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Scientific Apps programming versus business apps

I started my career as a scientific apps developer ( Machine learning, 3D graphics, geometric algorithms), and believe  Ihave done a reasnable job in my 2 and half years as a programmer, and have many thousands of lines of code in production.
I got laid off some time back, there are few jobs in the scientific field in my area, and when I go for pure business apps, I am not considered cause I don't know websphere or SQLServer.
What would people do in my predicament?
I am really great with algorithm development, and have solved some tricky problems before, but how to sell it in interviews?
Is transitioning to business apps difficult?

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Dude, please DO NOT GO INTO BUSINESS PROGRAMMING!  I made the same mistake.  I was working with great people with vibrant personalities and stimulating minds.  But when the bubble burst, my company went belly-up and I figured the safest place to weather the storm was at a Fortune 100 IT department making literally twice what I made before.  "A safe position with twice the salary!  Great!!!", I thought.

Now I work with business types who are stupider than I thought possible.  All they do is have meetings all day screaming, "XML, XML, web services, outsource, leverage, outsource!"  If you are a well-trained computer scientist or mathematician who previously coded scientific apps with other well-trained scientists & engineers, you will rue the day you decided to work alongside these mongoloids.  Please, take my advice.  Before you accept a job as a business programmer, buy the rope, fashion the noose, slip it over, tighten it up, and kick out the chair.  There's a good shot that you'll spend all of eternity in hell, but believe me, it's better than one day with a business major who knows how to write a SQL statement.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

I love that post ; )

christopher baus (
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

this thread should be frozen.  anon has said it all

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

I'm a scientific programmer too....

If jobs are scarce in your area, you may not have any universities near by.  But if you do, try applying to academic labs as a jr/sr research fellow.  Many bio labs (area I'm most familiar with) have fascinating problems to work on and little math expertise available.  If the school's computing infrastrcture is good, you could find a fun work environment.

Don't see jobs advertised?  Find a professor whose work sounds interesting (and computational) and call him/her.  Often they can find some $$ in the budget to hire someone, if you seem like a solution to their pet problem.

Granted, you'll get paid pennies.  These type of "postdoc" jobs are generally at the whim of the professor, no benefits, low salary.  But if you're just looking for a way to keep your hand in and network for a few months while you look for a commercial job, it could suit.  And getting your name on a paper or two can't hurt your career either.

Biotech coder
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Biotech coder, is your company hiring by any chance?

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

I know nothign about it, but I loved Anon's post. It was excellent.

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

It may be only January, but anon already wins comment of the year for my money. :)

Sum Dum Gai
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

G** Dang, "anon" just undercut the pomposity of money-worship for all time.


And FREEBIRD! (only comprehensible to residents of flyover country in North America.)

Well done.

Bored Bystander
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Re: anon

"There goes my hero
watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
he's ordinary"

Dave G.
Thursday, January 15, 2004

Abbott, if you're in the U.S., consider the defense industry which has a lot of scientific and embedded programming. Check the major defense contractor sites (Lockheed, raytheon, hughes, etc) for jobs. They're plentiful if you can qualify for a security clearance.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Abbot wrote, "What would people do in my predicament?"

Probably what Biotech coder suggested. You might also want to try sending your resume to any staffing firms that have clients that could use your skills (good luck finding one).

There are several things currently working against you right now:

1) You currently aren't working in the IT industry

2) You don't have any prior business programming experience

3) Most large corporate IT departments have downsized and outsourced much of the technical work that gets done on a daily basis a long time ago

4) Because of problem #2 and their preference for a certain type of employee who will go unmentioned here, most recruiters who work at a staffing firm or consulting firm won't touch you.

Imo, anon's post was right on the mark!

Most medium-to-large sized organizations seem to be filled with IT managers (Type A personalities) whose only concern is climbing the corporate ladder as fast as they can. I have met a lot of corporate IT people in the last seven years or so who held the job title of project manager (or something similiar) yet they had little if any technical knowledge to draw upon and very little if any actual IT management experience that was useful.

One Programmer's Opinion
Thursday, January 15, 2004

Geosciences application - reservoir modelling and stuff.
Or engineering design.
Basically anything that has to do with petroleum/energy industries.

Kim Siung
Thursday, January 15, 2004


If you have a video machine or DVD player at home go rent the movie "Office Space". "Office Space" is a comedy about the nightmare of corporate office work. I think the reason this comedy has such a cult following is because it gets all the details of corporate life so right.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Ye-e-e-a-ah, uum, Abbot... I'm gonna hafta ask you to come in on Saturday to work on those TPS reports you've been having so much trouble with...  M-m-m-kay.  Alright.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

anon, that was damn funny :)

Abbot, I think that you would be wasting your talents to get a job just doing business programming. There are a lot of engineering companies that would hire people with your skills.

Daniel Searson
Thursday, January 15, 2004

anon is my hero...

Thursday, January 15, 2004


Have you considered game development - it's essentially scientific programming with a different market. (And different deadlines, unfortunately...)

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Thanks for reminding me why I gave up a 'good' job to start my own business.

Count Almasy
Thursday, January 15, 2004

Abbot -

I echo the recommendations regarding the defense industry in general, at least for the USA (assuming that's relevant for you). One area you may not have thought of is models and simulations, though; both defense-specific and otherwise. I worked quite a bit in that area and the work was fascinating...definitely one of the highpoints of my varied career(s). I worked on combat simulations, and while there's obviously a big overlap between computer games and "real" combat simulations in a variety of technical areas, there's definitely something extra to knowing that you're working on a simulation providing the basis for a billion-dollar decision, or that's going to help train the generals and colonels of the US Army (and the armies of at least two of our major allies), or to help save thousands of civilian lives during a natural/technological disaster.

I'd suggest checking out Operations Research journals and web sites for the names of organizations, agencies, and private companies that are doing various types of analysis. One of the prime OR organizations in the US is called INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences. they publish a family of journals). "S.A.M.E.", the Society of American Military Engineers, also has a journal which describes a number of engineering projects, often environmental related, and contains lists of companies doing the science and engineering behind the products used for these projects.

Two application areas that are seeing a good bit of this type of work (analytical, and M &S) are environmental studies and WMD. Due to past treaty agreements, as well as technical problems with aging stockpiles, there's been considerable work done related to chemical weapon destruction. I spent several years immersed in this work as well, and it branched out into a variety of fascinating disciplines including environmental science, toxicology, weather, transportation analysis (modeling traffic flows during mass evacuations), and general process simulation.  The various national laboratories are involved in these areas and have created some related software, but there are also a number of private companies heavily involved and that have themselves created complex and extremely interesting sofware.

Good luck to you.

Oh, and I also second the responses to anon's comment. You were dead-on the 10-ring, anon.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Thanks for the response guys,but I am actually in Canada, not in the US, any canadian pointers?

Thursday, January 15, 2004

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