Tunnel Rat posted on September 15, 2009 22:57

A reader wants to know if it is worth getting into the I.T. biz:

To describe my situation in more detail, I currently live in NYC.. I've been working in IT-related work for a few years, opted for a 2-year school when I was young, growing up from fixing computers to picking up some certifications (A+, Net+, Linux+) to find work, but I haven't been able to truly find any. I'm convinced however that this path simply is not an option anymore. Programming is a secondary skill I've practiced on some occasion (Java, C, C++) that I would hope compliment my skills.

I enjoyed the two internships I had which were helpdesk related. I seemed to have impressed enough to get good references, was always on time, eager and polite to everyone on staff. Doesn't seem to be enough, however. I held two jobs which claimed needed technical people but turned out to offer little in nurturing a career-- The first was a city contract for public schools which turned out to be a manual-labor job carrying loads of boxes, configuration beyond entering security keys for wireless networks were off-limits. Customer support for the local cable company cablevision punished people for deviating from the scripts. I'm convinced my 2-year school has failed me (Katharine-Gibbs), put me in debt and offer nothing more than a chuckle from potential employers. Having to fall back into living with the parents again due to a big lack of job offers really isn't a comfortable thing to have on the shoulders.

Reading forums like dice.com offers little in encouragement, or sometimes are met with general rudeness for my naivete or determination to remain in the field while sites like slashdot.org or much lesser-known college-based forums continue to offer encouragement *as long as the field is for you* .. I am acquainted with two who are in the video games industry as software engineers and both encourage me on the path despite that both of them have been coding since they were young teenagers, which are fresh breaths of air.

However, the stuff you report on itgrunt.com and the things I see on dice.com, along with two real-life friends (older than I) who fell out during the dot-com crash seems to suggest I'm dooming myself by pursuing a Computer Science degree at the local city colleges (CUNY) here in the city. Ultimately I feel like I'll need some more time on coding to consider myself truly hire-worthy, though I can certainly handle myself with IT-related jobs like helpdesk, any networking-related jobs, computer hardware..

I do have 'backup' plans: I enjoy the natural sciences and animals and would certainly pursue a college major / career for it in lieu of technology. Failing that, an Electrician career. I prefer to pursue what I love, and I spent my entire life growing up getting this (along with the importance of graduating college!) hammered into my head! Deviating from this is foreign and almost a bit scary. If companies can find somone in India to work at $10k / year instead of hiring me, then what's the point? How in the heck can you compete with that???

I do have questions from someone more experienced in the field such as you though, and I take any and as much advice as I can get! :

1. Is the field as overcrowded as people say?

2. If so, is it true that the field is sort of "purging" itself of all the CompSci majors who took up the career for monetary reasons, but have no true passion for computers?

3. If so, should I ignore all the hype and gloom and continue to pursue what I love?

4. Aside from CompSci, I do enjoy Mathematics as well.. Would pursuing a Mathematics major make me a bit more of a broader and therefore, more likely to find more non-related jobs?

5. Is pursuing a specific goal (game development) a formula for trouble, or should I concern myself with being a bit more broad?

Thanks for the advice and offer.. I'm for the most part, low-profile and keeping my ears to the ground, watching what's going on in the industry and I apologize for any naivete on my part. :) While I'm not new to computers, the conditions of the job market never ceases to cause anxiety. I seek encouragement where ever I can.

I don't plan to remain in NYC for long, or possibly the east coast at all. From what I see and hear, everyone says IT is completely dead in this city, and possibly the east coast completely.

Thanks for reading.. again any advice is appreciated.



While I think the industry is not what it used to be, there are still plenty of opportunities. Eventually, the Indian frauds will be exposed and we Americans will one day look back on this decade with remorse. It was a time when salaries were flat or declining, and the industry turned into a global gladiator pit where we had to take on the curry-scented menace. But we will eventually prevail, so it is a good time to get into the I.T. biz:

1. The field is very diverse. Some areas are overcrowded, some have hardly any people. Here’s how it breaks down:

a. SQL (Oracle, etc.):

Saturated with middle-aged Americans and cheap Indian imports. It has been around for decades, so a lot of people can do it. But in reality, few people can tell the difference between a good DBA and bad one, that is why the Indians can flood that field. If they can log in and write a query, they qualify. Data Warehousing skills are few and far between, and it takes some hardcore SQL talent.

b. Web Development:

PHP and open source is flooded with hackers and Indians. Because it is free, anyone can build a web site and shop themselves as web developer. Open Source is virtually non-existent in corporate I.T., which is either .NET or Java. Java is losing support because it sucks, and was designed by mostly Indians at SUN. That leaves .NET, which involves C# or VB.NET (dying). With Microsoft’s
dominance in corporate I.T., .NET is going to be around for a long time. Few Indians can do .NET because it involves design skills, creativity, and many corporate intranet projects require close collaboration with end-users. End users hate dealing with a marble-mouthed retard posing as a “Debeloper”.

c. ERP (SAP, etc.)

OMG! Get the fuck away. Completely saturated with Indians. All those projects are graveyards. It has proved to be the best way for an Indian outsourcing company to destroy an American corporation – turn over all their ERP projects to a fleet of illiterate Indians.

d. Networking, hardware, etc. :

Routers, etc. are getting easier to configure. The need for onsite technical guys to support LANS and servers is diminishing. Indians can’t troubleshoot, so it is still a safe career path, but not for long.

e. FLASH, FLEX, etc:

These are the creative fields, and you will be competing with displaced graphic artists and photography majors who have nothing else to do. The work is piecemeal and caps out at around 100K. Indian-free because Indians aren’t creative and can’t work with customers, which is what a lot graphics guys do.

f. Network Security:

HOT HOT HOT. Hard to break into – most are Cisco pros. Totally Indian-free – nobody would trust an Indian to secure their networks.

g. Bleeding Edge:

iPhone apps, SEO, Cloud, etc. 1% of the players in these fields are making 90% of the big money. Indian-free. Remember, there is not a single Indian commercial software product. More software comes from Scandinavia than India.

2. About 40% of American I.T. workers don’t even have a college degree. Many are drop-outs, including Bill Gates and Facebook’s Zuckerman. The truth is, creativity, initiative, and communication skills go farther than a degree. Indians are obsessed with degrees and certification, no matter how bogus. But they lack the soft skills that are needed in I.T. For true Comp. Sci. majors, there is plenty of work. Very few of the people you see moaning on Dice are true programmers. Many are ops folks or script monkeys. I myself have a business degree and it has served me well. And computer work is way too hard to just do for the money. They opposite is true – many techies flooded the investment banking and legal professions because they wanted more money, and would rather be coding. As soon as we get rid of the Indian scabs, coders will be making as much as lawyers and bankers.

3. Pursue what you love, but be pragmatic. I knew techies that loved working on the Amiga, and could never move on once that niche died.

4. A math major will qualify you for most programming jobs, but I have yet to meet a math major in my career. Plenty of econ and stats guys, though. Nothing wrong with a Comp. Sci degree.

5. You have to go where the work is. If you want to program games, and there is work there, do it. Be prepared to start as a tester, which has a huge burnout rate.

N.Y.C. may be dead because of its proximity to the epicenter of the Desi bodyshop industry, New Jersey. The blogger from http://www.outsourcedandhomeless.com/ is in New Jersey. Every single email I get from a Desi recruiter comes from New Jersey.

Check out craigslist and see what metro areas have the most gigs. SoCal and LA are still good – but I the rates have dropped.

I have a rental property that is up for rent in November. It is a 3-bedroom house in a nice neighborhood. I am thinking about sponsoring unemployed techies and giving them a place to live while they get back on their feet. They can improve their skills while they look for a job. They would pay what they can until they find a job, and then pay back the cost of their housing.

In essence, this would be like the typical “guest-house” that the Indian H-1Bs live in while being pimped out by their Desi bodyshops. It is rather ironic that Americans will have to live like the scabs, but we have to do what we have to do. This would be almost like a Ronald McDonald house. Let me know if you are interested in coming to SoCal.


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