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age discrimination->labor shortage->need more h1b?

http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/itaa.real.html

I hope that I can manage to stay on top of the bizarre "hot skills" youth-oriented hiring game described above.

It does seem silly that organizations are unwilling to take experienced programmers with good fundamentals, at least when they have an existing team that can train the newcomer in the particular tools and methodologies they practice.

At the same time, it's easy to come up with hundreds of anecdotes from weak older programmers who think they are qualified, but are not.  Still, it sounds like in many cases they are not even given a chance to demonstrate competence.

You'd think that some less foolish company could simply target these neglected older programmers and make out with better talent for less money, and stomp all over their 20-year-old-hiring competition.

young programmer
Tuesday, June 18, 2002

You can't, in as long as you don't have a vote/say in the future direction of labor practices in the industry.

Think about PHP vs. ASP vs. JSP
C++ vs. Java vs. Insert your flavor here.
Oracle vs. SQL Server vs. DB2  vs ANSI SQL 92.

Kinda of crazy uh? precisely it's nuts what's the point of having standards commitees, when in the end some two bit recruiter or even worse an incompenent hiring manager generates a list of skills, that obviously can be translated from one venders offering to another. Yet absolutely insists on not looking at the cadidate unless they have a specific version.[ requires 6yrs if C#, 15 yrs of Java, must be stupid and dumb, yet have won a noble prize in mathematics ;-) ]

Get the picture kid?
Your playing a game with loaded dice, snake eyes everytime garuateed.

Larry from Queens
Tuesday, June 18, 2002

I love when ADA/COBOL/AS400/JCL/RPG/Mumps/CICS/Foxpro/Delphi programmers get laid off, can't find another job, and then resort to "age discrimination" as the root of their troubles....Sorry folks, it's called "skills discrimination" or "relevance discrimination"

Bella
Tuesday, June 18, 2002

I don't think it's as simple as that, Bella. I think it's Matloff who makes the point that the most common bunch of older workers having trouble finding jobs are actually C++ programmers.

Selection of candidates is often 1-dimensional, based on irrelevant, highly specific product sets. Sometimes this even includes product version. "I'm sorry, the job spec days Windows 98; you've only got Windows." I've seen cases where an ideal candidate is rejected by a recruiter, yet turns up through other routes and gets the job.

Hugh Wells
Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Hey Bella,
where can I get a copy of your crystal ball? :-)

Case you hadn't noticed, your statement is full of Sh..t.

You make these completely out of hand/small minded comments with zero to back it up and call that informed?

No wonder we're importing talent from india. I would hate to think your technical problem solving skills are just as under developed.

So next time you brain says make stupid comment, tell your fingers/mouth to throw an exception will ya ;-)

Oh, have a nice day.

Larry From Queens
Tuesday, June 18, 2002

{
Hey Bella,
where can I get a copy of your crystal ball? :-)

Case you hadn't noticed, your statement is full of Sh..t.
}


Don't worry about him, it's just the resident troll coming out from under his bridge.

RJS
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Well, I have read several of Bella's recent posts and I have to agree that this person certainly seems to be either a troll, a very young person who is simply very ignorant, or both.

Even so, Bella's viewpoint on this topic isn't totally off base.  Mainframe development work tends to be very different from PC development work. 

The fact is that the relevance issue that Bella brought up is not always as trivial as some people make it out to be.  Not that anyone would purchase it, but someone could easily write a book that discusses how these two development environments differ.

As for older programmers (such as myself) who already possess the relevant skills (whatever that means), I suppose the argument comes down to nothing more than cost and the fact that most hiring managers, HR employees, and technical recruiters only understand industry buzzwords.  Note: many would argue that most individuals can't even get this aspect of our industry (the buzzwords) correct. 

Bella, have you even bothered to visit professor Matloff's web site?

Charles Kiley
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

First, I've basically said that people with outdated skills have trouble finding work.  If you don't agree, or call that trolling, that's fine by me. 

> Bella, have you even bothered to visit professor Matloff's web site?

Yes.  And the excerpt below is often overlooked.  Yes, it's partly skills, but it's also about dedication, distractions, and outside responsibilities.  We've had this debate a few months back, so I wont rehash. 


"Employers like to hire new college graduates or young workers within a few years of graduation, because they generally are single and thus can work large amounts of overtime without being constrained by family responsibilities."

Bella
Wednesday, June 19, 2002


I think it's some of both.

No, a COBOL guy is probably going to have problems going to Java.

A C++ guy, on the other hand, probably WON'T.  Knowing the similarities of the vendors offerings (IE MySQL is roughly equivilant to Oracle or SQL Server) is beyond the scope of the recruiters, so they end up saying things like "Oh, I know you know MS Word, but we are really looking for a NotePad Expert who can hit the ground running ..."

There's also a culture difference with age.  When I was 20, I went to a company with all kinds of problems, but I had a huge respect for Management, and that was the only culture I knew - I couldn't compare the forest to the Sahara because I'd only seen the sahara.  So I did what I was told without any griping.

Now, 5 years later, I have been exposed to numerous styles of business mgt, have read a few books, taken a few courses, have a wife, house, and child on the way.  Working a few hours of overtime is suddenly a much bigger deal - it involves calling home, saying I'll be late, making alternative dinner plans, etc, etc, etc. 

So there are certain measurable (yet illegal to consider) differences between workers.

Then AGAIN ...

  When I was 20, I had no experience on projects over a few thousand lines of code.  I had never shipped an actual product. 

  I didn't know hungarian notation.

  I didn't know how to perform accurate unit tests, or XP-style automated tests.

  I didn't know how to perform function estimates, or anything about SW project management.

  I didn't know C++, Perl, XML, XSL, SQL Server, or Database Normalization, or even C at the "expert" level.

  I had never prepared a powerpoint presentation.

  I didn't know accounting or business law.

  I had no idea how to measure "quality" or provide confidence that we were shipping "quality."

  And the list goes on.  Of course, I make much more than I did five years ago.  I think companies tend to go with the intiutive answer ("He'll work harder for less money!") than the correct one ("You get what you pay for.")

just my $0.02 - one more thought - hiring the CHEAPEST new college grads can be like any lowest-bidder situation - you run the risk that the thing you buy isn't capable of doing what you bought it for ... to mitigate that risk, you better account some $$ for insurance.  Once you do that, the lowest bidder isn't the lowest bidder anymore ....

regards,


Matt H.
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Anyone with any clue understands the tradeoffs between salary, age, skills, and experience.  This is common knowledge.  It is up to the hiring entity to decide what best fits their needs.  YOU do not know what this is, THEY do.

Personally, I've never seen age discrimination happen.  Skills and relevant experience talk.  If you have the skills and experience, and fit within the salary range, and have a personaility fit, then you're in.  I've never, ever seen it any other way.  I always laugh when I see people with shit skills blame their age.  No, it's because you AREN'T QUALIFIED.  You may THINK you're qualified, but that's not YOUR decision to make. 

Lastly, burden also falls upon the applicant to know when he's out of place.  If a shop is filled with hardcore 30 year olds who work until 10pm, and that's not your style, then don't bother to apply.  You'll only get frustrated and quit.

And vice versa, if you're 30, and want to work until 10pm, don't go work for a "maintain 1995 Powerbuilder apps from 9-5 , collect my paycheck, and goto my son's little league game, then visit my mother's nursing home" type of IT dept.  You'll only get frustrated and quit.

Bella
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

So far our industry has preyed on the gullability of the young, and to be honest, in times where the end result was a total burn-out at 32 but with a nice 1M$ parachute, who am I to say there's much harm done.
However, now that the parachutes seem to be tearing appart, the story is quite different.

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, June 19, 2002


"It is up to the hiring entity to decide what best fits their needs. YOU do not know what this is, THEY do."

  I highly recommend you do some research in this area.  Seriously - I'd start with books by Ed Yourdon - especially the difference between the hiring manager and the HR department.

  I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm saying you haven't done your due dilligence.  Oh yeah, You haven't done your do diligence _AND_ you're wrong.  That's it. :-)

  But I won't take it farther than that.  I happen to LIKE it when Bella "pushes back" on people and forces them to support thier argument.  It's like trolling, only with some _benefits_. 

regards,

Matt H.
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Bella doesn't have to do any research... it will all come to him in time.  When I was young I would have had much the same opinion.

Joe AA.
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

I've seen age discrimination happen in all sorts of ways. I've seen it happen to people who are "too old" and I've seen it happen to people who are "too young" (I've been both - lots).

I have a very relevant skillset (before anyone asks) and can learn to do anything within a very short period of time, but when an HR director sees a requirement of Java 1.3 and you have on your resume Java 2 they don't even get that.

I've been paid less because I was too young (even though I started working way before most of the people hiring me) and I've been forced to work more hours with the young'uns even though I have a family.

But I've also seen discrimination in the form of education (i.e. if you have completed a 4 year college (no matter what your GPA) you *must* be more qualified than someone who got a 2 year degree, or no degree, plus a bunch of training and work experience who excelled at everything they did).

I hate the way hiring is done now, whether the challenge is age related discrimination or education related.

Do me a favor, give me a test, interview me, pay no attention to my seeming qualifications or lack thereof. I can do anything - let me prove it.

Bevin Valentine
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

I think it also boils down to this: the more people you let in 'initially', the more money you have to spend filtering them out.  It costs a lot more to interview someone a couple times and see if they are qualified than it does to filter based on the resume.  Since the job market is so saturated with all different skill mixes, perhaps many companies are following the second method, because they will find someone who fits.  However, it's pretty obvious that the first method yields better quality people in the end.  Some companies realize this and have the money to look at 'everyone who thinks they are smart enough to do the job' (like Microsoft).  But it would be foolish to expect it from everyone...different company cultures and all that.

BTW, even Microsoft's Research Department looks for advanced degrees.  My undergrad friends who got hired with Microsoft said they 'just look for smart people, no matter what your qualifications'...but if you go to their research dept website it's a totally different story.  I guess they must feel that getting an MS or PhD is a better gauge of intelligence than a BS/BA.

Ozzie

OzzieGT
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

But ya know Ozzie - some people don't have that opportunity (to get a PHD or an MBA).

I guess when I look at it I see:

In order for me to get a job making better money (or indeed get a job anywhere) I need more of an education.

In order for me to get more of an education I need more money (and thus, a job making better money).

:oP~

Maybe I'm an anomoly because I have kids and can't just give it all up to live in a tent and go to grad school. And maybe I'm an anomoly because the people I have seen with advanced degrees may be "qualified" but they sure as heck don't want to work - they want to postulate and expound upon and have secretaries to type memos.

Maybe I'm a little cynical about the whole education thing... *laughing*

I'm serious though - this is incredibly frustrating. I'm not saying you have to hire me necessarily to see what I can do - give me a test! Make me program a small widget in order to get into the interview - make me design an interface - fake a sales call...whatever! Let me prove that I can do it prior to giving me a dime. Yea - your time is money, but why not make that investment?? And what *does* that degree prove anyhow - that I managed to fanangle the system enough to get through college (or had a daddy with a big enough bank balance)?

Bevin Valentine
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

I find this degree discussion ironic.  IT is probably the least degree dependent field I've come across.  ie: A field where someone can find success independently of their degree.  If you think IT is bad, you should look at most other professions, where you don't even bother to send in a resume unless you have the required credentials. 

OF all fields, if you find IT limiting in its nature of hiring with respect to degrees, you aint seen NOTHING yet.

Bella
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Bella I'll agree that it used to be that way - but I'm not so sure it is now - since the economy has tanked.

Bevin Valentine
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

One of my ex-bosses told me he prefers people with degrees and the more advanced the better.  No, not for any educational reason, simply because they are used to following orders and conforming to authority figures.

Joe AA.
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Wow. That is telling isn't it.

Maybe in part (and I'm postulating here) the challenge is that unconventional thinkers sometimes travel unconventional routes...for instance...

My reasoning behind not getting a degree at all much less an advanced degree was due to a theory I had as a child/teenager/young adult. I reasoned that a better way for me to learn as much as I could learn (and thus, get to be well rounded) would be for me to experience life fully - go out into the workforce and discover what tripped my trigger as well as what didn't, learn things about a variety of different industries, and learn about workforce behavior, creativity and innovation (none of which I believe you can learn in a conventional educational institute). I was 18 at the time, and didn't necessarily see the value in doing things "the way society does them".

So I guess what I'm getting at (I did have a point somewhere in there) was that it seems that if you want thinkers who adopt a rigid discipline based on their mentor's point of view - hire a grad. If you want critical "out of the box" thinkers who can really catapult the organization...then...what? (not to knock grads out there - I think it's possible to maintain personal integrity while attaining a degree - I just think that a lot of people do not).

Non-graduates are harder to manage - maybe that's the whole thing - they stir things up by having ideas that flout the conventional. I drive my boss crazy looking for improvements in process and innovation - by explaining business acumen to non-business people and by suggesting to marketing that they need to change some strategies. I thought that would make me useful. *shrug* I've survived 4 layoffs (and was one of the last ones hired) so I suppose this organization sees me as useful - don't think I feel badly about my "lack" of qualifications.

Bevin Valentine
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

"I'm not saying you have to hire me necessarily to see what I can do - give me a test! Make me program a small widget in order to get into the interview - make me design an interface - fake a sales call...whatever! Let me prove that I can do it prior to giving me a dime."

But why don't you? Build up a portfolio of stuff you can show to potential employers. What are you waiting for?
It might not get you past the door of the interviewroom every time, but it sure might help once you get a foot in.

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

That's my challenge - I have done that. I have a fantastic portfolio if only I can get anyone to look at it *laughing*

I've never lost a job after I've managed to get an interview - I think the problem  that I have lies in the fact that most companies screen resumes by things like education, and won't even look :-)

I've resolved to find ways around it, and indeed I have - I recently was told I was the #1 candidate for a position that I have little experience in - mainly because of my interest and my relentless pursuit of the position.

Marvelous - but I guess my thought is - there are countless other places that I could be useful at if only they didn't screen against what I feel are arbitrary requirements.

Does that make any sense at all? *laughing*

Bevin Valentine
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Do you never get the "pick any degree you want" spam then? Hey, why not give it a try! ;-)
Seriously. I am in a position where I see over 100 fresh CS graduates each year, and believe me, 98% of them i'd never want working on my team.

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, June 19, 2002


Most of the IT shops I've worked in have offered some kind of tuition reimbursement for night courses.  Why not go ahead and get the BSCS?  You could even do it on-line at Nova or Univ. of Pheonix ... then again, getting tuition assistance for on-line courses is generally tougher ...

...If a company won't pay for tuition assistance, it -might- be an indication of how they view and investing in your future.  I've never worked at a place like that, but I did consider one because they un-officially said "We offer sub-standard benefits, but above-average pay ..." (I can always pay for my own school at night if you give me an extra 10K/year ...)

Matt H.
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Bella's posts seem to be really practical, however hard it bites u.

Prakash S
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

"Bella's posts seem to be really practical"

Yeah, you can print them out and wipe your arse with them

do me a favour
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

The suggestions given are interesting - my company is currently at an impasse regarding tuition reimbursement due to the economic...downturn with regards to our industry. We're in a very specific sector which apparently (much to my complete shock) is going downhill fast.

But thanks for the suggestions.

I guess more to the point, I would like to see a world where people value people based on what they do, not where they came from or what their "education" states. I'm highly educated, and have lived all over the world, but unfortunately my resume cannot reflect that. So for me, yes, it's a passion, but I'd like to see other people who are in similar spots get into a place where they are well compensated. I'd like to see ability rewarded, instead of some arbitrary value based on how many years of school someone suffered (oops, did I mean enjoyed?) through. I think it would be fantastic for business (imagine - paying people based on how much they did in your company???)

Bevin Valentine
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

> I am in a position where I see over 100 fresh CS graduates each year, and believe me, 98% of them i'd never want working on my team.


Can you elaborate? I'm actually curious to hear intelligent, unbiased commentary on recent IT grads, and their shortcomings.  Thanks

Bella
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

BTW, the highest paid long term consultant I personally worked with ($150/hr) did not have a college degree, let alone an IT degree.

Bella
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

That's very interesting Bella - it's not been my experience, but perhaps it's the area that I'm in (I live in a town based on a major university!). Maybe it's different in other areas of the world...I've largely been stuck on the east coast due to children.

Bevin Valentine
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

I'm going to have to agree with Bella on this one, many of the IT/CS grads are horrible programmers, they can't think from themseleves, and on occasion can remember how to use the ideas the proffessors have shown.  How do I know this? Because i've taken CS classes, and i've had to interview and work with (although for a very short time hehe) CS grads.  I'm not sure why this is, but i've found it to be very true. 
     

Vincent Marquez
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Bella:

being a current graduate student in Comp.Engg. I can say that the shortcommings would be in these area's:

1.) No experience
2.) Cannot see the big picture.
3.) Not the greatest coders you would expect.
4.) Never worked on a project more than x no. of people.
    x=2..4( this can also be considered as factor no 1.)
5.) No windows/ Microsoft technologies experience.
6.) No programming related to the web.

Of course this is a consolidated list.

Prakash S
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Prakash,  the shortcomings inherent in a new grad is self-evident.  Anyone willing to bring in a grad for an interview would understand the things you listed as a given (in most cases).  I interpreted that "Just me" was interviewing grads for positions, and was generally unimpressed.  I am curious, assuming the list you gave was EXPECTED, why he was even MORE unimpressed. 

Bella
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Bevin Valentine, don't despair. If you've got a range of achievements and experience to your name, you're obviously a capable guy. If you're being stifled by a credentials-oriented environment, the challenge for you is to find a shortcut past that.

Instead of playing their game, play yours. Sometimes the worst thing you can do is try to fit the rules of the other game. This probably sounds a bit abstract. Work out your goals, and then the complete range of ways you get could get there.

Hugh Wells
Thursday, June 20, 2002

Hi Bella,

I work in a part of European were most of the higher education is heavily state subsidized. This is not a bad thing. In fact, an involuntary contribution (spending taxes) to paying for education is probably one of the best uses of such things.
The problem however is that this subsidy is based on a per capita system that is (in practice) not kept in line by quality controls. The more students you attract, the more money you get.
All that stood in the way of a total sell-out of the degree system was peer pressure and industry acceptance. In the IT job market of the 90's, there was absolutely no problem with industry acceptance. You could turn out a dead gerbil and slap an IT grad sticker on it and they would stand in line offering it a new set of wheels as a signing bonus. As for peer pressure, let's just say the IT being a field without much academic history not many of the scholarly ways were known to it or respected.
As a result, in a quest for taking out each others "in-stream" of IT students, the universities began lowering the both the prerequisites for entering and the requirements for obtaining the degree. Almost everything that 10 years before was a staple in a standard CS curriculum went out the window (and I do not mean they replaced C++ by Java, but actually throwing out things, not replacing them).
So as we reached the end of the 90's, what was labeled a CS grad was a completely different category of animal than that same species in the past. I now know universities where the IT grad has written maybe 4 programs of over 1.000 lines of code (no, I did not forget a few zeros), has no notion whatsoever of software engineering, has never worked with a modern development system, has never used a DBMS, has no experience in looking for information, has no experience in general problem solving, has no experience in reporting, has never made a design for something that would require more than 3 days of work to complete, never heard of debugging methodology ... the list goes on and on. Don’t think this is because they learned things at a higher abstraction level and can quickly apply these more abstract  parts of skills and knowledge to a given environment. Sorry, good guess but no cigar.
BTW. I'm willing to bet that the remaining 2% I mentioned I would have hired before they entered their first year ...
As I said in another tread: always remember that the real value of the degree/certificate is that of the least qualified person ever to have obtained it. To me this means most degrees are utterly worthless. Please remember that this absolutely does not mean all CS graduates are completely bad, just that they are not by definition better or worse for the job than anyone else. Do not trust the piece of paper, do your own due diligence.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, June 20, 2002

"Bella's posts seem to be really practical"
Yeah, you can print them out and wipe your arse with them

And with that I burst out laughing and spit a whole mouthful of coke upon my poor, unsuspecting monitor.

RJS
Thursday, June 20, 2002

Thanks Hugh and all who have given useful advice...

Just one note -

I'm a gal, not a guy *wink*

Bevin Valentine
Thursday, June 20, 2002

Oh, my goodness ...

Hugh Wells
Thursday, June 20, 2002

S'aright, happens all the time - when you have a name like Bevin people generally assume you're male or foreign - neither of which I am.  My husband's name is Angel - so you can imagine that causes still more confusion *grin*

But I don't like to make things easy ;O)

Bevin Valentine
Thursday, June 20, 2002

Take home message:

HR and even Technical Director type staff are often even less clueful than you might think.

2 stories:

1. I worked at a horrible company where their key business critical, load-intensive system was implemented in FoxPro. Yes, really.

2. I just went to an interview and talked for about a minute about my experience implementing something in ASP (as in Active Server Pages). The Tech Director then asked what sort of Application Service Provider it was - to be fair, he realised the confusion straight away, but it shows that a lot of companies are hiring to buzzwords, unfortunately.

Maybe if you are having trouble getting hired for the latest buzzword technology, but have a background in something obscure from a while back, you should set yourself up as a consultant to service the clueless monkeys with the FoxPro systems. They will outsource to you because there will probably be no-one left in their country who wants to wash their dirty linen. Bill them double the time it takes you to fix their crap (they won't notice, because they're monkeys, remember?). Then learn new technology in the dead time the monkeys are paying you for.
Now for the clever bit - when they ask for their next badly-thought out, underspecified feature, insist that the whole system needs to be rewritten in $BUZZWORD, which conveniently you have just been working on for another client (name one of their more competent competitors). You have now filled a checkbox on your CV!

I know this seems unethical, but those monkeys do deserve it.

BH
Thursday, June 20, 2002

Well, I suppose Bella must be counted among the cold-hearted and unsympathetic. In the war between the Haves and the Havenots, the Haves always seem to think that they are fully entitled to the benefits they enjoy and that the Havenots should blame no one but themselves. Ironically, there is nothing sadder than a former Have.

As for the fate of older programmers, it's all well and good to stand on your soapbox and say that they should have remained current. The reality is that after a few years, most programmers get pigeon-holed on a particular system or set of applications. Tending to your responsibilities usually forces you to focus on a specific set of skills and related area of knowledge. Something can be both demanding and stagnating. When you are spending 16+ hours doing work, week after mind-numbing week, when are you supposed to find the time to pursue new skills? (And what skills do you pursue anyway? It might be easy enough to see what became big in hindsight, but I wish I had the time to write a list of all the "hot" new things that came along and eventually ended up as road-kill.)

What is really irritating is that the company that demanded and happily accepted your hard work over they years is the too-often the same one that now says, "sorry, but your skills are out of date and we don't provide training."

I hope, in 10 or 15 years, that Bella does not find himself in a similar predicament.

Oh, and would you like fries with that?

Burned and Bitter about it
Thursday, June 20, 2002

(That was 16+ hour days)

Burned and Bitter about it
Thursday, June 20, 2002

That is an important point - not everyone has time to stay up to date - many employers don't realize the value of helping their employees stay up to date (even if they give it lip service) and many people don't have time to do that on their own.

Bevin Valentine
Thursday, June 20, 2002

Well, my point wasn't to start a whole discussion about degrees vs. non-degree, but just to point out that there are some economical reasons for making decisions on things like which languages you know, etc.

BTW: Yes many CS/IT majors are not good at what they do, but I think the same can be said for non-degreed IT folks as well.  There are many CS majors who go through school and get their degree while the big picture just flies right over their head; either because they went to a school that didn't teach the material well, or they managed to take the tests when they didn't know what they were doing.  I would say that is a direct result of not having a standard by which to judge all CS grads (like a certification exam or something).

If you find someone who can take his knowledge in CS and apply it, and code well, that person can most probably do more, more efficiently, than someone who does not have the degree backing him/her.  Of course, some non-degreed people learn the theory and grand concepts through job experience.

OzzieGT
Thursday, June 20, 2002

"If you find someone who can take his knowledge in CS and apply it, and code well, that person can most probably do more, more efficiently, than someone who does not have the degree backing him/her. Of course, some non-degreed people learn the theory and grand concepts through job experience. "

Once again I dutifully disagree. It's been my experience that someone who learns it *without* a degree most likely has the interest and intelligence to research it fully because the knowledge isn't being handed to them in small chunks.

I have friends and coworkers from both backgrounds - some degreed others non-degreed. Overwhelmingly I've found that it is not a sign of competence.

Bevin Valentine
Thursday, June 20, 2002

Well, the people I know who are 'self taught' have no concept of code modularization, the reason behind object oriented design, efficient coding through advanced logic structures, and other such 'theory-based' concepts.  Depends on your viewpoint I guess.

OzzieGT
Monday, June 24, 2002

OzzieGT... your bad paradigms are showing, obviously derived through proper conditioning in school.

Our business has always been, since day one, practice before theory.  Some of us had to learn/create most of what makes up the "state of the art" at any point in time through our history.  We were DOING the practice long before you had a buzzword to take in school, long before some academic attached a "theory" to it.

Joe AA.
Monday, June 24, 2002

OzzieGT, you clearly have limited industry experience. There are many brilliant software engineers who acquired their expertise through their own endeavours, and to a superior degree than most CS grads will ever learn.

Hugh Wells
Monday, June 24, 2002

I'll admit I don't have a lot of industry experience.  And I will admit the place I work doesn't necessarily hire the best people.  I'm actually leaving work for grad school in a month. However, believe it or not, some theory that we learn in school can be applied to the real world.  It sounds like my education is being blasted by someone who hasn't experienced it.  Yes the concepts have always been there but to teach them to others quickly and efficiently you have to 'attach a theory to it' to quantify it.

I can agree with Bevin that a degree doesn't guarantee that someone is a good programmer (I knew my fair share of bad programmers in college).  We have a summer intern who is in his 3rd year of CS at some school up north and  you can just tell he doesn't 'get' programming.  He learned C++ in school but it seems he's just learned the syntax and nothing else.  He's having a hard time learning VBA. Some schools offer 'CS' degrees where I'm not quite sure what the 'CS' stands for.

I also agree with Hugh that some of the best software folks don't have formal educations.  But they are the cream of the crop; it seems that the avg person would be better of starting with a formal education than trying to self-teach.

Lots of people learn how to put out code to 'do stuff'; some of them (perhaps this includes you, Joe and Hugh) actually learn what is involved in writing good software.  At least this is what I've seen so far.  On the other side, my college education was by no means complete without work exerience to show what is applicable and what isn't.  It will definitely give me another angle from which to look at things when I'm getting my MS.

OzzieGT
Tuesday, June 25, 2002

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