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Internet Speed Applied to Careers 177

Johnny Mnemonic writes: "The Washington Post is running an story about a one-day Internet career. The guy quit his previous job, started a new job at 9:00--and was laid off by 5. Not sure whether to laugh or cry, but he probably holds the record for Internet flameouts. Isn't this how "Secret of My Success" started?"
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Internet Speed Applied to Careers

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  • All he has to do is apply for a job at eFront.com or GovWorks.com.
  • Regardless of how much money you make, you will not be happy unless you are doing something you enjoy. How much you enjoy work will be reflected upon your family and friends - if you are always unhappy, always complaining, it will have a negative impact on your personal relationships, which then gives a negative reaction on your work life. A downward spiral.

    If your friends offer really intrigues you, and the only thing holding you back is money, then ask yourself what is the worst thing that can happen. That's generally how I make a lot of decisions. If the worst that can happen is you become unemployed, yet gain experience and took a shot at doing something you liked (and unemployed isn't that bad, i.e. you still live at home, or can go back while you look for another job), then it seems like a no-brainer to me.

  • How is C++, which has been around two decades, still a "buzzword"?

    But my gripe with your post, which wasn't a bad post, is this:

    I blame my school for not inspiring me..."
    That's the biggest cop-out I've ever heard. No one made you go to school. If you liked doing HTML four years ago, you should have gotten a job doing it then. Even still, you think there's no programming concepts involved in HTML? Or will you pay for every little backend piece of code, or higher a freelancer to write two line perl scripts? Most of the HTML I develop (and no, I don't do HTML for a living) is generated programatically. Just like this entire website.

    Not doing what you want to do because of expectations of others is your OWN fault.

  • Thirty years ago, RCA Computers was hiring and transferring employees into the new Framingham MA operation on the day Board of Directors decided to get out of the computer business.
  • You've got me cringing :)


    >This is the typical irresponsible .com attitude.
    >"We got burnt, so what, we had fun!".


    That doesn't seem to be a fair characterization . . .


    He seems to be saying that the fact that it didn't work out doesn't mean it was a bad move (or maybe I just want to read it that way . . . :)


    A risk has to be evaluated before the chance, not after. If you go in knowing that there's a 60% chance of failure, but the payoff for the 40% chance of success makes it worth it, it was still a good decision if it comes up failure.


    Additionally he got valuable experience, perhaps better than if he'd gone elsewhere.


    hawk

  • at forum2000? They didn't even get told they got fired, just the plug pulled. Now forum2000 looks like the etoys website. So sad.

  • The google cache seems to be garbled

    I've noticed that sometimes it will heal itself if you go to another page and then go back - even when reload doesn't work. What the heck is that all about? Inquiry to google got boilerplate.
  • Sure, to Americans there may seem like an awful lot of job security, but think about it from the Japanese perspective. These people have been lead from birth to believe that the company that hires them out of college is the company that they will work for for the rest of their lives. When people are fired in Japan, it is a horrible disgrace. This is one of the reasons they've been in a decade long recession; a lot of their skilled workers commit suicide upon being laid off, so there's no reserve of cheap labor to start digging them out.
  • You know... I hear this all the time. And I figure, it *must* be true. We're talking about the largest software house in the world. The richest company on Earth.

    But, then, you try to actually use this software that these geniuses and most talented coders in the world have invented and your immediate, disgusted, knee-jerk reaction is to their totally counter-intuitive, instable tripe is nothing more than: Gods, it *can't* be true!

    I mean, you think writing awful software can't be a business motive -- ergo, it's not a mgmt. fault... yet, if they're hiring the "smartest and most talented coders in the world," it by all rights shouldn't be a *programmer* issue...

    I suppose that just baffles me ;-)

    BRx.

  • Often when there is a liquidation bankruptcy there is a public sale of leftover assets (Learn the differences between chapters 7, 11 and 13). Look in the classifieds of your nearest large metropolitan newspaper, and you can find the companies that are performing these sales. Usually you must have cash or a cashiers check, often they require you to put up a bond to bid, that means something like a cashiers check for $100 (or $5000 or...), then you have x days to bring the rest of the money for whatever you buy. For very large things, if you have a good relationship with your bank they might bridge loan you money, essentially charging you for the possibility they will loan you money on the item.

    I went to the sale of a place I had worked at, and it was very interesting:

    Old terminals: went for ~$50 (I missed them while chatting with someone - you must be alert!)

    Nearly new VAX: not in evidence, turned out to have mysteriously wound up in the new company of the former "strategic planner."

    Office furniture: various pretty decent deals.

    Real estate (two large warehouse/office buildings): $1.4 mil (definitely the bargain of the sale, probably worth 50% more than that at that time. The guy had a cashiers check...)

    Backstabbing former coworkers pleading for jobs: Priceless!

    Another time I went to a government auction ("Buy jeeps for $52 from the goverment!"). It actually had some pretty decent stuff, although the Forest Service trucks they were selling seemed to be getting bids more than they were worth - I think the place was overrun with auto dismantlers who could make a profit at those prices. On the computer side, I bid on two pallets of stuff - I was only interested in the computers (a couple of unix boxes just like the ones I was using at work), although it included some big disk drives that I was considering converting into aluminum wheel polishers (no joke, a car magazine had published simple plans). IIRC, I bid $127 (written closed bidding), and it went for $135. Sheesh.
  • Holy fucking shit! I just checked and forum 2000 is back. Never mind.HAHA!

  • You need to prove that you're over the hump and can do real work in the real world. That you can work with a team, rather than try to out-score the other team members. That you can handle a project with multiple solutions and not go for the "best" one over an "adequate and quick" or "easy to get right" one. That you can handle something longer, tougher, and more unknown than a class assignment, something without a canned solution. That you'll read the manual. That you'll pull a stock design for a wheel FROM a manual rather than trying to reinvent it.

    Wow, that gave me a good laugh. From my experience, that isn't what the college grads are doing, that's what the veterans are doing. Life in the "real world" outside of the "ivory tower" seems to install those attitudes, rather than diminish them from everything I've seen.

    I mean in college you've only got grades to compete against each other for. Outside of college everyone is competing for money.

  • I was at a web .com company for a while. I liked the folks there and had a crapload of responsibilities, which I liked. But it became apparent that the "business" side was not really interested in reality, but rather just wanted to talk it up into a huge deal and then try to sell it, working or not. I would get asked/told that we needed to develop this or that feature into the product I was developing for the web and I'd tell them, Okay, that will take 3 weeks extra for product completion... They'd say "No, we need that tomorrow to show the VC's!" and I'd say that cannot happen.
    It went back and forth with silly things like that for a while, and I got kind of fed up with trying to take care of everything with the help of only one other guy (who was very smart, but was a student in the beginning).

    Anyway, I realized that there was no way to make these guys see reality. They were hiring the high school pals and flying them around the country to party and all sorts of silliness but I had to argue to get them to settle on a service provider for hosting our product...

    I updated my resume and started getting calls, eventually interviewing and being offered the job I'm at now. I told them that I had an offer, and that I'd stay if they could come close to it, but they got all silly and childish and said
    "We accept your resignation" when I had yet to give one. I said okay, when do you want me out, they said in two weeks. I said okay, later that day they sent a friend of mine there to tell me they wanted me to not come back the next day. They didn't even have the decency to do it themselves.
    Anyway, i got paid for the two weeks, took time off to enjoy myself, and started my new job early and got a bonus of overlapping paychecks.

    I think it's important to keep your resume fresh and keep your portfolio or whatever is important for your job updated and current online somewhere. I keep mine on my own domain so I don't ever have to scramble if I need it. I get calls all the time, and have had to start screening to find which of the folks are serious with cool jobs I might be interested in and which are calling for random headhunter crap.

    Anyway, I think it's fairly standard to be asked not to come back once you resign or are resigned, but they still have to pay you for the time or else do some other severence thing unless they can pull some swifty manuevers on you.

    My trick now is to go to interviews and specifically ask how much control I get, etc. etc. and to tell them outright that if I don't get autonomy and control over my areas I won't take the job. Some still try to talk me into it, but most appreciate the honesty either way. I have had some more offers that way, but I won't go to anywhere not operating in the Black now. No more startups for me.
  • The market may be a great place for "those who know what they're doing", but an awful lot of "computer gurus" (me among them) are also "market imbeciles". Face it, if you're that good at financial stuff, why aren't you working on Wall Street instead of at a computer or internet firm? (And why are you hanging around on Slashdot????)

    I believe in "The First National Bank of Beautyrest" - keep your money in your mattress!!
  • Once worked at a place where I reported for work at 8:00 am and quit at 9:30 am. Guy came in with the pay agreement for me to sign and it was $$ lower than I was making at my previous employer, and $$$ below what he said I would make. Turns out he was talking commi$$ion. I don't do commi$$ion. I work for a pay check, not wet dreams, and not someone else's wet dream at that.

    It turned out well, though, as I signed with another company for (just slightly) more than company A, and $$$ more than company B that I had just quit.

    No, I didn't sue him, I did better. I lived well. He didn't, going out of business just six weeks later.

  • Actually, it isn't the Investment Banking division that provides capital, it's the Private Equity division.

    Investment Banking = Issue bonds, take companies public, merge companies

    Private Equity = VC from a big bank

    nlh

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The self-centered (and immoral) thing to do would have been to take his accumulated vacation time at the government contractor job, so when this gig vaporized he would still have a job to go back to.

    So what's immoral about that? They'd have to pay him the vacation if he quit. Do you think they'd do less than drop him like a hot potato if their business got in trouble and it came to a choice between firing him (along with a dozen others) or an unprofitable quarter?

    If they fire him he typically gets two weeks severance pay in lieu of two weeks notice. The really good companies will let him retain his email address, or even his office and phone, while he hunts for a new job. But in all too many companies the first notice he'll get is discovering his card key doesn't work or his login is gone. And all too often if an employee takes vacation he'll come back to find he's fired. "At will" employment makes taking vacations problematic.

    On the other side it is typical for an employee to give two weeks notice if he quits (provided his employment contract allows doing outside work). But if he happens to have six weeks vacation accrued, it's common to take it all and give notice two weeks before he's due to return.

    That way his employer already has somebody covering his position, and had plenty of time to do some planning. And if the new job turns out to be a bummer he can throw it over and just return to work at vacation's end, with no ripples and a couple weeks extra money in his pocket.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If I didn't know first-hand from my time there what incredible retards the people in IT at GS were, I would be more surprised that they suddenly cut off funding to a company like that

    The funding for such companies has NOTHING to do with the IT department; it's the investment banking division which provides with venture capital, or withholds it.

  • I would think the company would still be liable for severance... even if he only did kind of work for one day.

    Depends where the company is located. For example, here in Toronto Canada most companies can fire you at a moment's notice for the first 3 months of your employment. They usually spell this out in your contract, but it's pretty standard. Sort of a "trial period", if you will. No severance required. The flip side of this coin is that the employee can also quit during this time at a moment's notice without any penalty.

    After that, either the company or the employee by law has to provide their 2 weeks notice before termination. Severance might actually be limited to just the next 2 weeks, depending on how long you've worked.
  • I got to say I was rolling around the office. I had to laugh about this. Taking a risk with a non-fully funded company.

    I got to say, What the hell do some of the dot-coms do with it all(money). Don't they have any business knowledge? preserve the cash and market directly towards your group wisely.

    I hope the guy finds something new soon.

    ONEPOINT

    OFFTOPIC :
    I'm looking for aminmatin for our TV show anybody care to submit material or direct me to a web site please drop me an e-mail using onepoint instead of giveittome



    spambait e-mail
    my web site artistcorner.tv hip-hop news
    please help me make it better
  • I don't claim to be a management genius or even to have the first idea what I'm talking about, but surely a company thats just surviving on the generosity of another company, with no guarantees or anything should be looking to make cut-backs, save money and that kind of thing, not employing more people. I know it's the new economy but does that really mean that common sense doesn't apply?
  • I have no idea what you could have done wrong, with the exception of expecting to have a wreath of laurels crammed up your butt sideways upon graduation. If you go through school and then expect to make 6 figures just for showing up by noon, you should have been a lawyer.

    I worked 30+ hour weeks to put myself through a State university in the mid-90's. No loans, and job experience to boot. I was not too full of myself to live with my family for the duration of College, I saw it as an investment. It kept me away from the alcoholic drug abusers.

    Half my professors spoke Ingrish just fine, they helped me focus on the ideas, not prejudice. Half were Ph.D's, they taught me respect for thought and foresight. Half had left the IT industry to teach, because they were tired of the rat race, they taught me balance and that it was ok to walk away from pain. I learned useful things.

    No class I ever took in CS exceeded 25 students. None exceeded 25% non-English-fluents. None had more than 5 women in it. None depended on a Microsoft product the upgrade of which would render my education void. I learned assembler and Lisp, and I use neither professionally. However, I know the difference between data and algorithms.

    I had a $40k/annum job in place months before graduation - and they paid for my Masters. Upon earning that, they gave me a 50% raise. I don't live in the bizzaro world of Silicon Valley, so my salary is VERY lucrative at this point.

    NASDAQ doesn't bother me much since I don't have stock options. I have actual benefits and keep my investments private. I don't work for a company that sells things which don't exist. I don't have to rip my guts out to make good on some marketters delusion. And my job doesn't depend on whether or not some Wall Street compulsive gambler freak took enough Tums.

    The REAL jabber has the /. user id: 13196

  • I agree with you completely. I learned the hard way at my last job, a .com that is still clinging to life.

    They are now trying to not be a dotcom but a tv production company (probably because all the tech folks pretty much quit).

    Now I have a decent job, not super high pay, but I'm respected and for the most part my opinions are listened too. I do have to put up with politiking and crap that I have realized you will never ever completely escape, but I accept it now.

    It's nice when companies call now and I can say that I have a great job, and they'd have to meet this list of criteria for me to be interested in their position. Serious ones looking for good employees are pleased, and we talk, most are not serious and I don't have to worry about them calling back.

    One trick I use is to keep my portfolio updated and keep my resume online in a few formats for download. Then when you get the calls from people who just want to "keyword" your resume and crap like that, I point them at my domain and say "have at it" if they are not interested in going and looking for themselves, then I don't want to deal with them, obviously they are not serious.

    Same goes with companies. I will give them the URL for my portfolio, and a cd if they request it, and if I end up talking to them, I ask questions about what they thought of parts of it. If they can't answer cause they haven't looked I ask them to call back after they have, because I want them interested in ME, not some words on a resume, and my portfolio is their first view of my stuff.

    I also get serious and let them know that I won't accept a position for less than X amount a year, and it has to have great benefits or add on another Y amount....

    Now that I've known this I've gotten probably 3 serious offers in the last 3 months, ones that I actually spent time investigating and such and eventually decided not to take, but would have been good jobs.

    For the most part you need to decide what you want and tell that to the company when they call or you interview. I find most are happy when you do, because they don't have to worry about you coming and leaving in 6 months or whatever. Also make sure that they want YOU, not just a body.
  • I believe you misinterpreted my post.

    I felt obligated to get a college degree. So one way or another, I was going to college. Furthermore, I decided to be a CS major because I was good at that, I was interested in it, and I didn't have any other interests that I thought were worth majoring in. None of this has changed much since, although I regret the absolute certainty I had that CS was my primary interest.

    What I'm saying is, for $20,000 a year, my school showed me nothing that made me feel like I made a great decision 4 years ago. I didn't want to be a web site designer 4 years ago, and I don't want to be one today. I want to make money, though, and I'll take what I can get... mostly because I have no idea what I want to do (I have no career direction from this school) and our career services center is 95% useless to everyone here (no career help from this school, either).

    My outlook would have been a lot rosier had I seen a couple of things in college that made me say "Hey, I really wanna look into doing something like that after college!" More specifically, I've learned nothing in school that left such a good impression on me. Rather, I get to see other people making Flash movies and all kinds of snazzy websites and programs, and I'm nearly totally ignorant on how to make things like that. I have some working knowledge of some of those kinds of thing on my own, at least, and I can't point fingers at our CS dept. for not teaching us cutting edge tech... but at the same time, for the money I've spent here, I should have a clearer vision of where I want to go with my life. That's why I'm here, cause that's exactly what a dumb kid out of high school doesn't have.

    In general, the CS dept. totally blew it if I'm sitting here wondering why I didn't take Finance or Journalism. Yes, maybe I chose the wrong major, but then again, I like computers, I like technology, and I'm rather good at working with those things. I can't figure out why I'm so creatively lost in school, other than to say that all the work I've done here has been miserable and uninspiring. I'm sure other people agree in a lot of cases, and it's an opportunity for improvement in the field if they want more people to get into it.
  • The question is, "why did you go to CS ?". If you went to CS just for "a job" or "a career" I can understand how you feel today. I went to CS because I was fascinated not just by technology, but by the thought of building technology.

    Today I have a great job building technology and doing cutting edge research. Sure, I don't work for a dot-com and won't be a zillionaire but I have a bunch load of fun. So much fun that I'm considering going back to school and getting a Ph.D.

    So CS isn't necessarily that bad, you know.

  • When was the last time someone over 20 started a professional golfing career? When was the last time someone over 16 got a music contract? Instant information transmission allows careers to start and end in much shorter periods of time than years ago.
  • I graduated in June from Auburn University [auburn.edu] in June. Auburn is nowhere near a major engineering metropolis and is a pretty small town :)

    I got into CS because I liked hacking the UNIXes. I had been in the EE curriculum, but decided fuzzy math and physics weren't for me (fuzzy as in I didn't *get* it). Playing with Solaris (and later Linux) got me pumping.

    I didn't have a real clue what I wanted to do when I graduated, so I called the co-op department in my Junior year. Although they didn't place me in a co-op position, I had enough web development skills to wow the man who managed the student information systems. I took a position with the Division of University Computing maintaining any student web systems that needed deployment. The Student Ticket Order System [auburn.edu] there is my design. I also became involved in the local ACM [auburn.edu] there, first as secretary, then as webmaster.

    This isn't to brag about me. I used these opportunities to find what I enjoyed doing. I became a web developer for the sheer joy of it. The ACM gave plenty of chances to meet companies doing all sorts of things...from AdTran to Chick-Fil-A (yes, they do need people in IT) to Raytheon.

    I'm nine months out of school. In that time I've experienced the process of meeting with a company that tried to screw me over in the interview (I won't name names, but they're in Virginia, they're Open Source, and they got bought out recently by another troubled company), a company that hired me, mentored me, and layed me off, and the hiring process again with a company that had no clue what position they wanted to fill, and a company where my position got reorganized within two months of employment. That's a pretty diverse employment record in such a short time :}

    My main point is that even if you're isolated from a well-known tech area, you can still find opportunities to discover what you like. And Open Source companies are not necessarily the way to go. Look carefully and remember that you'll probably switch jobs several times before you finally settle down.


    if ($user =~ m/shaldannon/i) {
    print "\n-- $user :)\n"
    }
  • by Nonesuch ( 90847 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @11:47AM (#370588) Homepage Journal
    He never signed the offer letter, was never an employee, and was paid zip.

    The self-centered (and immoral) thing to do would have been to take his accumulated vacation time at the government contractor job, so when this gig vaporized he would still have a job to go back to.

    The only moral I can find in this story is this- Ask for a signing bonus, and make sure the check clears before you quit your old job :-)

  • Posted by polar_bear:

    Granted, when the economy gets tight it can be harder to find consulting gigs. It really all depends on how broad your skill set is and a lot of other factors. But, if you've worked a few years at $100 an hour you've probably been able to lay back enough to weather some hard times. Most consultants and freelancers of any type that are successful plan for hard times.

    And the way I live isn't for everyone. Some people don't have the desire to wear multiple hats and hunt for work, they just want to let someone else do the planning and hope for the best. I wish them luck, but I don't have faith in that system for myself.

    By the way, having a limited skill set is a sure way to find yourself flipping burgers. My father used to make a great living as a sign painter and "pinstriper" - painting designs on hot rod cars and such, and doing lettering and such on commercial trucks and vehicles. He had a great reputation and made around $35-$40 an hour when that was a lot of money...and got effectively put out of business when vinyl signs and such got popular. He still gets a little work here and there, but mostly he's scrambling for money and working a crappy full-time job with no security just to get by.

    There are a lot of folks that read Slashdot that have the brains and skills to write their own ticket, though, if only they're willing to do so. Maybe you won't get rich overnight, but you can live well and enjoy what you do. If you don't enjoy what you do, why do it? You spend nearly a third of your waking hours working - if you're not doing something you enjoy and that you can be proud - then why bother?

    Again, just my opinion. There's no one right way to live, but that's the right way for me.
  • by alewando ( 854 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @11:49AM (#370591)
    This is amusing, to be sure, but it underlines just how much people are letting the internet change their economic outlooks and their entire careers. Four years ago, the internet was going to change the world. Today, the world is much the same as it was twenty years ago, though with neater toys and perhaps fewer suits.

    If you're changing how you're going about getting a new job, then you're crazy. You should be asking the same questions and demanding the same benefits/compensation today that you would've twenty years ago (adjusted for inflation, of course). Gone are the days of microserfdom with an eye to fabulous options. If they're not paying you cash and good dental, then look elsewhere.

    I'm happy to say I rode the internet wave by staying by the sidelines. I had a lot less excitement than some of my buddies, but now I can say I'm the better for it. I'm several years further along in my career than they were, and now they have to scramble to make up for lost time. I don't envy them at all.
  • by achurch ( 201270 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @07:57PM (#370593) Homepage

    If I could work at one company in a nice area which paid me decently, gave me regular raises, gave me interesting work to do and valued my professional opinion, I'd stick around forever. Instead we're treated like an expendable commodity.

    Every time I see this come up I'm reminded of how different American and Japanese companies are. I'm working for a Japanese software company, and I like it here; granted I've only been here a year as a regular employee (plus nine months as an intern before that), but the environment is pleasant, the work is interesting, the managers are for the most part sensible, and on the whole I find it a nice place to be. My benefits include 20 days of paid vacation a year (from year one) and company-owned housing (I pay $60/month), along with all the usuals.

    Of course, you'd have to learn Japanese first, and with increasing competition from foreign companies working conditions are reportedly starting to deteriorate here as well, but it's still better than a lot of stories I hear from the US.

    --
    BACKNEXTFINISHCANCEL

  • by fjordboy ( 169716 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @11:51AM (#370594) Homepage
    This would look pretty interesting on this guy's next job application. When this guy writes about his previous job experience...and includes the dates of employment....

  • I'd just like to mention that my university, Columbia, is hiring CS prof's and desparately needs some people who can teach courses in AI. I'm graduating this May, but I'd still like to see somebody some time get to take a course in Machine Learning... so if you're laid off and have a CS Ph.D try Columbia University :)
  • by jjr ( 6873 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @11:53AM (#370599) Homepage
    You should always have a Plan B. You never know what is going to happen. If I lose my job today I know at least three companies where I can get a job at. This is why you always prepare for the worst.
  • by micromoog ( 206608 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @11:53AM (#370600)
    This is a great story . . . and suprisingly, all too familiar to many people here in the Washington DC area.

    For a while there, a lot of people seemed to be under the impression that working in IT made them bulletproof. The economy was doing well, companies were hiring left and right, hiring bonuses were high, stock options were even higher.

    Then came the problems. When the bubble burst, everyone thought "My job is safe. They'll just cut the {new | overpaid | deadwood} employees first. This was mostly true; the problem was, most people could be fit into any of these categories in the eyes of management. People were dropped during the first week, the first day, hell, even just before starting (which doesn't necessarily come with the luxury of severance pay, even though you've just left your old job and relocated). The people who were hit the hardest were the H1-B resident workers . . . you lose your job, you got 30 days to find another sponsor or it's back to your homeland with you. Jobs are still abundant, but it's not quite as easy as the media would have you believe to get rehired in an instant (especially if you just got laid off from your first job on Day 1).

    So, everyone learned that the IT industry is, after all, no different from any other, and you should always cover your ass. The end.

  • What loyalty have corps ever shown to their staff - look at the tech sector at the moment, layoffs everywhere just because profits are going to fall a bit. I mean Cisco and Intel are 2 of the most fantastically profitable companies in the world and yet because their profits aren't increasing the way the market wants, they're letting people go. That's why I'm a contractor, the job security is exactly the same as being permanent and you get paid a lot more.
  • Of course, in my experience tech companies tend to be ill-managed. ;)

    Unfortunately, I've noticed that most companies tend to be ill-managed.

    How long this can go on without causing some negative side effects is related directly to how long the people who work for them can "Blow Them Off" and carry on with business as ussual.

    "Everything you know is wrong. (And stupid.)"
  • by gavinhall ( 33 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @12:43PM (#370605)
    Posted by polar_bear:

    There's a lot of good advice being bandied about here, but it misses the bigger picture - depending on a large corporation for your living is a sketchy proposition at best. They have no interest in you, or your well-being. The bottom line is all-important - look how many companies are cutting staff not because they're unprofitable, but because they're just not profitable ENOUGH. The message is loud and clear - you are expendable. It's not about getting a job with a "reliable" company over a dot-com, because when times get tough you'll still be out of a job. Look at Intel, Cisco and the other companies that are ditching their employees right now.

    Right now I work for myself, doing freelance writing and contract work. My goal is to find five to ten other folks who do the same kind of work that I do and form a company that works in the best interest of everyone in the "company" and shares the wealth. I think that in the "new" economy the people who are happy with their lives and careers are going to be the ones who stick with small companies that actually have an interest in taking care of their employees and don't have a desire to become the next Microsoft or Sun.

    I think this is how a lot of Linux companies got started - but they got away from that model and are now paying the price. You hear a lot about how nervous people are about VA Linux or Red Hat, but no one is talking about how Slackware is struggling. Why not? I'd bet they still have a decent share of the market and the folks who work on Slackware are making a decent living. There's plenty of work in the Open Source space and Web consulting space for dozens or hundreds of small companies to make good livings - but I doubt that there's any room for a huge company that tries to be the next juggernaut corporation.

    Just my 2 cents, though.

  • There never was any stability or security. The wise thing to do would be to have a few months' cash in savings and avoid debt, especially credit card debt. We are digging our own grave, but it's not on the employment front.
  • you'll never..feel a sense of loyalty to your company or have your company trust and respect you.

    Wake up, my friend. Your corporate stockholders have zero trust, respect, or loyalty to you and will stab you in the back in a second to make the books balance.

    I learned this the hard way when, in the space of about a year, two "permanent" positions disappeared on me due to corporate restructuring. Contractors may be first in line for the ax, but don't kid yourself - you're a close second.

    Good companies don't like hiring contractors because they offer no loyalty but demand lots of money...

    Yeah...I've only been able to work for crappy little companies like IBM, TRW, and Raytheon.

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms | http://www.infamous.net/

  • Err, no, that is exactly why I leave myself the 50% buffer... If I really thought my portfolio was going to go down more than 50%, I would adjust accordingly. In reality I'd be out much sooner than that. I'm not sure exactly what I did learn in school, but whatever it was that taught me to get the hell out of the internet stocks when they started to come crashing down couldn't have been that bad. It's the only reason I have any money left to "buy low" now. Even in a bad economy and terrible market, there are always good stocks to buy. Boeing has been my latest, as a hedge against the idiot we just elected, but I just got out of them a couple weeks ago.
  • Nonsense, lots of people get stuff (good and bad) that they don't deserve.
  • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @09:20PM (#370612)
    I know a guy who wrote a payroll program for a company 20 years ago, so this is a little dated. He stayed on to maintian the program. (he assumed correctly after the bugs were worked out he was toast) The program had a feature, if he didn't work, neither did the program. The company's workaround for a couple years was to send him a check for $0.00. As long as he was on the payroll, the program worked. He had a neat collection of uncashed paychecks to prove it.
  • I'm happy to say I rode the internet wave by actually paying attention to the difference between hype and reality. Guess what? I'm in a position to retire before 40.

    Too many people made too many poor decisions, and are now blaming their short-sightedness on others. Wake up and smell the coffee, and take responsibility for the things you do.
  • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @09:43PM (#370614)
    Back in high school many years ago, I saw a sign that read "What will you do when this button replaces your job?". My intuitive response was get a job fixing broken buttons. Keeping an eye on the classifieds kept me on track to the right field. I am one of the few who never made a buck flipping burgers. I knew sticking labels on bottles on an assembly line was not a job for me or the high tech equivelant, stuffing circuit boards. Low cost manual labor is the relm of the uneducated. Many engineering jobs are task oriented and therefore are temporary. Entering the technical service field has paid off well. I like a job requiring thinking and mechanical skills with steady recession resistant employment. Recessions are actualy good. More stuff is fixed instead of replaced.
  • Will I go into HTML programming? I have no clue. I'm both afraid of my lack of artistic ability and lack of desire to be a programmer overall. So I'm not sure where I'd fit in, but I think it's more of a confidence problem than anything. I actually like making webpages, and perhaps if I can get paid to make them, things won't be all that bad.

    Second, I was obligated by MYSELF to go to college. I didn't want a HS diploma to be my grand achievement in life, and I had no Bill-Gates-type exit plan to go start a company. For all practical concerns, why would I not want to earn a college degree with this 4 year period in my life? And there's a lot more to college than a degree...

    Third, I have no idea what I want at this point, and I've never wanted anything badly enough to really seriously pursue it in outside study. If anything of that sort has come up for me, usually I have too many problems being a consistent student in school to focus enough on outside projects.

    In other words, I can only stay interested in something for a week before I wind up having to cram and rush to get homework done for classes, which then becomes the main focus of my life for 3 weeks until I get everything done - the end result being I forgot what I was doing previously. I never dropped something I LOVED doing because of this, but a lot of things I was messing around with got lost in my schedule this way. This is simply because I'm a crummy student in school, and I have problems getting homework done. Not that the difficulty is beyond my capabilities (I actually breeze through everything once I get started), but I can't keep up with 5 different subjects at once EVER and do all the homework for everything. I always get into trouble with that.

    I've had no inspiring teachers. I've had teachers that I've liked, but who do interesting things that I'm not interested in doing as a career myself. There was never a professor who did something that I wish I could do... on the contrary, I felt that I would be in hell if I was ever reincarnated as one of my professors. I did get a good education overall though... some areas were sketchy, but most were pretty solid.

    Grad school is a no-no for me. Okay, it's not a definite NO, but it's more like a "not here". I do hate the school and the locale for many reasons (which is where most of the bitterness comes from, to my CS dept's credit), and I see no future for myself here. Furthermore, I'm such an inconsistent student that grad school seems like prolonging the torture for me... I gotta get out of the academic environment. I don't rule out grad school, but it's not like I have any goals that could be met at grad school either. It's basically more loans for me, and it needs a lot of justification.

    Finally, I should mention that through 4 years of college, there was NEVER any graphics programming (Graphics was a grad-level obscure-based elective course, I took Telecom and Databases instead), never any Java (another elective, but I could never get into it, and my schedule did not permit it in the end), not a single ounce of programming anything outside a Solaris command-line environment, never any decent outside projects, no co-ops available, poor job postings, and crummy computer resources available (honestly, we all use computer accounts that EVERY OTHER STUDENT IN THE SCHOOL HAS to do our programming work). We do have SIG lectures, networking, a LUG, and a bunch of other perks, but nothing that ever seemed like my cup of tea. I tried a lot of different things... even outside of comp sci as well. This school just sucks rocks, though. I had no way of knowing this from high school though. You live, you learn.

    I have a bunch of other gripes, but I'm sure the available parking and the quality of the writing in the school newspaper are both off-topic.
  • Zethus was trying to recruit me in December. I was gung-ho and ready to go, suddenly it turned out that there were less openings that had been described, and I was told that they were all filled. The person working on recruiting me was a boss I knew from my previous employer, so I assumed it was just growing pains, and told them to call me back.

    Same thing happened again. And again. I finally told them to call me when they got their shit together.

    And look how lucky I was.

    Of course, my current employer is a web-consulting firm that gets listed on FuckedCompany at least once a week. On Friday they gave me a raise. Then I found out on FuckedCompany that the company is about to shut down two offices and lay of another fifteen percent of our work force (I never challenge FC on this stuff, because everything Pud posts about us turns out to be true.).

    On top of it all, the division I work in is for sale.

    To the point: This stuff scares the shit out of me. I never know if I will have a job tomorrow, and if I do get fired, the company may be too broke for severance. I have few other options, because most of the companies in Northern Virginia are in the same boat.

    So I just sit, wait, and hope the government pumps some cash into the defense industry, so that I can get a good stable job, at least for a while.

  • According to this article, the web is a declining industry

    Thats not the impression I got. The impression I got was more like "the IT industry is fairly volatile at the moment". "Declining"? No .. didn't read that into it at all.

  • by bahtama ( 252146 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @12:55PM (#370620) Homepage
    1 day! That's a lifetime longer than one of my former employees worked for a company out of San Jose.

    An employee of mine that was working part time with me while finishing up his college degree was hired in August at a new company in San Jose, California, including signing bonus and all that stuff. He was going to be finished with his degree in December and was scheduled to start in January. Well this was last August, so you can guess what happened. He was laid off in early December, -27 days before he was going to start!!

    He now works for a company involved in the Internet but actually making products, so it worked out in the end, but -27 days, now that's a story! :)

    Also, he had very marketable skills so his only real question was does he have to give back his bonus? Last I heard, I think he got to keep it.

    =-=-=-=-=

  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @12:58PM (#370621) Journal
    The media made it seem like you just knock on employers' doors, tell them you're a programmer, and *bam*, money, stock options, prostitutes, ferraris, etc. No industry works like that.

    Two other factors:

    Companies want to see some experience. There's a lot of junk fed to people in school, so there's a lot to UNlearn - starting with the attituds that you know what you're doing, that if it wasn't taught to you in school it's not important, etc. (This is especially true in software.)

    You need to prove that you're over the hump and can do real work in the real world. That you can work with a team, rather than try to out-score the other team members. That you can handle a project with multiple solutions and not go for the "best" one over an "adequate and quick" or "easy to get right" one. That you can handle something longer, tougher, and more unknown than a class assignment, something without a canned solution. That you'll read the manual. That you'll pull a stock design for a wheel FROM a manual rather than trying to reinvent it.

    Of course this gives you a chicken-and-egg problem: You need a job to get experience. You need experience to get a job. That's part of why work-study and unpaid internships can be a carreer win.

    Most jobs are obtained through contacts. A recommend from somebody in or associated with the company is trusted much more than one that a candidate brought with him. A worker or administrator may know someone he's already worked with - and thus that he CAN work with - who has a necessary skill. And a contact will know of the jobs before HR does, and can help you prepare to fit in. And he probably won't try to get you into something he knows you can't handle.

    At one time in many companies the HR department exists primarily to give nice brush-offs to the flood of unsolicited resumes while creating plausable excuses for hiring those recommended by insiders. Nowdays (or at least until the recent crash) they're more like a search firm. But even so an inside recommend is worth more than ten from outside.

    It's called "networking".

    And that's ANOTHER reason that work-study, internships, summer jobs, and the like are very valuable.

    You notice the one offer you got was from someone you worked with while in school. Is that more understandable now?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I don't buy this. I don't think this is something we as tech workers have foisted upon ourselves. I prefer to blame companies and management: If I could, I'd prefer to stay longer at one company, rather than switch jobs every year. But as it is, these stupid companies have forced this on me through many different problems they have, such as crappy working conditions, refusal to give raises unless I threaten to quit, expectation of extreme unpaid overtime, extremely boring jobs that I didn't sign up to do but got moved into anyway, extreme cheapness, etc. If I could work at one company in a nice area which paid me decently, gave me regular raises, gave me interesting work to do and valued my professional opinion, I'd stick around forever. Instead we're treated like an expendable commodity. As for the cheapness thing, I've got a great story about my first company where we were taken on a trip to a trade show, flew on a chartered twin-prop (not jet) plane to save money, then only ate one time the whole day (at McDonald's), then flew back at midnight (to avoid hotel costs).
  • not when they are being hired to develop an application for the IT department. GS has extensive interests in the real estate industry through its merchant banking department, and further they are very interested in developing the next generation of electronic marketplaces. It doesn't state in the article exactly what Goldman Sachs' tie to the company was.

    It is possible that GS was paying them to develop a new application and cancelled it. That's certainly what my initial impression was. But you make a good point, it might also have been a straight investment.
  • Of course, in my experience tech companies tend to be ill-managed. ;)

    Tech has SO much value-added that companies can often be INCREDIBLY ill-managed and still remain profitable for years. (And when they're starting up there's a period where they're running on investment and aren't even expected to be profitable.)

    And when things are booming just TRY to hire a GOOD tech manager. They're far scarcer than good techies.
  • haha... we only had the arcane! Not a single Windows PC available to the whole CS dept. If you want to TOUCH Windows, you had to take MIS here. (Hey, guess what I'm doing, I'm taking MIS!)

    They taught all that stuff. I'm just not sure I want to be a programmer after all this. *shrug*

    And yea, I'm nearly distraught at what I paid for it.
  • I chose CS because in high school, I'm SURE that's what I wanted to do. Shows how much I knew in HS, eh?

    I like your suggestions... right now I'm in a tight spot because I'm geographically isolated from my target locale for when I graduate, so it's hard to get the hookup from 200 miles away. I'm trying. The stress is in this: if I don't have a job BEFORE I graduate, I get to move back in with my parents in Florida! It's quite miserable down there. Now you know why I'm stressed out and bitter. ;)
  • Yea, you're right.

    Side note: my academic career has been one big fuckup anyway, so you can imagine why I'd be unhappy when my main goal in college turned into "graduate ASAP" almost immediately. I'll get out in 4 total years, thankfully... but the fact that I'll run screaming means I probably could have gotten more out of college.

    That said, my unique perspective allows me to insightfully and sarcastically pick out all the faults in the situation in general :)
  • by Zico ( 14255 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @01:07PM (#370642)

    The real answer is that a couple of the slashdot authors are sick.

    Yeah, I know what a strain it is to post someone else's submission to Slashdot and add a "dept." tagline and maybe one or two sentences of my own. My prayers for a quick and complete return to health so that they can concentrate on a job which is obviously extremely mentally-taxing.


    Cheers,

  • I'm 28, so I remember "pre-Internet" days pretty well (pre-popular-Internet, anyway). Trust me, this is MUCH different.

    I've lived in smallish towns all my life--not much in the way of good libraries or even bookstores. Yet I keep up with all the latest advances (Linux, Java, XML, etc). How? The Internet.

    My wife and I are voracious consumers of information--$10/mo for a 56k line has saved us thousands in purchased (and upgraded) reference books and the like.

    Only have Toys R DamnExpensive in your area? Shop online. Get voting info online. Participate in special interest groups (like Slashdot) online.

    The world (at least MY world) is nothing like it would have been 20 years ago.
    --
  • I assume you don't have a family, rent, or student loan debt to pay off. It's unrealistic to assume that anybody can put aside six month's pay into a low-risk minimal-interest account and never touch it.

    I have 3-4 paycheck's worth in the stock market (two month's pay) and enough savings beyond that so I can survive three months with zero income, assuming I don't mind living on macaroni and cheese and switching back to domestic beer.

    A better rule: Keep enough savings to 'coast' for a month at your current standard of living, or three months if you cut out all non-essentials.
    If you carry credit card debt, and work for a dot com, you are one of the few people who can actually benefit from those 'credit protection plan' offers that cover the minimum payment if you are laid off.

  • Do you have any idea what kind of money you would(n't) have now if you had put that 6 months salary [sic] into, say, the S&P 500 15 months ago?

    The market is a wonderful thing, but not for your safety net.

  • It's unrealistic to assume that anybody can put aside six month's pay into a low-risk minimal-interest account and never touch it.

    I can and have done this, and the truth of the matter is it's not that hard.

    Nearly every expert in personal finance says the key to keeping your shit together is to Pay Yourself First. The way you do this is have your bank automatically transfer a percentage of every paycheck you receive into your savings account before you even see it.

    I have a broader definition though of what constitutes an emergency serious enough to justify tapping the savings account. A job loss is one of those emergencies, but so is an unexpected large car repair bill, or a deposit to move to a new apartment, or a minor fender bender you'd rather pay for yourself than let your insurance company hear about it. These kinds of minor emergencies can really dent your standard of living if you don't plan for them.

    The amount does not have to be that big. 5-10 percent of your paycheck is enough to build a rainy-day fund over time without a meaningful impact on you ability to pay your regular bills (assuming you're getting paid more than minimum wage :) Even twenty bucks a week will make a dent in a year.

    Of course, I also put a good chunk of my money into higher-risk, higher-return investments (for me that's mutual funds), but that's not an emergency fund - it's a retirement fund. You don't want to touch your retirement fund under any circumstances until you retire.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Did you go to Devry too?
  • by Twid ( 67847 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @02:44PM (#370656) Homepage
    I think there is a theme building in this and several other Slashdot articles lately: you need to have common sense about your career choices.

    Just like the guy last week who complained that his employer actually had the gall to try to enforce the intellectual property agreement that he signed, this guy didn't do his due diligence before hand.

    It's a big nasty world out there. The last car dealer we went to in the bay area (Bob Lewis Volkswagon) tried to give us a starting price of $3,000.00 over MSRP. Abdominizers [hsn.com] and other crappy products get sold to people like you and me, not just wrassin' watching folks in trailer parks. One of the good and bad things about the USA is that you can largely make your own mistakes.

    I've made similar mistakes to this one. My 2nd job out of college was for a company that was taking over the regional office of another computer reseller. The deal got held up, and I spent two weeks in Cincinnati in a new apartment with no job. I take responsiblity for that mistake.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote an incredible essay on self-reliance [jjnet.com]. (I also mirrored the Project Gutenburg [promo.net] free text version on my site here [projectjellybean.com].) I carry it on my Palm Pilot and refer to it often when I'm feeling ripped off, used, or abused. There are two attitudes you can take when something happens to you, either it happened to you and you were powerless to prevent it, or it happend to you because you created it. The latter position is a more powerful one, since it gives you control of the situation and the power to change it.

    Here's the last paragraph of Emerson's essay, I think it's a good summary of what I'm trying to say.

    "So use all that is called Fortune. Most men gamble with her, and gain all, and lose all, as her wheel rolls. But do thou leave as unlawful these winnings, and deal with Cause and Effect, the chancellors of God. In the Will work and acquire, and thou hast chained the wheel of Chance, and shalt sit hereafter out of fear from her rotations. A political victory, a rise of rents, the recovery of your sick or the return of your absent friend, or some other favorable event raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for you. Do not believe it. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles."

    - Twid
  • Do you think that you're the first sig nazi I've dealt with?
  • by rjh ( 40933 ) <rjh@sixdemonbag.org> on Sunday March 11, 2001 @09:48PM (#370665)
    In '94, I was a college student who'd gone through a rigorous internship selection process and had finally been selected as the summer help at a software house. I was especially ecstatic because they were paying me an ungodly sum for an intern--almost as much as one of their engineers.

    I was given the good news on a Monday morning, and was told to show up bright and early Tuesday.

    By lunch, the company's stock price fell eighty percent.

    That afternoon, I got a call from HR. I'd been laid off.

    All before I ever showed up for work. :)
  • Because the last high part of the cycle was so
    long (1994 - 2000) people, especially newbies,
    forgot it has recessions too. The last big
    downturn was in the early 90s, mainly tied to the
    collapse of the defense industry after the Soviet
    Union broke up. ANd before that there was collapse
    in a smaller startup speculative bubble in the PC
    hardware industry. ANd so on.
  • DeMatteis arrives back home. He calls his mother, who is speechless at first. Then she tells him, "I didn't like the name of that company anyway."

    Seriously. An "online commercial real estate start-up" called "Zethus?" That should have been warning sign number one.

    Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

  • After the Disposable Credit Card Numbers, the Disposable Employee.
  • I'm happy to say I rode the internet wave by staying by the sidelines.

    I do not understand this attitude. About a year and a half ago I started a company with my buddies. We got initial funding, things were getting along, then times got tough, funding was cut off, the company died. I still think the idea was great (simply because I would be a happily paying user of our product), but that's beyond the point.

    We got burnt - true. But do we regret it? Well, I don't know about the other guys, but I definitely don't. Why should I? I got absolutely amazing experience with more stuff than I could've imagined (from configuring Linux/Apache/MySQL/Oracle/NT network/you_name_it to writing code and designing databases and XML specs to writing business plans and estimating costs/prices to bullshitting to clients and VCs to listening to bullshit from potential suppliers), I worked with great people, I got to see for myself how hard (but doable!) it is to actually create something on your own, I had fun, for god's sake!

    If I had to choose again, would I do the same thing again? Absolutely!!! Well... maybe not - I would've probably joined my friend's start-up, which was bought by a stable public company a few days ago :)
  • The market is a wonderful thing, except for those who only think short-term.

    Actually I agree with you. The market is NOT a good short term investment. To me, a safety net is something that is always there. No, I don't have a six month's salary net in a savings account. But I don't put money that I might need tomorrow (you never know when you might get 'rightsized') in something that might not be around tomorrow. Sure, my retirement funds can bounce all around for the next 40 years. But next month's rent is FDIC insured by god.

  • It's the same way here in several states of the union. Georgia is what's known as a "Right to work" state. Employers don't have to have a reason to fire you but they can't blackball you either which is the upside. They can only report on job performance.

    This also makes it nice for some non-compete clauses too. The frivilous ones end up getting thrown right out.

  • Umm.. I don't care how you slice it, Microsoft does write some pretty complex and functional software. There are people in any company who can just "talk the talk" .. but an operating system and other complex software that MS creates doesn't just come out of their ass, some of the smartest and most talented coders in the world work for them.
  • Do you know what kind of money you would have put your money into a vechile performing as well as the S&P 500, say, 15 months before the Black Monday crash of 1987?

    Here's a hint. Your money would have quadrupled. Even you managed 3% in your guaranteed investment, your money would have only increased by a factor of e^(.03*14)~=1.52 - you wouldn't even have doubled your money.

    A "safety net" of half of your annual salary is crazy- 1-2 months would do it, and if you do encounter a temporary shortfall, there's nothing wrong with taking a little low-interest credit.

    The market is a wonderful thing, except for those who only think short-term.

  • by brianvan ( 42539 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @03:19PM (#370678)
    I went into CS thinking that I would like it... and I didn't. Not to say I found the subject material entirely boring and difficult... some of it is quite interesting... but at the end of a 4 year education, I'm totally uninspired for a career in the field.

    I never went into it for the money, but I'm a very practical person... I passed up a lot of other subject areas knowing full well that there was a lot of volatility and uncertainty in those fields. CS seemed, if anything, "safe". People to this day still preach to me that I'll have no problem finding a job and that I'll make a lot of money. Granted, these people don't know much else from what they see on TV, but it very much was like that for a while. Nowadays you can make a lot of money doing something really boring, but you can't make a lot of money by winging it with a dot-com anymore.

    I agree that a lot of what I was taught, no matter how hard or obscure, was for my own good. And I never found those subject areas to be entirely boring and dull, but I'd rather not pursue a career doing those kinds of things. My entire college education consists of different courses in those kinds of subject areas, however. So I didn't learn anything that I actually liked in the end... I'm just barely getting out with my neck intact, and for all I care every computer could be thrown in the ocean tomorrow and we could all go back to farming.

    My bigger problem is with the real world, though. I need to eat after this. And I don't like the industry at all. And I don't like the idea of working for a dot-com at all. And because the dot-coms imploded, there is no room in the field anymore for inspired start-ups and creative ventures. It's all business now. As if the fantasy-land world of dot-coms wasn't annoying enough, now you're fighting with vultures to get a piece of the action. It'll be a while before even solid companies get back on their feet after this mess. And who suffers in all of this? Us. Why? Cause it's all about money. Who gives a shit about programmers? We were highly unappreciated from the beginning. The dot-com fiasco wasn't caused by programmers... it was all business people cashing in on a speculative mirage. I think there's more honest programmers looking for work now than there are grand success and/or failure stories out there... I don't think there were a hell of a lot of coders who fucked around, snorted blow, and fell hard when the shit hit the fan. Most of them watched that happen to others, and now everyone's looking for a job.

    This story about the one-day job only reinforces my points. It proves that the computer industry doesn't care about people... hence why should people care about the computer industry? Fuck it, I'll be an actor.

  • During that day, he probably learned how to write a virus, coded the infamous hello world program, found the "All your base are belong to us" avi file on the web, gained 2,000,000 in stock options from his company by 11 AM, then lost it all by 11:20...found that Microsoft controls the market, surfed some porn while at work, browsed the dilbert comics posted outside of his co-workers cubes, and then the company he was at needed to "re-organize" and he was let go. sounds like a normal cs day to me...
  • by SClitheroe ( 132403 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @11:54AM (#370682) Homepage
    Just because the net is the big new thing doesn't excuse this guy from doing some research and career management.

    Never, ever, accept a new position until you've met all your managers/supervisors, and also talked to some of the people on the inside, to get a feel for not only the stability of the company, but also the culture. Also check out how their stock is doing, compare their performance to other similar companies, etc.

    These sorts of precarious financial situations are almost always know about by the current employees of the company well in advance. Often times, I've seen .com employees brainwashed into believing things will right themselves, but that's still a pretty loud and clear warning sign.

    It all comes down to research. Most people put more effort into choosing a car than they do their career, which is a real shame.

  • I was hired FIFTY-SIX TIMES in four hours last Friday, and laid off from each job within 12 minutes, max! Oh wait, no I wasn't, what the hell am I talking about? Gosh, that was weird.
  • According to this article, the web is a declining industry.. If the heavy-weights can't cut it, then how is a lowely webmaster like myself going to cut it in this industry??

    On the basis that the media never lie, i will be cashing in my chips and taking what little money i have down to the track.. More money to be made there right??

  • I prefer to put all my savings into an online brokerage account. At all times I take the value of the stocks in the account, divide by 2, add the value of cash in the account, and assume that is the amount I actually have saved. If that number is too low, I move out of stocks and into cash. If that number is sufficiently high, I move out of cash and into stocks, even onto margin if I think the economy is doing well. This way, I can take a 50% hit in the stock market and still not have to panic and get out.

    Of course, the first thing I do is eliminate all credit card debt. Anything above 10% I refuse to carry, at 9.9% I will let it go for a short period of time if I feel that the money has a better use elsewhere. I also keep less liquid debt of less than 10% for as long as possible, such as my student loans, mortgage payments, etc. You never know when you're going to get in trouble, and I think it's well worth it to have liquid money in a brokerage account before paying off low-interest debt which can't be readily borrowed if you ever do get in trouble (if you're broke you're not going to be accepted for a mortgage).

  • by euroderf ( 47 ) <a@b.c> on Sunday March 11, 2001 @11:55AM (#370686) Journal
    We have been endlessly told about the new paradigm in working hours and the fluidity of the job markets. How we are expected to change careers every few years or less and negotiate new working conditions for ourselves.

    I think that this is becoming true - at least for skilled workers, who can reasonably expect, at the moment, to move onto a new job without much difficulty.

    Are we being short sighted though? What happens during the next depression? Skilled workers without any real job security or long term contract will be on the scrapheap without any hope of reprieve. Unskilled workers are having these new working practises foisted upon them, and they do not like it - it is not so easy for them to move on.

    My worry is that this environment is reducing the quality of life in our society by removing stability and certainty. At the moment, while the economy booms, this is okay, but what of the future? There will be a bust, sooner or later. What about the unskilled, who will suffer from the easy come easy go working practises we have forced them to accept? What about the skilled workers, who will find that their taking their employment destiny into their own hands has blown up in their faces?

    I can't help but think we are digging our own grave.
    --

  • by deran9ed ( 300694 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @11:56AM (#370689) Homepage
    I remember when I went to Sillycone Valley last year for a company I was working for, and while searching for prospectable employees for my department I noticed the majority of resumes coming via fax had employment histories for some people as little as about 3-4 months.

    After talking with management then arguing with them about why I did not want someone with 4 months experience here and there in my department (security based), they told me to take a quick look around at where I was. Sillycone Valley, home of dot.com computing land, where anyone could lose a job today and have about 2 more the same day.

    Well it may have been true late 90's and early 2000, but most of the companies as we all know are history [fuckedcompany.com]. Its sad to see these things happen (companies going out of business) and that does not set a record though for shortest amount of time in a company.

    True story
    When I was about 15 years old, I went for a job at Wendy's (hamburger fast food joint). After being interviewed I got the job and was instructed to come back for work later that night. Upon me getting back later that night, I was shown how to clean grills, wash dishes, etc. Then told to buy some black shoes, and some shirts and ties for work (no bs). The whole rundown of job tasks took about 40 minutes.

    After I was told how to do everything, I was told to get lunch and hurry back for work. So I ordered lunch sat down and ate, thinking whether or not I would stay. I decided I didn't want to work there. So I quite after eating (hehe).

    Total time employed, less than 2 hours. AND I was sent a check for a whole day too.

  • by brianvan ( 42539 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @11:57AM (#370691)
    Enrollments in computer science are steadily declining because no-one wants to be a half-baked engineering student who isn't guaranteed a steady job out of college! So sign up today! We have small but over-enrolled classes with non-English speaking professors ready to teach you things that would make most human beings cry! Learn obscure languages and methodologies, cause who wants to learn Cold Fusion? Assembly language and Lisp are the future! Pay $80,000 to spend 4 years with society's worst alcoholics and drug abusers clad in Abercrombie and Fitch! Earn no marketable career skills! Prepare for a future in a turbulent industry where 90% of the companies are a joke and the rest of them will have you in a cubicle until the end of eternity! Learn to cry when the NASDAQ plummets! Regret not being a Journalism major! Make your 1450 on the SAT's totally meaningless! Become a real life Dilbert! And best of all, keep a straight face when your MBA idiot CEO asks you to keep working for the next month for no pay... so you can make marketing calls and schmooze gullible VC's.

    What are you waiting for!?!
  • Buy it from the dudes who got laid off and managed to stuff as much as they could in the back of their cars.
  • by neonmatrix ( 2606 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @11:58AM (#370695) Homepage
    This is a mischaracterization of the Post article. The company hired/fired this guy because one sector of the company did not know the plans of another sector. He probably came in on a hiring effort based on the last thing the company was doing before the buyout.

    He was used to an orderly and slow process based on the regulations a government contractor must follow. Then he went to a pure private firm which had an unclear focus due to the fact that someone had let out a rumor about an impending buyout.

    Such a rumor makes everyone go haywire. People put on a show of how efficient at their jobs they are so they dont get laid off. Whoever hired this guy probably wanted to show they could make that decision fast, so they wouldn't get cut themselves. They didn't care about the guy they hired.

    This can happen with any company, tech or not, especially an ill managed company.

    Of course, in my experience tech companies tend to be ill-managed. ;)

  • I forgot to mention one other thing that was key for me. I refuse to participate in any 401K. Liquidity to me is far more important than the tax benefit derived. I have made exceptions, such as when my company offered a 50% match on 401K savings, but when I left the company I took the 10% penalty and withdrew the 401K and put it in my brokerage account. This may not be for everyone, and if I wanted to get fancy enough I could have borrowed the money against the 401K and paid it back if I got into an emergency, but for me instant access to my savings is more important than the tax benefits. To have money in a 401K and to have high interest credit card debt to me is ludicrous.
  • You get hired because a sheet of paper makes you look good. With the exception of business failure, you keep the job based on your ability to solve problems, regardless of experience or "book learnin'."

    I've seen plenty of "experienced" IT guys get the hook because their attitudes sucked. Managers approach these guys with future plans and all they get is flack. You're supposed to solve problems, not create them. And for every cranky employee you have, ten fresh resumes arrive every day.

    The problem with most IT folks I hear about on /. is that they assume that knowing how to build a network entitles them to job security or high pay. But the cold fact of life is that if you suck and solving problems, you're as useless as bore-hog boobies. If I can't use you, you're gone. Screw the NDA. Go sour someone else's IT department.

    Entropy: The Silent Killer [ridiculopathy.com]

  • "The real answer is that a couple of the slashdot authors are sick."

    Do you know how hard it is to pass up a straight line like that?

  • by tomreagan ( 24487 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @12:00PM (#370714)
    If I didn't know first-hand from my time there what incredible retards the people in IT at GS were, I would be more surprised that they suddenly cut off funding to a company like that. But, in fact, they are retards of the first order, and their sudden urgency in cutting costs is not really remarkable.

    Their IT budget for this year was projected to be $1.8 billion - quite a large number. Except that it was being entirely mismanaged and misspent - the place was being run like some crazy Silicon Valley dot-com. 3 consultants were being hired for 1 spot, people in field offices were leaving problems unresolved for days, half of the staff was stuck in planning meetings all day and the other half of the staff spent the day surfing the web for stocks and news on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And they were heaving a great time heaving money out the window - nothing was ever repaired, simply replaced. They even lost a Sun E450 server - lost it! They were pretty sure it wouldn't have made it out of the building past security, but they had no idea where the $150,000 machine was. So what did they do - they ordered another one!

    I have more stories like that - like trying to update ntp.conf entries on 2,000 machines because one server went down instead of updating the DNS entries, but in general, the place was a zoo. And then the market crashed, and management in the other business units got pissed. As one exec said, "$1.8 billion, and all I got was a Palm Pilot!" So their budget was slashed, heads started rolling, and now things are a little bit more austere than last year.

    Not surprising, not even one bit.
  • by unitron ( 5733 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @12:01PM (#370716) Homepage Journal
    "What happened to the rest of /. staff?"

    Michael laid them all off.

    alternate answer-Andover laid off everybody *except* Michael, told him that computers and automation would make it possible for him to do the work of many.

  • by intuition ( 74209 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @12:03PM (#370717) Homepage
    "DeMatteis, without key card or severance check, stands at the back of the room."

    I would think the company would still be liable for severance... even if he only did kind of work for one day.

    One other thing, if your company was running out of money, barring extenuating circumstances... wouldn't you initiate a hiring freeze.
  • The real answer is that a couple of the slashdot authors are sick. Laying myself off would be nice though, as long as I got to decide how big of a severance package I received. I could use a year or two on some caribbean island...
  • DeMatteis arrives back home. He calls his mother, who is speechless at first. Then she tells him, "I didn't like the name of that company anyway."
    Two bad she didn't speak up sooner. Zethus and his twin brother Amphion are the sons of Zeus and Antiope. Zethus was a down-to-earth sort of guy, skilled in agriculture, cattle-breeding and war. They were abondaned at birth.

    Together the brothers built the walls around Thebes.

    They both died in grief. Zethus died of a broken heart when his wife accidently killed their son.

    Sounds kind of prophetic... maybe the company should have stuck to cattle-breeding :)

    Source: Dictionary of Classical Mythology, Jenny March, 1998.

    Ryan T. Sammartino

  • by Ziest ( 143204 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @12:09PM (#370720) Homepage
    You should always have a Plan B. You never know what is going to happen. If I lose my job today I know at least three companies where I can get a job at. This is why you always prepare for the worst.

    Agree!

    I have been contracting for over 15 years and in that time I have learned, the hard way, the following

    • Always assume the worst.
    • Stay current with all your bills
    • Never carry a balance on your credit cards. If you must, never more than 3 payments to a $0.00 balance
    • Live below you means
    • Keep 6 months worth of your salery in a savings account. Never touch it until you get the sack
    • Keep your resume up to date
    • Stay on friendly terms with the head hunter even if they are scum
    • Never burn bridges
    • Looking for a job is a full time job. Treat it as such

  • You present a very negative and risk averse perspective on the world. Some might find your strategy comforting, but you're never going to hit a "home run" that way, nor is it the best strategy for finding and keeping a "good" job.

    I have to say, for many people your view is bullshit. I've seen many situations (from both sides) where the contractors and regular workers do the same work for years and the only difference is their paychecks, often 3x more for the contractors - I've overheard Controllers and Directors exclaim about paying contractors more than them. I've even seen situations where there is more turnover of the regular employees, because the only way they can get more than a few percent increase in salary is to go elsewhere. In fact, in my 20 years, this year is the second time I received what I consider a reasonable raise - and I'm a contractor! Compared to tripling salary leaving one job...

    Being a contractor is a good way to get a high salary ($150k - $300k annualized) but GUARANTEE that you'll never A) work a full-time job again because you'll be so used to your high salary, B) own equity in the company you work for and have a shot at making a lot more than 200k, and C) feel a sense of loyalty to your company or have your company trust and respect you.

    A is not true, many contractors switch back to regular jobs when they get married or see the economy in their industry go in the dumper. In the early 90's, my salary went from 30K to 100K to 48K because of that (fortunately, I have non-salary income).

    B is problematic - I've seen several people disprove it, because they have the ability to set their own hours so can devote time to creating their own company. Of course, most companies fail due to inadequate capitalization, but I do know one guy who started an ISP and actually sold it for a profit, and several who run little DSL ISP's (economically speaking, on the margin) for a bit of extra cash. Personally, I tend to get contracts that require way too much work to do stuff like that. Seems to happen every time I take a class towards a masters degree...

    C is complete bullshit, as I'm sure others will respond to.

    Good companies don't like hiring contractors because they offer no loyalty but demand lots of money. Being a contractor is like being a mercenary -- companies don't like you but you give them no choice and demand lots of money. I think that's a bad position to put a company in.

    There are no good companies, they've all gone bad due to short-term return considerations of the stock market.

    Likewise, headhunters are also bad news to a lot of companies. They don't like hiring people and paying 25 - 33% of year 1 salary as a fee. Again, this puts companies into the position of not wanting to pay the money and make the headhunter rich, but ending up doing it in the end because they want to hire you.

    Headhunters fulfill a purpose. A scummy one, perhaps, but they provide a service to both parties.

    Why not just find the company you want to work for and apply for a job directly? You'll probably get a higher salary (becuase that money will go to you instead of the headhunter...trust me, this is a consideration we make when hiring people at my company!) and you won't start off feeling like a body that's just been brokered (which is how headhunters talk about people to the hiring managers)
  • Glad to see your career path worked out. I still have 2 1/2 months of school left, so I could still very well wind up in your position eventually. However, my anxiety at this point has me playing devil's advocate. :)

    Nothing wrong with CS, but like I've said in other postings in this thread, CS should teach more real-world stuff AND inspire students with ideas... you don't have to edge out the Lisp or Assembly language to do this, you just have to COMPLEMENT it with this stuff.

    I'm not exactly looking to be a dot-com zillionaire, but it's also true that I feel that I may know how to work with all the technology in the world at this point... but it doesn't mean I want to. I like computers, don't get me wrong. Some of the stuff in the industry really makes my head spin. But I wouldn't know where to begin on any of this stuff... I know I have the base skills to do it, but beyond that I don't know how it's done at all. This is because in 4 years of college, I was never shown ANYTHING that I thought I might want to do when I graduate. And being practical minded, I don't pursue interesting projects without knowing what will be in store for me.

    You might feel that this is closed minded and lazy, but remember: I've been going to school full-time and I have a part-time job that takes up 20-30 hours a week of my time. Plus, I make it a point to spend time socializing in college (not that /. people don't socialize, but time must be budgeted for that), and I'm not in the middle of any metropolis with easy access to programming houses. So, other than /. and school, I have no access to news about interesting programming projects. Also, I have little time to pursue projects outside of school, since I have a hard enough time getting my school projects done when they're due. But it's a chicken and egg problem then... I need to spend time doing research to find an interesting job, but I need to graduate college and support myself with a job before I do research. The easy solution is to get the first available miserable job, stick with it, and not worry about finding the dream job. But I'm more ambitious than that...
  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Monday March 12, 2001 @01:31AM (#370729) Journal
    Wow, that gave me a good laugh. From my experience, that isn't what the college grads are doing, that's what the veterans are doing. Life in the "real world" outside of the "ivory tower" seems to install those attitudes, rather than diminish them from everything I've seen.

    I mean in college you've only got grades to compete against each other for. Outside of college everyone is competing for money.


    I presume you're referring to: prov[ing] ... That you can work with a team, rather than try to out-score the other team members.

    Yes, in the real world you're competing for money. But in a well-run company your TEAM is competing aginst OTHER COMPANIES. If your management encourages you to compete WITHIN the team you've got a problem. Success AS a team requires cooperation WITHIN the team.

    And that's one of the places where the "management can be very bad and not (quite) kill the company" effect shows up in high tek. A lot of silicon valley management DOES encourage this. It's called the "star system". (The opposite is the "Demming approach".)

    In a star system a few high-profile alleged geniuses get all the resources (and most of the rewards), while everybody else's work is thrashed around and by them. But the bulk of the work is actually produced by the bulk of the team, and this slows the rest of them down (and annoys them greatly, slowing them further). The result is that the company is less productive than its competition (IF it gets to product at ALL) and eventually fails.

    Demming management style recognizes that the best self-salespeople on a team may not even be the most productive. It distributes work so that everyone has something useful to do that they enjoy doing, and rewards everyone who produces rather than just the highest-profile tale-spinners. With the job divided up into territories where each member is a local expert the whole team "strokes" each other and works smoothly together. The members respect each other and divide new problems appropriately rather than competing for plums which end up going to the stars with the rest festering over doing scutt-work for no recognition. Management can concentrate on connecting the team to the rest of the company and keeping upper management from thrashing it. And LOTS of work gets done.
  • by jborho ( 324883 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @05:40PM (#370730) Homepage
    That is why computers are my hobby. I know not many people have that option, but I am a paramedic by trade. When people stop kicking the bucket, I will then be laid off! But you know what.... I am still barely above the poverty level. I love me work, and this is where I belong! I am done with my rant......
  • It's all about personality. In my experience, employers don't give a shit about what kind of marks you got in school. As large-scale software development is about working in teams, employers are concerned about how you will fit in with the team. If after the interview they have the slightest doubt, it doesn't matter what your resume says, you will not be hired.
  • by alexburke ( 119254 ) <slashdotmail@alexburke . c a> on Sunday March 11, 2001 @05:45PM (#370732)
    if you know what cum laude means...

    Noisy orgasm?

    (Sorry.)

    --
  • by rynoamy ( 125667 ) on Sunday March 11, 2001 @12:18PM (#370734)
    Jobs are still abundant, but it's not quite as easy as the media would have you believe to get rehired in an instant

    This is a good point. Last year, my senior year as a comp sci major, I recall going through the hiring practices and wondering when, exactly, the employers were supposed to start throwing money at me. I mean, I'm not a fool. I was graduating cum laude, from the honors program (that sounds sort of redundant if you know what cum laude means...), with two degrees to boot (applied math and comp sci), having done a co-op, etc. Never happened. I interviewed with maybe a dozen companies over about a 4 month period and got precisely one job offer: from the people I co-oped with (and I already knew about that one before it came).

    The media made it seem like you just knock on employers' doors, tell them you're a programmer, and *bam*, money, stock options, prostitutes, ferraris, etc. No industry works like that. Not one. HR departments of big companies are AWLAYS going to go through their motions to weed out duds (legitimate or otherwise) and match buzzwords from your resume and your interview with buzzwords from the job description and "desired qualifications" description, and small companies have always got to worry how you'll fit into their particular, quirky environment, whether or not they can afford to continue to pay you until you finish whatever it was they hired you to work on, etc.

    And, of course, if your company has to fire you because the VC cut the funding, take that as a sign that the company was not paying its own bills anyway, and couldn't afford to hire you in the first place. You don't want to work for companies like that in any industry, it's just plain stupid.

Mathematics deals exclusively with the relations of concepts to each other without consideration of their relation to experience. -- Albert Einstein

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