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Dismantling the Myth of IT Being a Dead-End Career 649

Lam1969 writes "Robert Mitchell says CIOs and other IT managers continue to bemoan what they claim is a shortage of good technologists. He suggests beefing up salaries and convincing young people that IT is a viable long-term career path would help to change this sentiment. Mitchell also says the threat of offshoring is overstated; rather, the problem is industry and the media have been 'complicit in propagating the myth that IT is a dead end.' From the story: 'First, the dot-com crash shattered the illusion that those in high-tech jobs would always emerge from economic turbulence unscathed. Now, students are hearing that a four-year degree in programming or engineering doesn't matter because all of those jobs will eventually go offshore to foreign workers at very low wages. A generation has been dissuaded from pursuing what is in reality a very promising career choice.'"
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Dismantling the Myth of IT Being a Dead-End Career

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  • by Umbral Blot ( 737704 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:47AM (#14970327) Homepage
    On the other hand this is a good thing for the computer science departments of universities, for less students means that they can do less job training and more actual computer science. If you aren't convinced that real progress in computer science isn't being made any more I encourage you to watch this video []. In it you can see all the aspects of the modern computers that we know and love being demonstated oh so long ago, only with less polish. Sadly research hasn't proceeded much beyond this in terms of software. The problem is that the typical student in a computer science course doesn't want to learn computer science, they just want to learn some Java/hot language of the momement and get out into the workforce. This is where bad programmers and bugs galore come from. However if those who simply want a job leave then a computer science degree will once again have meaning, and better software will be produced. Trust me on this one, I'm surrounded by CS majors who think Java is the best language ever, and are unable to program in anything else.
  • Age of IT staff (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Half a dent ( 952274 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:51AM (#14970332)
    Whilst much of industry looks to hire youthful IT staff rather than older workers, it has the ironic effect of putting people off a career in IT. As not many people want to work in an industry where finding a job when you are past forty is difficult.

    Encouraging older workers will also encourage new young workers. BTW. I fall somewhere between these two groups.
  • by bloodredsun ( 826017 ) <(martin) (at) (> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @06:02AM (#14970371) Journal

    One of the things that always troubles me with the Outsourcing debate is how it regards IT and software development as an entity in itself, rather than one that must deal with others. By this I mean both dealing with the business you are in and also the other departments in your company. By making IT a commodity, it can be offshored or outsourced easily. When it's a specialty, that becomes difficult to impossible.

    If you are developing a piece of medical software such as an EEG recorder, you need to have some understanding of the science of EEGs and the medical background in which they are used. Likewise, a piece of financial software requires detailed knowledge of financial systems and the rules and regulations that govern them. This sort of knowledge keeps the development "in-house" and keeps you employed. I do agree that simple development jobs should be done by the most efficient and appropriate people, normally either recent grads or outsourced developers. I mean, you wouldn't waste the Technical Architects time getting them to write basic code.

    Someone looking for a career in IT needs to be constantly challenging themselves by learning new skills, and not always IT related ones so that your specialty keeps you needed. IT has never been an industry that rewards those that keep still (hell, if it did I would still be bashing out BASIC on my Vic 20!) but those that stay ahead of the game. Do this and you will have a career.

  • Hmmm. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @06:04AM (#14970376)
    I "pull...cat5 through walls, swap...out hard disks in PCs and that kind of thing" quite a lot. I also install and maintain the uber-expensive and high-end Telco-grade equipment at the data centers and generating stations belonging to the very large power company which employs me. The gear I'm working on is a big step up from, say, Cisco equipment.

    Is my position likely to be outsourced? Not anytime soon...the desires of the company accountants are secondary to the fear of the penalties should all the lights go out.

    Guys who refuse to pull cable or otherwise get their hands dirty deserve to be outsourced. They're only "better" than the rest of us for a short while. Then they are unemployed.
  • Suits me... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thejeek ( 952967 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @06:05AM (#14970384) Homepage
    I'm sick of coming across people who got into this industry without any interest or aptitude because they thought it was a gravy train and didn't like us geeks getting all the money... I'd be happy to see a return to the glory days of unwashed pizza eating nerds -- jeek
  • Career Path (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jonv ( 2423 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @06:12AM (#14970396)
    There doesn't seem to be a clear career path across different companies. The same job title at one location can have a vastly different salary than another. I have seen 'Developer' jobs advertised at very high rates and then 'Architect' / 'Consultant' roles at lower levels. The term 'senior' can be attached to any of these and not have any affect on the salary. To add further confusion there seems to be very little difference in many of the job descriptions - most of them just requiring that a candidate understands a list of TLAs.

    It must be very confusing for anyone entering or considering entering the industry to see what the career path in IT is. In other areas (electrical / civil engineering for instance) a career initially progresses until chartered status is reached, this is understood by these industries and is a requirement for a more senior jobs. Such a qualification is available for IT (I am in the UK - not sure how this works elsewhere) but not considered valuable when looking for jobs.
  • by tchernobog ( 752560 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @06:20AM (#14970413)
    (Applies to Italy, but maybe to other countries too).

    I'm near my Bachelor's degree in CS, and I'm as glad to enter IT as to enter a pool full of hungry sharks. If I'm able to, I'll take some other job; journalism, for example, or become a teacher. Why?

    Of course, money isn't the problem: you earn quite well, at least compared to the standard factory workman. Rather, it's because IT (at least, here in Italy) don't do anything related to my fields of interest. Most of them offer consulting via new technologies (but that is a lot far from being IT), some web application development, a little bit of Java here and there, and no real challenge. Mostly, they deploy pre-made systems (often Microsoft or IBM products), and just stand there watching other - foreign, mostly US - companies steer the wheel at their leasure.

    I mean: a lot of engineers are glad to become DBAs, or to do remunerative jobs programming cell phones applications with J2ME. Most of us CS students, however, have an interest in software engineering, for example, or algorithmic complexity, in compilers, operating systems, networks and so on.
    Sadly, innovation in the IT field is almost as stone dead, here in Italy.

    We need some spark of interest to enter IT, not just building boring systems to manage a warehouse. Bring in the innovation!
    So: IT *is* a dead-end. Doing paperwork and SQL for the rest of my life? Writing Java applets or Flash actionscripts? Are you kidding? It's not work, but slavery.

    As many, many others born in the first half of the '80, I remember writing BASIC games like Snake on lonely Saturday evenings, when a child. Playing with LEGOs and reading a lot. All this is lost for the new generations... both due to increased complexity (when the model you grow up with is Final Fantasy two-thousand-fifty, who's going to program a Tris game in console?) and changes in our society (general disinterest, maybe because scared by a too complex world).
  • by Andreas Schaefer ( 513034 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @06:22AM (#14970419) Homepage
    dude, you're right, my job hardly ever required my actual physical presence.
    so i offered my boss to lower my yearly income by 30% if he'd pay for my relocation.
    that's why i outsourced myself to a far off island with a decent IP connection - i'm typing this from a hammock overlooking the beach.
  • Can't agree more (Score:5, Interesting)

    by linuxgurugamer ( 917289 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @06:41AM (#14970455) Homepage
    After 25 years in IT, I was let go a few months ago because they "didn't need my position anymore", and was "replaced" by someone earning about half of what I was getting. This, after helping the company grow from 10 people to 85, and from sales of $100K to over $20 million a year. After creating a serverfarm which increased the capacity of our systems from 5 trnasactoins/second to over 20,000 transactions a second. I joined as Director of IT. In the beginning it was very hands-on. But management never listend to my requests for help, so I was stuck helping people via phone all over the world, maintaining and building the server farm, doing all the support on the PCs, etc. When I finally got help, it was help intended to replace me, which it eventually did. They then hired someone to "assist" my replacement. I've spent three months looking for a new job. So many of them have extremely specific requirements, so specific that there is no way I could even be considered. So now I've left the field. I spent the last 20 years not really liking my jobs and not realizing it. Having left, I finally realized that I wasn't happy before, because of the non-recognition of IT by the rest of the company.
  • by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @06:45AM (#14970468)
    I've been in telecoms now for almost 25 years, I've never done anything else but field engineering or tech support work, I thoroughly enjoy training people but have no aspirations to enter management.

    From what started as a career for me with British Telecom in traditional analogue telecoms (AC15 signalling, point-to-point circuits, PCM, etc) has now ended up with VoIP & SIP. I've become a UNIX & Linux expert (even an RHCE), know my way around pretty much any Windows system, I've worked on CTI, voice recorders, voicemail, predictive diallers, programmed shell-scripts, C & Perl, written web sites in HTML & CSS, advised customers on network security...

    I've achieved all this just because I'm a technology geek who's always prepared to go learn stuff "on the fly" as I need to know it, rather than insist on traditional training and certifications. This type of work is as much about knowing your limitiations and who to ask when you need help, as it is about knowing stuff yourself. Always learn & always be prepared to tech someone...

    All-in-all, it's a great career, I earn enough to enjoy a comfortable life & I'll die happy with a laptop in front of me and a screwdriver in my hand. :-)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @06:47AM (#14970472)
    A profession is an activity where one is treated as such. IT is not such an activity. We all know why. If you are going to spend 4 or more years in university, then get a degree in a profession, where you will be treated as such and not like an idiot in an open plan purgatory chicken battery like most of us nowadays. Also, professionals don't create solutions using patently wrong methods which were recognized as such 30 years ago. Schools are teaching interesting stuff these days, only in a real world business environment they are useless.
  • by el_womble ( 779715 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @07:26AM (#14970533) Homepage
    Not all jobs can be offshored. I'm outsourced to the government, and, because of the data I work with, my job can never be offshored. I suspect, thats true of some banking information, and probably true of a few other paranoid businesses, but I have no proof to that effect. So paranoia and security can, and will continue to keep some enterprise grade software firmly onshore.

    Small companies are becoming increasingly IT aware. We're seeing the first of the IT generation reaching management posts in Mom and Pops, and Citywides. It used to be that the price of the hardware was the problem, now its the cost of the developers. For small to medium sized business the cost of offshoring is too high... unless you broker.

    There is also the question of trust. Small companies rely on trust over legislation and buying buying power. It's difficult to build trust with a 7 hour time difference and a telephone (although would probably disagree). The small companies I know would rather deal with other small companies where they might be able to get preferential buyer treatment and loyalty, than cheaper multinationals.

    To me this stinks of profit. Doing lots of small jobs for small companies (customising OSS, a Ruby on Rails web shop) plus maintenance is the new electronic frontier.

    Western technologists can compete. We have the home team advantage: meet and great is more important than ever. We are, hopefully, well educated and well informed, giving us the ability to adapt and create new technologies that make us more effective and cheaper. But, you have to be able to deliver.
  • Re:Age of IT staff (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iamdrscience ( 541136 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @07:32AM (#14970548) Homepage
    not many people want to work in an industry where finding a job when you are past forty is difficult.
    Finding a job past forty is difficult? Silly rabbit,the way it works is you create a startup when you're 26, which is then bought out by a larger company for an obscene amount of money before you turn 30. You use this money to retire on and never have to worry about working again.
  • CS != IT or SE (Score:2, Interesting)

    by drachenstern ( 160456 ) <> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @07:34AM (#14970551) Journal
    BadAnalogyGuy made some good points in his reply to your post, but I just wanted to agree with you that CS is definitely not the same thing as IT or SE, where CS is traditionally hardware and R&D and IT/SE is primarily sales, support and application programming. I have been bucking the system at the last couple of schools I have been at (displacement because of -> marriage + job availability = no time for school!) because they keep pushing IT whereas I want CS. To top it all off, the IT departments have both been part of the School of BUSINESS, not science, eng or math! I for one don't get that!

    Actually, I do. You want people who can sell the results of CS working on the IT side, but can we at least educate people the difference between the TV commercials for "how to program and test your own videogames" and the ITT "tech-support degree" commericals and the real degree programs (not that ITT and some others don't have valid degree programs, just you gotta pick the one for the career you want to actually DO).

    This is actually what I want. BadAnalogyGuy stated
    Beyond that, a Computer Engineering which encompasses both Software and Hardware engineering is another type of program that would be useful.
    I've been telling my wife for a year now that I want to minor in pre-eng and then go back to school for my MS for some field of engineering. Reckon where I can get one of these CE/SW+HW-eng degrees? MIT, Berkely, somewhere a little cheaper?

    I know I know, masters programs != cheap.
    Really, I only intended to say, "I agree that students who want to learn java should goto a community college. Thanks for the encouraging words from a fellow student". Can those students read assembly code?
  • Re:soul sucking (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @07:40AM (#14970565)
    Why are these guys assholes?

    Because they can't do the variety of work needed to actually made things work. I worked with a number of groups of J2EE only programmers (and some VB only programmers) and over half of them didn't know what a socket was nor how to create/open/use a socket in Java.

    Its a form of cherrypicking. The "I only do 'this' assholes" end up passing off the hard work of getting everything to work together to the few people in each organization who have a wide and deep knowledge of CS/Software Engineering/OS/SysAdmin/DBA/etc work. Those few people are always buried in work and can't run PR campaigns about all the great crap they did. Another example, I a non-java guy had to design a JMS based server system because the 2 Java guys who had screwed around for six months trying to get a vendor's multithreaded FIX engine working couldn't do it - it failed everytime there was more than one transaction waiting to be processed. Lame-o's. Oh, yeah and they were from IIT, too.

  • Re:Yeah yeah... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jmtmeyer ( 869622 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @07:51AM (#14970600) Homepage
    Most hiring managers will blame the's and's for this one. In the past 10-15 years, HR managers have transitioned from not enough applicants to 1000 applicants per open position. How do you wade through the garbage? The answer becomes keyword searches and exact qualifications. There was an article in WSJ about the "Engineering Crisis" being a myth, leading to the above conclusion. They don't want an "operations manager". They want an operations manager with at least 8 years of management experience, with at least 10 direct reports, knowledge of CATIA, able to program Rockwell 5000 PLC, and has previous sales experience. There's a "crisis" because out of 1500 applicants, no one had that exact skill set.
  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:02AM (#14970635) Journal
    However, certain politicians oppose the idea of a free market for labor. When a labor shortage arises in the market for high-tech labor, such politicians attempt to damage the correcting force of the shortage by injecting H-1B workers into the market.

    Surely that line you wrote is doublethink?

    A truly free market for labor would mean that H1-B visas wouldn't even be required because there would be no immigration controls and people could just move in as they pleased without worrying about visas. There would be no such thing as 'illegal immigrants' or 'illegal workers'. Immigration law is massive government control over the labor market.

    So criticising government inteference in the labor market while at the same time supporting immigration restrictions is classical doublethink.
  • by thej1nx ( 763573 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:11AM (#14970663)
    I agree with almost every single thing you say. Yes, offshoring is being taken to insane levels. As a consolation, corporates will find out what doesn't works and eventually those jobs will come back. The balance will be achieved eventually. Yes, a healthy mix is definitely needed. The jobs which can be done just as effectively elsewhere, will be offshored. Those that can't be, must be held back.

    For the other part you are just restating what I said. Americans and others will have to accept that they are competing on a global scale and adapt accordingly. As a second choice, you *can* demand the market to be closed for a while from global competition. But that will just make your economy lose in the long term by becoming non-competitive. And if your economy loses, you still lose eventually.

    A nation of Project Managers ? Why the hell not ?!! The other side just made itself to be a nation of monkey coders.

    Evolve or die.

  • Re:Shhhh!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by keraneuology ( 760918 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:25AM (#14970704) Journal
    Way back when I was pimped out to a particular (and nameless) company that sold services machines to businesses around the world. One day I was caught in the crossfire between corporate executives and I, along with dozens of others, was abruptly shown the door.

    Within days the CEO of said nameless company that sold services and machines to businesses around the world was in the paper bemoaning the complete dearth of qualified IT professionals and begging congress to increase the number of H1B visas that he could exploit. I sent him a letter pointing out that I was an IT professional with glowing reviews from every manager with whom I had ever come in contact, sent references and let him know that I was availabe and would take a position anywhere in the world, including (especially?) ones that involved lots of travel.

    He ignored me. There is no shortage of IT workers - for every open position there are probably 10 qualified applicants. (Of course, there may not be enough women or minority applicants...)

  • Re:Shhhh!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ulrich Hobelmann ( 861309 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:26AM (#14970705) Journal
    Weird. There's nobody (unless there are unions) who forces IT wages high. It's an agreement between worker and employer. I'd work for less than what was a typical beginner's wage in 2000. Probably today they won't offer 40k to college grads anymore, so wages have sunken.

    Of course, if nobody *accepts* the employer's offer (maybe 20k for a good IT job), then the wage can't be lowered to that level.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:26AM (#14970707)
    You're more than likely wrong when you state that Intel is offering a salary and cannot genuinely find any US engineers at that price point. It is standard practice in most Western countries, especially in the IT arena, for companies to deliberately place job adverts with agencies at a rate well below the market level with a view to getting in an immigrant. When, surprise surprise, the vacancy isn't filled they can then apply to bring in the cheap foreign worker to fill in the skills shortage.
  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:10AM (#14970882)
    I'm in Denver, Co.

    Like most places in the USA there is a huge shortage of nurses. There are full-page ads in the newspaper offering $15K sign-on bonuses etc. There is also a shortage of truck drivers, companies have huge banners outside their facilities advertising for truck drivers. I know nurses that make over $100K/year. According the news, truck drivers are making over $75K/year.

    IT? Funny thing, no full-page ads, no sign-on bonuses, no big banners. In fact, it's quite the opposite. What jobs there are advertised are usually short term contracts with no benefits. There are few ads for IT guys, and fewer still give salaries, but the following describe a few ads I've seen (I swear I am not exagerating):

    - MCSE wanted for one day deployment (setting up PCs), salary $16/hour.

    - Experienced Web-Developer, PHP, MySQL, salary: $6.50/hour (Costco pays workers $17/hour, Wendy's pays $8.50/hour).

    - Experienced Web-Develper, HTML, salary: $0.00/hour, but you are provided with beer when are finished.

    - Web-Develper, HTML, salary: $0.00/hour, you are supposed to work just for the benefit of the experience.

    I occasionally see a few jobs for helpdesk and technicians for about $10/hour.

    Of course some jobs pay more, but good lord do they want qualifications. Consider this "entry level" job that is still on craigslist. No salary is given (typical) but the "entry level" part should give you a clue (I will bet real money that the janitor earns more) :

    - Entry Level - Application Developer Call Centers
    Strong background in object oriented application design, development and debugging. Java, Perl and Visual Studio .Net experience preferred. Experience working with Microsoft SQL Server and/or MySQL. IVR development, design or quality assurance experience a plus
    Date: 2006-03-15, 7:37PM MST []

    Image how much better you would do if you put your efforts into a real career field such as law, medicine, aviation, or for that matter, driving a truck.
  • Re:No different (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Garion Maki ( 791172 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:21AM (#14970924)
    I'm a last year IT student and I'm wondering, how much should I jump ship?
    On the recruiter seminary they mentioned that changing corp every 3 to 5 years is a good idea and that jumping faster would make it seem like you are gone jump ship anyway, so your not worth the time to recruit and train.

    So do you think that switching every 3 to 5 years on average is a good idea? Or do you personaly jump ship faster or slower?
  • by geoffrobinson ( 109879 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:35AM (#14970990) Homepage
    While people are familiar with the general idea of the Peter Principle (we get promoted to our level of incompetence), the Peter Principle has two exceptions. And you hit on one.

    The super-competent won't get promoted. You have to jump from organization to organization.

    The super-incompetent will get bounced pretty quickly, if you are legally allowed to (France, I'm looking in your direction).
  • by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:39AM (#14971013)
    To his credit, this is not entirely the guy's fault. Italy is one of the most entrepreneurship-unfriendly countries out there. You can't just set up a new company to build a new product, hire a few smart friends on the cheap, with the knowledge that if things don't work out, you'll all have to go off and get jobs working for The Man in a year or two.

    Why? Well, because you can't fire people. Literally. My friend's California-based hardware company (with some cool networking technology, before that whole sector in the earlier part of this decade), bought out a small Italian group from another company and set it up as a subsidiary in Italy. So they had about 10 engineers in Italy working for them. When the economy went tits-up, the company went kaboom and they had to lay everybody off. This happened to almost everybody I know in the US at some point, but in Italy, you can't just lay people off. So the government sued my friend, who was on the legal documents as the Managing Director of their Italian subsidiary. They basically wanted a year's worth of pay and then some for these people. In short, the shutdown costs for a small group would end up equaling perhaps 18 months of operating costs for that group.

    Since that money didn't exist, of course, they threatened to arrest my friend if he ever returned to Italy. After 2 or 3 years some sort of settlement was finally reached with the financiers (not my friend, of course, who didn't have millions of dollars pouring forth from his arsehole), luckily, but it was absurd. Suffice it to say that no company backed by those investors will EVER do business in Italy again.

    Anybody who has taken Strategy 101 in business school knows that one of the absolute most effective forms of barriers to entry in any business is exit costs. Most startup companies never have more than a year's worth of cash on hand. And when things hit a dry spell, often far less than that. Well, this will get you arrested in Italy, so it's pretty easy to understand why people don't start scrappy new businesses.
  • Re:Shhhh!!! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by computer_redneck ( 622060 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:40AM (#14971021)
    The affluent and expensive life style of America, which is totally out of touch with the reality of the rest of the world, is to blame.

    I have about 40 hardware Certifications between HP and other companies out there. I am damn good at troubleshooting. I also have my CNE. I make a little over 40K a year doing deskside support instead of whatever I could make in the server room. I have a Wife and a mortgage payment on a $130K house in the Dearborn area of Michigan. Just bought a used 2003 Escape for the wife. How is that out of touch with reality? I know many IT people in similar situations as far as pay and expenses.

    How much is a college degree worth? How much is years of experience worth? How much is it worth to a company to have someone with years of experience walk in and in less than 10-20 minutes diagnose and other than hardware or total system crash have the Accounting department back up and running so they can bill and bring in money to the company over having to call India or some other part of the world and spend hours trying to work through a problem from remote while the network or computer is down?

    Hell I have trouble talking to those people over the phone when I just want to get a part through warranty. Dell being the worst. I am Dell Certified on anything they make. I call and say I want a Tape Drive for a Server and they say are you in front of the machine we need to troubleshoot. Why the hell do I pay them $3000 a year to be a company that they send warranty work to and then another $150+ a year for the certifications to let some phone jockey from half way across the world walk me through troubleshooting I already did.

  • Re:No different (Score:3, Interesting)

    by corvenus ( 931206 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:59AM (#14971116)
    The big answer is: it depends. It depends on what type of work you do, what type of company you work for, and if you do contract or permanent work. One question you have to ask yourself: am i learning new things in my current work, and if not, how will that affect my future career path. I consider that when i stop learning new stuff (and provided that nothing new is on the way if i stay there), it's time to look for something else, otherwise it means that i'll stagnate and will be getting behind technologically. Which means that in a few years when i want to look for something else, it will be harder to find something better. For me, that time usually comes after about 2 years. But then again, i'm doing web-related work, so it might be different from more "traditional" IT fields.

    Generally speaking, i would say that unless you're working for a big company where there is potential for advancement, staying more than 4-5 years is probably bad for your career. Simply put, when you switch company you learn more and get way more chances for advancement (both in terms of position and salary). But as you say, be careful not to switch too often.
  • Re:Payback's a bitch (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MrNougat ( 927651 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `hcstarkc'> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @10:04AM (#14971135)
    Back in the day, I used to work in auto parts for car dealerships. We sold a lot of wholesale parts to body shops at the time. There was one particular local chain of body shops that was quite a lot of our business, and were getting their parts for something like 5% over cost. Considering that we had to drive to all their locations daily, and jump to do emergency runs, we weren't making a lot of money at all on them.

    One day, this body shop comes and says, "Hey, your big warehouse competitor will give us parts at 3% over cost? Meet it or we're switching." Fine, go. Good luck.

    Three months later, the body shop came back. "We want to buy parts from you again. The service at the other place was horrible." No problem - now it's 10% over cost.

    They took the deal. Just another example of how service beats price.
  • Re:No different (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bloodredsun ( 826017 ) <(martin) (at) (> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @10:06AM (#14971153) Journal

    18 months would be my minimum but I would prefer 2 years. For you this might not be a hard and fast rule. I would much rather have a recent grad who worked several small "menial" positions than one who didn't have this work ethic and waited for the work to come to them. At this stage of your career, experience (as long as it's good experience - not replacing copier paper!) is golden and it doesn't really matter how you get it.

    I've always felt that only after this point can you honestly say "there were no more challenges for me" and be believed by an interviewer. This shows that you care about your level of knowledge and aren't prepared to be kept back. As too many companies still promote by who's been there the longest (Buggins Turn)you may well have to move companies to get to the next rung in the ladder. Much less than this and you will be seen as someone who leaves because they are not good enough or as someone that makes bad choices.

    That said, I am a contractor and move companies with the work and the role which can be anything from 6 weeks to 18 months, but I had 3 years experience under my belt before I started contracting

  • by Garak ( 100517 ) <chris&insec,ca> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @10:23AM (#14971249) Homepage Journal
    Those requirements are pretty realistic...

    As much as I hate lying, for a job like that your not going to have the experince with the IVR software, people who have that experience are already working in that field. So lie... Do lots of research before heading into the interview and get up to speed on the technologies they are looking for.

    If they are being unrealistic then you will have to be... Or someone else will be and take the job...

    Any programmer should be able to jump languages without blinking, each one has its quirks but they are all pretty much the same.

    I've also heard of people using friends as references to back up lies about experience.

    I personally haven't done this, and I hope never to have to, but I have had friends with no real experince and no education get jobs requiring a CS degree and 5 years experince. He lied his ass off, pawed off work on others and made his way into management... He is one of these people we techies hate...
  • by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @10:28AM (#14971271) Journal
    I am a highly-skilled technologist. Specifically, I am production support for an internal unix based websphere application at a major telecom company. I have over 10 years experience.

    I have also been a truck driver. I have logged over 10,000 miles and still have my CDL. I was a trucker for one year.

    As a trucker, I was out for 4 weeks, home for 4 days. I drove 10 hours a day. I spent a lot of money on the road, because you can't carry anything with you. It was lonely work. It was hard mentally, and often challenging considering the way people drive and the fact that one would have to back an articulated truck with a 50' trailer into a space designed for a 43' trailer. You pay is per mile, I was earning $.26 per mile. Some drivers earned much more, but your pay is limited by speed and the amount of hours you drive. This encourages speeding and driving illegally. Most companies have rules against unhooking your trailer, so going anywhere is a bit of a pain. And it can be damned near impossible to find a place to park and get some sleep.

    As a technologist, I work 8 to 10 hours a day. I carry a pager on rotating on-call, and back up others in my department. I don't have much say in what is done even though I was hired specifically because of my experience and knowledge. I don't get near as much work done as I could, mostly because I am either being asked to deal with problems, or I am waiting for information. There is effectively no documentation and anyone who suggests the development of documentation is shouted down. I support internal business applications, but development cycles are extremely tight and there is a rush-to-market mentality in management. We spend 10K per server for an enterprise product that can do multiserver clustering, and we don't use the functionality so we have some interesting availablity problems with mission critical applications.

    I make about 60K as a techie. I made 28K as a trucker.

    I may yet go back to trucking. I am definately thinking about a career change.
  • I HATE _IT_ (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CiXeL ( 56313 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @10:52AM (#14971455) Homepage
    I used to love it. I started into computer at 8. worked for my local city government at 15. now im 27 and still in IT. A number of years ago i worked for coldwell banker in los angeles. we assembled their network uniting 60 branches. the company said it was time to cut costs and made us compete for our jobs. they would constantly raise the bar and can the person with the least number of closed tickets. towards the end there was a guy out in ventura who was wiping down computer cases with alcohol wipes trying to create more tickets to keep his job.

    I used to love IT now i f*cking hate it. They took something i really liked and destroyed it. I have other hobbies now which i am trying to pursue into a business but im trapped because IT still is the only thing that will make me enough money to keep me from collapsing into a pile of debt i created during periods of cyclical unemployment.

    I have a vendetta against Cendant Inc. they were the ones responsible for my complete failure of company loyalty.

    I swear to God, I will never respect another company as long as i live.
  • Re:No different (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LadyCoder ( 253548 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @10:58AM (#14971502) Homepage
    I really have to agree with this. If the work is interesting, and you feel you aren't getting hosed salary wise, you might as well stay. Of course, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't keep your eyes out for something better/different to come along. I never thought this way when I first started working IT ('98). I stayed at EDS right out of college and only stayed there 2 years because it was a dead end project and my manager wouldn't let me switch, also I was getting married and my husband lived elsewhere. I moved to my second company and stayed there for 5 years, although, in hindsight, I should have jumped much earlier. That company didn't pay me what I was worth, and I couldn't get a promotion because of all kinds of reasons. Since I have left, my salary has gone up nearly $10,000 (in only 5 months) and I have learned a LOT of new things. I think in the future I will be much smarter about when to jump ship and when to stay onboard. External factors have a way of scaring you into staying, but you shouldn't be afraid of a little change as long as you make sure that you are covered where you need to be.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @10:59AM (#14971515)
    Now who elected him to be the judge, jury, and executioner of who should, and shouldn't work in his profession?*

    *in his head that is.

    In his head, he's the only vote he needs and the only vote that counts. Same goes for me in my head. And you in your little dream world of smug superiority over a guy pointing out that people that are just in it for the money are worthless to the profession.

    Personally, I wouldn't be opposed to a government-issued license (much in the way radio broadcasters used to have, and VERY similar to architects, engineers, and other non-artistic, non-grunt-work professions have). It would be enough to (1) keep the riff-raff out and (2) place some accountability on the asshats writing swiss-cheese code that allows the next fricking virus/worm/trojan through. It would also have the effect of raising salaries for the good ones and getting rid of the bad ones.
  • Go for a swim! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:25AM (#14971751)
    Often times your Supervisor,Manager, or whatever choice word you want to use can't give you the increase you deserve after having put in a number of years.

    If you like where you are working now and have the oportunity to leave and do something else that would make you even more valuable than you already are give it a try. In my case I went back to my employer after having gone to work for a client(taboo but it was politically allowed) with a >100% increase in salary.

    When it's a new hire they have a lot more flexibility and skipping the interview process is definately a plus!

    DISCLAIMER: If your employer doesn't share your opinion of your worth then this won't work.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @12:38PM (#14972392)
    Similar sentiments were floating around in 2000: ml?articleID=18304314/ []
  • Re:Shhhh!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LaCosaNostradamus ( 630659 ) <LaCosaNostradamu ... m ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @01:46PM (#14973070) Journal
    The problem is that how are companies supposed to know that you know more? Take your word?

    It's not a problem since we're only pretending that it's a problem now. Resumes for any position have to be investigated. Furthermore, any "problem" that exists is almost solely due to the fact that HR departments have themselves been outsourced, downsized and reinvented, hence don't have the resources or the will to evaluate prospects anymore.

    If the paper certs are so easy to get, why not just get them?

    Because I'd be admitting that my experience is worth ZERO. I'm never going to devalue my experience to zero just to fit a FUD-based philosophy.

    And in case you're wondering, yes, I work in IT, and yes, I do qualify to compete for other positions. I have an interview just tomorrow, coincidentally, at a law firm in my city looking for a replacement for their long-time IT guy. I directly asked in my pre-interviews about if my "lack" of certifications or degrees would knock me out of the competition for the job; I was directly told "no", and additionally that my experience DOES qualify me for consideration. (Of course, the primary voiced concern from the company contact was about the expected compensation. Honestly, she seemed more concerned about candidates demanding up to x2 of the average market rate, than anything else she expressed.)

    I've noticed in this area (Toledo OH) that the people who are concerned about certs/degrees are primarily (1) scumbag IT businesses who will fold within 3-5 years due to constant underpricing in their mad attempts to capture market share, or (2) businesses who don't care to properly examine employees since they are so busy looting themselves for their executive class. Neither groups of businesses are worth working for.

    To sum up: My experience has value and I'm defending it until the end.
  • by Webinizer ( 953286 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @03:05PM (#14974064)
    I found this one and a bunch more at [] Maybe the problem is what your definition of is is when it comes to qualified.
    3694 - Websphere Infrastructure Developer Reply to: Date: 2006-03-09, 9:55AM PST Purpose: Performs and leads project activities related to web server administration and application deployment. Can resolve advanced technical issues and provides application design assistance. Acts as escalation point for difficult to solve technical problems. Provides customer service on a consultative capacity. Required Skills: Knowledge of web-related technologies. General networking. TCP/IP concepts and addressing. LAN/WAN technologies and specifications. Hub/Switch/Router configuration concepts. Name resolution protocols, such as DNS, WINS, ARP. Proxy Services (both forward and reverse). Domains and Certificates: DNS and Domain Registration concepts. Server certificates (for SSL) and Code Signing. Advanced Web Farm Architecture concepts: Load balancing and fault tolerance. Security (firewalls, network address translation, intrusion detection, etc.). Server clustering and high availability. External storage and backup strategies. Extensive Microsoft web experience: Windows IIS, Transaction Server, Site Server. Windows SharePoint services (Teams services, Portal services). Advanced experience with: IBM WebSphere Application Server (5.x, 6.x) IBM Business Integration Server (MQ Series, Adapters). Apache and Apache-based web servers. Familiarity with other web servers, application servers (e.g. Tomcat or JBOSS), portals (WebSphere preferred), and middleware. Web content and application replication and deployment methodologies. Knowledge of web application development processes and tools: Java script, VB Script. COM / DCOM / .NET. Java Beans, Enterprise Java Beans, CORBA. Proprietary systems: Vignette, Siebel, Cold Fusion, etc. XML Database concepts and connectivity issues. SQL DB2 Server platforms: Windows (Advanced) Server 2000/2003. Solaris (8,9,10)/AIX (4.x, 5.x). Familiarity with mainframe (z/OS) operating concepts. Behavior skills, including: Customer services. Excellent communication skills. High degree of independence. Follow through. Integrity. Performs and often leads project activities related to web server administration and application deployment. Committed to application development process, working within enterprise change control guidelines and working with development teams to ensure that adequate quality assurance work has been completed before applications are promoted to production. Resolves routine to advanced technical issues; acts as escalation point for difficult technical issues. Analyzes system and application software malfunctions and corrects or assists in problem resolution. Provides consultation to developers, designers. Offers suggestions on best uses of web technology. Develops and publishes best practices and standards. Consults with senior personnel and/or management on web-related issues that directly impacts company personnel and relations. Evaluates, installs and maintains web software and hardware. Demonstrates a commitment to quality and the process of continual improvement. Identifies and responds actively and with sensitivity to the needs of customers and is open and responsive to change. Provides off-hour support of web applications and web-related infrastructure.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @03:30PM (#14974398)
    Yep. Took a vacation last summer to Alaska. Met an awful lot of teachers and civil service folks who'd put in their 30 years and were looking for summer houses. Everyone makes their own lifestyle choices, but based on what I saw there, as a driven late thirties guy who likes working with small dynamic companies, my advice to kids nowadays would be to find a place you like where you can afford a house on a civil service or post office job, something low stress that gives you free time on evenings and weekends, take the money you would have spent on college and buy a few rental properties, when your thirty year pension comes up, go have fun.

    If you're driven to program, do small vertical software as your side business, rather than real estate. If you're driven to do something else, do that something else. But make your career something simple and with a defined retirement goal, and do the thing that you love on the side.

    Because, let's face it, even if you do it that way you'll probably end up spending more time programming (or whatever else it is you love doing) than if you'd gone into it as a career, spent lots of days in meetings and digging through crap code, and been burned on it by the time you've put in your 12 hour a day six day week.
  • by NialScorva ( 213763 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:13PM (#14975502)
    A successfully completed contract would be a "very good reason" for leaving. Reaction will depend upon what you are applying for, too. It's not hard to get typecast as a "short contracts person" and have someone who is looking for a long term duration employee to view that type of history as an ill fit to his needs. The opposite can be true as well. Then again, a lot of places are so hard up for anyone that can correctly spell "IT" that they don't care about your history.

    There are obviously exceptions to every rule, but someone who feels comfortable taking a series of short contracts or hopping more frequently probably doesn't need to read advice in a slashdot comment. Like most things in programming, advice and rules are the things you follow until you know why they should be ignored. A path of working at places for at least years is a good rule of thumb for getting that experience if you don't already have it.
  • by Deviant ( 1501 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:50PM (#14977320)
    I am back at University at 24 because after 4 years in IT I really started to believe it was a dead end. Now I am studying secondary humanities education - teaching can't be outsourced and provides much greater stability and benefits in the long run. It is a career that will still be there in 40 years and I couldn't be sure of that with IT.

    The way I see it the field is being attacked from two directions. I think that the software is going to get good enough where most of the mundane management tasks will be automated away. It will require a skilled engineer or two to come in and set it up and then it will practically run itself. I think that MS will compete with linux/unix on the server side with a OS that is smarter and easier to manage - and with their resources I think they will succeed at least to the point of needing fewer human resrouces in IT in many oranizations. Their advertising to managment will be something like buy Server 2010 and you will need less than half the IT people. Even that initial setup of this new infrastructure may well be done by the services arm of an IBM, HP, Sun or the like bundled with the purchase of the software/hardware. The lower level end-user support over the phone for larger organizations will be offshored (I worked for a large international bank and that had already happened to their Helpdesk. It was in the process of working its way up from there) and the smaller ones won't pay much for local helpdesk staff.

    There will be a few niche jobs where buisinesses either prefer or are required to have somebody local and onsite - like law firms, government or the defense contractors - but in the end I think there are too many competant people out there and will not be enough jobs for them all to remain in the field in 10-15 years time as things progress down their current road.

    I hope that I am wrong but I felt not making the change now while I can would be gambling with my career and my future. You can say what you want about teaching but it is much less of a gamble...

"I think trash is the most important manifestation of culture we have in my lifetime." - Johnny Legend