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How is it that four year college educated people are better technicians?

By ctsmain ·
I have spent 16 years working in the computer industry in one year or another and while I agree that college education can be a good thing, typically in the tech support end of things i've personally found that the people have attended classes and done just enough to pass the classes yet do not have enough practical knowledge from the classes to actually know how to do the job.

A prime example of this is I got a temporary job at a Company in knoxville back in 1999 making $9.00 an hour and couldn't go permanent because they hired 2 people directly out of the local university that had associates degrees in computer sciences who walked in, sat down on either side of me and began asking things like "where's the hard drive in these things" "what does the memory look like and where is it". Now at that time i had only been working in computers for about 6 years and this was day one stuff here they were asking me. I was so flabergasted by the fact that these people were asking me these questions that I asked them the following: "you both went to {local un-named college} for two years now right" [response] "yes" [me agian] "and what did you do in those classes that you don't already know the things you are asking me about" [response] " well we played games mostly, Occasionally we would actually work on computer stuff but for the most part just played games" [me again] "and they give you a degree for that?" [no response]. so every since then I have no confidence and am not at all impressed with people that tell me that they have a college degree, Because I have found this to be a common thing with the people that have completed those courses.

I gained all my knowlege the old school way, by trial and error and I messed up my share of operating system loads and lost more than my share of data before I learned how to do things the proper way. The thing is I learned from all that and never again after that had to ask any one such a question as "where is the hard drive" or "what does memory look like".

Working for one of the worlds largest computer companies as a Senior Technical Support Technician I also got to speak with quite a few technicians and "IT or Network administrators" that claimed to know their stuff and had supposedly done all the proper troubleshooting before calling me.

The thing that was a resounding commonality is that a lot of them may have done some of the troubleshooting but neglected to do the simple first year type troubleshooting that any shade tree tech would have known to do, yet these people had degrees and in some cases were fully Microsoft certified yet they were on my phone having missed some of the most simple steps.

This has been a hot topic with other industry professionals that I have dealt with in my tenure as a support technician. It's like the certification means nothing actually, neither does the schooling. all it means is that those people know how to take and pass tests on the subject of computers. But when it comes time to actually have to practice or use the knowlege they are sadly lacking, yet the requirement of the certifications and college training is still a requirement for so many positions being offered these days. I even put off getting even the industry standard certification until I had to have it to keep my job because I didn't want to be someone that was thought to have just taken a test and gotten a piece of paper that says I know what I am doing. I was counting on my 16 years of experience to speak more for my abilities than any piece of paper ever could. It's just sad to me that the actual hands on experience isn't enough for people any more and they go for that false sense of security that they get with someone that has one of those expensive pieces of paper.

That's just my opinion, what's yours?

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A degree can not replace experience

by jdclyde In reply to How is it that four year ...

but it can complement it well.

I have found the best techs (myself! B-) ) have done all three, hands on experience, formal education, AND technical classes. Each one brings another piece of the puzzle together. You not only understand what is going on, but WHY.

There is no one-size-fits-all. People just learn in different ways.

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It is simple.

by Jason In reply to A degree can not replace ...

Major employers must resolve to utilizing formal education and certifications to sort through resumes. A typical HR manager may see over 2500 resumes for a single position, from there that manager needs to sort through the possible 10-20 (if that) applicants he plans to interview. How does the hiring manager go from 2500 to 20 resumes? Filtering. The HR manager establishes benchmarks for the position. Does the candidate have a four year degree? Does the candidate have X,Y,Z certifications? The HR manager is going to utilize every possible filter to sort through the data until they get down to the forty or fifty resumes they are actually going to read. Congratulations, now that the HR manager considers your resume worthy of reading, your experience matters. Certifications generally are a matter of logistics, statistics, and benchmarking.

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True, but the principle behind filtering

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to It is simple.

is to get the best twenty candidates, not to keep adding buzzword matches until there are twenty

After all he could add get the same by sorting them alphabetically and slicing off the top.
Odds are just as good of getting someone acceptable....

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by cupcake In reply to True, but the principle b ...

That's why the way to get a job isn't to send a resume to a HR rep. That's where networking comes in.

However, this doesn't help this CTSMain, since he was already doing the work, just didn't get him the transition from contract to FTE.

I have encountered the same situation, been working a long time in QA (15 years, 25 total in IT), but some companies just want to see that diploma. Go figure. I keep threatening to get it (now only about 15 credits away) but I keep wondering what is the real point at this time?

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The point?

by jdclyde In reply to Agree...

it does feel good to complete it, AND it DOES add to the resume.

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As JD says

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Agree...

for the satisfaction,
something to keep the academic fanboys happy, should you find yourself unable to get a position.
If you want to go management.

To be able to do the job better, maybe, but's that's down to us, not the qualification.

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by jdclyde In reply to As JD says

no, finishing that degree would probably not change the way she does her job.

Looks good on the resume, though.

And it did feel good to complete both of my degrees.

One other thing to consider. Upper management has most likely spent a lot of time and money on THEIR education. Them putting an emphasis on education helps to validate their own choice as the right one.

I will say from personal experience, the best techs I have known in the meat world got degrees while working in the field. In addition to, not instead of.

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Maybe, maybe not...

by cupcake In reply to As JD says

I do want to eventually get the diploma, probably just for the satisfaction. I keep getting pulled in different directions, like last semester I took a German language class (want to do software testing in native languages) instead of the last couple of required classes.

I don't discount continued education and am constantly in some kind of class or other. Learning never stops.

However, my final required classes are like Microeconomics and Trig (or something along those lines) so I guarantee you those will never make a difference in how I do my job. I'd rather take a tech class or like I said, the language class. It makes giving up family time much easier to deal with.

As far as management goes, been there - done that. Don't want to go back. I like being 'in the trenches' and on the 'bleeding edge' rather than pushing paper around on a desk.

No thanks.

And I stated in another posting... if a company won't consider me simply because I haven't completed the degree... I don't want to work for them anyway.

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Another point to consider

by jdclyde In reply to Maybe, maybe not...

Getting your degree is a ready made excuse to throw a party..... ;\

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by GSG In reply to Maybe, maybe not...

I have a degree, but not in anything tech related. I wish that I'd had the opportunity to have some of those classes at the time. I feel that I'd be better able to do some things that I've struggled with. I'm completely self taught, but was lucky to work with someone who loves to teach people how to do things. He helped me out with the concepts that I was having trouble with. It was a personal triumph when I got my MCP. Did it help me? Yes, I did learn quite a few things that helped me at the time. Is it worth anything now? Yes, for the experience.

I've moved away from the technical to being a project manager, but I still use that knowledge every day. So, like JD said, I've used a combo of things to get where I am.

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