There's ALOT of people acheing over being unable to find work. Many of them are my friends and former professional colleagues. The most valuable lesson learned from the whole tech bubble is developing a realistic, grounded sense of self and where you fit into the world around you. I feel confident and comfortable about feeding myself and being happy, only because I adjusted my intellectual expectations and financial expectations downward to me more realistic, more fulfilling and more balanced. I was an "IT Cowboy" if there ever was one. I dropped ouf of college in 1992 and worked in academic research. First doing kernel internals in Mach and IRIX. From there, I got really interested in distributed computing and made a jump into industry where I got deeply involved with OSF/DCE. I eventually ported the DCE to Linux as a personal challenge. Some people used it, the technology was largely ignored. Purely from that initiative, I was offered a job in industry for a company that nearly exclusively hired MS/PhD level grads in their engineering organization. During the web years, I was designing and coding with CORBA in C++ and Java. I got burned out from getting obsessed about too many deeply abstract problems that werent connected with "reality" - that was the essence of the Internet bubble. I never felt "left behind" when this all came down because in many ways I exited IT on my own terms for reasons other than being layedoff. I never chased success. I did chase interesting problems and other people who met me liked me enough to invite me to work with them. Thats how I remained an IT Cowboy. You can find remnants of me out there still, in the DCE, Kerberos, AFS, Linux and FreeBSD archives. My "Frontier Days" were spectacular years personally, I will never regret being able to work and play out there. I dont regret whats happened today. Largely today's work environment is devoid of the personalities and collegiality that existed back then. For that reason, being "out of the game" is not viewed as a hardship but more of a blessing.
In 2001, I drastically downsized my life deciding to hold onto my savings and choose sustaining my life rather than worrying about my "success". Went back to school, in a year finished my long lost Chemistry degree and picked up a minor in Physics to boot. Did some hiking. Did alot of thinking. What I realized WAS just because I was trained, self-educated and self-motivated to solve really complex problems doesnt mean I am obligated to work at that level of abstraction. Nor does it mean that all the problems that we envision that can be solved NEED be solved. That is the essence of downsizing your expectations. Right now, I'm studying for the SCJP. It's a great review actually of stuff I havent touched in two years. After that, I'll do the SCJD. Why? To authenticate that I indeed can do that kind of work. After all, alot of people dont believe what you put on a resume these days. I'm not sure if I'll be writing any more code in Java, or if I do, that I would necessarily need to apply the level of rigour asked in the exam preparations. But for me, they are authentication of a skillset ontop of documented experience and what I believe is a great degree. Work wise, I've accepted a position for $34K/yr doing more sysadmin stuff than anything else. Why? Because it will let me have a life after work and pursue other interests where there exist people with some burning passion and desire. It's that energy that I seek out, not the wave catching and the thrill of a crazy paycheck. So the lesson for all of those belly-acheing about your job worries... DOWNSIZE your expectations. Just because you can do RUP and code exquisitely deadlock-free concurrent classes and make them interface with legacy systems using XML/RPC doesnt mean the world needs you to solve those kinds of problems... Go back to school... Get an education in some real world problem spaces, combine that with your software development background. Above all, be humble, and be willing to settle for less grandiosity and less pay and you might begin to feel very connected again when you realize that you can solve some more important problems for other people. You fill find there is a fantastically interesting world out there once you decouple from the introverted intellectual haven of OO design patterns and modelling strategies. Learn about business, computational finance, chemistry, physics, molecular biology. See if you can fit into their world and play with them. Times change. You must change too. Part of that change includes discovering what you really love to do that CAN be done with other people rather than fighting yesterdays standards of success and achievement, or chasing the almighty dollar. Rock On... Or maybe "Shine on you crazy diamond." -- Jim Doyle
Your serenity comes through in your writing, and it's refreshing to see this level of contentment around here. I think contentment is a good word: it doesn't express so much attachment as does happiness. My best friend always says to me when I worry too much about something that I have no control over and should not be worrying about to begin with: "What would the importance of this be in 30 years?". Every time, the answer is "non". Posing this question is a good tool that I use to take measurements of my reality. But I would also like to say that for many people, to solve huge abstract problems while sitting in front of a computer is what they have found to be what they like to do. Just because the tech boom threw much money around it doesn't mean that every techie is in only for the green. By the nature of s/w development, I'd venture to say that techies are people inclined to learn, and are willing to work hard to learn new things so they can qualify for jobs that require constant upgrading of knowledge. To me this is actually a fun part of the job. However, not everyone can afford to go back to school for another degree. Did you know that in some states the state universities this year are raising tuition by 40-45%? Degrees and certifications cost money. And unfortunately, w/o a proof of specialization you don't even get to drive trucks in this country. Can we afford to pay for an extra degree, or an extra certification? I'd guess we can. But then, how many new career fields are you willing to pursue throughout your life time? Are we ever get to be excellent in what we do, or just perpetual beginners? On the other hand, there is an enormous potential for personal growth right now that many people are indeed letting pass by. I even suspect that some people who are unemployed even have ambitions to pursue something else, but are afraid of not succeeding and thus don't even try. Ultimately, we struggle with being happy and fitting in, and sometimes having a job in our field is a huge validation that we have made correct decisions in the past. When we start worrying less about fitting in and more about being happy, I think a great courage emerges that might lead us into beautiful and unexpected moments in life, all of which will cummulatively contribute to a happy, and productive, existence. In the end, anything we do will have a cost. And if we must pay, I'd say let's find what we really can't live without and happily pursue that, even knowing that it might not last forever. (Nothing lasts forever). The sheer positivism of our outlook might take us on the right path. This might not be true, but it I think it is true that if we worry and think negatively we might repel good things and good people. Anyway, I think a burning desire is the one ingredient present in all great people, so we must uncover and nourish ours, at any cost.
Hello, Everyone has to develop their own technique and manuevour suitable for his/her own situation. I graduated in Electronics Engineering when the hardware industry offshoring to overseas and I did not know about internet back then. Instead of bitching/whinning, I was willing to work with any size/industry organization as long as the job required somekind of thinking and calculations. I did everything important thing was allowing people see my aptitude and attitude shining through. I did not paid for anykind of retraining or additional credentials. The employers paid for them all. Finally, I made it as Electronics Engineer, but did not like it that much comparing to college days. I transferred to software side, then IT. But then company recognize my versatile background, I allowed running the organization operations. The dotcom era busted, accounting scandals rocked, elongated recesssion, companies hurried to offshore works tried desperately to getout of red ink. Watching my techs, colleagues, and upper ranking got canned. Company president allowed me to have in-house consultant status instead of facing the same fate as many. Is that meant I safe? Not for a long shot, I still work my way to become COO's consultant or advisor. Maybe retire before it. The moral story is swim with the current is much easier than against current. Good Lucks to All, MCao
I got into the field long before the Internet, and I got in because it was fun. I was delighted to discover that it also paid well. I didn't get into it for the money - I grew up in what's politely referred to as "modest circumstances" and had no clue about money management in the real world until I was already settled in. Not because I'd ever lacked for money and didn't know its value, but because I'd never had any money of my own, so I didn't know its value. Back then, about 2 out of 3 people in the intro computer courses washed out and/or gave up in disgust. Perverse creature that I am, I've always put an enjoyable working environment above a high salary. "Darwinian Economics" (bleah!) says I should be one of the last to exit the field, since the ones who got in just for the money are all on their way to greener pastures. The fact that someone like myself is being squeezed is one of the biggest reasons I'm afraid that Something is Seriously Wrong. I say that because IT overall is a growing field, not a declining one, and because it's not a field that should be safely exported lock stock and barrel. If the other nations of the world decided we were a bunch of dangerous lunatics and cut off our supply of DVD players, VCRs and TV sets, we'd still manage to limp along (except maybe during football season ). However, if we lose our self-sufficiency in IT, we might as well just pack it all in. Recessions I understand. They're not fun, but I've bumbled along through 2 or 3 and come back to prosperity (fortunately, I don't require a whole lot to consider myself prosperous). However, this latest one is like an order of mangnitude worse than any I've ever been through and it's still hurting even though the "recession" itself has been over for nearly 2 years. The contract work I should have been able to pick up - as I did in times past - was all bid out from under me at rates I simply couldn't match. The headhunters I should have been hearing from all packed up and left. Sure, I'm whining and moaning because I want my toys back. But I do have concerns beyond my own private selfish ones. Because I don't think that it's in the National Interest that IT go the way of the shoe industry.
Some people, when well-known sources tell them that fire will burn them, don't put their hands in the fire.
Some people, being skeptical, will put their hands in the fire, get burned, and learn not to put their hands in the fire.
And some people, believing that they know better than well-known sources, will claim it's a lie, put their hands in the fire, and continue to scream it's a lie even as their hands burn down to charred stumps.