WHEN THE STUDENT IS READY - THE MASTER SHALL APPEAR ...
Keith Rosenfield & Others:
- The following dissertation/comments relate to the U.S. job market.
- Allow me to indulge you with a little history about myself. I've been in the game now for 10yrs. Been through 4 layoffs in the past 3 years (most of it documented on this site - do a search on my name). So I know what I am talking about, as opposed to some high-school guidance counselor who's main accomplishment in life was parking his mini-van between the lines in the faculty parking lot that morning.
- First, age has nothing to do with you getting hired. Being 30-40 yrs of age will actually help you in today's game. It's getting a little old seeing this fallacy repeated over and over on this board. Like a bunch of crying schoolgirls. Hell, this keeps up, we're going to need to put a box of tissues next to the moose.
- That being said, I'd like to address (specifically to Keith) as to what is keeping you from getting employed?
1. The IT job market. Plain and simple - this was the worst hit sector of the current recession. So lots of competition. When you see 1099 Contractor rates at US$30/HR ($60,000/yr) - then you know the market for Java job seekers is bad. Especially when you conside the requirements being posted for said positions.
2. Your skills: - And I said this back in 1998-1999 when the market was strong (and yes you can read my old posts on this board):
American Business DEMANDS!!! that you have a 4yr college degree to be in this field. Are there exceptions - yes!!! But 90-95% of the IT staff, will have a college degree. The one's who don't are relegated to being employed with the same company, and often must accept less pay.
An 8 month Chubb Institute Degree doesn't mean crap in today's market. Neither does the 3 month SetFocus program. Sorry, that was reality back in 1999 and it's certainly reality today. Yes, they may be skill-builders, but it's the college degree that makes the door swing.
Most American Corporations will not even look at you, unless you have the degree. The exceptions that I know of, started working in data entry, or were a friend of a freind in the company, and moved their way up in the ranks. The one' I know of, have been at the same company for 5-10 yrs, just to get into a Java seat.
Why? It's the way American Business operates. No one cares if you, I, and everyone else on this board disagrees. It's the way it is.
3. Regarding your attitude towards education. You are just getting started. The guys that are succeeding in this game (myself included), put in around 2 hours extra (outside of work) studying per day. Surprisingly!!! A lot of it is non-Java related. Right now, I am hitting books up on American General Finance's - Branch Credit System. Figuring out the potential user requirements needed to centralize 1800+ branches via an Internet based solution. I haven't even started on the technical details yet - just trying to get a grasp of this side of the business and how it works.
4. Your technical skills.
- Core Java - is NOT what makes you money at this game. It's the use of Servlets, JSPs, and possibly (EJBs) and how to deploy them in a distributed environment on a web-application server (IBM-WAS or WebLogic usually).
- It's being able to integrate these technologies together to make a system work.
- You need to know how to make calls to the database and how to make calls to the Mainframe (MQ-Series).
- You need to know how to handle the returned data, and also how to handle error processing from these above calls. Not only do you need to handle errors due to system problems, but also errors due to business rules being violated that were detected on the mainframe systems. And you need to differentiate between the two.
- Additional technical skills:
- Despite the hype concerning separation of presentation from data. You will need to know HTML, DHTML, and Cascading Style Sheets. In addition to the final solution/project - you will be doing mockups of proposed solutions/ideas and you will have to present these mockups for review by management.
- If you don't know the skill, guess what? You are staying late that night...happens to all of us.
- Additional non-technical skills: (long story)...
- Example: We just did a revolving credit (ie: credit card type purchases) application for high-end merchants (i.e. US$10K-US$50K credit lines).
Well, after gathering the inital requirements, I had to create a mockup. Fine, but then out team had to present the mockup to senior management. Yes, suite & tie day.
- Now, do you think they are going to let someone with an 8 month Chubb Degree do the presentation?? Not a hell's chance. Why? Because they feel you have not "paid the price". It's ingrained in management's little forehead - THOU SHALT HAVE A COLLEGE DEGREE. And to be honest, sometimes I think I do to.
- Are you comfortable enough to talk in front of the big boys - in this case the really big boys?
- Here's the best part -- after doing the mockup - the thing still had to be coded (JSP, Servlet, and tied into back-end systems).
- Also, don't think that I was the only person doing the project. I had 2 other Java progammers. Also, worked with an AS-400 team, and an IBM-Mainframe team (these guys are like 60 yrs old and have 30 yrs experience in the game). You have to be able to talk with these folks. Not only talk with them, but get them to help you out. God forbid you pee somone off with 30yrs experience. They've already got their mortgage paid off and kids through school, what the hell do they care about the new guy. Again, your age will help you here.
Side note: The guys on our AS-400 team and mainframe team saved my butt quite a few times.
- This is where the college experience comes in. It's also where your age helps you. It's why I say all these comment about age descrimination on this board are total b.s.
- BTW/ I started with American General Finance in Nov 2002, the project mentioned above went to production in July of last year (2003). Am working on new project now.
Now, let's focus our dissucion on the competition.
5. Your competition.
- I hold a BS-Applied Mathematics, BS-Computer Science, and an MS-Computer Science. I've been in the game now for 10 yrs -- and have programmed Java since 1999.
- The guy next to me (also a Java Ranch member), holds BS-Accouning, BS-Comp Sci, and MS-Comp Sci.
- The HTML guru guy next to him holds BS-English, BS-Comp Sci, and just finished his MBA.
- I've been through 4 MAJOR CORPORATION layoffs in the past 4 yrs. Corporations include Lucent, Hewlett-Packard, Qwest, and Electronic Data Systems (EDS). All of this has been documented (throughout the years as it happened) on this site.
- I've moved from Philadelphia, PA to Denver, Co and now Evansville, IN in the past 3 years.
- Why do I mention this? To give you a heads up, and to ask if you are willing to make such a committment to this game we call programming?
THIS IS ALL DOCUMENTED ON THIS WEBSITE FOR THE PAST 3 YRS -- AS IT HAPPENED -- LOOK FOR IT!!!
Let's keep moving on -- you still reading? -- good.
- Do you know how to play the job search game? Can read elsewhere on this board under my name for lots of suggestions. If you are doing it right - it's a 40-60 hour a week effort.
- Do you know how to writeup a winning resume? I can tell you that the job placement service people at Chubb (or any college for that matter), do not know one crap about how to write a winning resume.
- Do you know how to dress for an interview? Listen to the guys who are a success in this field. Look at how they dress.
- Your education at Chubb and SetFocus is just a start -- and you got a long way to go. I mean a really long way to go.
- Not to despair. My advice, grab the data center job in a Fortune 500 company. First to get contacts and possibly advance into Java position, and secondly to get them to pay $$ for college. Most of the big boys will give you around US$5K/yr for college. Some pay for the whole ride.
- Also, working at Fortune 500 outfit will give some meat to your resume.
To answer your question about how to get experience:
- As far as experience goes. Most of us get our foot in the door doing projects for professors. Most professors have business contacts, so you may be doing some off the wall project -- but who cares -- it's real world experience that you can slap on a resume.
- BTW/ After getting BS-Applied Math -- I worked for $6/hour 60 hrs/week providing customer support for legal bankruptcy software, and coding in Prolog (of all things). At night (after comp sci classes), I would come back and shrink wrap and mail out software orders for said company.
- Meaning, we all have to start in the trenches.
- SO WHAT DOES IT MEAN??
- First, that salaries in this game/field have to go up. Even with all the so-called outsourcing being done. Seriously, how many folks are going to go through all the preparation (college, internships, learning the J2EE model, learning HTML, XHTML, CSS, SQL, XML, etc), for a measly US $40-$60K/yr. And then be expected to endure and suffer through the stress of multiple layoffs during the course of their career.
- Friends, this is why I believe the market will eventually correct itself. The law of supply & demand will prevail.
- Final note:
Keith Rosenfield, I hope I didn't discourage you. What I told you is what no Chubb Institute, or SetFocus manager/employee/salesperson had the balls to tell you.
This is the reality of the situation.
Good luck in your endeavors.
BTW/ I start nursing school June 20th. Will be fun combining full-time Comp Sci job with nuring school. Stay tuned...the adventure is not over yet.
[ January 11, 2004: Message edited by: John Coxey ]