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Recruiting IT Students? 631

Posted by Cliff
from the a-correction-of-misconceptions dept.
spacemonk asks: "I teach at a community college and our enrollment numbers are down in our IT programs. We have found that many have the perception that there are few IT jobs. We feel this is causing many students, who might be interested in IT, to enroll in other programs. There is obviously a lot of conflicting information regarding the impact of off-shoring, and so forth, but much of what we have found indicates that the IT job market is improving, and IT is still a career that can offer job opportunities to students. For example, we have had internship opportunities that we have not been able to send candidates to, simply because we don't have the students. Needless to say, this is very frustrating. How would you honestly describe the IT job market to students considering this major? What can be done to recruit more students into IT programs?"
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Recruiting IT Students?

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  • Time to let go (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fembots (753724) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @06:41PM (#14104081) Homepage
    The reason why there were so many IT students 5-10 years ago is because IT jobs were paying higher-than-others wages during the dotcom boom. So as you can expect from average students, they (or their parents) would be more interested in getting an IT job, even if IT wasn't what they wanted as a career.

    Now, IT skills have been commoditized, and companies are paying standard wages for IT jobs. As a result, students are moving away from this ordinary job and either looking for something more lucurative, or simply choosing something that they are interested in (like Arts, History etc).

    Since companies' needs ( as in wages, not the actual work demand ) for IT have been downsized, shouldn't colleges and universities do the same?

    Cassette factory had its time, and it may still be producing cassettes, but it also has to make room for CDs/DVDs.
    • Re:Time to let go (Score:4, Informative)

      by bfizzle (836992) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @06:46PM (#14104115)
      The Wallstree Journal has an article titled "Google Ignites Silicon Valley Hiring Frenzy". I suspect we can expect this to spread beyond Silicon Valley
      • by fembots (753724) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @06:55PM (#14104187) Homepage
        Depends if it's "Hiring Frenzy" or "PhD Hiring Frenzy".
      • Re:Time to let go (Score:3, Insightful)

        by humphrm (18130)
        Read the subject. Silicon Valley != the rest of the world. Just because one company hires up a bunch of heretofore out-of-work PHDs in Silicon Valley doesn't mean there will be a hiring frenzy anywhere else. And if there is, it won't be because of Google. And it won't be at the wages that college students today want when they graduate.

        Time to let go. IT is just a regular job now. Get used to it, or move on.
    • Re:Time to let go (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rlauzon (770025) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:25PM (#14104400)
      I think you are on the right track:
      Before the 90's, people got into IT mainly because they had an aptitude for it and that was the type of job they liked.

      But in the 90's, because of the salaries, many people who had no aptitude for IT got into the field. And they could get by because they could do an adequate job and companies needed warm bodies to get the work done.

      Now the market is correcting itself. Companies are trying to reduce cost, some by outsourcing (and seeing how that won't work for the most part) others are trying to get by with fewer people and are finding out that out 4 out of 5 people in their IT dept are just warm bodies and can be removed without reducing the amount or quality of the software.

      Simply put, IT is going back to becomming an area like other jobs: those who have an aptitude for it are being drawn to it. The people who have no aptitude are being pushed out or drawn to the latest high paying fad: health care (woe to anyone who gets sick today!).

      If you are thinking of going into IT for any reason other than you like that sort of work, you are setting yourself up for career failure.

      But, then, I'd make that statement about any career. Careers should be chosen by what you like to do - which relates directly with what you have a natural aptitude for - and not just because you can make a certain salary.

    • You've nailed it on the head. People should just do what they want with their lives, and we should stop driving them into IT.

      I'm trying to get a PhD in computer science because I like computer science, not because it's particularly lucrative (though, with the right skills, it is).

  • by XorNand (517466) * on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @06:43PM (#14104094)
    How would you honestly describe the IT job market to students considering this major?
    What part? IT's a *big* field. My experience with community college IT programs are that they are closer to resembling vocational training (a heavy emphasis both on hands-on stuff and earning certifications) than prepping students for a transfer to a 4-year university. A more academic CSE track, while still IT, is a world apart. They also both attract a different breed of techie.

    A lot of people were pumped through technicial schools during the bubble. Many of those people were only chasing the supposed promise of big bucks in the IT field. Educational institutes make some pretty good money on their (and the tax payers') backs as well. I worked with enough of these people to become a bit bitter about the whole thing. If you're trying to drum up the same type of business from the same type of people, I can't say I wish you much luck. The world is always in need of throughly educated people who have a genuine interest in technology though.
    • What part? IT's a *big* field

      Sure is. A University close to here with similar problems to the headline, has a newspaper print ad series running now (not on their online edition, blame the paper for that :-( and on their website. Listed are Bachelors degrees in
      • Business and Information Management
      • Commerce: Information Systems or Operations and Supply Chain Management
      • Science: Computer Science
      • Science: Information Systems, Logic and Computation, Electronics and Computing or Bioinformatics
      • Technology: Informatio
    • by jd (1658)
      The average person knows something about almost everything. A skilled person knows a lot about a few things. A specialist knows everything about nothing.

      That, sadly, really is the case. To be good, to be really good - not just mediocre - you have to be well-rounded. That is true in any field. However, IT isn't just another field. It is a study of the application of tools to enable others to study the application of data in other fields. But if you know nothing about how the other fields operate, how can you

      • The average person knows something about almost everything. A skilled person knows a lot about a few things. A specialist knows everything about nothing. That, sadly, really is the case.

        I know it's supposed to be funny, but I can't say that I agree at all. I'd say the average person only knows a little bit about a handful of things, and much of that is incorrect or incomplete. "Skilled" people tend to have a lot of very narrow knowledge, often much of it simple rote memorization. Specialists tend to b

    • by stnuke (898973) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @08:06PM (#14104685)
      Me? I'd say get your degree in whatever you want - unless you're going to a top 5 school it won't matter what it's in. If you *want* to be a programmer, then you don't need college to be employed, and academic programs are turning into vocational ones under pressure from industry. Something about managers who want their new hires to show up already knowing everything about everything or work for less than you need to pay your loans. Note that this is a failure of the educational institutions for not telling industry to go to hell and industry for having managers who don't know the difference between a monkey and somebody who can learn.

      Whatever you do, unless you move up the ladder, is going to be toast in 5 years or less. Count on it. Then you'll be stuck trying to learn a new skillset so that you can get a new job doing the next hot thing that will be gone in 5 years.

      But somebody asking for advice? If you've got a degree or job or are mostly through, get your job, do what you can, but set yourself up to LEAVE IT AND DON'T COME BACK for after your industry collapses or shrinks. If you're just starting, do something else. The promise of CS is ash. If the technical side appeals to you, go into engineering and if the reasoning side appeals, go into math. If you're looking for something other than these, please for the love of god get your degree in something appropriate like psychology or art or english rather than creating little bastardized fields that will leave you unemployable and CS with a bad name.
  • by Angst Badger (8636) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @06:43PM (#14104098)
    If it was me, I'd tell prospective students that prospects are really bleak, like north of England bleak. That way, they'd pick another field, the shortage of new recruits would continue, and wages might start to go up again.
    • by blair1q (305137) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @06:53PM (#14104175) Journal
      If wages haven't gone up yet, then they're lying about how hard it is to recruit.

      Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be outsourced.
      • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @08:08PM (#14104699) Homepage Journal
        I saw another explaination recently, that the real problem is the double blind HR department. The standard scenario goes something like this:

        C-level bigwhig says "We have an opening in IT, pass it on to HR
        HR says "We have an opening in IT, put out an advert"
        Response to the advert is 1000+ resumes, which takes HR 3 months just to weed down to 12 perspective candidates.

        6 of those candidates have taken other jobs. The other six are put through another 3 months of interviews.

        At the end of the interviews, they're lucky if they have ONE candidate suitable.

        C-level bigwhig says "It took 6 months to fill ONE IT position? There must be a shortage in IT".
    • It is true, this industry sucks. Sometimes you are lucky to string along 3 to 5 years in one company before they fold or get purchased. There is little job security even if you are really good at what you do. You will find yourself traveling city to city for work. That is great if you are single, but as soon as you have kids or *gasp* a girlfriend, going from company to company will get really old really fast. If you are going to invest the kind of time and money to come out of school with a 4 year engineer
  • Noooo kidding. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SlashChick (544252) * <erica@@@erica...biz> on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @06:44PM (#14104102) Homepage Journal
    I own a web hosting company [simpli.biz], and we've been going through major hiring woes lately. It's not that we can't find people to hire. Oh, there are plenty of people out there. It's just that we can't find qualified people.

    It's unbelievable how little Linux system administration experience some candidates have. We're paying a low-to-mid-level salary, so I don't expect to hire a UNIX guru. But these people are failing even the most basic tests. One claimed "Senior UNIX systems administrator" on his resume, but when asked to SSH into a server from a Linux workstation, typed "telnet [server] 25".

    Some of the questions we ask in an interview: "Why would you use SSH instead of telnet?" "What is port 25?" "How do you reset the root password on a server when you don't know the current root password?" These are really basic questions, and yet the majority of candidates have no clue how to answer them.

    I have a feeling this is only going to get worse as fewer and fewer people enter the IT field. There seems to be a large gap between the entry level, where candidates know little or nothing (or they only know point-and-drool generic PC troubleshooting skills), and the upper end, which demands (but probably deserves) outrageous salaries for knowing how to set up routers and SANs. We're looking for the people fiddling around with Linux servers and setting them up in their spare time who want some on-the-job experience administering and maintaining Linux servers. However, even here in Silicon Valley, that's proven remarkably hard to find. We also keep having to increase our workers' salaries to find even moderately qualified people, which means our costs go up and we can't hire as many people as we need to.

    My advice to college students: Go out there and get yourself some experience. There are plenty of jobs out there that you can get right out of college in IT. Sure, they may not pay 6 figures a year, but if you enjoy computers, they're fun jobs. As far as recruiting students into IT, it will probably take a few years before it becomes a popular field again, due to the fact that so many people entered it expecting high salaries several years back. My advice: Set realistic expectations of those entering IT (6 figures right out of college? No. A job right out of college? Probably), and convince those not in a CS/IT major to take elective computer classes in case they want to be in a computer-related field later.
    • We're paying a low-to-mid-level salary, so I don't expect to hire a UNIX guru. But these people are failing even the most basic tests. One claimed "Senior UNIX systems administrator" on his resume, but when asked to SSH into a server from a Linux workstation, typed "telnet [server] 25".

      Maybe he just wants to send a quick mail before using ssh?

      Some of the questions we ask in an interview: "Why would you use SSH instead of telnet?" "What is port 25?" "How do you reset the root password on a server when you do
      • Also, how did these people get that far in the interview process if they don't know these basic questions?

        They lied on the resume (i.e., "Senior UNIX systems administrator"), they breeze through the Linux/Unix college course without memorizing and applying a damn thing, or some HR person set up the interview without going over the basic job description. Or, all three. A successful interview depends on honestly on both sides.

        Are sysadmins in that high in demand?

        Sure, if you can pass the interview.
    • Re:Noooo kidding. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DRue (152413) <.drue. .at. .therub.org.> on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @06:58PM (#14104201) Homepage
      we can't find qualified people

      Perhaps instead of trying to find qualified people for a low salary, you should try to find quality people that are intelligent and eager to learn, with minimal experience (they should be able to tell you about ssh and port 25). I have no sympathy for companies that complain about a lack of qualified people when they want the moon in skills but offer a smaller salary than a guy can make driving a fed-ex truck.
      • Unfortunately, those who know SSH and port 25 are demanding salaries of at least $60K/year. I have managed to find 3 good employees so far who understand that my company will not be able to pay outrageous salaries until we are consistently profitable (next year), but the 4th is proving tricky.
        • Re:Noooo kidding. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cameldrv (53081)
          That's because 60k is a bare minimum salary for the Bay Area to be able to find any sort of housing. Move to Nebraska or something, and you can probably find the same people for $30k/yr. Why do you need to be in SV to run a web hosting company?
        • Re:Noooo kidding. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Electrum (94638) <david@acz.org> on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:45PM (#14104544) Homepage
          Unfortunately, those who know SSH and port 25 are demanding salaries of at least $60K/year.

          That should tell you that what you are willing to pay is unreasonable for the area. That's not a lot of money for an experienced sysadmin, especially for Silicon Valley. I suggest hiring people to telecommute. You can probably find someone living in a cheaper area (such as the midwest) willing to work for what you are willing to pay.

          I have worked for several companies that allow sysadmins to telecommute. It works, but you might have to shift your thinking.
        • Re:Noooo kidding. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by The Vulture (248871) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @08:29PM (#14104837) Homepage
          I live in the Valley, and anything less than $60K/year is gettng pretty difficult to live (a decent lifestyle) on.

          I started out in 1999 at $45K/year in the Valley. It was very rough, I had enough for my apartment in a crappy (pun not intended) area of town (i.e. walking around human feces and homeless people on the sidewalks) and a bus pass, although I did tend to walk to work a fair amount to save money. After the bare necessities, I did have some money left over for some luxuries, like cable TV and DSL. But, I didn't have a car - and living in the Valley without a car makes a lot of things difficult, like grocery shopping. Not a whole lot of money left over for toys, and forget about supporting a family on that. Luckily my student loans weren't that bad, so I could afford to make payments on them.

          I can tell you the only reasons why I survived on that salary:
          1. I had very little furniture in my cramped studio apartment. My TV was a Commodore 1702 monitor (12 or 13", I think) with a cable converter. My drawers were baskets that held my clothes
          2. I didn't have a car. Therefore, no insurance payments or gas.
          3. I had lived on my own for the previous six years (four of them in a dorm room), and was used to having nothing (in the way of personal belongings) except for my computer, toiletries, and clothes.
          4. (This is the most important) I had little debt, so I was able to make the minimum payments and keep people off of my back.
          But honestly, that's not much of a life to live, and almost everybody wants better than that.

          I'm grateful for the experiences that I had and do have upcoming with the company I'm currently working, but I wouldn't be able to do it now in 2005 on only $45K per year (which is what I'm guessing you'd be offering - $45-$50K per year). It's just too expensive to live in Silicon Valley on such a small salary.

          If you really want talented people, then I think you'll have to pony up the $60K per year. After getting laid off from that $45K/year job (in 2001), I was asking for almost double, and easily got it. Back then, people were willing to work for promises of better pay, now people don't buy into that hype and want the money up front. As far as I'm concerned, stock options and promises are worth the paper they're printed on, and nothing more, until I actually get cash in my bank account from them.

          -- Joe
    • Training (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:01PM (#14104230)
      Why not train a bright entry level person to be a Linux Admin? I don't understand this absolute refusal to train IT workers. If you're not willing to train somebody who has an IT background in a related field, how can you complain?!
      • Re:Training (Score:2, Interesting)

        by SlashChick (544252) *
        I hate to break it to you, but if you want to be a Linux admin, you need to be able to answer entry-level questions like the ones I listed in my previous post. Yes, we are willing to train, but the people we hire need to show the motivation to at least get those basic skills themselves. Maintaining a Linux dedicated server or a box at home gets you 90% of the way there, but very few people actually do this.

        I've met 18-year-olds who were geniuses and who knew way more than the above. We can and do hire them.
        • Re:Training (Score:3, Informative)

          by molog (110171)
          So you will only hire people with the technical skills you need already? I hate to break it to you, but training someone to come to work on time, and how to deal with customers is not training them. You want someone that already knows the job. You will not get that for what you are asking for. If you can not deal with the economic realities of the SV area, then perish and STFU.

          Molog
    • Recent History (Score:3, Insightful)

      by xtermin8 (719661)
      I think too many qualified people found out there's not very much job security, esp. after all the demands made on them for qualifications. If you're not able to train from within, then chances are you will drop these "qualified" people at the drop of a hat. Good advice for college students is to stay the hell out of this field, or at least aim for management as soon as you get a foot in. You're pretending recent history hasn't taken place, and some of us remember all to well what's happened, and aren't
    • Re:Noooo kidding. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kimanaw (795600) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:20PM (#14104359)
      My advice to college students: Go out there and get yourself some experience

      OK, lemme see if I understand your predicament...you want to hire an entry level admin at subsistence wages, complain you can't find anyone with the qualifications you expect and, apparently, won't hire anyone with fewer qualifications and train them , and then have the gall to tell students to go out and get more experience ?

      Am I the only one to see the irony here ?

      • Re:Noooo kidding. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by elrick_the_brave (160509) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:52PM (#14104591)
        I agree with this one. The major problem is that business STOPPED hiring enough people to both get the job done AND give them time to learn on their own and/or cross-train other people. Add to that the perception that IT is getting simplified so you only need to hire one "Insert Windows/Cisco/UNIX/Linux/DB/Web Guru Here" for peanuts. This makes people who actually know what to do feel undervalued (perception) and impossible for anyone to break in (excessive expectations).

        It's literally an education thing for business - if they want the market of available employees to be better, there has to be flexibility in every environment for people to learn. This not only includes NOT burning their employees out but also giving them the ability to promote a learning environment.

        HR - Fight back when someone says I want "All This" and ask the hard questions - What do you really need this person to do? Without this person, what business impact is there? Shouldn't we pay this person decent money if they can help prevent loss and risk?
      • Re:Noooo kidding. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bataras (169548)
        Don't you consider knowing the things he was asking in the interview to be entry level:

        that port 25 is smtp
        that SSH is encrypted and telnet isn't
        that you once forgot the root pwd on your own machine or helped a friend who had

        And I know what he means when he says he sees resumes with "senior sys admin" on them who can't answer these.
    • Congratulations on your successful insertion of a help-wanted ad into a slashdot discussion.

      Actually, I consider your post to be great news. It helps validate my suspicion that the pool of "skilled" IT labor is mostly illusory. (OK, so it's only good news were I looking for a job; otherwise it means a greater danger of encountering such "skilled" workers.) In any case, it still provides that warm fuzzy feeling of seeing most of the potential competition milling about in some deep ravine.
    • by Urusai (865560) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:38PM (#14104495)
      Why would you use SSH instead of telnet?

      That's exactly the kind of "qualification" that is irrelevant. Do you know the COM3 default base port on obsolete PCs (0x3E8, INT 4)? If not, you are an ignorant poseur who should go back to tending cattle in Elbonia.

      I have considerable Delphi experience yet am passed up constantly for Delphi jobs because my experience is either too old, or TOO NEW, FFS. This kind of microfiltering of qualifications is bullshit. I'm a computer scientist. What I need to accomplish the task, I learn. I've written Perl scripts. Can I even write a simple Perl script during a job interview? No. Can I learn enough in a couple of days to hack it up like a pro? Hell yes.

      I hate the programming field, it's full of paradigm-driven morons who are too busy playing with UML and "Design Patterns". You can have them.
      • by Hiro Antagonist (310179) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @08:17PM (#14104747) Journal
        This isn't a 'qualification', this is a question from a job interview. I ask this question at *every* interview I give for an entry-level UNIX position.

        The correct answer is simple, and shows an important piece of knowledge -- a sysadmin who doesn't at least grasp the importance of cryptography will get his servers 0wned and r00ted within about ten minutes.

        See, that's how you filter out interviewees -- by asking them questions.

        I also ask applicants about their favorite command-line tools and whether or not they run a Unix at home. The ones that use Unix for their home systems invariably have an excellent grasp of the command line and know how to troubleshoot, whereas the people who have just 'played' with Linux/BSD, installing it on a spare box and never using it, don't. How is this somehow bad?
    • Re:Noooo kidding. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:59PM (#14104641)
      Hmmm...
      Can't find people to hire.

      Won't hire folks without senior level experience.

      Advice to college students: Go find a job without senior level experience and get learned up so we can hire you.

      Only problem.... that's what every business is doing. The place I work for hires -only- senior people with at least 8 years experience. Everything else (175+ positions) is done by entry level people in india.

      CLUE???
  • Well... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KingOfGod (884633)
    Today is my first actual day of jobseeking. I've just created an online CV at a job portal, and I'm looking through the list of job offers.
    The list does not leave much for an 18-year-old PHP developer with special interest in UNIX and overall network, web and server security. The list of job offers has more to offer to a person who can call himself a "Senior Software Engineer" who can develop in .net and knows all kinds of Business-IT jargon.
    I'm a little bit frustrated, but there are a few... a very few com
    • Re:Well... (Score:4, Funny)

      by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <{ten.mocrie} {ta} {kaerfshtamevissesbo}> on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @06:53PM (#14104168) Homepage Journal
      I'm a little bit frustrated, but there are a few... a very few companies who are just looking for a good 'ol UNIX systems administrator.

      This is kind of a no brainer, seeing as how there are very, very few companies that are actually using UNIX systems. Most use Windows. For SMEs I'd guess that close to 95% use Windows.

      Ergo, they are not looking for a UNIX admin. They need a windows admin to run their ADS, exchange server, and whatever other rubbish they need. Outlook calendar expierience required. You'll also need to know how to set up wireless routers, but security training, or indeed giving a danm about security is not required.

      This isn't very hard. A lot of SME windows admins are the company accountant.
    • Good luck trying to find a job throuh a portal at your age and experience level. If you want to get a good job, you're either going to have to go out and meet people. Join local user groups. I can almost guarantee that you're not going to have much luck otherwise. Welcome to the real world.

      Alternatively, go to school. You'll be better off in the long run.
    • The list does not leave much for an 18-year-old PHP developer with special interest in UNIX and overall network, web and server security.

      Try college. It works wonders for resumes, and in the world of computing the algorithms and theory will set you far apart from any self taught coder. It'll teach you when not to recreate the wheel, will save you lots of time, get you a better paying job (unless you have the luck of B. Gates) and help you write better code.
  • ...as documented here http://ask.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/11/19/02 28214&tid=149&tid=129&tid=4 [slashdot.org], exploit that trend to your advantage.
    Suggested dress code: Clip-on tie, pocket protector, white shirt, lab coat, horn-rimmed glasses.
  • by feardiagh (608834) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @06:45PM (#14104108)
    My suggestion for getting a job in IT is to have a secondary skillset. I work at an audio post production house doing IT work. I have the job because I also know audio. If you can't apply your IT skills to what the business is doing, then you are not as useful to the company.

    There are definitely jobs to be had for people who can support the infrastructure of what it takes to do business in today's world. You just need to be able to apply what you know to what is being done.
  • Hands on invites (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @06:48PM (#14104129) Homepage Journal
    I can't seem to hire 4-year college grads in any of my IT businesses -- they won't work for the base salary we offer. Most of my recent hires were fresh out of high school (doing a few CC courses) or older employees canned by cutbacks elsewhere.

    I have 3 friends with college degrees in an IT field who took Geek Squad jobs after losing 6 figure jobs. I wouldn't hire them for even G.S.'s salary, I know they're lacking in business knowledge and skills.

    It is far cheaper and more profitable to get a geek out of high school. I'm looking for a digital helper now, and I'll be looking to hire from people I meet in forums, not another kid with a useless piece of paper and 4 years of debt.

    Want to get kids in? Scout at Best Buy and Circuit City this Christmas. Meet possible future students hands-on and talk about how they can work and attend a community college, a better way to further their futures.
    • I can't seem to hire 4-year college grads in any of my IT businesses -- they won't work for the base salary we offer.

      Something seems odd here. How much were you offering?
  • by hivemind_mvgc (823238) <hivemind@mvgc.net> on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @06:48PM (#14104130) Homepage
    Boy that's a good point.

    Maybe it's time for some colleges to shitcan their CS/CIS programs. There's plenty of colleges with, shall we say, less-than-stellar programs, facilities and instructors. Maybe those schools should go back to what they're good at.

    Like, say... philosophy.

  • Sad truth is... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DigitalSpyder (714806) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @06:48PM (#14104132)
    No other industry I am aware of requires constant certification like ours, offers the lowest salaries for our skillsets, yet has the highest turnover rates.

    To be quite fair, I couldn't recommend the industry to someone unless they really loved the work.
  • This has always been a problem in US. You see something like this and it get blown in full proportions. You will see Lou Dobbs on CNN talking about off shoring everyday and "experts" talk about losing jobs. While it's true a lot of people lose their jobs to offshore market the overall thing I have seen is actual improvement. As for example the IT market in Midwest is growing tremendously. I have seen more IT jobs been put out there than others. The thing is people will just believe anyone who is shouting an
  • by Mr. No Skills (591753) <lskywalker @ h o tmail.com> on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @06:49PM (#14104136) Journal
    I can't, with any sense of responsibility to young people in the US, encourage them to study IT.

    The jobs are going overseas, as investors are mandating it either for cost reasons or because they now have a stake in some offshore concern. The jobs are emotionally frustuating because management expects programming to work on time and on budget like other engineering disciplines, but in practice its still an academic exercise with little thought to design and expectations. And, increasingly the vendors have turned the jobs into a vocational trade and not the creative and intellectual exercise it used to be.

    There are still good jobs out there, but you'll have to make them yourself and hope you hang in there long enough to run the company and outsource the work to someone else. Otherwise, your a network support guy or sitting at a help desk in some cubicle waiting for the phone to ring for a question from an idiot in Finance.

    But I'm not bitter...
    • What I can't believe is that a lot of help desk jobs list 4 year CS degrees as a requirement. It's a fucking help desk! A trained monkey could do that job. I know because I used to work help desk along with a lot of other trained monkeys. I find it unreasonable that companies are demanding that you waste four years of your life and rack up tens of thousands in debt just to be able to answer phones, talk to idiots, and reset their forgotten passwords. Not to mention a CS program would probably teach you noth
  • Maybe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JWW (79176) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @06:50PM (#14104155)
    I was going to be all snide about the lack of jobs and all, but how about this idea.

    You could try and get the companies that have been hiring your grads to make a bit of a splash about it. Create literature to promote your school that contains testomonials from the companies that hire your grads. Have the companies come on campus to interview if you can and make it fairly high profile so that people notice. After that you'll have real proof that students from your program are getting hired and finding jobs.

    Another path, not one you might like, but one nonetheless is to promote your school to foreign students. The local university in my town has quite a few foreign students and has traditionally had quite a few Indoneasian students. A lot of them come from word of mouth from other students. It another way to help your enrollment and from groups that are growing instead of shrinking.
  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @06:55PM (#14104184)
    With the reality of outsourcing and the perception of IT as a cost that must be minimizws in all corporations (and taught as such in business shools) there is just the fact is that it will continue to be a bottom of barrel career choice.

    There is no way I would try to recruit young people in to this field. Doing so would be a breach of trust.

  • or at least, avoid the acronym "IT"

    IT carries so much baggage these days. Phrases like 'data mining', user interface design, industrial design for example dont seem to have been hit (image wise) quite so bad.

    I'm an embedded systems designer, and love the work.

    Also, you might try and place someone like me - a professional with a passion for the work they do - in front of them during enrolment drives. I'm sure some 'real life' enthusiasm will rub off.
  • by creimer (824291) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:00PM (#14104216) Homepage
    Most of my professional experience is in software quality assurance (SQA) without programming. I started going to the local community college on a part-time basis for the last five years to learn programming and picking up certifications along the way. It was challenge as low-enrollments meant that a lot of classes were cancelled and classes needed to graduate were often unavailable. Some people thought I was crazy to continue working in software testing and learning programming when the market was so bad for many years. Things will turn around when all those Baby Boomers start retiring as companies will still need technical people and India won't be supplying all of them.

    I will be graduating next semester with an associate degree in computer programming. I currently have certifications in A+, Network+ and Windows 2000, and will have the Microsoft Certified System Administrator (MCSA) next year. I'm currently working on the IBM Help Desk for a large company, working 40-hours a week and making the same amount of money that I was making working 80-hours a week as a lead tester at a video game company. The future will only get better.
  • by ndogg (158021) <the.rhorn@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:00PM (#14104223) Homepage Journal
    I know a lot of students that are stuck in a chicken and egg experience problem: all the jobs they're looking require X number of years of experience on the job. Well, they haven't really had a job in their particular field (usually they've just been working at a restaurant, the college itself in non-field related work, or a department store).

    I would bet you almost anything that you'll have students flocking to you if you state that you have entry-level/new graduate positions open.
  • Easy Solution (Score:3, Informative)

    by TiggertheMad (556308) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:01PM (#14104233) Homepage Journal
    What can be done to recruit more students into IT programs?

    Advertise in India...
  • perception (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spejsklark (913641) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:02PM (#14104236)
    We have found that many have the perception that there are few IT jobs.

    At least they seem to be very perceptive!
  • by Anti-Trend (857000) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:03PM (#14104242) Homepage Journal
    I am a 24-year-old IT/IS pro with 8 years of field experience under my belt, NT, UNIX, Linux, AIX and AS400 administration experience, built hundereds of workstations, worked with JPL, government, trained tech students and more. That being said, I cannot find a job to save my life right now. I'm actually thinking about falling back on my education in clinical counseling; there may not be many good tech jobs available, but there's always people with psycho-emotional problems. ;-)
    • Been there. Done that. Didn't work out. I'm going to teach English as a Second language and outsource myself! Seriously, if I'm going to be broke I might as well be broke in new and exotic lands! Bon Voyage!
      • Been there. It is a good gig. I did that for four years in colombia. I worked at a university and met a lot people and did a huge amount of tech consulting. Up to building a 200 node fiber network, and translation of tech manuals.

        Easy to bridge these two together. Also met my future wife. Who is not only a hottie, but a unix queen.

        Puto
    • Bit of advice. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by puto (533470) <theflatline@yahoo.com> on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:32PM (#14104440) Homepage
      Bit of advice. As someone who has been on the hiring in and looking to get hired end.

      I certainly beleive you have 8 years of experience. But if you do the math, you show your professional career began at 16.

      When someone sees this in an hr department this resume will immediately go to the bottom of the pile. It appears to have been padded.

      I am 35, and have been working with computers since I was 12.

      I start my work experience from age 18. By which time you are normally out of school.

      A resume looks good with all of your skills, just don't say the length of time if it started in your teen years.

      I had an interviewer call me on this a long time ago. Took his advice.

      Another tip is your years in the business should be matched by job dates on a resume.

      Puto

      • Honestly, I never thought about the appearance of padding before. I actually have 18 years of experience in computing but only 8 professionally, which is what I list. I suppose I could shave off a few years to make it look less like a padded resume, but I am also looking for a reasonable employer who will understand such things. What a pity, I really love IT too.
      • In my experience, the most important thing is to be 28 to 36 years old. Start from there and adjust all dates accordingly. If you are over forty - dye your hair and exercise so you look a bit younger. During an inerview, try not to talk about something that happened before the interviewer was born...
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:07PM (#14104271) Homepage
    For example, we have had internship opportunities that we have not been able to send candidates to, simply because we don't have the students.

    You're complaining that you can't get people to come pay you to take your classes so they can work for free for somebody else. Right.

  • Sorta (Score:2, Insightful)

    by I-Tard (933505)
    The IT field is very segmented. Companies complain they cannot find the workers they need and senior developers like myself cannot find companies that will employ them. I have over 15 years' experience in the IT field with companies large and small. I haven't found any good jobs in the past three years and that situation hasn't changed recently. What I have found are a lot of companies and their recruiters who are overly impressed with some new buzzword (AJAX!, Ruby on Rails!, blah blah blah) and can't und
    • Re:Sorta (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Unordained (262962)
      It's really annoying that companies seem to advertise jobs only for the latest-and-greatest programming languages / toolsets. We've been working on a long-term project for, what, four or five years now -- mostly C++, with a wee bit of php for some online help stuff. So we have experience with C++, php, database work, large projects, custom file formats, etc. Great. But no .NET experience, no java experience, and we've never had a use for XML -- and we're not going to shoehorn those technologies into our pro
  • by Sheepdot (211478) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:08PM (#14104280) Journal
    I don't know about the available jobs on the coasts, so I can't comment on them. But in the Midwest where I am at, the only available jobs are for 30-40K with excellent benefits. That's great if you want benefits, but some of just want paid. It gets really ridiculous when you consider that the cost of living of most Midwestern cities is rapidly catching up to the coasts.

    There are occasional jobs in the upper ranges, but no one wants to hire. It's even more ridiculous in the security field in the Midwest, as no one wants to hire someone with dangerously technical knowledge here, especially if they are young. There's a level of maturity that you just can't prove in a resume, and the more technical expertise you have, the more of a hiring liability you appear as.

    I have told my younger brother's and sister's friends looking at IT-related jobs to look at other majors first. Just because they like their iPods and Bittorrent does not make them technically skilled to compete. I think the real problem lately has been rewarding "management experience" over "technical experience" by some of the major Fortune 500s.

    You can reward your managers all you want, but if you aren't hand-over-fist for your geeky tech-types, you're just providing less incentive for truly skilled people to work at your place of employment. And you'll end up getting management-heavy, which ultimately will end up costing you money.
  • by MrBandersnatch (544818) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:11PM (#14104298)
    Having, since 1988, seen 2 major down swings in the IT job market which have lasted several years; retained myself AT LEAST 3 times in order to have current marketable skills; twice had to take jobs on a lower salary than I was on 5 years previosuly; and lost a job recently due to it being outsourced....there is abolutely no chance in hell Id advise anyone to enter IT as a profession. Academia...fine. Profession. No way. If I had known what I would go through working in IT as a young man Id have done something worthwhile, well paid and easy in comparison ( like becoming a GP ). Instead...well lets just say Im retraining again (and it isnt in IT).
  • Major choosing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kirby (19886) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:16PM (#14104329) Homepage
    There are two reasons someone chooses a particular major most of the time:

    1) They think they'll make a lot of money doing it.

    2) They think they'd enjoy doing that the rest of their lives.

    Seems like you're worried too much about group 1. Don't. Ignore them. You're better off if they major in business or Chemical Engineering or Sports Medicine or whatever else strikes their fancy. They're not really interested in the field. There are worse motivations, and many people are successful who are mostly looking for a payday, but that's not who you should focus your attention on.

    For the second group, that are already interested, you need to convince them that they'll be able to make a living at it, and that this is more interesting to them than another field. I can't offer super specific advice, since I don't find IT interesting in the least (I'm a perl programmer) - but you probably want to give as much real world examples of what kinds of jobs people actually get in IT and problems they actually solve. The people who are drawn in, those are the ones you want to keep.

    And really, above all else, treat the students with respect. This will be so strange and rare, you'll instantly be a step up on how most people seem to approach them.
  • by Kefaa (76147) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:17PM (#14104341)
    The students today are reading it correctly. While I wish it were otherwise, this is not a long term career anymore. If you hit a hot technology you can ride that for a good while but looking at the market in general few people I know will recommend IT as a career. IT has become the assembly line worker of the 1970s or the steel worker of the 1960s. While today, you can find fabricators in niche markets making a lot of money, the vast majority moved to other industries and professions.

    I run an IT Consulting company and cannot recommend this to family or friends. I am not pessimistic about my company's ability to earn money and keep me comfortable, but in general it is an ugly market to enter.

    Here is what the typical college graduate in IT will encounter.
      . You will start at fair wages and long hours. Under difficult deadlines and penny pinching companies you will be squeezed for everything you can produce.
      . You are considered an "expense" that must be controlled. More often than not you will get an "good boy" instead of a bonus.
      . You are as respected and appreciated as a union laborer.
      . There is a pervasive belief that you are interchangeable with any other developer at half the price.
      . Unlike other industries where age implies experience (and we can all argue whether it should), in IT age is taken as an indicator of being "behind".
      . If you do not work at a software company, you salary will top out around 35 and you will get slightly lower than COLA in subsequent years.
      . There is always someone willing to do your job for less than. They will be in two categories Offshore or Fresh out of University. It does not make sense logically, but bean counters do not use logic of this type.
      . Your experience is weighed against your age/salary and with few exceptions age/salary will do you in. I often (too often) hear people say for what they pay a 40 year developer they can get three out of college - and then they do.
      . Churn is high, making job security low - It is a myth contractors are fired first.

    As I said, I make my living on this and while I hire and pay well, most of my competitors do not. They often win bids because they can low ball me. I often win second rounds because the first round was spent with nothing produced and we put a team on the ground that gets results. However, success does not matter these days, its all about price. I can guarantee a project for $700,000 and someone with next to zero experience bidding $675,000 will get it. Most often they bid $250,000 figuring once they get in it will be hard to get them out. (There is a reason recruiters for programming shops are called pimps)

    Well, now that I vented most of that, I feel better. I am guessing this will end up flame-bait or troll (of which it is neither). It is a reflection of my frustration as I watch good developers move into other industries so they can have a family and pay a mortgage.

    If you really want to help your students, stop teaching regular IT and focus on niche markets - embedded systems, AI, robotics. Things that are bleeding edge. Make the course horribly difficult so only the best and brightest make it through. It is better to choose another career in college than at 40. Add project management courses and "learning to learn" because anyone entering this as profession will need to stay on the bleeding edge or be unemployed. The difficult part for you will be replacing the instructors you have with those that can teach these topics.

    Now I am guessing people will reply to this with - "Hey - I am doing fine" and that's good for them. I see the industry as a whole, not just the individual programmers and it does not look pretty for a career. For the top 20% sure - the rest...
    • I think you've got it right on.

      I wonder though, that this is just a trend that spans all disciplines. The argument holds sway (to idiots) in the same way: get someone younger for cheaper (they're nearly as good); get someone out of the country for cheaper (they nearly speak English, but, close enough); get anyone cheaper who's willing (they're not as good, but, hey, they're cheaper).

      I think these are some very wrong attitudes, probably coming from some business curriculum. Lots of ideas that look good o

  • If you don't feel computers in your soul, if you don't NEED to be near computers as much as possible, you shouldn't be in this industry--If you don't feel a desire to tear through each new technology you come across, just don't bother.

    The whole batch of people who came into it for the money just makes my job suck, and I am glad they are gone (Being replaced by consultants from India, but their time is limited as well).

    Seriously, to me it's exactly like saying "How do great artists attract more apprentices?
  • A couple of years back the hottest job you could have was it but not anymore. The pay has gone down and the work is pretty dull and booring in many places. Apply patches, watch the consultants do all the fun stuff, reinstall some broken app since its pretty impossible to find exactly what causes things to break in Windows and so on. Its really very repetitive work where you dont really learn anything in many places.

    Luckily i work as a Linux admin and get to play with my precious linux all day long. For me
  • by wuice (71668)
    There is still plenty of good jobs for people in IT.. Here's a hint: don't work for tech companies. I work IT for a local community clinic and I am loved. When I worked for a tech company, I was just another geek in the geek room typing some code-type gibberish.
  • Are you in India? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gelfling (6534)
    Because I work for one of the largest IT service vendors in the world and we can't move jobs there fast enough. Already our largest single site is there and in the next 3 years the total company employment will be the largest of any of ours in the world. And we are a US based company.

    Although in the longer run we see Indian employers themselves outsourcing to Vietnam, Bangladesh and Malaysia. Not so much China though.
  • I am 20 making more now than most of my friends will be making two years from now when they get out of college...oh...and I don't have the debt.

    All I have my A+ cert and a lot of experience. If kids don't think that getting an associate or certificate program at a Community College can get them a job then they are dead wrong.

    The great thing is that they don't have to stop after that. After getting a lesser degree in comp. sci or a certificate through a program they can continue their education (what
  • by King_TJ (85913) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:25PM (#14104398) Journal
    Seriously, I've been involved in I.T. from a systems administration, PC Support and hardware repair/troubleshooting role for about 15 years now, and I've not truly seen a noticeable improvement in the sector since the bottom dropped out around 2001-2002. It's so bad for me that I've been forced to start working as a courier, doing package deliveries full-time, along with scraping by as a self-employed computer consultant - and that's just to keep my head above water. I'm still living in a very modest house in a not-so-great neighborhood and driving a 6 year old vehicle. So not exactly "living above my means" or expecting the world here.

    Granted, I live in the midwest, where we're behind the curve a bit on employment trends. (I just saw a chart claiming that at least in the St. Louis, Missouri area where I live, employment rates have been changing about 10 months behind the national average. So if the economy starts improving, we won't really see it here for close to a year afterwards.) So maybe those on the coasts are seeing something better happening?

    But no, as a rule, I can't see value in someone trying to just break into I.T. at this point, pouring thousands into a college education for the purpose. If your destiny truly is I.T., you're probably somebody that's been doing it since you could first hold a mouse and type on a keyboard - and you're going to completely ignore any advice to avoid it anyway. But otherwise, don't bother. My opinion is, there are far too many "guru quality" I.T. pros out there who can't even hang onto decent jobs - so why try to push your way into that whole mess?
  • If there really aren't a lot of IT jobs out there, should we really be helping a college sucker young students into an IT program? I mean, people spend thousands of dollars a year in tuition. If there's a really good chance that they won't get a job after studying, and we help a college convince them otherwise and blow their college fund on a lost cause, I'd say that's pretty scummy.

    I'm sure I'm not the only one who groans at TV commercials for "massage therapy" and other bullshit programs at colleges (IA
  • by HerculesMO (693085) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:28PM (#14104416)
    Let's face the facts -- school does not teach you enough to make anything of yourself in the corporate world. This isn't true only for IT, but also in Finance, Marketing, Sales, etc. School gives you a groundwork and when you start a job, you build upon that when you get out of school and start working.

    Now if you agree with what I've just said, take into consideration the following: the private sector does not hire IT workers without experience. The notion that there are 'more jobs' available is probably true -- but look at the requirements. This is not the dot-com era any longer -- it's impossible for a no-knowledge, just out of school, wet behind the ears college graduate is going to get an awesome job without the skills necessary to help the company they work for achieve their business goals (and this is a large reason why the dot-com era went as bust as it did).

    Pick up a paper, or check Monster, CareerBuilder, Dice -- all the IT positions are looking for *seasoned* employees. "5-7 Years experience." "Senior level position." These are some of the tag words that will put college graduates out of business when it comes to looking for a job. And *that* is the reason why nobody wants to get into IT.

    There was a recent article in Information Week that explained the HUGE age disparity between IT workers. The reason is, that *most* companies aren't changing things around every day -- it's very cost prohibitive and it requires way too much overhead. They stick with the same technologies, so companies continue to run Windows NT 4.0 and the like -- and as a result, the same people stay in their jobs. This creates no openings 'on the bottom', and it's the most glaring thing to me in the IT world.

    If you want to solve the problem of low enrollment in IT programs -- it's not to do with the job market. It's to do with the lack of INTERNSHIPS and REAL EXPERIENCE that employers are looking for. Unfortunately for me, the career services center in my school was useless, and I had a VERY tough time, and after lying on my resume about experience in years, I finally landed a crappy IT job. I'm much better off now, but the fact remains -- how can you expect students to line up for IT programs in a school, if you don't teach them what BUSINESS needs are important to keep met, instead of teaching them about "blahblah theory of x and y". Those theories make you competent programmers, but the 'quick and dirty' method of coding is often what's used and in business, it's what people want -- results.

    So as a college professor, you have to work with major companies to get REAL internships to these students. They have to become PART of the curriculum. The idea of going to college, completing X number of credits, and graduating to a great job is OVER. The year is 2005 -- and money talks. Numbers are what counts, and if that number is how fast they want you to complete a project, how often they upgrade, how many years of experience you have, or the retention length on IT workers it translates into only ONE number -- the paycheck you're going to be bringing home. And if you don't have the skills from college to make it in the BUSINESS WORLD, then the doors that open so infrequently for entry level IT workers simply won't exist.
  • Tell them some big picture mumbojumbo about the future and how the company is really going places. Believe me, they will be in such shock when they actually find out what they do on a daily basis that things will fall into place right away. Every thing will turn out great, just watch them the first month and if they exhibit that scared/stressed tremor in the lower lip on a continual basis or even better the bored plodding expression (a little drool drippping off bottom of chin) KEEP them. But watch out, any
  • Simple (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CBob (722532)
    Lie.

    Tell them they'll be vaulued, their opinions valued and their employers will care how they feel. Tell them that some bean counter who has no idea of what's going on will ever cut their budget, staffing or supplies. That the Help Desk will have to never support 6k users with a staff of 2 or 3.

    Sorry, that's not just IT anymore, that's everywhere :-(

    OR, tell them the plumber will make more $$ than they do.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:53PM (#14104602)
    It's horrible.
    It's getting worse.

    Unless you just love doing IT more than eating RUN AWAY now.

    If you love it, you might get a no-respect job with no job security that pays well for 5 to 10 years before they lay you off.

    Get any pay UP FRONT.50% of people in the field have trouble finding work after 45. 90% have trouble finding work after 55 (maybe 99%).

    If you want to be happy, get a degree where you need to be physically present to do the work. Nothing that is pure thinking- because anyone- anywhere can think for 5 cents vs your dollar.

    Ask me again in 20 years after worldwide wages even out and the answer will be different- but until indian, albanian, and chinese programmers are making $40k annually (at least) this job category is going to suck.

    The ONE IT field you might make a go of is some kind of network engineer.

    Ignore everything I said if you are a prodigy or genius- they are always hiring prodigies or geniuses. But if you are merely smarter than average (say 130 IQ or less) forget it and be smart enough to find another field.

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