courses would be technology infused, thus showing you the connections between the theory of technology you're majoring in and applications to other fields. The hope is that by the end, students will know the breadth of career possibilities instead of getting pipelined directly into the average help desk career.

    Besides the tech-infusion into typical courses, the program also concludes by having students create a simulated technology business in the classroom. They're asked to go through the process of coming up with an idea, business model, marketing plans, and then working to "sell" that product. This connects their technology knowledge with real world business practices, as well as forces them to read about the current state of the industry, all while imparting those critical communication, groupwork and other soft skills.

    The real question here is what skills need to be infused into the Liberal Arts courses so that in their final course they are able to and feel confident in starting their own tech-based business.

  • The more they mix computer science with other areas, the more watered down computer science seems to get. What they should be doing is making computer science more like a science. Teaching computer skills is fine, but this sounds like trying to make people outside of the computer science field think they know as much as people inside the computer science field.
  • OH honestly... (Score:4, Informative)

    by C10H14N2 (640033) on Monday June 05, 2006 @10:25AM (#15472102)
    "The days of high-paying technology-based jobs right out of highschool are over."

    Those days never existed and for christ's sake I wish IT-types would stop perpetuating the myth. Yeah, sure, there were excesses during the dot-com boom-bust cycle, but rarely, VERY rarely were those excesses bestowed upon 17 year-olds. It was bad enough when people were insinuating that every CompSci graduate in 1997 was getting a 135K/year job with a free Mercedes. Stupid shit like that happened, but the psychology is akin to one Amway triple-diamond sales manager pulling up in his new Maserati, causing the 300 people in his "downline" running around telling all their friends that they're getting Maseratis too. Then, when the whole thing falls apart, they don't have the Maserati, and everyone gets into a big schadenfreude orgy watching the giant fall...from a height he never attained.

    The other aspect of this that is maddening is the implication that utterly normal salaries for middle-of-the-road positions are "high." Take a garden variety IT job that pays about $65-70k today. Well, in 1995 dollars that's $49-52K -- and that WASN'T a great deal of money in 1995 for a skilled occupation. Constantly screaming out this mantra of "high IT salaries" communicates to people that they are unjustified. Go to the BLS and pull up similarly skilled occupations. You'll find that by and large, IT salaries are--and have been for some time--totally in line with, say, being an electrician or a telco engineer... or a PLUMBER for christ's sake.

    The bubble was a five-year abberation that has been over for five years. Get over it and please stop perpetuating and exacerbating what is largely urban myth based on what are at best statistical outliers. In short, shut-the-fuck-up already.
    • Oh, I don't know about that. In 1990, I started my first full-time programming job, with a high school diploma, and about 2/3 of a bachelor's degree in systems analysis completed, and I made the princely sum of EIGHT BUCKS an hour.

      Thank you for injecting a bit of reality here.

    • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Monday June 05, 2006 @11:56AM (#15472866) Homepage Journal
      "The days of high-paying technology-based jobs right out of highschool are over."

      Those days never existed and for christ's sake I wish IT-types would stop perpetuating the myth.


      Actually, they did exist.

      My first job, in 1980-1982, was as a Power Engineer for Tek Cominco (back then Cominco), and it paid $12 when I started as an Assitant and I was making $22 within a year. Back then, that was more than a wealthy white collar worker made, and even CEOs only made about $40 an hour then.

      When I moved to Seattle, shortly after the tech boom hit, and many people were getting four or five job offers at 100K+ if they left work in one place, in the late 1990s. I remember having a job end, going on vacation to go surf in Santa Barbara, and getting two job offers the week I was surfing, starting work the day after I got back.
  • by B5_geek (638928) on Monday June 05, 2006 @11:37AM (#15472665)
    Things will only get worse for compaines untill they realize that they can't get something for nothing.

    I have been out of work for 6 months, this is an example "Help Wanted" that I recently read:

    Minimum MUST HAVE requirements:
    5 Years Oracle
    5+ Years Windows System Admin
    5 years Help Desk
    5 years Citrix
    7 Years C++, VB, (and a few others)

    Salary Range: $20,000 - $25,000/year (Canadian)

    They are trying to fill 4 jobs with 1 person who would work for $10/hour!

    Computers are my passion, but with many places pulling shit like this I think I'll keep it as my hobby and go look for another career.
    • I've seen tons of that too. While I'm currently employed in a help-desk/server admin gig (for the princely sum of $10/hr and no overtime pay), I can't even begin to apply anywhere else.

      9 times out of 10 my absolute barrier is that I need a Bachelor's degree to get hired doing the same work I'm doing now. They've str8 up told me that this is the case.

      On the same token, degree or no, I'm seeing a shift of perception on IT in general. Granted, there was an unrealistic height in the 90s, but now I'm seeing a
    • Minimum MUST HAVE requirements:
      5 Years Oracle
      5+ Years Windows System Admin
      5 years Help Desk
      5 years Citrix
      7 Years C++, VB, (and a few others)

      Salary Range: $20,000 - $25,000/year (Canadian)

      They are trying to fill 4 jobs with 1 person who would work for $10/hour!

      Perhaps. Although it sounds to me like you may be reading too much into this. Reading this, it sounds like a not-for-profit community hospital (or something similar) seeking desktop support. In affect, they want somebody with 3 or 4 yea
  • Missing the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MountainLogic (92466) on Monday June 05, 2006 @12:12PM (#15473037) Homepage
    The real change in the IT profession is that it will go away. In the early days of electrification, if your company used electricity you would have an electrical engineer on staff to design the system, update it and keep it working. Today unless you have a very unusual need, such as an aluminum plant you have no need for an EE on staff. Same for the early days of the phone system. IT as an internal service must mature to that point. In the mainframe days a whole army of systems analysts were kept busy converting paper spreadsheets into one-off programs. Modern spreadsheet programs have killed that need. Not every company needs a custom accounting program. Sure, if you have a very unusual need there would be no market for someone to write it as a commercial product, but is your company really that much different that you have to write a custom spreadsheet program? So why do you need a custom accounting or MRP program? The business world needs canned programs that the MBAs or logistics folks can use just as well as MBAs now drive spreadsheets. What does IT bring to the table other than overhead? What domain expertise do they bring? The most competitive companies will spend the least on IT.

    The whole wave of off-shoring shows the first phase of this maturation process. If you can spec it you can out source it. If you can our source it then someone can generalize it. Once it is generalized then IT as an internal service goes away. In the not so distant future, IT functions will be turned over to the facilities department and the maintenance folks - same as heat, water, electricity, phones, etc.

Every young man should have a hobby: learning how to handle money is the best one. -- Jack Hurley

Working...