Further thoughts on the IT Job Market

24 06 2008

I found an interesting article today: “Fewer Pursing Tech Degrees” from Time. The first sentence made me think. It says, “ewer college students are pursuing computer-related degrees at a time when demand is increasing and thousands of baby boomers are retiring from technical jobs.” I only read this first sentence and I was already ready to write a blog.
The reason that I pursued a degree in tech was pretty much for that reason. Well, maybe I wasn’t thinking so much about the baby boomers retiring, but I did know that this was a skill that would always be required. Granted, much of the skills can be found in lower-wage job markets, and many large companies do choose to outsource.
So maybe that’s what fewer degrees are being pursued: there is a fear that after all the baby boomers retire companies will take a good look at where they stand financially and realize they could be saving themselves loads of money by outsourcing. This realization on the companies’ behalves is worrisome – will there even be any tech jobs left in 4 years after *insert college freshman’s name here* graduates with his degree in computer science or information systems.
That’s the predicament that I have found myself in. Everyone wants someone with YEARS of experience, which I don’t have (I stretch to say that I have more than I do, but in all reality the real experience I have is only one year). Everyone wants good all around support (they want you to support their phones, network, PCs, printers, and software), but they are only willing to pay $10-$15 per hour for you to do it. All of us techies know that our time is worth more than that; or at least I know my time is worth more than that, because someone was willing to pay more than that before. I don’t think that I should take a pay decrease AFTER I have earned my degree. I thought I went to college to better my chances to make more money and get a good job. But it doesn’t seem like that is the way that employers are thinking. Sure some are willing to offer a salary of what I want, but most are offering something that would make me feel undervalued: $30K a year (about $14/hr) and $10-$15/hour for a part time position.
Do I want to accept a job, that I’m not even really sure I want, if it is only going to pay me $30K a year? Or do I hold out for a job that I really want and count on unemployment until then?
I think that I have veered from the original point of my blog: Companies are worried that there are not going to be enough IT people out there to fill their openings. This is just not what I am seeing. I see a barren job market with little to select from. Maybe that is because everything out there is so highly specialized. Again though, this brings up the predicament of having experience. If companies are wanting highly specialized people, then new graduates aren’t really the answer. New graduates (or at least most of them) aren’t going to have this specialization yet. They will need to be in industry and have the time to learn what they excel at, what they prefer not to do, etc.
In my opinion, it comes down to giving these new grads a chance. So they don’t have 5-10 years of experience, a strong knowledge of *insert language or hardware here*, but here is what they do have: they are still in the learning mode (that is what they have been doing for the majority of their lives up to this point), they are “green” (meaning they are easily molded to complete tasks in the way that is best for your company, they aren’t stuck in their ways and refuse to change), and they will accept a lower pay (I know I said that some pay is too low for me, but someone who has been in the industry may demand $10K to $30K higher than I do). I applaud any company that is willing to take a chance on a new grad, that is willing to train and teach them skills necessary for this job and future jobs, and that understands you don’t know everything straight out of college.


The IT Job Market

23 06 2008

Since graduating, well, even before graduation I realized that my internship wouldn’t result in a full time position. The company was making layoffs in all areas, and HR informed my manager that she wanted to keep me on, the salary would have to come out of IR’s budget. They already had to cut back on the number refreshes this year, so keeping me on was not going to happen. She told me she would have hired me, which kind of made me feel better, but it didn’t help the fact that I still didn’t have a job.
Since April, I have applied for about 30 jobs. I only started keeping track of them after a while, so that number could be even higher. Not all of these were IT jobs (because I started getting so desperate for a job that I started applying for assistant and clerical jobs).
I went through periods of feeling really good about the job market, trying to reassure myself that I would get a job, that more jobs would start opening up, and that my interviews were going really well. I tried to convince myself that job offers would come flooding in after a while, like what happened with my friend last semester. But then there were times when I got that rejection phone call/email and I wanted to cry. I soon realized that I should just give up on my “dream job” – I just don’t have the level of experience to do that at this point in my life.
What really makes me mad about the not just the IT job market, but the job market at any time, and for any position is the lack of communication. I don’t understand why it is so hard for a company to give an applicant a call and let them know either 1) we don’t want to interview you because…., 2) you didn’t get the job because…, 3) we are still in the process of making our decision, or 4) we decided not to fill the position because…. I am pretty sure that I have applied for some jobs that I don’t completely qualify for. Some of those jobs I still received interviews for, but others I never heard from. I have interviewed for many positions. Some have told me that I didn’t get the position and others have told me that they decided not to fill the position. But again, there are a few that I never heard from again. I asked one company the status of their position. The answer was that they liked me, but an employee-referred applicant got the job. He said they were looking for another position in the department for me. I think that was the over-the-top way of telling me that I didn’t get the job, but still trying to give me a glimmer of hope. Except that I know better than to hold my breathe waiting around for them.
The funny part about that job is that I was told that there was pretty much no way I was going to get a job there unless I knew someone. What do you know, that’s exactly what happened. And a week later I come to find out that a friend of mine is good friends with the wife of the president of this company. You better believe I was kicking myself over not mentioning to him that I was applying for this job. I was pretty peeved that knowing someone guarantees you a job, that there is not really a chance for anyone else at that point. It was bullshit, unfair, and what was the point of even interviewing? But when a friend hooks you up with an interview, you kind of change that mindset.
A friend of mine works for an accounting firm (not my cup of tea, but everyone needs IT). Their IT guy is overwhelmed with their support, client support, and the company that he has on the side. He is finally pushed to hire someone for help, and I had the perfect in. The job was never posted, there is no official way to go about it, and I am the only one that interviewed. So unless he really hated me, then I am getting this job. And it is one of those jobs that I actually want to do. I would love working with different clients and doing a different thing every day. I would love helping him on the websites. I would love being able to get out of the office every now and then. I would love working with one of my best friends.
I don’t know for sure yet if I have the job, but I should be hearing tomorrow. Meanwhile, I am applying for a teaching position, that I don’t want – not in the least bit. ugh.