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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!

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All Comments

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WTF???!!! Are you Drunk or something?

by dafe2 In reply to not entirely true

"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)."

First of all, to be clear, I'm NOT an MCSE.
However, I hold an MCSA and several other IT related credentials. Any "Cert" or study I take on is for personal growth. No doubt, most people in this business pursue certification for the same reasons I do. A paper MCSE has no substance, no heart and no integrity - They will be out of our business very soon.

From the MS Site:

"Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers (MCSEs) design and implement an infrastructure solution based on the Windows platform and Microsoft Servers software"

IMO, today the MCSE (& MCSA) certification is focused primarily on CONCEPT, PLANNING and THEORY. The cost of entry is a strong knowledge of networking concepts and a good knowledge of Business, Commerce and Industry. Anyone who chooses to pursue this study should be prepared to study for (likely) four years and invest about $15000. "The general purpose IT Guy" is the same guy who has used braindumps and the like to tarnish the true accomplishment of this achievement and the true value of IT to business. Good ridance to that crowd!

I have read many of your posts.......I can only think your referring to VERY OLD material, your drunk or possibly insane today.

The first line you cite has absolutely no connection whatsoever to a true MCSE. IMO the industry is currently shaking out all the "defective units" that have infiltrated our businesses today.

The way you (seem) to put together MCSE with the general purpose IT staff or entry level skill sets - That is - "someone that is specialized in the use of a given set of administrative applications" (Nothing Specialized about that today) is like saying that someone who edits a batch file is therefore a programmer. I'd bet that still happens today. That's the problem.
Fact is, today most centers are so automated a clerk could run the day to day OPS. An MCSE, (with additional skills) (should/could) design and implement this. An MCSA (with additional skills) (should/could) Manage the environment.

Some "IT guys" today still don't see the value of Finance leading an IT team still others don't see a planners role. Those that don't see this forest will be leaving us. IMO "Geeks" & "Gearheads" have no place in Business IT anymore.

I'm sorry, coming from your keyboard, that paragraph makes absolutely no sense to me. IMO your using one **** of a big brush there.

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notice what I'm saying

by apotheon In reply to WTF???!!! Are you Drunk ...

MCSE skills involve network management, planning, and administration through the use of a set of Microsoft-provided applications. It is, as I said, a certification in the use of a set of applications. It makes a close brush with more generally applicable skill sets by way of a cursory treatment of the OSI model, but other than rote regurgitation of the model itself it doesn't ensure you know anything about it. Other theory-related knowledge is given much the same treatment.

Keep in mind that there is a distinct difference between the certification and an education that also happens to prepare you for the certification. I attended a trade school dealing with MCSE preparation, among other things, a few years ago. The classes taught a lot. When I got to the exams themselves, I discovered that the exams were made up of a lot of superficial "right answers" that pertained to Microsoft-specific administrative applications, and held very little substantive value beyond that.

Unless the MCSE exams have changed drastically in the last couple of years, nothing I've said is untrue. Some high school grad with a couple of books could learn more about good network architecture and administration than those exams actually test(ed) for.

This is by no means an indictment of any educational institutions (except perhaps the one-weekend certification "boot camps"), nor of knowledgeable people getting certified. ****, I'm not even trying to put down the exams themselves. They're just being badly misused. Due to Microsoft's marketing, they are treated as some kind of measure of real, in-depth skill litmus for IT professionals. The people who have nothing going for them but a cert will choose to set up a Windows Domain for networks over a given size (I think they're pushing something like 30 as the magic number these days), and they won't be able to tell you why other than in vague terms of how the Windows Domain is better suited to larger numbers of nodes than a Windows SMB peer to peer network, generally speaking.

An MCSE in the hands of a complete schmuck only proves that the schmuck will be able to get a job more easily. He'll know just enough to get in over his head. An MCSE in the hands of a seasoned, knowledgeable network administrator that knows more than which icons to click on in a Windows GUI will show that he knows his way around the Microsoft style of administrative tools, and will be able to effectively apply his network skills in a Windows environment.

The MCSE is an effective certification for knowing the administrative applications that Microsoft peddles. It doesn't make a professional out of anyone, and it pays only very cursory attention to skills that go deeper than Microsoft applications.

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I did notice - Or didn't you think so?

by dafe2 In reply to notice what I'm saying

I think I modified my original post while you where posting, you may want to check the version you saw.

Is programming your thing? Your views seem to come from "there". I'm not a programmer, my specialty is Service Management (Operations).

All MS exams (and) the methodology behind them has been revised as of last year. MS finally noticed braindumps and the like produced MCSE's like rabbits.

"This is by no means an indictment of any educational institutions (except perhaps the one-weekend certification "boot camps"), nor of knowledgeable people getting certified. ****, I'm not even trying to put down the exams themselves. They're just being badly misused."

I agree with you xcept NO "institution" here in Canada has done a whole **** of a lot more than
show "students" how to complete the "exam" as far as I'm concerned. Don't know what it's like in your area.

"The MCSE is an effective certification for knowing the administrative applications that Microsoft peddles. It doesn't make a professional out of anyone, and it pays only very cursory attention to skills that go deeper than Microsoft applications."

That statement should be reviewed by anyone performing an interview of any IT "candidate" bar none.

Had you said that to begin with I would not have questionned your sobriety or sanity. Funny thing about you though, you allways seem to find clever verbs to position near "Microsoft"

A biento

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Best post yet - Good ridance to bad garbage...

by dafe2 In reply to Think it'll get any bette ...

I'd only add the following line your very clear view...

Today, "IS" is not about "IT" it's about "BIS".

Those of you that read this and don't understand that last line, I wish you luck and bid you goodbye. To those that do understand it, I say hello & glad to (finally) meet you.

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In my third career

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

I started off in entomology, specializing in Lepidoptera (butterflies, moths, and skippers). I left that in my Junior college year and took a job with Hughes Aircraft, which later became GM Hughes Electronics. I had a nice 29-year career in electronics engineering, the last fourteen as an independent consultant. Now I'm indulging my first love, the writing of fiction.

I think that, this century, the idea of a single career through life is nonsense, unless in a field that changes little. Certainly, a lifelong career in technology will have many major disruptions and end up in technologies greatly different from the ones in which it began.

Besides, one need not restrict oneself to being only a technical whiz. One fellow I knew went from computers to SCUBA diving. A close friend of mine went from electronics to neurophysiology to nuclear medicine. (He's now the radiation safety officer at a hospital.)

Four hundred and more years ago, a single career was passed from generation to generation, century after century. Times have changed radically. Why think that nowadays a single career ought to last a whole lifetime?

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Better After 5 Years Than a Whole Career

by judger48193 In reply to IT Career... an oxymoron? ...

I too thought that there would never be a time when my IT technical and management skills would ever be redundant. Howver, back in the early 1990's things started to go absolutely the wrong way for us techies. Big IT consumers like GE and IBM started cutting us big time. How about 50,000 technical IBMers during one slow down. Recently the Lucents, Motorolas, Anderson, Sun, Tellabs, etc. are cutting. Then you hear the news that they are sending the jobs to large technical labs in India, China, etc.

Seems like I worked with many more immigrants in the 1990's. Don't get me wrong, the ones that get here are very good and I enjoyed working with them. However, many of us were born, raised, educated and paid our dues big time here. Seems like companies should put money into our careers rather than importing new people who paid their own education costs (but will also soon be obsolete). There is no more company loyalty.

Fortunately for me, I finally just gave up on Chicago after 36 years and moved to an area where I can better afford to live on the absence of IT employment. IT workers had better get active fighting outsourcing and H1B visas. Looks like as a backup we also have to get flexible about other means of employment.

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Circle of Life

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

I fully understand the plight of Benjamin as well as his several peers in a similar situation. It is a matter of great sadness that young and talented boys and girls in the US are getting wasted due to global conditions well known to all of us. The situation is the same for foundrymen, turners and fitters in Europe, who have no jobs, as most of their manufacturing has gone to China, India and other Low Cost Labor Countries.

Added to the shifting/outsourcing of jobs, is the effect of longevity, compelling elderly people in the Developed countries to extend their working life just to enable their employers to build adequate amounts in their Pension Funds to support those very same people after retirement. This also takes away employment opportunities for the young.

So what is the solution? Youngsters like Benjamin should think seriously of accepting jobs in India and China. On the Dollar conversion figures what they get may look as low salaries, but take it from me, for the local conditions they are excellent emoluments. US$ 5000 per month when converted will come to Rupees 220,000 which no company in India will pay for a person of Benjamin's excellent educational and experience background. He may get only Rs a third - say Rupees 70,000 per month, but he can live like a king in India.

Migration in search of work or employment has been always the pattern in Man's Life. Most of us, Indians as we call ourselves, are here as a result of waves of migrations from Central Asia through Persia (Iran as it is known now) over several centuries. USA is a living example as a Nation built by migrants who crossed the Atlantic in search of better opportunities - sometimes even for sheer existence. We from India have been steadily migrating to the West Indies and Fiji for cutting cane sugar in the fields there and to the Gulf countries to work as Accountants and Clerks during their Oil booms.

The Circle of Life turns a full cycle from Time to Time. Remember Elton John's song in Disney's "Lion King"? This is the basic law of Nature. At this juncture, the dices are loaded in favour of China and India which are growing at 10% and 8% annual rates. The Dollar is getting a beating. But all these are temporary, as is the boom in the Far East. Some years or a couple of decades from now, the balance has to shift back to the US and Europe. But, by then it will be too late for the Benjamins - they cannot wait.

So please talk to the top 5 or 6 IT Companies in India, who are recruiting more and more hands every day and accept the excellent (for Indian conditions) salaries they offer. You will not be disappointed.

As for myself, I am a Management Consultant in the IT field as well as a Professor, teaching Management in one of the leading Universities. I just turned 70, but cannot complain about lack of work I have on my hands. Please e-mail me if you need any advice or help - I am situated in Chennai (South India), formerly known as Madras. This City is overtaking Bangalore as the IT capital of India.

Wish you all the best in your efforts!

Prof K S Narayanan

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Join the ARMY!!!!!

by pgm554 In reply to IT Career... an oxymoron? ...

Hey, they're always looking for people who don't just want a job ,but an adventure!

Great job security(unless you get killed).

Let's face it,the rat bastards at the top could care less whether we live or die.
As long as it doesn't affect their lifestyle,they could care less,so we get jobs at Wal-Mart or the Army.

Choose your poison.

So get off your a** and affect their lifestyle by any means necessary.May be they'll start to listen.

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Hey - I've got 35 years...

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

I've been a software developer since the mid sixties and I'm in the same boat. I think most companies want people with 2-5 years expeience so they will have *some* experience but not enough to have to pay them much.

After almost two years of driving 18 wheelers and looking for a new software development job, I decided to take a new tack. I'm self employed as a "software doctor" who makes house calls. There are a lot of frustrated clueless users out there who are eager to talk to someone who will not snow them with technobabble.

It is still a Darwinian world - evolve or perish!

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Globalization has something to do with this

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

The more these IT companies expand and partner with developing counterparts, more jobs will be replaced putting a strain on the developed countries workforce. It's the societies in these emerging developing countries that start to realize their potential to compete globally with standards once set by the developed nations particularly. Problem is this will never stop once they start harnessing their potentials to outsource. It's like starting starting a snowball and letting it roll downhill.

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