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Unemployment Woes

Am I the only computer professional that cannot find a job in Jacksonville, Florida?  I've been looking for the past 3 months with no luck.  Does anyone know what state is the best state for IT professionals?  I need a job quick--I'm on my last pack of bologne!

Anonymous
Wednesday, November 27, 2002


There's some insurance company in Jacksonville, FL that has like 500 coders as employees and is CMM-Level 5.  I can't remember the name.  I read about them in ComputerWorld or InfoWorld a couplea weeks back.  What's your skillset?

Matt H.
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

You are in a career that does not even require a high school diploma.  Certification is non-existant.  Nurses, plumbers, and construction workers have MUCH more rigorous standards and procedures to go through. 

There are tons of jobs, just not with the inflated salary you think you deserve.  Stop asking for an unreasonable salary. 

Bella
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

This guy could be a genius, I don't know....so don't take this as a profile of you.

But, I do have a "theory" about the current "unemployment woes" of computer/IT professionals:

Three years ago, if you could "click a mouse" ... you had a job.  Most employers were desperate and everyone wanted to be an "html coder".  People were dropping out of school to join in on the next "gold rush".

Of course a lot of companies were laying people off, but really they were "trimming the fat" (bye-bye mouse-clickers).

My first job out of college (computer science and engineering degree) I took a job on the I*NET team of a financial institution.  First, that was a mistake.  Never again will I work for a company where software supports the main product.  But, I remember how desperate they were to find people.  We were working with J2EE/EJB/JSP/Servlets/XML/Buzzwords ... and they hired this one girl that had "JSP" experience at a ridiculous salary.  I remember being in a Java class our company sent us too and hearing her ask the question "what's a heap?"

That's the type of crap that drove me crazy.  I would have to hand-hold her during some of the most basic java coding and she was making a ton more than me.

I digress.

My point is...I feel that the people that a) don't know crap and/or b) are asking way too much are having a hard time finding jobs.

Those with knowledge will survive
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Damn, I mangled my post.

Turn this sentence:

Of course a lot of companies were laying people off, but really they were "trimming the fat" (bye-bye mouse-clickers).

into:

Now, a lot of companies are laying people off, but really they are "trimming the fat" (bye-bye mouse-clickers)

Those with knowledge will survive
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

I have a degree in Engineering and I have been working as an Analyst for the past 4 years.  Every job I apply for, the recruiter says they recieved about 400 resumes for the position.  So my theory is the one who lies on their resume will survive.

Anonymous
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Things are bad all over.  The stock market has been going up the past few weeks, but the job market is still in the duldrums.

The only area that I have heard any indication of improvement is in government/defense work.

mackinac
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

the government is allocating huge amounts of money to "bioterrorism defense." find a university hospital and glom onto an IT project there.

nerdles
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

The job market is fucked.fucked.fucked.com so don't be too hard on yourself, ignore the fools who intimate that it's because there is something wrong with you.

Many companies dont even have enough work for the staff that they have, Many permanent staff who are twiddling thumbs at the moment, fortunately while paid.
Many large companies are 'holding on' to people for fear of starting an unemployment snowball. Recession begins with unemployment, so the feds pulling strings here for sure.

Of course, contractors have been let go immediately.

Good luck.

...
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Those with connections will survive.
network, network, network
It will most likely find you your next job.
And it will most likely allow you to keep your
current job if your company falls on hard times.

Glad to know, who I know
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

>>>>>>>>>>
The stock market has been going up the past few weeks, but the job market is still in the duldrums.
>>>>>>>>>>

Of course, everybody here does realize that we are now in the blackhole known as "thanksgiving/christmas".

Who hires during this time period (regardless of job market)?  Unless there is a desperate "we need this right now" need.

In January, new budgets go into effect and new positions are created.

Those with knowledge will survive
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

But, the thing is...I've seen people get jobs in this economy.

For example, my company was possibly (if they could come up with money in the budget) interested in hiring someone in May/June timeframe.  My old college roommate told me about a guy that was graduating with his Masters degree in May.  A really smart guy (so yes, Networking is a good thing).

We brought him in and liked him alot, but we just didn't have the money to hire him.  But, I talked to my roommate and this guy was hired a month after we interviewed him.

So, he had no trouble getting a job.

Like I said, People have no skills or they want too much money.

For example, I have about 3 1/2 years experience.  I can imagine that my resume would surface to the top because I have some good experience and I'd come cheap.  Whereas, a lot of people with 10+ years experience who are asking for $100+K salaries will have a harder time.  Some of the more experienced workers will have to come down a bit on their salary demads.

Also, after about 1 1/2 years in J2EE-buzzword-land I decided to get out of that and get into more engineering type of work.  I'm working with C++.  I'm working with windows desktop and handheld platforms.  I'm working with the palm platform.  My company is involved in location services, wireless, and GPS.  All cool, fun stuff.  My experience might be different than the 1,333,483,323 "Java/html coders" that are fighting for jobs.

I'm not denying that the economy is also a major factor.  But don't discount the fact that "No skills" (or skills that a lot of people have) or asking too much money are definitely great factors in the "unemployment" rates.

Those with knowledge will survive
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Firms also wait until after Tksgiving/Xmas to do layoffs.  Those waiting to interview in Jan are going to keep waiting.  I predict layoffs will spike upwards come January.  But good luck to all.

Bella
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

People with experience aren't given the opportunity to come down on their salary, or rate, expectations.

In a market like this, cheap is best.  Actually employing someone with experience is seen as necessarily expensive before they ever get near interviewing.

Simon Lucy
Thursday, November 28, 2002

I did have this issue myself looking for a role - I was willing to take a 25% paycut from my last role to have a stable job just down the road from where I live (like, a ten minute drive) but the company wouldn't hire me. They'd have liked to, apparently, but they didn't believe I'd stay there...

I, personally, find this bonkers. Companies won't pay enough to retain decent staff, they're laying off people left, right and centre and in the middle of this, they're not hiring hugely experienced people who they can get for a bargain because they happen to be close because they're worried about a DISTANT FUTURE?!?!?!

In the end, they went with someone cheap enough that they were convinced they wouldn't jump ship when the market picked up. Huh????

Katie Lucas
Thursday, November 28, 2002

I am never disappointed in underestimating recruitment agencies.

Simon Lucy
Thursday, November 28, 2002

It's certainly true that the workers are simply asking for way too much money and they don't have enough of the right sorts of skills.

We're looking for a candidate with 8 years experience architecting OO systems in C++ for shrinkwrap sofnware. Should have expertise in DSP, mixed-signal board layout, SQL, COBOL, PL/I, FORTH and assembly. Should be expert specialist in creation of large (17M+ pages), high-volume (40M hits/day) web systems. Should be completely familiar with all aspects of Cadence VLSI design tools. Should have experience running a business, international accounting rules and intellectual property law as well as 3d cad software, photoshop and high-impact plastic extrusion molding. Should have extensive skill and documented ability in high-level negotiation and political lobbying. Extensive travel will be required. We expect you to go the extra mile, willing to work nights, weekends and holidays as necessary.

The jobs pays $26k to start. Relocation will be necessary. There are benefits as this is a contractor position but this can be reevaluated after 36 months.

Inquire Within
Thursday, November 28, 2002

Heh.

Housemate is currently job hunting. Now, not being funny, it's a small market he's in. Small. Seriously. I mean, there are two companies currently "looking" for someone. And he's about the only person looking. This is because the field is in nuclear-magnetic resonance physics....

One of the companies is FIFTY YARDS from the house. I mean, we can see the damn place from the kitchen. Their experiments interfere with the wifi equipment in the house. They need someone, currently have no-one doing that job, would hire him at the drop of a hat but can't work out when enough people will be in the office to approve the hire budget. Not for some months anyway. Maybe then...

The other place wants a doctorate in nuclear magnetic resonance physics, but prefereably one with 3 to 4 years C++ and some solaris sysadmin skills as well...


So it's not just IT that's like that.

Katie Lucas
Thursday, November 28, 2002

Well, it makes sense to me.  If salaries DID resume their upwards ascent (which they won't), Let's face it, you'd be out the door in a heartbeat.

Bella
Thursday, November 28, 2002

Most hires are done through recommendations, so the more (employed) people you know in the industry, the better.

I've had to change jobs twice in the last two years, and both have come through recommendations by someone working there.  My unsolicited resumes never get any results.

cheapo
Thursday, November 28, 2002

I'd been in the job market, looking for a job, for more than six months. This is in the Minneapolis area, which is usually a technological hot spot.

The first thing that I tried was consulting agencies. This did not work. I had about fifteen agencies looking and after a few months, they wouldn't call me back. I called a few of them and one or two had gone out of business in that time. Bad news.

Its not that my resume is bad. I've had jobs with many big name companies and over five years of experience leading teams of programmers and large multi-million line projects. And I was asking for dirt cheap pricing. I told the agencies I was willing to work for $20.00/hour if they could place me. Still no go.

So, after six months of this, I was forced by dwindling cash reserves to take a data entry job through a service/consultancy company for $11.00/hour. And it turned out to be the best decision in my life.

The job turned out to be a completely automatable position. I wrote some software in three weeks that was saving them tens of thousands of dollars per month. VPs of a fortune 1000 company were congratulating me and requesting my resume. Needless to say, when the contract ended, I was immediately offered a better job for more than twice the pay as a project lead. This one has the potential to save the company more than a million per month in two months of development.

I guess my point is, you have to get your foot in the door. A lot of these companies don't realize the financial benefits of having a top coder in their hire. All they see is the initial consultancy expense. If you can get in at a low price and start saving them money and making contacts, you WILL start to catch their attention.

Dustin Alexander
Friday, November 29, 2002

Dustin, that anecdote makes me feel better about this day.  That's how the world should work, that you can get a job and find out that one of your skills can totally change things.

I imagine that you probably had to face the fact that people were "made redundant" though.  Did you catch any flak for that?

Tj
Friday, November 29, 2002

Dustin that's a very encouraging story.  I've been passing up jobs that pay $11.00 an hour.  Maybe I need to rethink my decision.  Was the company you took the job for a small, medium, or large company?

Disgruntled Unemployed worker
Friday, November 29, 2002

Is the scene in MN that bad? I grew up in minneapolis and left about 6 years ago. I don't remember it being a "technological hot spot." ;-)  But even so...

$11/hr is pretty bad. Even $20/hr is pretty bad. During two summers in high school I made $13/hr holding the "SLOW" sign for the DoT in road work areas.  I made about $33/hr all through college. My mom runs a non-profit health care agency that uses a simple web/db thing (migrating to .Net) and the consultants she uses are all making about $60/hr. And they are based in BRAINERD. What types of positions were you trying to get, and what firms were you using?

JesseVentura
Friday, November 29, 2002

Yeah.  I was wondering about the $11/hr and $20/hr numbers myself.  Those are scary numbers.

Those with knowledge will survive
Friday, November 29, 2002

"I imagine that you probably had to face the fact that people were 'made redundant' though.  Did you catch any flak for that?"

Fortunately, the three projects I've worked on for this company were either special projects [financial auditing, error detection] or things where I was making other people's lives easier without replacing them. I deliberately avoided suggesting solutions that would replace more than a few workers. I like to think that I have a heart, especially in this day and age where we all need one...

"Was the company you took the job for a small, medium, or large company? "

The companies value was placed at 3.3 billion last year, so I'd wager it could be considered large. :-)

"Is the scene in MN that bad? I grew up in minneapolis and left about 6 years ago. I don't remember it being a "technological hot spot." ;-)  But even so..."

It's pretty bad. Its getting better, but it's pretty bad. I've got some former co-workers who worked with me on another project that are out of work now. One of them has 25 years of programming experience, everything from assembly, engineering, chemical modeling, C, Cobol, Java. The man has written disk level controllers and file systems, for christ's sake. He is working for Best Buy doing phone based customer service at $11/hour. What does that tell you?

"Yeah.  I was wondering about the $11/hr and $20/hr numbers myself.  Those are scary numbers. "

I'm making a bit more than that now. Still, I'd take another $11/hour job in a minute if I can't find something higher than that after this project is done in early February. You have to keep the ball rolling. Eventually, something will break.

Actually, your concerns were my concerns a few months ago. Part of the reason I didn't have a job, was that I was unfailing in my expectations of another $75/hour position like the ones I'd been working before. In my arrogance, I almost lost everything I owned and managed to dig myself over $30,000 into debt. It was only when I was forced to take a position I considered to be below my level that opportunities and doorways began opening for me.

In a sense, I am coming to believe that the universe has a way of showing you your faults, and making you ante up to them.

Dustin Alexander
Friday, November 29, 2002

Jeez, I hope things pick up in Minnesota. I was there for awhile this summer, and was thinking of staying. I love the summers (don't really care for the winters. ;-))However, I did a quick cost of living analysis, and I could save more money out east, so I went back to NYC. The crappy thing about Minneapolis, in particular, is that the nice parts of it are all pretty expensive nowadays. I can save more making $90K in NYC and splitting a 2 bedroom than I could making, ulp, $11/hr and splitting a 2 bedroom in MN. Not to mention, most of the jobs in MPLS are out in the burbs, and the traffic sure hasn't gotten any better in the past 10 years...  Anyway, good luck!

JesseVentura
Friday, November 29, 2002

> I imagine that you probably had to face the fact that people were "made redundant" though.  Did you catch any flak for that?

Hello !  That's what computers have been doing since 1950.  Can you name ANY IT work that you did that was NOT making manual human intensive labor obsolete?

>  I was wondering about the $11/hr and $20/hr numbers myself.  Those are scary numbers.

Why?  That's seems in line with the training and qualifications required in the IT field.  (Which are zero).  To call yourself a programmer, you need about as much training and certification as the guy who hands you shoes at the bowling alley.  I hope you have not been living your life thinking you deserve more, and that your salary was not just a function of a temporary supply/demand imbalance!

> He is working for Best Buy doing phone based customer service at $11/hour. What does that tell you?

It tells me that he has horrendous career management skills.  What an absolute retard.  Talk about shortsighted.  You take a loan, retrain, change careers, build your skills, job hunt, work pro-bono, etc.  This guy had to be an awful programmer if he is able to make such incredibly boneheaded decisions. 

> I'd been in the job market, looking for a job, for more than six months... In my arrogance, I almost lost everything I owned and managed to dig myself over $30,000 into debt

That's quite a six months.  Were you also doing an 8 ball of cocaine for breakfast and hiring hookers 10 times a day?  People don't lose everything and go 30k in debt just from being unemployed for a few months.  Sounds like a result of reckless, irresponsible depression self-pity spending sprees.

Bella
Saturday, November 30, 2002

Actually, I take back my comments about salary.  A wedding photographer makes $5000 a night.  One can make six figures and work 20 days a year.  And it takes zero certification and degrees. 

So it's all about market forces, and the perceived value of your services.  THAT'S why we got paid insane rates in the boom, NOT b/c we are such talented, intelligent people. 

For those looking for non-IT work, break free of the brainwashing that degrees are the road to money.  That is the furthest thing from reality.  Supply and demand prevails yet again. 

Bella
Saturday, November 30, 2002

Bella you have made good points.  I graduated from FSU with a degree in Industrial Engineering.  Soon afterward I started my business.  Four years later I decided I'm not ready to run a business but decided to return to the work world.  All throughout my college career everyone was telling me that engineers make good money.  If you have a college degree you are almost guaranteed a job.  Well the reality of it, I know guys with masters in engineering from Ga Tech making less than system adminstrators with no college diploma.  They only have an MCSE.  They guy from Ga Tech is making about $65.000 a year, and the guy with the MCSE is making about $70,000.  If you bought in to the notion that you need a college diploma to make money, then you would have fallen into the trap me and my Ga Tech friend fell into.  Now I have $40,000 in student loans and is looking for a job and my friend with the MCSE  has no loan debt, making much more than me with no college degree.  So my point is, your value is not determined by a degree or some finite ideology.  It is determined by what people think you are worth to them.  It is determined by the value and urgency of the problem they are trying to solve.  An example is the value of security software before 9/11 vs the value of security software after 9/11.

Disgruntled Unemployed worker
Saturday, November 30, 2002

Boy, these 2 lines are gems.  Understanding this is worth more than getting an MBA.

So it's all about market forces, and the perceived value of your services. 

Your value ...is determined by what people think you are worth to them.  It is determined by the value and urgency of the problem they are trying to solve.

Bella
Saturday, November 30, 2002

"To call yourself a programmer, you need about as much training and certification as the guy who hands you shoes at the bowling alley. "

For about the first five minutes. After that you get fired. I don't think I've ever held a position or employed someone in a position beneath me where someone could pretend to know what they are doing and not get removed in a heartbeat. If you are working on a project with co-workers like that or bosses that irresponsible, I think you should take a long hard look at your own career choices. Just how valuable are you if your peers can know nothing and still get by?

"It tells me that he has horrendous career management skills."

Hmm.. Interesting. Perhaps you missed my previous points about the job market being non-existant? This guy went the same routes I did. He had over ten agencies, was sending out resumes to every classified add. We even had a group cold calling companies looking for work. Turns out the average job opening was getting hundreds of responses.

"That's quite a six months."

I'd been left with a company to take care of. When our largest client got consumed by a competitor and discarded our chief IT project, it left a smaller client with a complimentary code base out of luck. Instead of dissolving the company and leaving the client footing the bill for an unfinished product, I employed some of my previous workers part time to finish the job. That cost me all of my savings and quite a considerable amount of debt...

Dustin Alexander
Saturday, November 30, 2002

It does take skill to be a good software developer, good software developers are generally talented, intelligent people.

At the moment these skills are not in demand, and, more than anything else, too many people are in the field purely because of the hype about the money that people were earning, most of the hype was rubbish anyway.

So the guy handing out bowling shoes and the skilled software developer are on an equal footing in terms of formal qualifications, so what, it's about ability, not paperwork.

My take is that at the moment most companies are belt tightening and have very few projects on the slate, this is causing a drop out in the number of people in the industry, by no means are only the best people working, much of the best contracted talent is twiddling it's thumbs at the moment, if the economy takes a year to rebound and companies start doing projects again, a lot of the employed drone workforce is going to be found out.

Our IT department has dropped from 14 to 6 people over the last year, and guess what, we did'nt keep the best people, we kept the cheapest people, as soon as we are ready to do something 'big' again we'll have to get rid of most of them.

Result: Soaring rates for those with the ability.

There's still milk in the udder
Saturday, November 30, 2002

Remember this saying as a principal guiding point.

"In life you can't predict, you can only prepare.  Only those who are most prepared when opportunities knock will survive."

-Disgruntled Unemployed worker

Disgruntled Unemployed worker
Saturday, November 30, 2002

"Result: Soaring rates for those with the ability. "

I hate to agree with Bella, but I don't think there will be "soaring rates" for people doing standard crud desktop/enterprise apps ever again.  The untold truth is that most software is not hard like quantum physics is hard, it is hard like plumbing is hard. That is, it takes about 6 months of training to become proficient enough to pass as qualified. Most programmers do the same project over and over again. Most business programming is just a lot of "if/then" statements.  Being a programmer often _IS_ the same as being a "brickie," only you don't have a bricklayer's union to protect you from being squeezed.

soaring rates
Saturday, November 30, 2002

Bella, what's your point? That people are not allowed to discuss their unemployment? That it's all their fault? If that is your point, you are wrong. The economy has crashed, demand has dried up.

Are you just trying to be provocative?


Saturday, November 30, 2002

Bella's just upset because he's been building backoffice apps for a decade and has nothing to show for it other than a bad attitude, an estranged wife, and some kids who are now calling someone else daddy.

theInquirer
Saturday, November 30, 2002

Sculpting marble figures is not hard at all. It doesn't require any training or certifications. THere are no standards in the industry. You can take someone with no skills and put them to work with no training working in a bowling alley, or sculpting marble figures. It's the same thing really. Menial, unskilled labor that can be done by anyone.

Or what about painting? You don't need to hire some painter with a fancy art degree to paint the story of creation on the ceiling of the sistine chapel. Why pay some idiot named Michelangelo some absurd rate for this sort of work. The process of creating a mural is well understood and has been for centuries. It's like plumbing -- maybe 6 months of training at the most, and you can turn any bloke off the street into a renaissance figure painter.

X. J. Scott
Sunday, December 01, 2002

Well said, X.J.

Everything on the surface is easy.

Plumber, someone who can join a couple of plastic pipes together.
Electrician, someone who can join a couple of wires.
World champion cyclist, someone who can peddle a bit faster.
Programmer, someone who can put together a few if/then statements.

etc.

Every task requires a skill, software development is a very large field, requiring on one hand, vast amounts of knowledge, and on the other, just enough to get the job done. The dot com boom introduced a large number of the latter type of developer to the industry.
As soon as the requirements start to grow (it's dead right now) those of us who are capable of much much more than stringing together a couple of if statements are going to do very well.
In the meantime, the 'if statement' developers can live in the illusion of being software development professionals.

There's still milk in the udder
Sunday, December 01, 2002

ah yes, X.J... software is similar to sculpting or painting.

udder, what exactly do you do that is "much more than stringing together a couple of if statements?" 

do you two really think what you do is on par with michelangelo? or a even a "world class cyclist?" You might need to lower your reality distortion fields for a while. I do believe that programmers should be able to make a fair living, but vastly exaggerating the worth of a programmer to the rest of the world, is sort of how we all got into the mess we are now...

soaring rates
Sunday, December 01, 2002

The fact that there are no rigorous qualification standards for IT is a major part of the reason why the industry is so messed up today.

Other professionals who had to pass rigorous and meaningful standards for entry such as doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, physical therapists, and accountants rarely if ever have to worry about being unemployed.

When the demand for programmers skyrocketed, it sucked in many people whose only prior programming experience was a 1-month Visual Basic or HTML class.  Many if not most of them have remained incompetent because they have not taken the initiative to learn about the fundamental computer science concepts, and so their usefulness (if any) is strictly limited to the particular language or tool they have been working with.

I have come across many programmers who don't know what O(nlog(n)) means, don't know how to do a binary search to find an element in a sorted array, and don't know how to do a simple SQL foreign key join with three tables.  Of the programmers I've come across in my career, I wouldn't hire at least 1/3 of them.

The lack of any meaningful certification standards has also made it more difficult for HR departments to identify qualified candidates.  So their main criteria ends up being “X years of experience in language Y”.  When the demand shrinks as is the case today, they end up with impossible standards such as “10 years of Java”.  When the demand skyrockets, they hire anybody who can spell Java.

If there were some proper standards for entry into programming (current certifications such as MCSD etc. do *not* meet that criteria!), the supply would not have skyrocketed to follow the exploding demand, and today there would not be a glut of pretenders still taking up space in the profession while so many good programmers are unemployed.

Of course, some of you will say that it is impossible to create good IT licensing and/or certification standards  because the field changes so much.  I don't believe that is the case, because the fundamental concepts have not changed that much over the years.  Most of it is the same old thing wrapped up in a new syntax.  The standards should focus on a solid working knowledge of the concepts, not particular languages and tools.  Any language-based testing should be only for the purpose of demostrating a practical application of the concepts – not testing for knowledge of the language's syntax.

Other fields also change, but that does not make those professionals obsolete.  New drugs come out all the time, but that does not render the pharmacist useless.  The body of underlying knowledge they have allows them to quickly acquire the additional knowledge required to produce the new drug. Similarly, the underlying knowledge of the human body allows a surgeon to learn a new surgical technique or tool much faster than someone without any medical training.  Passing the certification is an indicator that they have the knowledge base, ability and desire to pick up any new and relevant bits of knowledge as they emerge.

Sure, there are bad individuals in all the licensed professions.  But imagine how bad it would be if anybody could wake up one day and call themselves a doctor or lawyer.  While it is true that rigorous professional certification standards are not a guarantee of competence, it does a good job of weeding out most of the pretenders and upholding job security for those who do know what they are doing.

T. Norman
Sunday, December 01, 2002

> That cost me all of my savings and quite a considerable amount of debt...

So being unemployed didn't cause your financial downfall, it was your business decisions and risk taking that backfired.  Do not blame the economy on your unfortuante risk/reward outcomes..

Bella
Sunday, December 01, 2002

> Bella's just upset because he's been building backoffice apps for a decade and has nothing to show for it other than a bad attitude, an estranged wife, and some kids who are now calling someone else daddy.

You can call it a bad attitude.  I just call it as I see it.  I have never been married.  I do not have kids.    I did leave IT to preempt that ineviatable aforementioned marital situation.

But nothing to show?  In the last decade, my critical & analytical thinking skills have been honed to levels I never imagined possible.  I also call them "see through the hype and bullshit" skills.  Or a bad attitude, as you call it.

My "bad attitude" led me to go against the grain, sidestep the entire dotcom scam, and capitalize on my rates as a consultant since 1999, as all the lemmings left for IPO's that were clearly never to be. 
My "bad attitude"  also enabled me to make money in every one of these last 3 years of bear market conditions, when 95% of people just watched and prayed as their portfolios dwindled.. 
I have kept the books of my own S-corp, and almost know as much about taxes as a mediocre accountant.  The computer literacy a programmer brings to a new career is scary and highly respected.
Nothing to show?  Oh yea, and I have enough money in the bank to cover about 15 years of living expenses.  (10 if I get married and have 2.1 kids)

Bella
Sunday, December 01, 2002

Bella, I have no idea if you have critically honed bullshit x-ray vision. By "bad attitude," i meant that every post of yours on this forum is an insane rant. And they usually aren't even funny. If you have 15 years of quid in the bank, retire! Maybe take a tour around the mediterranean like you razzed some "walter mitty" in another thread about. Life's too short too spend it flaming people on the Joel on Software forum!

theInquirer
Sunday, December 01, 2002

When it comes to message boards, I say "where a helmet".  Tone is just something that just can't be judged.

I don't think Bella was flaming anyone.  Most of the things were said matter-of-factly and I am quite interested in his opinions.

For example, one of his first posts was this:
>>>>>>>>>>
There are tons of jobs, just not with the inflated salary you think you deserve.  Stop asking for an unreasonable salary.
>>>>>>>>>>

There was really no response to Bella.  But, as soon as the guy that said he took a salary at $11/hr chimed in, people thought his story was inspring (probably because of the "raise" happy ending).

Sometimes the truth is the hardest to hear and Bella doesn't fluff his posts up with gumdrops and lollipops.  Take his advice as 'matter-of-fact', 'wear a helmet', and I bet you would find his posts more appealing.

Those with knowledge will survive
Sunday, December 01, 2002

fudge.  That was supposed to be "wear a helmet" not "where a helmet".

Those with knowledge will survive
Sunday, December 01, 2002

Bella,

I know what a C-Corp is, what is a S-Corp? DO you pay yourself a salary and pay taxes every week?

Don't know many people who called the market right in the last 3 years.

Cheers!

Prakash S
Sunday, December 01, 2002

FYI:

Enrollment in to the Computer Science program for undergraduates has dropped by about 15% in quite a few universities, at the same time grad school in computer science has seen more than 25-30% increase over the past 2 years.

Prakash S
Sunday, December 01, 2002

T Norman, the existence of certification requirements for doctors and many other professionals actually have two roles. One is to ensure a certain minimum level of competence, as stated.

The other is simply to protect the various professions from competition, in exactly the same way that programmers are now starting to see a need for protection. Once a profession can restrict employers to hiring from a certain pool, pay rates go up.

Not only does the requirement for lengthy training exclude about 60 or 70 percent of people who would otherwise operate as, say, doctors, it also lets the profession control the numbers entering the university courses, and thus the amount of competition in the profession. Beautiful.

.
Sunday, December 01, 2002

Very interesting stat, Prakash.  People who are invested and entrenched in an IT career are probably using a master's degree as a way to find more job security or retool (A waste is you ask me, It's called "throwing good money after bad." )    Or, like the guy in Good Will Hunting said, "One day you'll find out you paid $150k for an education you could have gotten for $8 at the local library"
It can also mean that new grads who couldn't find work are continuing to grad school in hopes of "riding out the storm".  (They won't)

I am surprised to see a drop in undergrad, however.  People (undergrad) who have nothing vested can make more clear, unbiased decisions.  But on the other hand, people tend to ignore bad news, or think it won't appply to them.  I'm sure the universities are still touting gov't studies showing that IT is a "hot top 10 career".  Anything to sell you a degree.  15% may not be statistically significant either, based on normal fluxuations of enrollments.

Bella
Sunday, December 01, 2002

Prakash,  info about s-corps:  http://www.ccsfo.com/basics/scorp.htm

Bella
Sunday, December 01, 2002

Grad school enrollment has increased since a lot of students are comming back to complete therir PhD's, also people who have been laid off are starting their Graduate program.

Students who have recently completed a BS or an MS, and have not found jobs are sticking with school.

Prakash S
Sunday, December 01, 2002

T Norman,
Basically I agree with what you say.

Interestingly, your comment
"I have come across many programmers who don't know what O(nlog(n)) means, don't know how to do a binary search to find an element in a sorted array, and don't know how to do a simple SQL foreign key join with three tables"

leads to another question, and that is, just how relevant is "wider knowledge"? I certainly know what O(nlog(n)) means, etc, mainly as I have a degree in mathematics, so while I have some qualifications I have no 'protective' quals certifying me as a member of a group of people who are accredited to write software.

My solution to this has been to move into scientific/mathematics software development which is hard enough to keep the less talented out, but which interestingly, although well paid, rates tend to reflect more academic values rather than the silly corporate rates (which I did enjoy) paid over the last decade.

Alberto
Sunday, December 01, 2002

>"Not only does the requirement for lengthy training exclude about 60 or 70 percent of people who would otherwise operate as, say, doctors, it also lets the profession control the numbers entering the university courses, and thus the amount of competition in the profession. Beautiful."

Yes, the lengthy training requirements probably do exclude many from their desired professions, but I don't think it is artificially so.  Should they dumb down the exams or reduce the content of the curriculum so more people can be doctors, lawyers or pharmacists?  I don't think so, unless there is a bunch of useless material that can be discarded without affecting competence.  They should find a way to make it less costly, but by no means should they lower the standards.

At least 30% of programmers and software project managers should be doing something else for a living, because they are costing their employers more than the value they are providing, and are keeping some good programmers out of jobs.  The term "software professional" is becoming an oxymoron.

T. Norman
Sunday, December 01, 2002

Grad school in computer science is a waste of time, but so is most work as a programmer. I think I said that in another thread.

Paying for a master's degree in "software engineering" or "IT" is definitely a waste of time and money.

Getting a PhD in computer science may or may not be a waste of time and money. I am nerdy, and actually find many of the math-related topics in computer science somewhat interesting (I find the not-so-math related topics of CS REALLY BORING, which is why I myself, am not pursuing a PhD). So if you actually _like_ computer science, and are currently not making any money anyway, and can get into a PhD program where you are paid a stipend, that might not be such a bad life. A couple of my peers are in decent PhD programs, and whereas they have no spending money, they seem to have a lot of free time, and aren't too stressed out about anything in particular. 

If you were making $100K a year, and have payments on an Audi, and a condo, and were an oracle DBA... trying to go back to get CS PhD might not be the right life choice.

I personally have a full time, stable job (at a government funded research lab that should stay afloat for at least a couple years). That pays pretty well. I have an LLC that I use for consulting side gigs, where I only do projects that I find "fun," and don't really charge a lot for them. I'm getting a part-time master's degree in molecular biology, 1/2 of which is being paid for by stable full time job. Two of my "fun" projects at the moment are maintaing some systems for PhD/MD researchers at a local hospital. I am going to apply to medical school the year after next, when I finish up my master's degree, and will use the PhD/MDs as my letters of recommendation. I have saved 70% of the money necessary to pay for medical school. When I am a doctor I will work 15 shifts a month in the ER, and use the rest of the time to play piano, and research computational microbiology techniques.  I'm not sure what the point of this last paragraph is, other than to illustrate that there are options other than taking a .NET training class in hopes of paying for your next year's worth of bologna.

grad
Sunday, December 01, 2002

"leads to another question, and that is, just how relevant is "wider knowledge"? I certainly know what O(nlog(n)) means, etc, mainly as I have a degree in mathematics, so while I have some qualifications I have no 'protective' quals certifying me as a member of a group of people who are accredited to write software. "

Ultimately, I'm not sure how relevant wider knowledge is. I also have a degree in mathematics, and milked the .com boom for all it was worth. I don't recall that I ever needed to use much of my background in algorithms and computational theory, or even anything beyond rudimentary data structures.

I think an error of magnitude is being made when "software professionals" compare themselves to lawyers, doctors, etc. Much programming work does NOT require a BS degree, plus 4 more years of schooling, plus a 2 year "residency." If you want to use an analogy to other fields, step down the professional ladder a bit.

A doctor needs to know: organic chemistry, regular chemistry, genetics, microbiology, immunology, population biology, physiology, biochemistry, physics, some degree of mathematics, etc. And she needs to deeply know enough about this broad range of topics to be able to pass a very difficult 8-hour long examination. And, that's just to GET INTO MEDICAL SCHOOL.

Further down the health care professional laddder, an EMT needs to know things like "if not breathing, then check pulse, then apply the shock paddles." It might help if the EMT knows something about the respiratory system and electricity, but 1 year of organic chemistry probably will not help him on the job.

Half of the jobs I had during the .com era I needed to know things like "SELECT * FROM USERS WHERE LAST_NAME LIKE SPLOSKY," and how to install the latest JDKs. I did not need to know anything about how a compiler works or any linear algebra, or really anything I learned as an undergraduate.

Thus, it isn't really suprising that when EVERYONE ELSE also learned these skills, they became devalued to the point where that type of programmer makes about as much as an EMT.

grad
Sunday, December 01, 2002

Yes Grad,
the idea of wider knowledge is interesting, my next door neighbour is a doctor, I'm pretty sure that she's been doing the medical equivalent of "SELECT * FROM USERS WHERE LAST_NAME LIKE SPLOSKY," (which by the way will produce an error because of the ',') for 20 years now, so whilst she once probably did know a bit about organic chemistry, regular chemistry, genetics, microbiology, immunology, population biology, physiology, biochemistry, physics once apon a time, I'm pretty sure she has no real need of it anymore.

Interestingly, there is a world wide 'nurse practitioner' program that it training nurses to do most of the work of doctors in hospitals. The cat is out of the bag, it's not as hard as it's made to sound, and ultimately, the issues are all about a workers union (called AMA) rather that the medical/technical issues. Many other professions have structured themselves in similar ways.

That said, of course there are a few (and I mean a few) sensational medical doctors who will draw on all the things they have learned in order to excel in their work.

It appears that due to the education boom of the last 30 years, too many people know more than is really usefull.
Which leads us into many social, economic and vocational issues, far bigger than the original 'Unemployment Woes' thread originally intended.

Alberto
Sunday, December 01, 2002

The purpose and benefit of the "wider knowledge" is so that people can adapt quickly to the changes in the field.  When somebody has a solid knowledge of the fundamentals (whether they learned it in college or learned it on their own), you don't have to worry much about whether they will be able to pick up a new language when they have to.  Without it, programmers are more liable to make bad technical decisions that hurt accuracy and performance, and take a very long time to become good enough in another language.  Take somebody who hasn't learned the concepts of pointer manipulation or memory addresses, who has doing nothing but SELECT BALANCE FROM ACCOUNT for years, and put them on a C project and it is almost a guarantee for disaster.

The examples I gave about the O(nlog(n)) and binary search were not some pie in the sky scenarios I imagined; they are actual examples of performance problems that occurred because the programmers did not understand those concepts.  I had to step-by-step explain to them how to do a binary search so something would run in O(nlog(n)) instead of their O(n^2) implementation.  They probably still didn't understand the whys and hows of evaluation big-O complexity, but at least they were able to appreciate the drop in response time drop from 40 seconds to 2 seconds.  Somebody being paid over $60K should have known those things or known to look them up quickly; instead they wasted days trying random things to get the program to run faster, when that knowledge would have enabled them to spot it in minutes or prevent the problem in the first place.

In addition, one of the reasons why companies are so hesitant to hire someone who does not have the exact match of languages and platforms they want is that there are now so many people in the field whose knowledge does not extend above, below, or beyond the specific tools and platforms they have been working on, and so they can take an inordinately long time to learn a new language to the point where they can write quality software.

Don't say "I shouldn't have to learn that because I won't use it"; learn those things because some people do use it and you you may also find it useful 2, 5 or 10 years from now. You don't know what in the world you will be working on a few years from now.  For example, in my career I have never done any programming involving pointer manipulation (unless you consider Java's "references" to be pointers) ... but I have written a few thousand lines of code in different languages using pointers (in college), and studied and been tested on the concepts, and I won't be afraid to go on a C++ project tomorrow ... neither do I want my current or future employer to worry about placing me on a C++ project because I don't know anything about pointers.  And my prior learning of object-oriented concepts made it much easier and faster for me to pick up Java than my co-workers.

As with other professions, there does not have to be a one size fits all certification.  Software workers could be certified at different levels, just as there is different certification for dental hygenists, dentists, and orthodontists - with responsibilities distributed appropriately so the specialists don't waste their time with SELECT BALANCE FROM ACCOUNT and the "Teach yourself VB in 24 hours" kiddies don't get assigned to work that requires knowledge of complex algorithms and concepts.

T. Norman
Sunday, December 01, 2002

Re lengthy courses excluding some people who would otherwise operate as practitioners in the relevant fields, I don't think all that material is needed for most of a practitioner's work. Ninety percent of a doctor's work could be done by nurses, for example.

The important point is that, when those 5 or 10 percent of unusual cases appear, the doctor or other practitioner is able to handle them properly. This is the big difference compared with software.

In software, lots of practitioners are NOT able to handle the unusual conditions. This is what produces the problems. ( Note this is not related to degrees.)

.
Sunday, December 01, 2002

"But, as soon as the guy that said he took a salary at $11/hr chimed in, people thought his story was inspring (probably because of the "raise" happy ending)."

No, it was because he proved himself.  And it was recognized.  That's how things should work.  More holistic than contracting out to some guy from the cold who doesn't care.

I do tend to agree that there's a large sense of entitlement that programmers have, which can only lead to pain.  We can go the route of law/medicine and be protectionist, but that will only make the field dull beyond words.  I don't think there could be any meaningful certs, because I'd bet 100:1 that it would be "C++ technique" based.  Screw that, there are enough stagnation-causing forces in IT today.

Anyway, programming is an extremely disruptive profession.  So it's weird to be shocked when the programming biz is also being disrupted.

Tj
Sunday, December 01, 2002

There is only one Certification and T Norman is His prophet. Blessed be the holy Name of the Prophet that speaks the Truth regarding the Almighty Power of the Certification.

Ed the Millwright
Sunday, December 01, 2002

How did we get to:

"Am I the only computer professional that cannot find a job in Jacksonville, Florida?  I've been looking for the past 3 months with no luck.  Does anyone know what state is the best state for IT professionals?  I need a job quick--I'm on my last pack of bologne!"

From:
"There is only one Certification and T Norman is His prophet. Blessed be the holy Name of the Prophet that speaks the Truth regarding the Almighty Power of the Certification. "

Typical software developers, full of BS!

To the original poster - Hope we helped you out!

Mike Wainright
Monday, December 02, 2002

Whoops, switch the To's and From's  above!

Mike Wainright
Monday, December 02, 2002

Actually, that's not true that "there's a large sense of entitlement that programmers have." Programmers have been happy to shuffle along from job to job while letting  managements and others work to reduce their pay and bargaining power. Other groups exercise far more control over their professional lives than this, and expect far more too.

One issue for programmers as a profession is that makers of software benefit from there being large armies of semi-skilled low paid people able to act as sys admins, but not much more. This creates the environment software makers can sell more product.

The other side of the coin is that programmers inside those software-making companies benefit from this. Long term, there's a trend where software makers are getting smarter, and custom developers probably getting dumbed down.

.
Monday, December 02, 2002

"Programmers have been happy to shuffle along from job to job while letting  managements and others work to reduce their pay and bargaining power. Other groups exercise far more control over their professional lives than this, and expect far more too."

Tell it like it is brother!

Most programmers are spineless pussies that *like* to be pushed around. It doesn't take a guru to notice that design pattern.

Ed the Millwright
Monday, December 02, 2002

"Semi-skilled low paid guys able to act as sysadmins and nothing more."

The average pay for a sysadmin is running at over $50,000 in the States. Not low pay in my book.

As for semi-skilled, a decent sysadmin will need about three or four years experience, with maybe half of it before his certification and the other half afterwards.

And the certification changes every three or four years, so you need the new knowledge whether or not you take the exam.

Or perhaps you mean "act as sysadmins in Hollywood movies".

Stephen Jones
Monday, December 02, 2002

$50,000 is low pay, for a sysadmin, in the states.

sysadmin
Monday, December 02, 2002

"$50,000 is low pay, for a sysadmin, in the states. "

I did say OVER $50,000

Stephen Jones (pedants rule OK!)
Monday, December 02, 2002

"Typical software developers, full of BS!"

There are certain unstable topics.  Though I'm silly for having chimed in.

The question, "What state is the best state for IT professionals?" looks like one that's needs more information.  And if you're metaphorically on your last pack of bologna, would it make sense to move and take 3 months to find an IT job?  Relocating costs money... and the US does not seem to have a huge unemployment rate despite the recession.

Anyway, I thought the orig poster had gotten good advice among all the other stuff.

Tj
Monday, December 02, 2002

I don't think there is a best "state." I guess if there was, it would probably still be California?  It is probably easier to weed it down to the "city" level. But, most cities that need a lot of IT workers are usually relatively expensive. I would guess that some booming western city might offer the best cost of living / salary ratio. (Las Vegas, Phoenix, Houston, etc) I honestly don't think it is worth relocating to find another IT job, unless "IT job" means "CEO of Cisco Systems," or equivalent.

statist
Monday, December 02, 2002

"California"

I don't know. I moved out of there. The rates are slightly higher around SF than in certain areas. The rates are lower than elsewhere in the southern areas. And yet the cost of living is substantially higher.

There's high crime, high pollution, abysmal school quality, high taxes, homeowners associations, a ban on homeschooling, insane amounts of traffic, and duplicious phonies around every corner.

On the other hand, there's a nice climate in the south and nice culture and food around the bay area. And beaches and mountains that you can do both in one day.

So if you are an outdoors type and have the time (aren't working 70 hrs a week in an airconditioned building), it's OK.

But you can get much more bang for your buck elsewhere and have a more enjoyable time doing it.

X. J. Scott
Monday, December 02, 2002

I guess one should go where the jobs are, rather than wait for the jobs to come.

This is pretty much impossible if you are married, have kids and own a house.

I remember checking http://www.computerjobs.com during the boom; Texas & New York (Tri state area)  had more than 10,000 jobs listed at anytime. Now days you are lucky if you see 10% of those jobs listed.

Prakash S
Monday, December 02, 2002

read somewhere that "they" predict that IT spending will increase in June-Sep 2003.

Personally, I do not believe any of this BS.

If you are lucky enough to have a job, then great. Otherwise you could go back to school and get a degree in anything NON-CS related, or choose another profession and go with it.

It's going to be a long time before the curve between the people seeking for jobs in IT and the available jobs normalizes.

Basic question of demand and supply, like some other person on this forum mentioned.

Prakash S
Monday, December 02, 2002

>>>>>>>>>>
If you are lucky enough to have a job, then great. Otherwise you could go back to school and get a degree in anything NON-CS related, or choose another profession and go with it.
>>>>>>>>>>

Whoa, whoa, whoa.

Something seems strange here.  You are suggesting that people shouldn't get CS degrees?

I thought every other person in every other field was having a hard time finding jobs (not just computer related) because of the economy (not because they are picking on programmers).  What makes you think that if I go get a Business degree I'm going to have 7,8 offers?

Also, when we talk IT...what exactly are we talking about?  Are we talking the guys that set up your computer?
Are we talking about the guys that work with flash?
Are we talking about the guys that code html?
Are we talking about the guys that write the backend code?
What are we talking about?

Because programming is still a hard thing to do (as opposed to installing win2000 on everyone's computer at the office).

Also, what about non-IT places.  What about places that develop software apps (shrinkwrap)?

I still think getting a CS degree is a good thing.

William C
Monday, December 02, 2002

If you want to be a programmer, or are a programmer already but without a technical degree (or a lot of technical self-learning), a CS degree is a good thing.

Getting *another* CS degree, as in a Masters or PhD, is usually a waste of time and money unless you plan to go into some very specialized programming which requires a lot of R&D, like artificial intelligence or voice recognition.  Or you plan to teach.

T. Norman
Monday, December 02, 2002

William C:

I assumed that most of the people in this forum have at least ONE CS degree or a few years of CS experience. Doing another CS degree is surely a good way to add value to yourself, but more value can be added by gaining more domain knowledge like Bio *stuff*, medical *stuff*, etc.

Prakash S
Monday, December 02, 2002

Hmmm...I'm wondering how useful taking classes would be in the first place.  What's a couple of classes going to do for you (while looking for a job)?

I'd spend the time reading up on some newer technologies and just messing around with some projects that take advantage of that newer technology.

Unless you are just going to stop looking for a job altogether and go for your masters (which is at least a year of full-time schooling, maybe more).  Otherwise, I'm not sure how any classes would help.  I'm not saying I'm right, I just don't know if it would.

William C
Monday, December 02, 2002

look at this way, u have been coding in perl for a couple of years, you go to grad school get a MS in computational biology or something like that, it just gives you more opportunities, and you buy yourself some time till the economy picks up.

Prakash S
Tuesday, December 03, 2002

>>>>>>>>>>
look at this way, u have been coding in perl for a couple of years, you go to grad school get a MS in computational biology or something like that, it just gives you more opportunities, and you buy yourself some time till the economy picks up.
>>>>>>>>>>

First, I'm not saying this to be mean, because you come off really nice and I'm sure you are, but you haven't even entered the job market yet and have worked 0 years as a professional! :)  I just want to get that out there because I don't think you are speaking from experience.

That being said, tell me what does an MS in computational biology buy you?

Let's use Joe Smith as an example.

1) To get an MS in computational biology, Joe would have to stop working and go to school full time (let's hope he's not married and has kids).  Possibly, Joe might get it done in one year, but I bet it takes more.  So now we are talking about 1+ years with no income and with no chance for a job (because Joe is in school full time and not interviewing).

2) Now let's say Joe goes the 1+ year without working and gets the MS.  What's his career path?  He just went 1+ years without working with Perl (skills thus errode) and now he is a fresh newbie with a brand-new masters degree in computational biology.  Is he now a computational biologist? Is he a Perl programmer?  What is he?  If he's a computational biologist he just took a step down.  Because now he is looking at entry-level salaries (unless these guys make tons of money -- I know nothing about Computational biology).  So now that's 1+ years of no income plus a reduced salary from his "programmer with experience" salary AND that's if he does get a job right away!  It seems like to me that you are asking for a complete career change.  As opposed to gaining more knowledge in his current career.

3) The reason people aren't finding jobs is because the economy has been poor.  This affects EVERY CAREER (not just programmers).  Let's say Joe was graduating *right now* with a computational biology degree.  Is he more likely to find a job than being a perl programmer?  Or more likely then being a perl programmer that bites the bullet and takes a lower salary than what he thinks he should get (this ain't the internet bubble you know)?

The real problem is that he is a "perl programmer".  What is that?  I'm not sure if I would hire a motivated perl programmer to be a C, C++, or even a Java programmer.  But I would think that the C, C++, Java programmer could easily pick up perl (I could be wrong here, I never really used it...but I have used php).  I don't mean to pick on perl programmers, but the fact that he only knows Perl is a major part of the problem.  Perl is something that I would pick up an O'reilly book on and start coding in a week.  Why did Joe limit himself to just Perl programming the past X years?  Did he think companies were going to be lusting over Perl programmers for the rest of his life?

What kind of a degree does this perl programmer have?  Did Joe get one of the CIS degrees (Computer Inofrmation Systems, I think)?  Ugh.  I'm sorry if he did.  Did he get a Computer Science degree?  Did he get a Computer Science and Engineering degree?  Does he have a degree?

I don't think it is as simple as "go back and get a 'fancy' MS degree".  I've only been in the "real world" for 3 1/2 years.  But that's why I'm on this message board now.  To talk through something like this. :)

William C
Tuesday, December 03, 2002

well, i have a math degree, and usually program in perl. i went back to school for a master's in computational biology (NYU), and I didn't have to stop working. "full time master's degree" is usually two courses a semester. and they are usually in the afternoon. i live in new york city, thus i don't have to drive a 2 hour commute, so it wasn't that hard going into work early and leaving a little bit later to go to class.  i now work for a research hospital, and make the same salary i was making before, but i am working on something i find interesting.

i think maybe prakash meant that having some domain knowledge lets you do work other than being a generic programmer. I probably could do my current job with my current skillset and a molecular biology book, but i probably wouldn't have gotten the job without having a piece of paper that says i know something about biology.

i thought getting a master's degree was actually a lot of fun, i met people, got to learn about interesting stuff, made some reasonable connections (got a job out of it) etc. of course it is possible to meet people and learn about interesting stuff without going back to school, but if you are a typical "computer personality" it isn't maybe as easy as you would like it to be.

there are probably other problem domains much more lucrative than computational biology (i make $85K in NYC, FWIW). For instance, learning finance, or something. but if you like biology, and programming, computational bio isnt a bad choice. (and it pays about 2x as much as non-computational bio. ;-))

programmer.
Tuesday, December 03, 2002

one other thing i wanted to mention, is that if you want to do something, just do it. a lot of posts on this board about employment seem to have this crazed tone, sort of implying that your wife is going to leave you , and your kids will starve, and you will be thrown in debtor's prison if you take a year off to get a master's degree, or travel the world, or whatever.

of course getting a master's degree, or going on an extended vacation, are not going to make you a multibillionaire, but if you think these things are important, you are better off doing them, rather than always wondering if you should have done them. if you hate your master's degree, you can just quit, and if you don't like your trip, you can just go home.

programmer.
Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Programmer,

interesting post.  Very informative.

I have a quibble, though:

>>>>>>>>>>
well, i have a math degree, and usually program in perl. i went back to school for a master's in computational biology (NYU), and I didn't have to stop working. "full time master's degree" is usually two courses a semester.
>>>>>>>>>>

See, the difference is...you had a job at the time (thus, income).  And if you need 10 classes to get your MS, this took about 4-5 years (maybe less).

But what we are talking about is advice for someone who is currently unemployed.  And I would think that you would have to have your MS completed before computational biologists start taking you serious.  So Joe, in my example, is going to have to go to school full-time to get it done quickly (so he can get back in the job market).

That was my point at the end of my post.  The fact that Joe the Perl Programmer did nothing but Perl the whole time he was employed.  Maybe he should have been thinking about getting an MS and things of that nature.  But because Joe thought companies would always lust after Perl programmers for the next 20 years, Joe is stuck in a situation where he is just an unemployed Perl programmer.

I must say, all this talk has woken me up.  I've been in the "Real World" for 3 1/2 years, and I never had plans for an MS in anything.  But now I am interested in going back to school.

If I was interested in nanotechnology (I only know about as much as I read in this Sunday's Parade magazine from my newspaper), I wonder what my focus would be for my MS?  I wonder if you need a PHD to be taken serious?  I digress. :)

William C
Tuesday, December 03, 2002

>>>>>>>>>>
one other thing i wanted to mention, is that if you want to do something, just do it. a lot of posts on this board about employment seem to have this crazed tone, sort of implying that your wife is going to leave you , and your kids will starve, and you will be thrown in debtor's prison if you take a year off to get a master's degree, or travel the world, or whatever.
>>>>>>>>>>

Remember now, the original post that started this thread gave us these facts:
1) he was unemployed
2) on his last pack of bologne

Using those facts, I'm not so sure if he would be able to take 1+ years off with no income.

It's not that the world around him will blow-up, it's just that you have to pay some cost-of-living bills.  If you have a mortgage, you have to pay it.  If you are renting an apt., I don't think the landlord is going to let you stay for free.

William C
Tuesday, December 03, 2002

yeah, this thread is way off topic. anyway, i've been to jacksonville, and from what i remember of that city, that guy is really screwed, and not just because he's unemployed. ;-)

in general i'm anti-credentialist, and don't really like the idea of master's degrees, but I wanted to learn about biology, and it seemed like if I was going to read a bunch of stuff about it anyway, i might as well get a degree during the process.

it took 1 summer, 3 courses in fall, 3 courses in spring, 1 summer, 2 courses (1 i didn't need) in fall, thesis in spring, to get the degree.

was it worth it? well, it cost about $12K out of my own pocket. in theory i could have put that money into some interest-accuing account, and had an additional 5 years of retirement income  40 years from now, or something. but more likely i would have blown it on computer stuff, eating out, electronics, etc.

i'm now able to do work i find at least 10x more interesting.
i don't really think the master's degree itself imparts any increased job security, but i've learned that job security is more a factor of having a clue, networking, and hustle, than it is market dynamics.

programmer.
Tuesday, December 03, 2002

William C: point taken,

Yes, I do not have full time work experience, but my point is listing out all the options one has, and going with the best choice.

A year without work does not look too impressive on a resume.

Going to school will not necessarily make you a better candidate for a job, or might not even get you a fatter paycheck.

What it does is gives you an additional bunch of jobs you can work on, in addition to what you have been working on already.

The trade off: Is it alright to spend the money on a degree or try my luck with the same skill set (and not spend that money). How long do you look for jobs, 3, 6, 9 months?

Prakash S
Tuesday, December 03, 2002

programmer:

What kind of stuff are you working on?

Prakash S
Tuesday, December 03, 2002

I work and live in Jacksonville.  Yes to some the market may be bad but look at it from the other side. We currently have 2 openings. One for an EDI programmer and one for a Sr. level web prgrammer that can handle day-to-day operations of a large webfarm.

I can't speak much fro the EDI position but I do all of the technical interviews for the web position. Some of you would be surprised at the level of expertise some people purport to have but then can't  pass a tech interview. You may also be surprised and how many people have things like VP or CIO listed on their resume. That makes it look like the market is bad when VPs etc. are willing to step down in salary. But I know some of these guys and they may have been a VP but so was most everybody else in the dot com boom. Everyone made big money and had impressive titles but most weren't qualified for even a Jr. level position.

The positions are there we just need to change our expectaions. But no that won't work because most of us can't afford to work for $11/hour (but that is better than no job).

If you still looking then post a link to your resume and I'll see if I can help.

Ichabod Crane
Wednesday, December 04, 2002

> in theory i could have put that money into some interest-accuing account, and had an additional 5 years of retirement income  40 years from now, or something. but more likely i would have blown it on computer stuff, eating out, electronics, etc.


You have no idea of how true this statement is.  Anything you will earn will be spent by your wife and children.  (No, I am not married with children, but it's pretty obvious if you look around) 

Bella
Wednesday, December 04, 2002

[But imagine how bad it would be if anybody could wake up one day and call themselves a doctor or lawyer.  While it is true that rigorous professional certification standards are not a guarantee of competence, it does a good job of weeding out most of the pretenders and upholding job security for those who do know what they are doing.]

What prevents most of us from being a doctor or lawyer is what it costs to get a medical or law degree. That's where their job security comes from -- keeping the tuition high and no assistanceships. You can get a doctorate in many other subjects absolutely free.

PC
Wednesday, December 04, 2002

"What prevents most of us from being a doctor or lawyer is what it costs to get a medical or law degree."

this is totally incorrect.

getting an MD or JD is no more costly than buying an sport utility vehicle, if you have in-state tuition. nearly everyone takes out student loans, which are extremely easy to get once you get into medical school.

getting into Med school is actually really hard: you need a 3.5+ GPA, good mcats, a bolus of relatively hard prereqs, good recommendations... and if you don't have a STELLAR gpa (3.8+) and _really good_ mcats, you need to do stuff like volunteer in clinics. you are weeded out because it is time consuming and difficult.

getting into law school is less difficult but if you go to a bad law school, you can't get a job with a good firm, so you don't really make good money anyway. and getting into a good law school requires good grades from a good undergrad college.

algorithm
Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Despite great G.P.A's why are so many doctors so mediocre?

I mean, after all, they've got such great g.p.a's.

Alberto
Friday, December 06, 2002

GPA in most cases is not a good indicator of your skills!

Prakash S
Friday, December 06, 2002

[quote]
GPA in most cases is not a good indicator of your skills!
[/quote]

That's just something that people with low GPA's say. :)

Seriously though, I'd change that statement to GPA is "sometimes" not a good indicator of your skills.

For example, my co-worker/friend is really smart and a really good programmer/engineer.  But, in college he would get C's because of the level of effort he put into homework (what was more important to him was actually understanding and comprehending the concepts).

But, if he had completed all his homework, he definitely would have received A's.  Not because "completing homework" automatically means an "A" ... but because he understands the concepts enough to write/program homework that is deserving of an A.  To say that someone who isn't smart can get A's by getting all their homework done shows me that you go to a really crappy college or something! :)

Now where GPA comes into play is if that is your ONLY basis for hiring someone (and that would sure be one dumb company).  But if candidates, after going through an interview process, were pretty much equal ... I'd lean towards the person with the higher GPA.  I think the high GPA shows some level of commitment.

William C
Friday, December 06, 2002

"Despite great G.P.A's why are so many doctors so mediocre?"

i don't know. i only have one doctor, whom I see rarely. she seems pretty good. i don't have a large enough sample to make a guess on why many are mediocre.

my comment was merely to point out that money is not a significant deterrent to becoming a doctor. it is more the time commitment and the track record you have to maintain. it is very easy to obtain funds (in the US) for medical school, if you manage to get into medical school. 

algorithm
Friday, December 06, 2002

I happen to know why so many doctors are mediocre, it's because medicine is not a passion for them, it's merely something with good 'social acceptance'.

Passion+Ability = good at whatever you are doing.

No Passion+Ability = mediocre at whatever you are doing.

Thats why so much software is mediocre too, people chasing a buck in the boom times with no passion for what they do.

Alberto
Friday, December 06, 2002

William C:

That is the reason , i say "most cases" :-)

Prakash S
Saturday, December 07, 2002

alberto, that reasoning seems sound to me. Lack of passion certainly explains why I'm doing such a mediocre job on my current project. ;-)

algorithm
Saturday, December 07, 2002

The lack of passion observation sets up a damning scenario for the enterprise software world; It seems hard for me to imagine anyone truly passionate about building billing systems for an insurance company.  In fact, if I met such a person, it wouldn't be a person I'd want to be around too often. ;-)

algorithm
Saturday, December 07, 2002

effort = f(passion)
skills = f(effort)

Bella
Sunday, December 08, 2002

Hear, Hear :-)

Prakash S
Sunday, December 08, 2002

Bella you forgot one:

passion = f(gifts, talents, natural ability)
effort = f(passion)
skills = f(effort)
money = f(skills)

Disgruntled Unemployed worker
Monday, December 09, 2002

money is not really a function of skills, I make a lot of money and am not particularly skilled at anything (except maybe avoiding getting sacked)

.
Monday, December 09, 2002

Money is a function of skill, not in the tradition sense you think.  If you are making a lot of money then you have a skill of finding out the job that values your position the most.  I said in one of my earlier post that the your value is determined by urgency and what the person you are solving the problem for think the problem is worth.  An example would be:  I was travelling on the Interstate last week and I stopped at the rest station to get a coke so I wouldn't fall asleep.  A can of coke cost 75 cents verses 49 cents in the grocery store.  I relunctantly paid the 75 cents because it was urgent to me that I stayed awake while driving.

You must understand that this is a thinking universe where those who have the most wisdom will survive.  There is no such thing as a money problem or a marriage problem.  It's only a wisdom problem on how to make money or how to have a successful marriage.

Maybe I should rephrase skill to wisdom which makes it more clear to comprehend.  The problem I had with finding a job is learning HOW TO find a job or HOW TO interview successfully or HOW TO put together a resume that would get me an interview, i.e. HOW TO sell myself.

Disgruntled Unemployed worker
Monday, December 09, 2002

You're the 75c (or 75k) can of coke.  You need to find the proverbial "sleepy midnight driver"

Bella
Tuesday, December 10, 2002

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