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1990 - 1991


Did anyone from this forum graduate around these yrs from College? An year here or there doesn't make much of a difference.

What I want to know is how was the job scene back then for CS people? What were the options you had?


Prakash S
Sunday, August 18, 2002

This is not direct info.  but hopefully it will add to the info. you gather:

I had a comp. sci. professor back in 1999 who said the job market for programmers was really tough back then (early 90s, the period you are talking about).  He also said things totally changed with the WWW exploding, giving plenty of jobs for programmers.  Maybe this helps.  Other people can come and confirm or correct this.  I am sure they will also say that it depends on location. 

I remember when one of the mainstream news magazines on CBS or NBC talked about unemployed chemists and engineers with plenty of degress and experience.  One engineer  designed important parts of Boeing aircraft and was trying to make money on some inventions he had developed on his own at a convention.  This was also around the early 90s. 

Diego Alban
Sunday, August 18, 2002

John Q. Nerd gets his Master's Degree from the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science here in Technology Square and spends two months looking for a job. Unfortunately, DEC is laying people off and Wang went bankrupt. He's running low on rent money so he decides to work in the Central Square McDonald's on weekends and look for a job during the week.

After John hands in an employment application, the manager tells that he isn't qualified. "Not qualified!?! I've got a Master's degree in computer science from MIT!" says John. The McDonald's manager replies, "I'm sorry, but all of our computer scientists have PhDs."

J. D. Trollinger
Sunday, August 18, 2002

Firms were much more deliberate in their hiring back then  (b/c they were able to)  If they wanted Unix/C/Sybase, but you had Oracle, forget it.  But back in the dotcom boom, people were getting offers w/o interviews.  Now, you can expect to have a 3rd interview again.  When given more choices, humans overanalyze and procrastinate making decisions, and also look for more perfect fits.  You can expect the job hiring process to be more stringent and take longer.  Basically, a return to normacly.

Sunday, August 18, 2002

Hmm, it's a good question, "Which President Bush recession is worse?"

I'd guess this one for us because it targets computer professionals more directly.  I can't say for sure, I graduated high school in 1991.

Sunday, August 18, 2002

I graduated from undergrad with an EE degree in 1991. My job search started six months before I graduated. It took me nine months before I acutally started working.

I had started to wallpaper my room with my rejection letters. It was pretty rough. I can't really compare it to today's workplace because my skills are SO much different now. It's rough today too, though - I was laid off last October. I finally found a decent longish-term contract to work on, but I still don't have benefits.

Chris Tavares
Sunday, August 18, 2002

I graduated CS in 1990. It was pretty tough. All the companies that usually hired graduates every year (IBM, Banks etc) had a hiring freeze on. It took me 7 months to find an IT job, and when I did it was mostly customer support (shudder).

Andrew Reid
Monday, August 19, 2002

> and when I did it was mostly customer support (shudder).

Wow, that's right.  Another big point about 1991 is that back then, you did not just walk into a programming role after college.  It was a killer catch-22.  Only experienced people were considered for programming roles, yet how to get experience?  You were lucky to get a SQL reportwriter job.  I lucked out and got a C/Unix programming job right out of the gate.  It was cookie-cutter coding, and my learning curve flattened after 6 months.  But, it took me almost 18 months to find my second job, b/c with under 2 years of exp., you were only considered for entry-level jobs, which sometimes didnt even entail programming.  I turned down as many jobs as I was rejected from, since so many were a step backwards..  Man, that sucked, but it was a valuable experience.

In the last 10 years, I've told new grads time and time again, "you have no idea how lucky you are to be doing this type of work right off the bat." 

Monday, August 19, 2002

"Another big point about 1991 is that back then, you did not just walk into a programming role after college. It was a killer catch-22."

Looks the same way to me now, the only difference is that back then you had C/Unix/Cobol/etc; Now there are many more Languages/technologies to choose from.

Prakash S
Monday, August 19, 2002

As others have mentioned, 1991 was not the best time for falling into multiple job opportunites straight out of school.  I remember that the number of companies performing on-campus interviews for the spring dropped from 14 to 2 during my senior year -- just IBM and Sun.  And their interview pre-requisite was a 3.8, which eliminated all but one person in Computer Engineering.

Luckily, I had 3 semesters of internship with a large company, which got me enough follow-up interviews to land a job just before graduation.

Monday, August 19, 2002

I graduated well before 1990, but do recall that as a relatively bad time.  Demand for technical employees goes up and down with the rest of the economy, so having a bad period for employment prospects is not that unusual.

The bubble of a couple of years ago was the anomalous period, unlike previous peaks in demand.

Why the interest in that particular period?

Monday, August 19, 2002

"Why the interest in that particular period?"

I will be graduating in May '03 and am trying to draw parallels between then & now, with the idea that it will help me in my job serach!

Prakash S
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

I graduated with  a CS in December of 1990 but I was aleadry working. I did an internship in a C/Unix shop in the fall of 1987 and was accepted for fulltime work in January of 1988. I put my degree on the back burner and finally finished in 1990.

I got layed off in 1991 and it took 2 months to find more work. Those were the best of times and the worst of times.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

It has been a while since I visited this forum, so the first thing I want to say is good posts Bella!  Last time I posted here, I made a critical remark about some of his postings so it is only fair that I point out the opposite.

As others have already mentioned there were many differences between then and now.  Personally, I think it is hard to say for sure just how bad the IT job market was hit during the last recession and how long it took to recover.

Back in 1990-1991, most American business programmers were still writing code for mainframe computers at or for large corporations.  Lots of the smaller consulting firms (the dot-coms of this era?) that wrote mainframe software systems for corporations went bust.  The type of computer applications/systems being written were of a different nature (primarily core systems such as inventory, order processing, accounting, etc.).  A CS degree was rarely a job requirement.  Most programmers possesed either a four year degree in whatever or a two year degree in Business Data Processing.  Job duties tended to be very specific (many programmers coded programs using written specs that were produced by systems analysts).  Of course, the IT job market was a lot smaller than it is now.  Although outsourcing (in all its forms) and downsizing was going on -- the scale was much smaller in size than in more recent years and the H-1B visa program was not an issue. 

1994-1995, is when the IT industry really started to recover and take off.  Large consulting firms and staffing agencies started hiring like crazy.  In August 1995, Netscape went public and the stock quickly went to Pluto.  This was probably the event that started the whole dot-com mania of the late 1990s. 

In the late 1990s, multiple job opportunites straight out of school started to become the norm for many CS students.  Imo, this really was an anomalous period for the industry.  Why?  Well, some people believe that there was a technology explosion going on at the time.  Imo, it was more like an opportunity explosion (ERP, WWW, Y2K, etc.). 

Imo, the two biggest factors that occurred between then and now that made it much easier for someone to land an entry-level programming job was the emergence of Visual Basic and the World Wide Web.  Visual Basic made it a whole lot easier to write business applications for the Windows operating system. 

The biggest difference between the two recessions is that this one is associated with a slowdown in business spending while during the last recession there was a slowdown in both consumer and business spending.

Charles Kiley
Sunday, August 25, 2002

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