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IT Career... an oxymoron???

By Benjamin ·
Hello everyone. I have returned to the US after being in the UK for 8 years. While there, I was able to successfully join the world of IT and progress my career quite nicely. I was fortunate to get started in 1999, the year Y2K mania struck fear into most corporations everywhere. As such, I was able to work for several consultancies as we prepared major corporations for the "devastating" effects of January 1st 2000. Because of this I was able to obtain invaluable experience as I worked with and upgraded computer systems.

We all know what happened AFTER the cities of the world welcomed the new millennium so I won't talk about that. Fortunately for me, I was still able to obtain consulting work for other IT projects with some of these companies because I actually ended up saving them a LOT of money. I would take directors aside, go to the time and date settings of their PC, change them to a date in the year 2000 and ask them to work as they normally do. When asked why I did this, I commented that this is all you need to know about how your systems will be affected when January 1st rolls around. Because of this, I was called back to do legitimate projects. And I did this until last year when I finally decided it was time to return home.

Now, that I am home I have come to realize that IT work has all but dried up in my part of the country (Arizona) and the prospects don't look any better in other parts of the US. So, here I am providing phone tech support for a shipping company. Hmmmm. This can't be right. I keep hearing horror stories about how recent college graduates with a degree in IT can't even find a job! I'm sure a lot of you out there can remember the days when there were actually more jobs available than there were people to fill them. Not any more!

So, here I stand, (well sit actually) with 5 years of job related experience in everything from front end software and hardware support to running things and administrating from the back end. I can configure and troubleshoot just about anything out there and I can't even find a job in my field of expertise. The market is saturated with guys like me. Granted I don't have any letters after my name and have not actually taken the time to pursue such things as MCSE, CNA, etc. because I have the hands on experience. Now I am beginning to wonder where I go from here.

I am not asking for advice or anything. I would however be interested to know how many of you (and I am sure there are a lot of you) who have similar stories to tell and what you are doing about it. Supposedly with all the outsourcing that is happening, there "SHOULD" be more opportunities opening up for more technical jobs. Yeah, right! I'm thinking that if one of my friends who is an awesome software developer can't find a job, what chance in **** do I have?
I look forward to any and all posts to this discussion. Thanks for reading and all the best to all of you!
Ben

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The HDD Solution

by dafe2 In reply to unfortunately

"talented IT professionals are getting the shaft"

They need the "people skills" I mention - Sales is the best way to get them. (Not car sales either!)

"difference between RAM and HDD (though they may wonder why I used two Ds there), and can operate a point-and-click administrative interface, are sometimes better salesmen than IT pros."

Your showing your age here, been a while since I've heard them called that....course back then we had 60% margins too.......oh yes the discussion:

System operators.........mmmm

Still all good. I mean no, I hate seeing good talent wasted, no one does I'm sure. But the fact remains IT is changing and for the good of the whole... S**^t happens. Fact is, the truly great allways have several skill sets. That's the stuff you want to keep. I've been on the S**^t happens side of things more often than I'd care to remeber BTW. I'm told it builds character, but I haven't found that yet.

I understand what your saying and can't help but wonder how many great Idea Guys with tremendous skills will be lost for the simple fact of poor selling skills...........Your last line was more uuh diplomatic but as my father would say to all the talented people out there: Chrissakes, if you can't sell yourself, your no damn good to any bottom line then RU? Now sit up straight and get yourself noticed.

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Fruit Loops (again) and the Nature of the Beast (666)

by maxmcbyte In reply to Froot Loop??

Not sure what you mean by "postal" but if it was a dig at me - well your entitled, it's a free country. I was not aware that you could tell so much about a personality based upon a few words, I have much to learn.

Getting back to the point, I totally disagree with your assessment *** and *** solution ("increasing ones skills") though well intentioned does not begin to understand the nature of the beast. With regard to IT, what is happening cannot simply be offset by merely increasing ones skills because the vendors of the technologies that we work with are also under pressure to create self-staining strategic enterprise technologies. Witness Oracle Corps 10G Database or its application server. Yes, it is enormously complicated but it does not require the constant attention or number of workers that previous generation technologies required, only a few very competent people. In fact, Larry Ellison himself stated as much at Oracle World 2004 in San Francisco. He further went on to state that this paradigm was just beggining! The trend for fewer and fewer IT personel is what large enterprises want. Other companies will soon follow suit, before you know it, IT personel will have no meaning except in a historical context.

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I thought it was accurate.........

by dafe2 In reply to Fruit Loops (again) and t ...

"Not sure what you mean by "postal" but if it was a dig at me - well your entitled, it's a free country. I was not aware that you could tell so much about a personality based upon a few words, I have much to learn"

Actually, I thought your original post was "angry funny"......so I reciprocated. If you
took my comment as a personal affront, my appologies. Now, ignoring subtle prods and moving on:

You say it yourself when you paraphrase my post:

"Yes, it is enormously complicated but it does not require the constant attention or number of workers that previous generation technologies required, only a few very competent people."

Your damned right.......a clerk could run day to day OPS. Doesn't take much more than high school to read a screen or use the phone.

My quote, granted simplistic ("increasing ones skills") refers to some of these areas:

DR Management
Security
Assett Management
Planning
People Skills
Selling Skills

Those that are playing with their Lucky Charms today will not be around tomorrow if they don't open their eyes (and their minds) to the IT of tomorow.

It comes down to seeing the forest for the trees.

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Cuckoo for Coco Puffs And The Nature Of The Beast

by maxmcbyte In reply to Froot Loop??

Not sure what you mean by "postal" but if it was a dig, well your entitled, it's a free country. I was not aware that you could tell so much about a personality based upon a few words, I have much to learn.

Getting back to the point, I totally disagree with your assessment *** and *** solution ("increasing ones skills") though well intentioned does not begin to understand the nature of the beast. With regard to IT, what is happening cannot simply be offset by merely increasing ones skills because the vendors of the technologies that IT works with are also under pressure to create self-staining strategic enterprise technologies. Witness Oracle Corporation 10G Database or its application server 10G AS. Yes, it is enormously complex and complicated but it does not require the constant attention or number of workers that previous generation technologies required, only a few very competent people. In fact, Larry Ellison himself stated as much at Oracle World 2004 in San Francisco. He further went on to state that this paradigm was just beggining! The trend for fewer and fewer IT personel is what large enterprises want. Other companies will soon follow suit, before you know it, IT personel will have no meaning except in a historical context.

So, call me Cuckoo for Coco Puffs!

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Anger issues

by dafe2 In reply to Cuckoo for Coco Puffs And ...

On second thought:

1 - You can, in fact make your points without insulting people

2 - Consider others opinions & offer your own in kind

3 - Remember that arguing is diferent than tossing arround ideas for the better of the whole

When I think of ("increasing ones skills") at least in your case, I suggest anger management. Also refrain from playing with (my) Lucky Charms unless you want to offer up an opinion and (not) pepper your views with confrontational bull ****.

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Thank You, May I Have Another!

by maxmcbyte In reply to Anger issues

Yes, I did offer my opinion, sorry you think it is "confrontational bull". Don't know why your insulted though, but if I were to guess, I'd say your are thinned skinned and probably very PC.

By the way, I want to thank you for teaching me the fine art of telling much about a person based upon a few words, thanks for the lesson.

Merry Christmas to you friend. (I hope that did not insult you)

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No problem ...

by dafe2 In reply to Thank You, May I Have Ano ...

Your learning already.

Merry Christmas to you to.

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Understand all too well

by coreypi In reply to IT Career... an oxymoron? ...

I feel your pain Benjamin , I feel your pain . the cause it to and looking for a next gig in the IT field. Sometimes , you might have to do something that you don't like for now until the IT market bounces back. What about finance, accounting, healthcare or even consulting or how about starting your own business. A lot of options to consider.

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Think it'll get any better?

by pickleman In reply to IT Career... an oxymoron? ...

Okay people...I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I think (based on the 250+ replies to this thread) that virtually nobody is looking at this problem in the grand scheme of things.

I've even read several replies from people who are convinced that this is a "cycle" and that things may be bad right now but they'll get much better in the near future after all the evil corporations realize what a bad bad thing they did by outsourcing jobs overseas.

Okay, reality check.
Outsourcing I.T. jobs to overseas companies affects how many of you?
Virtually ZERO, would be my bet.
Unless of course you happened to be a phone support person.

But let's be realistic. Ask yourself, what kind of jobs are being outsourced overseas? The answer is simple -- phone support jobs. So those of you that are out of work and are blaming the outsourcing, get real, and get off your asses...because outsourcing didn't take your job away.

What took your job was a WAY oversaturated I.T. which began its road to oversaturation in the mid 90's. I myself used to work for a large corporation (3300 employees), and we had a total I.T. staff of 700 (give or take). This was completely ridiculous, and my company wasn't the only one with such outrageous numbers.

There was a time when practically every large company had an over-abundance of tech people. And whenever you have too much of something, it's only a matter of time until it can no longer be sustained.

So as if all this wasn't bad enough, you then combine it with a WAY overvalued stock market, and it was only a matter of time until the ground opened up beneath you. Share prices in the range of $300 for a company that NEVER posted a profit and barely existed for 8-9 months? Gimme a break. If you didn't see a huge bust coming based on JUST that alone, you were blind.

So...no, it wasn't overseas outsourcing that took away the I.T. jobs. And it certainly won't be the fall of overseas outsourcing that will get your job back. If you were making $75K a year for doing practically nothing, and are hoping for those days to return, I have news for you...it ain't gonna happen. Not in this lifetime, folks.

I can't tell you how many "I.T." people at my company were making $50K to $60K per year, and their jobs consisted of doing things that a monkey could do. Just in my department alone, we had a small lab where THREE people worked on nothing but building "images" for hardware installations.

We had another guy making upwards of $60K whose job it was to acquire fax machines and photocopiers for the company.

We had one guy who was a "team leader", pulling in $74K a year, who couldn't tell you what a hard drive partition was if his life depended on it. Keep in mind he was a team leader in the I.T. department.

We had a Level 3 systems analyst (his cubicle was right next to mine) who was pulling in $65K, and when it came to replacing his aging home computer, he asked ME to build one for him. Not because he was overworked or busy or because he wanted to save money. It was because he knew without a doubt that I knew my stuff, whereas he thought that a "hard disk" was one of those square little things that held 1.44 MB on files them.

These salaries and these kinds of people were the NORM in many companies. So is it any wonder why the I.T. sector went belly up? We had idiot workers, who were being supervised by idiot managers, who were being supervised by idiot directors, who were being supervised by idiot V.P's. And all those idiots didn't come cheap. There wasn't a single person in our I.T. department earning less than $45K (entry level).

So after all that's happened, I'm honestly not the least bit surprised at where we stand today. And quite frankly, I'm glad it happened. I'm convinced that it was necessary for the I.T. sector to crash in order for it to recover. And it WILL recover, slowly but surely, as a lot of people are now discovering that they had no business being in I.T. to begin with and are now changing careers.

And while a market recovery may make you think happy thoughts, the sad truth is that it won't be as simple as that. Even after the pollutants are filtered out of the system, we'll be faced with another problem shortly thereafter.

I believe that the entire field of I.T. as we know it will undergo a major change. The very definition of I.T. itself will mean something completely different 10 years from now. Many of the I.T. jobs we currently perform today will not even exist, or at least not in the same numbers.

Think about it: what's going to happen to all the "techies" 10 years from now, when their distinction of being "techies" will no longer apply? We've got an entire generation of kids growing up right now as we sit here in this thread, and those kids are growing up with computers in their homes from the day they were born. When the majority of us here today were growing up, we didn't have computers in our homes because computers in the homes didn't even exist until the mid 80's, and even then it was only for the well-to-do's, as the first computers cost upwards of $3,000.

My dad saw the technology boom coming, and so he took his beloved second car (a little Volkswagon Rabbit) and sold it so that he could buy his 12-year old son a computer. I'll never be able to thank him enough for that, because that one selfless act on his part is what allowed me to be where I am today.

But this next generation of kids who are already 12 years old today, they already have computers in their homes, and the vast majority of them have had them since before they could talk.

Imagine what will happen to the I.T. market when this generation grows up and enters the work force. All of a sudden, the "office computer guy" will be a thing of the past, because everybody and their brother will know enough PC skills to fix their own problems. Hardware will continue to improve, requiring less maintenance and undergoing lower less failure rates. The very definition of what it means to be an "I.T. guy" will change.

So if you think things are bad now with a saturated marketplace, just wait another 10 years and let's see where we stand then. :-) We'll be looking back at 2004 as the good 'ol days, and 1998-1999 will be known as the golden years.

My advice:

* If you don't belong in I.T., get out and do something else. Those of us that DO belong here will thank you for it, and we promise we'll even hold the door for you on your way out.

* If you feel you have enough know-how, experience, people skills, and desire to stick it out, by all means...stay, but EXPAND YOUR KNOWLEDGE. Find a specific, specialized segment of I.T. and learn it inside out. Being a "computer guy" 10 years from now will be as meaningless as having a car today. It'll be like "so what?" Today, everybody has a car, and 10 years from now, everybody will be a "computer guy".

* If you don't already have people skills, DEVELOP THEM. In the 90's, it may have been "hip" to be the nerdy, reclusive computer geek that sat in the back server room all day and only came out during a power failure. Those days are over. If you have no personality and don't know how to interact with the rest of the world, your days are numbered.

* Be aware of your strengths, but be even more aware of your weaknesses. And work on them continually.

There will always be work in I.T., but only for those who belong here, and those that are capable of adapting to an ever-changing environment. If you don't already know with 100% certainty whether you belong, or whether you can adapt, let me make it easy for you -- find other work. If your business card (prior to the dot com bust) said "Systems Analyst" and you were earning $50K, and your job consisted of converting Word files into Acrobat files, oh my god, you so do not belong in I.T. in 2005.

My two and a half cents.

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not entirely true

by apotheon In reply to Think it'll get any bette ...

Offshoring affects more than just phone support. A lot of programming monkey-work is being done overseas now as well, because you don't need someone local to turn out what amounts to "filler code". Also, of course, when two people are in the same overall field but one of them gets his job outsourced, now they're both competing for the same job. That means that all those people in telephone support who lost their jobs are now trying to get other IT jobs. There are more people competing for less jobs.

Aside from saying that offshoring of jobs doesn't matter, though, you're right. For one thing, that's not the only thing affecting employment in the IT industry. For another, everything else you say makes a lot of sense. I'm not convinced that the kids growing up with computers in the home these days will necessarily know anything substantial about maintaining a computer: for most of them, computers arrive with the OS installed, and anything that isn't point and click is magic. What's growing up now, in computer terms, is the Windows generation. They're learning that "computer" means "Fisher-Price widgets", and not anything about OS architecture and TCP/IP subnetting. These people are growing up thinking that being able to clear out Registry entries pertaining to BHOs makes them "experts".

Granted, they're starting out with a substantially improved minimum knowledge about their computers as compared to the average, but that's barely commensurate with the increased prevalence of computers that will need help from experts.

The real danger to IT employment will be the increased prevalence of "black box" computers that are bought, used until they break (or until they're obsolete), and thrown away. I'm not saying that kids growing up with computers won't affect the competitiveness of IT employment, but I don't think it will affect things as much as you will, or at least that it would affect things as much as the manner in which the computers themselves are being sold.

Those who want to stay in IT are going to have to learn more about computers than ever before in order to remain an "expert". You'll be hard-pressed to find someone that can use the term "IT professional" without being laughed at that doesn't know three programming languages, and at least one of them will have to be an all-purposes language suited to system administration like Perl.

For the most part, you're right. The general-purpose "computer guy" will no longer exist. A lot of what is thought of as "computer guy" today is actually an administrative application specialist. That's really all an MCSE attempts to certify you to be: someone that is specialized in the use of a given set of administrative applications (and whether or not it succeeds at that is a matter of some speculation).

Real knowledge of computers will be largely a matter of learning theory and programming. Neither of these things will be a job all by itself any longer, though. They'll just be skill sets that make performance of a job possible. Much of application programming will become nothing more than WYSIWYG IDE specialization, after all. Again, we're heading toward "application specialists" where programming used to be the order of the day. If you don't believe me, perhaps you should take another look at the .NET framework's goals, and the IDEs that go along with it.

Your advice about most so-called IT personnel getting out of the industry is spot-on. There are a lot of people calling themselves IT professionals who are doomed if they don't get into another line of business, and worse yet they're making life more difficult for the people with real interest in and talent for IT work by oversaturating the pool of talent. It doesn't matter so much to employers if you are good at this computer stuff, these days: what matters to them is the string of letters after your name and how many years you've been calling yourself an IT pro. Since many people are point-and-click application specialists from the late '90s with eight certifications, those who have been around the industry a little longer or a little shorter period of time and perhaps actually know something will be lost in the shuffle. They're lone voices drowned out by a riot. In a crowd of thousands, Socrates and Buddha are pretty hard to spot, and their wisdom can't be heard, to use what may perhaps be a somewhat arrogant analogy.

The IT industry will bounce back, I think: there will come a time when the only way you'll get hired in IT is if you are an IT enthusiast, have a professional approach to IT, and are capable of learning, in addition to having the basic skills to get an IT job done. This will only happen, though, when most of the self-proclaimed IT pros who aren't cut out for it give up and go away. A lot of very skilled professionals are going to give up and go away along with them. The industry has to crash more, to the point where the schools stop churning out "professionals" and start treating anything less than a real computer science degree as "computer literacy" training or application specialization training.

What has to change for the IT industry to bounce back is the perceptions of the industry and the people who rely on it, and the droves of pseudo-professionals to give up and get jobs with titles that don't fit under the IT heading.

Small businesses will be using consultants exclusively. Medium-sized businesses will have one, may be two, full-time IT people and for anything else will call in consultants. Only the biggest companies will be able to justify keeping a complete, in-house IT staff on hand full time, and even they will call in consultants from time to time. IT is going to inevitably become a service industry, as it should be. That, at least, is what I hope. If it doesn't, the US will just become a nation with almost no real IT talent at all.

So, yeah: If you don't think that learning the command line, five programming languages, and how to do arithmetic in binary are skills you'll need and enjoy having, get out of IT. Do yourself, and those of us who do think learning these things sounds like fun, a favor and go away. Things are only going to get worse for a while, and when they start getting better (God, fate, or whatever powers that be, willing), they'll only get better in the IT industry for IT pros who have skills like that. The rest of you can surely put your computer skills to good work in other fields. If you can struggle through C++ code if you really have to, and are good with numbers, but don't have the love of computers that the IT industry is going to demand in the future, you should probably become an accountant at a company that uses open source accounting software so you can debug your own tools.

Regardless of where you end up, though, you should probably get out of IT. In that, at least, you (pickleman) are right on the money.

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