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My Job Went To India 396

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Josh Skillings writes "The author, Chad Fowler, draws upon his experiences as a software engineer, a team leader over a group of Indian developers, and as a jazz musician, to describe 52 ways or tips that will help you to become a more valuable employee. These tips are described in two or three pages each, and are usually illustrated by a practical example or story. The tips are well thought-out, well-explained and make sense. Chad draws upon the open source movement as well, highlighting ways that contributing to and learning from open source can improve your career. These tips gave me greater respect and appreciation for the open source movement in general." Read on for the rest of Josh's review.
My Job Went To India (and All I Got was This Lousy Book)
author Chad Fowler
pages 185
publisher The Pragmatic Bookshelf
rating 8
reviewer Josh Skillings
ISBN 0-9766940-1-8
summary Offers 52 ways you can keep your software engineering job, or grow yourself into an even better job.
Chad encourages the you to think of your career as life cycle of a product, and as such divides the 52 tips into the four areas of "Choosing Your Market", "Invest in your Product", "Execute", and "Market", and then two extra groups called, "Maintaining Your Edge", and "If you Can't Beat 'Em". This grouping works surprisingly well and provides an overarching context that makes sense. Many of the tips have specific calls to action at the end, which are useful if you don't already have ideas on how to apply the tip.

For example, under "Choosing Your Market", tip #7 "Don't Put Your Eggs In Someone Else's Basket", Chad encourages you to refrain from learning vendor-specific technologies that can disappear with the vendor, and then calls you to action by suggesting you write a small project in a technology that competes with the technology you are used to using. This will help you understand why the technology exists to start with and what opens your horizons for what might be coming next.

Under the section "Investing in your Product", tip #14 called "Practice, Practice, Practice", Chad offers suggestions on how software engineers can get even better by specific kinds of focused practice. The action items at the end of the section suggests practicing "Code Katas" katas similar to martial artists, but instead in code and in different languages.

With 52 tips, this book has a lot of tips, a tip for every week of the year, but you should expect to spend much longer than a week on most of them. A few of the tips you are probably doing already, but many of them you aren't. Some of the tips are fairly straight forward and easy to put in to practice. You could spend your entire life attempting and never achieve some of the other tips, such as tip #39, "Release Your Code." The ultimate goal of this tip is to be able to say in a job interview, "Oh, are you running Nifty++? I can help you with that- I wrote it." Chances are this scenario won't ever happen to you, but by working towards this goal in the ways the book outlines, you will definitely become a better, more valuable software engineer. Many of the tips will make you a better person in general, regardless of your career, such as tip #28, "Learn How To Fail", where Chad emphasizes how to fail gracefully and the rewards that can be learned from failure. This wide range of time, difficult, and application of the tips gives you something to work on today, next week, and next year.

The title of the book is silly. Yes, it was catchy enough for me to notice in the bookstore, with the red cover and the homeless (software engineer?) holding a sign, "Will Code For Food". So from that point of view, the cover worked. However, unless you've read the book, you might think it's as campy as the cover and wonder if it is somehow anti-Indian. I think a better title would be along the lines of "How to Get Any Job You Want", since if you can master all of these tips, you'll be the best there ever was.

While I didn't expect any specific technical advice, I would have liked some. I understand that an author needs to be sensitive to how fast technology changes, however just one tip with a warning: "This information is my opinion on April 11, 2007 and will probably change tomorrow". And then describes about how Subversion is a great tool, Python is a great language to learn, and learning design patterns can make your life easier, would have been appreciated. A tip like this would help you to understand the author a bit better and further encourage you to learn more.

If you want to improve yourself and you can accept advice, this book is for you. You will find things you can do better and skills you've never considered. Like some of the other Pragmatic Programmer books, I will never be able to master everything in this book, so I'll be reading this book again and again, trying to get better every time. Don't let the cover put you off, this is a great book.

You can purchase My Job Went To India (and All I Got was This Lousy Book) from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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My Job Went To India

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  • They took my job (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ilovesymbian (1341639) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @12:17PM (#24675643)

    They took my job; they took my job; they took my job.

    The American companies are to blame, it has nothing to do with America or India. If Dell, HP, GE outsource to India, don't buy their products anymore. Simple as that. But don't blame the poor people over there trying to make a living with what the CEO of Dell does.

    Anyway, Python is a great tool, yeah.

    • Re:They took my job (Score:5, Interesting)

      by forgoil (104808) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @12:27PM (#24675861) Homepage

      Also, start your own company and show what you can do, let it become a battle on your turf, make it about software and products, not about bottom lines and the bosses fancy yacht and head count. The US was built by entrepreneurs, it's time to start building again!

      Same goes for anyone else in any other country where a crap company outsources your job or your mates jobs from a company you helped build. Start up your own company, it's the best way to 1. get back 2. do things your way.

      • by Butisol (994224) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @01:08PM (#24676757)
        How naive can you get? As if entrepreneurial talent grows on trees or can be evoked by Anthony Robbins. As if people aren't at certain points in their life where such risk is unacceptable. As if financing a venture is as simple as breaking open a piggy bank. Yes, America provides some modicum of equality of opportunity, but it's disgustingly condescending to pretend that everyone has the necessary resources or latent talent (or capacity to develop such talent) to pursue those opportunities. If only the poor would just get off their asses and work, eh old boy? The "If you don't like it, just start up a business" line of thinking is just a roundabout way of blaming the victim, and a blanketed insult to boot.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Ex-MislTech (557759)

          This is very true, the corporate types call it market saturation.

          You only need so many plumbers, electricians, etc etc etc.

          At some tipping point it just drives wages down
          as the larger supply competes for smaller demand.

          Production lines world wide will continue to be made more robotic,
          and scaled down on workers, Wal-mart should be renamed China-mart.

          The population keeps going up, Less jobs, but more ppl.

          Ppl who have a house and kids cannot venture out boldy and
          start a company unless they have a product that

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Znork (31774)

            Less jobs, but more ppl.

            The entire purpose of the economy and the whole creation of wealth relies on that; it takes less work to accomplish the same thing. That's a good thing. Making things labour intensive aren't an end in itself.

            Of course, during earlier eras of increased productivity, such as when going from an agrarian to industrial society, we also cut down on working hours. These days it appears more popular to drive the working part of the population to burnout while they get to support the non-work

        • by lena_10326 (1100441) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:44PM (#24680801) Homepage

          You're missing something. If 100 developers lose their job, and 2 or 3 are encouraged to become successful by starting new businesses, then those companies will be hiring a significant portion of the remaining unemployed developers. They will also become corporate leaders with first hand knowledge of how it feels to lose your job due to out-sourcing.

          Not every developer is capable of accomplishing this, but all you need is a few successful ones. The advice, although not pertinent to everyone, is still good advice.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by sgt_doom (655561)

          Well said, my good fellow Butisol, well said.

          Having gone that entrepreneurial route from time to time, and having found moderate success to extreme disappointment, I concur; but mostly, this book represents more of the mindless -- and I emphasize MINDLESS, drivel which is foisted upon the masses.

          It is along the same lines as all that other "human resources" garbage on how to score a job, or to put it more succinctly, along the lines of those two fellows who happen upon a man-eating grizzly bear, and one tie

      • by genner (694963)

        Also, start your own company and show what you can do,

        Of course you won't be able to compete with the companies that do outsource their jobs since their prices are lower than yours.

        • Says you - outsourcing isn't the magic bullet it appears to be. It cuts down on quality and response time while not always saving money - looks like a perfect opportunity for an entrepreneur.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That's all there is to it? Wow! I'll come up with a great idea that isn't already out there (very easy), come up with the starter money (I have a few extra tens of thousands $ and rich friends), and I'm sure my marriage will survive me being buried in my startup 16 hours a day. Plus, everyone's dream is running a business, right?

    • No big deal (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Hey boss, be sure to take your malaria shots before you go!

      What irks me is that they've been trying to offshore computer works for 50 years with mixed results. What the real problem is that they keep asking for more guest workers (who can't change jobs [easily], who aren't citizens, who can't form unions, and restricted to certain employment). Is it our government's role to provide subsidies for wealthy companies and stifle small business? If we're going to have immigrant workers, why can't they use the

      • by vk2 (753291)
        Dude - this is pure capitalism at work. Try before your buy. If a H1B candidate is good enough we dole out the green card application. So what is the problem? In fact, H1B program is more profitable to everyone involved (Except off course those who complain about it). The guest worker gets better salary. The employing company gets an above average candidate (assuming someone throughly interviewed the candidate before H1B sponsorship) - The government gets to collect taxes for Medicare/social security which
    • If [companies] outsource to India, don't buy their products anymore

      You won't find any products in which outsourcing played no role in production/marketing/etc.. Basically, you just suggested we boycott everything. Good luck leading that revolution, my naive friend.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kellyb9 (954229)

      If Dell, HP, GE outsource to India, don't buy their products anymore.

      You're going to hurt the people working over there FAR sooner then you're ever going to hurt Dell, HP, or GE.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer (890720)
      They did not take your job. You lost your job.

      The difference is significant.

      Why is your prior role now filled by one (or two or three) people in India/China/Nigeria/Brasil?

      Because you did not provide enough value to the company to justify your salary.

      Life is unfair. Deal with it.

      On a related note, *if* you are really worth the extra cash, then you should be able to figure out how to use your skills to demonstrate that to your employer... and on the plus side, you will be contributing more to the econ
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CaptainCarrot (84625)

        This is nonsense. Jobs do not move overseas on an individual basis that would allow a single developer to demonstrate anything to his employer that would change anything.

        Because you're not just competing with foreign labor. You're competing with foreign economies. Indian programmers don't work for less because they're more industrious or less greedy. They do it because they can maintain a relatively high standard of living for far less than an American developer can.

        It's not as if the American has a choice

  • Too late... (Score:2, Funny)

    by LoaTao (826152)
    ... MY job went to India.
  • Isn't this old? (Score:4, Informative)

    by colmore (56499) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @12:21PM (#24675713) Journal

    This book was published three years ago. It's a little late for a review of a topical work like this.

    • Re:Isn't this old? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by intrico (100334) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @12:51PM (#24676375) Homepage

      Yes, I actually read this book a couple of years ago and I believe it was fairly new at the time. The information in it is still very relevant though, as this book is not specific to any particular technology, but rather it is a career advice book. It basically gives practical, solid advice about how to stay relevant in IT in the long run. If you've worked in various capacities and companies in IT, you will probably recognize that much of the advice mirrors the habits of people you've worked with that have avoided the layoffs and/or got the coveted promotions.

      • by colmore (56499)

        If the book is general how-not-to-get-fired advice, then I could see it still being relevant. However, if that's the case, then shame on the nativist scare mongering title. If the job is going then it's either no longer a needed job or it's going *somewhere*. It's unhealthy to demonize developing economies like that.

  • Okay.... (Score:2, Funny)

    by BitterOldGUy (1330491)
    Chad encourages you to refrain from learning vendor-specific technologies that can disappear with the vendor

    Yeah, but it pays really well when you know something that's hot i.e. the latest fad product (that's ALWAYS called a "new technology"). Just save your money and be prepared to jump to the next big thing.

    "Learn How To Fail", where Chad emphasizes how to fail gracefully and the rewards that can be learned from failure.

    Failure. The trouble is if you fail big, you're labeled as a failure and you're fu

    • Re:Okay.... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Itninja (937614) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @12:27PM (#24675865) Homepage

      you're labeled as a failure and you're fucked for a very long time

      Aren't those two things universally exclusive? Unless you're a hooker, in which case both would apply.

    • by thermian (1267986)

      I would say that if you come up against failure too many times, its time to move to a different area of IT.

      Personally I find its generally safer to be the one creating new technology then one of the coders who use that technology, even if it is much harder to do. That way if things go sour you are at least better prepared, in terms of skills, to transfer to a new job or area.

      If all you do is follow the 'don't re-invent the wheel' philosophy, or use code to do complex tasks that other people have written, th

    • Re:Okay.... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by corbettw (214229) <corbettw&yahoo,com> on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @01:31PM (#24677187) Journal

      Chad encourages you to refrain from learning vendor-specific technologies that can disappear with the vendor.

      Then Chad is hopelessly naive about what it takes to get a job in IT. If you apply for a job that requires experience with Websphere, and your resume only has Tomcat, JBoss, SunOne, and Weblogic, you will not be called in for an interview. It doesn't matter that they're all N-tier frameworks designed to work with Java, you don't have the specific skill needed, so unless the hiring manager is clueful AND does all of the initial resume screening himself instead of letting HR do it, you won't ever get that job.

      Face it, there are a lot of idiots in IT management who only know the names of the vendors, and don't even understand what the technologies do. You have to list those vendors on your resume if you ever want to get a job, being vague about working with N-tier architectures just won't cut it in today's environment.

  • or consultants, or technical writers, or anyone who can work remotely without a strict government issued license :

    Get to elance and similar services, and work for yourself. eventually you will be able to make a name, and afterwards you will be able to make money.

    AND you can compete with indians. true, they can give out $3/hour for software projects. but, remember, what you pay is what you get. you'll find that there are a lot of people who know that regardless of india or vietnam, you should not be ha
    • by xaxa (988988) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @12:54PM (#24676437)

      when bidding for projects of people like these, indian houses that shell out $3 bids are at disadvantage.

      Why don't they raise their prices then? If it's just the too-good-to-be-true quote.

      I know someone who realised western companies weren't comfortable paying only $10/night for quality hotels in Eastern Europe (this was a few years ago, I forget the actual numbers). He bought a small hotel business in a capital city, translated the website to English and bumped up the price to $100/night -- now the hotel is full of western businessmen and tourists, but the hotel doesn't cost much more to run.

      • by unity100 (970058)
        they do raise their prices. you'd be surprised how many indian companies actually bid closer to europe or u.s. rates. but, almost everyone converges on the reasonable internet rates. ie, noone bids $80/hour. but there are many who bid $30/hour.

        yes, a very low price actually generates suspicion.
    • by JasterBobaMereel (1102861) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @12:57PM (#24676487)

      We outsourced to India ... and are now scrapping and rewriting in-house ....

      The code works but ... trying to change anything with the time differences involved is a nightmare, it does not matter who they are just where they are ...

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by BusinessHut (1143993)
        Ditto. Although we used developers from another country. It seems that US companies are outsourcing because it's the popular thing to do. Our outsourced "developers" cost the same or MORE than US ones. Add in the communication issues such as time, culture, and language, and I don't understand what my company was thinking. Eventually, our outsourcing was also scrapped in favor of redoing the project in-house. This decision had mostly to do with the fact that what they sent technically worked, but there
      • by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @01:29PM (#24677147) Homepage

        The problem with outsourcing in general is that you change the business
        relationship between what used to be internal customers and internal
        providers to one where you've got some outside company with interests
        that are probably completely different than your own.

        You're no longer a cohesive team. Those other people will not necessarily
        pull together for you anymore. They will have their own bosses and their
        own sucess metrics.

        Your relationship will be defined by a contract that is designed to
        prevent you from abusing them too much. Processes will have to be
        formalized far better. Changes will be far more tightly controlled.

        Depending on the project, it may be dramatically more expensive to
        outsource (like something with insane dev schedules).

      • by funaho (42567) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @01:50PM (#24677539) Homepage

        What I noticed in my experiences with code written by outsourced coders was that while it worked, it just wasn't that good. They knew the LANGUAGE, but they didn't know how to PROGRAM. Not very well, anyway.

        While working with the outsourced coders for a client of a managed hosting company I was sent a 250-line SQL query (for MySQL, no less) and asked why the query was running so slow. It was a mess. The guy obviously didn't understand SQL or database design and was using brute force to get the data.

  • I'm sorry... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lantastik (877247)

    ...but if your job went to India, you're expendable. Learn some new skills, get better at what you do, etc. The company I work for now is 70% India, 30% US. They trimmed the fat and sent the cheap labor to India.

    If you haven't learned by now that you need to stand out from the crowd with an invaluable skill, your job is going to keep going to India.

    • Re:I'm sorry... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @12:55PM (#24676463)

      ...but if your job went to India, you're expendable. Learn some new skills, get better at what you do, etc.

      what an insensitive BS answer!

      I'm an expert in my field, I have over 20 yrs doing what I do (netmgt) and yet companies are not respecting actual field experience anymore - they prefer to cheap-out EVERY TIME ;(

      there is nothing I can do about it. 'get better' at what I do? I'm already a leader in my company, for this technology.

      actually, my job didn't go to india. it went to 'eastern europe' (country name withheld). the labor is MUCH cheaper there but I'm not at all convinced they have better experience or understanding of the field. it was PURELY for cost reasons.

      when its for cost reasons, there is nothing an employee can do. can I live on the same pay rate that east europe can live on? surely, I can't (I live in the US).

      no matter how you cut it, its unfair and its NOT the employee's fault. grow up and you'll see this - and stop blaming US workers, its NOT our fault most of the time. its the bean counters.

    • Great advice. Now if everyone listens to you and learns to "stand out from the crowd" we are all back in the same crowd.

    • by OneIfByLan (1341287) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @01:50PM (#24677535)

      I entirely agree that individually you need to be as valuable as possible. That's why all the CCNPs I know are working to finish their CCIEs and the CCIEs are working on their Juniper/Avaya certs. All of this is on top of their technical degrees.

      The problem is that you and your "invaluable" skills really aren't being taken into account. It doesn't matter if firing you would cripple the company because we're typically thinking 90 days at a time. If you replace a $150K CCIE with a $20K wanna-be, then you as a manager can claim a $130K dollar "savings." Hooray for you, here's your bonus.

      When that $20K wonder takes all of your customers down -- and here's the beauty part -- you aren't blamed for it. No one is currently drawing the line between your $130K savings and the customers that walked with their millions of dollars.

      The really scary part? I frequently work on municipal, hospital and 911 systems. Infrastructure disasters here can cost lives. I've watched the cheap guys take down emergency systems, and I tried not to think about the calls that were getting dropped as I fought to get them back online. I push the frantic calls for help out of my mind, because if I let my imagination run with what an unanswered 911 call could mean...

      The cheap guy's response as I berated him for putting lives at risk? Basically, what do I care? It's not my country.

      Every one of the guys I know are putting in 60-hours weeks routinely. Hours like that mean divorces. They mean early heart attacks. They mean neglected children left to raise themselves. They mean broken homes with the societal carnage that goes with it.

      It's the classic tragedy of the commons. The people who lead our country are insulated from the carnage associated with gutting our workforce. In the meantime, my country is falling apart. I've got a CS degree from a prestigious college, a CCIE, and a decade of international experience and even I am feeling the heat. I weep for those not as lucky as I.

      We're gutting our middle class. We just are, and if you don't see it, it's probably because you're young. I hear your "Well, it's not a problem if you're the best of the best" bravado, and I wonder what you propose to do with the other 99% percent of the population, because they're not just going to just disappear.

      I was downtown during the LA Riots of '92. Rodney King and Daryl Gates might have been the spark that set it off, but that riot burned on the fuel of unemployed people. Last time I was in LA, more than a decade later, the damage still hadn't been repaired.

      I'd really prefer not to see that happen on a country-wide scale. But me and the other gray-hairs are worried, especially the people I know out in LA. We're getting that "vibe" again.

      Things are stretched beyond breaking. Our teachers have flat-out given up. Our cops are showing the sort of violent and unstable behavior you would expect from PTSD. The wave of earnest enlistees that flooded the military after 9/11 have become the sort of weary jaded bastards that could put the most burned-out Vietnam Vet to shame.

      We are, for the first time in history, routinely using mercenaries in almost every level of our military and law enforcement. I'm seeing military families, families with generations of service, hang up their uniforms and forbid their children from serving.

      Our hospitals are literally allowing people to die from neglect in the ER. Our bridges are falling down. Our electrical grid is one snapped breaker from going dark.

      Katrina should have been our moment of clarity. The fact that it so clearly wasn't scares me to death.

      But you go ahead, and keep humming that "I'm the best, I'm the best, I'm the best" mantra. Keep closing your eyes as tight as you can and shut your ears tighter. Find a good teddy bear, because the old man, the old man has seen all this before.

      I'm terrified of where this train is going.

  • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @12:43PM (#24676195) Journal

    by having multiple trades. Don't be so specialized.

  • by Black-Man (198831) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @12:45PM (#24676221)

    Maybe the author should stop by where I work. He can talk to the people they are hiring *back* after the off-shore company ripped us off for millions giving us crap code which was basically unsupportable written by the "experts".

    • by guruevi (827432) <evi@@@smokingcube...be> on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @12:58PM (#24676521) Homepage

      Lol, that's their own fault. The managers probably said: "code me something that does x" instead of "code me something that we can support" or the sales person offered: we can do your coding project for USD XXXXX which appeared cheaper than what they were paying for the local coders. The long term cost of course, they didn't plan for.

      I had something similar happen at one of the companies I used to work for a while ago (precision measurement instruments for industrial processes). They outsourced their lab and prototyping to China as to profit from the cheap scientists. As soon as the branch in China got hold of the blueprints of quite some high tech products (5 and up digit retail value) the whole department literally vanished. Nothing was heard from them for a while until somebody went over just to see an empty building with the offices. All original equipment was still there, the people had started their own little company selling the same product for a lot less down the road, they took all the contacts and copies of plans with them.

      • by CharlieG (34950) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @01:18PM (#24676931) Homepage

        Not meant for you, but your bosses

        Outsourceing your "product" is just plain stupid. If you're in the electronics business, don't outsource your electronics design. If your in the software business, don't outsource software. If you build electronics, and the PC program that interfaces with it is a "it's nice to have", but isn't "the product", go ahead, have someone else write the software. If they take it, it doesn't kill you.

        Figure that ANYTHING you outsource will be in your competitors hands - if that is going to hurt you, don't do it. So, lets say you are NOT an accounting company. It won't kill you to outsource your payroll, etc.

        Sigh
        You would think management would think about "what makes US special as a company", and keep that in house, but they seem to look to the next quarter, or at most, next fiscal year

  • So many job descriptions are written by HR reps who only list off names of various software packages, and only go by a checklist when reviewing candidates.

    If someone asks me "Do you know TechnoBuzz software?" my factual answer would be "I haven't used it before, but I'd love to/willing to/confident I can learn it."

    What's a better answer to give an HR rep who doesn't know the technology?
  • four words (Score:5, Informative)

    by syrinx (106469) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @12:51PM (#24676369) Homepage

    "Get a security clearance".

    Those jobs aren't going to India.

  • Inflation in India (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith (2679) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @01:06PM (#24676679)

    12%

    An indian software engineer can earn about 400,000 rupees ($10k)at the moment. In 10 years that will match the west, but long before then the difference will be too marginal to make it worth offshoring.
     

  • Confucius say (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Profane MuthaFucka (574406) <busheatskok@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @01:08PM (#24676739) Homepage Journal

    Confucius say "Job is like a woman. Smartest programmer in world cannot keep job from leaving if it wants to."

  • Survivors (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slashdapper (896470) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @01:08PM (#24676753)
    Learning new software, programming languages, code-katas or whatever is NOT going to help.
    Indians have access to the internet too, you know.
    They can learn all this new stuff and provide the same service cheaper.

    Some random points:
    (1) People who code, administer or test will not survive. If you write/fix any kind of code or scripts or do any kind of testing at least once a day your job is in danger.

    (2) People who are unable to create something from nothing will not survive. If you need a well-defined set of requirements and design before you can do your work, your job is in danger. If you need someone else to take some vague problem from the customer/boss and come up with a solution that you can implement, your job is in danger. If, however, you invent solutions, you will be fine.

    (3) People with inability to solve problems will not survive. This goes to general smartness/intelligence. If you are the kind who can use a cool-head and solve most of problems (job-related or not) through a combination of steps such as keeping a cool head, knowing what to do, who to approach etc, you will be fine. Many problems are tough but you would be surprised to see many people give up before they even take a stab at the easy ones.

    As an example: Here is a problem given to you by a customer: "Size the work effort that you personally will require to install DB2 on my AS400 box"

    Bad answer: We are a C++ coding shop. We dont do DB2 admin. We dont know how to size this.
    Good answer: 6 months (cuz we have to learn all the shit first)

    (4) People who will survive are those who can talk to customers to elicit business requirements, design tecnhnical solutions and coordinate project activities - not people who know how to change a config file to get Linux to play mp3 files.

    (5) Good-looking people who can talk with management and customers in a confident non-geeky way in perfect English will survive.

    (6) If you can relate well with people and can get them to do favors for you, you will survive. If you are the type of person who ends up leading meetings and discussions, you will survive.

    (7) If your job is in IT but deals with some kind of calculation involving dollars at least once a day, you will survive.
    • "As an example: Here is a problem given to you by a customer: "Size the work effort that you personally will require to install DB2 on my AS400 box""

      DB2 is already installed on your AS/400 box by default - it's part of the OS.
        This would show me the customer is a DULT and doesn't know anything about the system they bought/use.

      (I'm a former AS/400 operator/Administrator/RPG developer - Turned Java programmer).

    • Re:Survivors (Score:4, Insightful)

      by syousef (465911) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @05:02PM (#24681195) Journal

      People who code, administer or test will not survive.

      Wrong. Pure and simple. People who code badly, administer inflexibly or test poorly won't survive, but that's always been the case. People outsource, realise it's not actually as good, then insource again. I keep hearing about these jobs disappearing but every time I've been even remotely in danger of being outsourced I've learnt new skills and moved to a coding job that was more secure.

      People who are unable to create something from nothing will not survive. If you need a well-defined set of requirements and design before you can do your work, your job is in danger. If you need someone else to take some vague problem from the customer/boss and come up with a solution that you can implement, your job is in danger. If, however, you invent solutions, you will be fine.

      You're not describing "creating something from nothing". You're discribing being a good analyst/programmer (with some emphasis on the analysis part). If you code like a monkey you won't survive, nor should you. However most good designs aren't innovative. Most businesses do very similar things - capture data, store data, retrieve it and display it, consolidate and report on it. A good understanding of how things work in business in general is more important than the ability to innovate.

      People with inability to solve problems will not survive.

      This is the same as your last point. No they won't survive. Nor should they.

      Good answer: 6 months (cuz we have to learn all the shit first)

      If you're competing on that basis you won't survive either. There are people in outsourcing companies that either know the technologies you need to learn, or will claim to know them even if they don't. However if you can convince the company that learning a new skill set is going to be beneficial in he long term on multiple projects you're a step closer to being more viable. Better still if you can provide a compelling argument that you should do the job using a skillset you already have, the idea of outsourcing the work becomes less attractive.

      People who will survive are those who can talk to customers to elicit business requirements, design tecnhnical solutions and coordinate project activities - not people who know how to change a config file to get Linux to play mp3 files.

      Nope. People who survive will know how to do BOTH.

      Good-looking people who can talk with management and customers in a confident non-geeky way in perfect English will survive.

      Perfect English is not a requirement. English that is easy to understand, and difficult to confuse is. Good-looking is only a requirement if your job is going to require communication outside the company because that's when it's important. However most managers will hire a glue eating geek that doesn't shower if his job has limited scope and exposure. They will however prefer someone with basic hygeine that doesn't look like crap as they're more versatile. You don't need to be on magazine covers or have the elocution of a British royal. Just dress well, take care of the basics and put on some cologne.

  • Tuition benefit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MetricT (128876) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @01:12PM (#24676825) Homepage

    This is overlooked by too many people. I'm a physicist/computer guy by training, but I decided to broaden my employability a bit. I used my employer's tuition discount to take some business classes at the local community college, enjoyed them, and went on to earn a MBA at Vanderbilt at nights/weekends. I've started taking pre-med classes at the community college partly for fun, but also because Nashville is a major medical town and I suspect it will increase my employability even more.

    I get a 70% discount on a 3 hour class. At the local community college, that works out to ~$300 per class including the textbook. That's $900 a year. That's a no-brainer in my book. I've never bought an asset, never owned a stock, never owned a mutual fund, that has a higher rate of return than my brain.

    While I don't think my job is going to India anytime soon, you can't be sure about tomorrow, and why wait until tomorrow when you can do something about it *today*. Most people ignore their tuition benefit. I'm sure most people fail to fund their 401K to the company match too; that's not the company's fault. Take control.

  • Play poker for a living.
  • ob South Park :-)

    Quick, everyone have gay sex...

    filthy goobacks.

  • by porky_pig_jr (129948) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @01:22PM (#24677019)

    It's all fault of John McLaughlin!

  • The author is plain wrong. Learning new languages and tools improves your skills, yes. But that won't reduce the risk of your job getting outsourced or increase your salary. It is all about perception. Someone is valuing and someone decides whose jobs are getting outsourced. What that person, or group of persons, think is your value to the company is the only thing that matters. You might be the best employee at the company working with a team of incompetents that takes all your glory, then it doesn't matte

  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @03:01PM (#24678827)

    This is a touchy subject for everyone, I'm sure. However, you have to admit there's some good nuggets of advice in there.

    My background is in systems administration and engineering. We're not as bad off as software developers...yet. But I do know the day will come when it will be deemed too expensive to hire anyone but the best from my field locally too. Right or wrong, short-sighted or not, no one can compete with the greater numbers of lower-paid workers in other parts of the world. Look at what happened to manufacturing -- that's coming for almost every non-management job in the US and Europe. It's a done deal, we let it happen, and now we have to work with the resulting landscape.

    So, if you want to stay employed, you have a couple of choices.

    • You could get out of the IT field and into something else, technical or non-technical. This country desperately needs good math and science teachers, for example.
    • You could go into management. It's stable, and you'll never be out of work if you can do the whole politics thing. (Not my bag though -- to me, IT project management is all about meetings, conference calls and bugging people you don't control to get things done.)
    • You could constantly improve your skills and become a true expert at what you do. That's one of the things the review of the book is advocating, and I think it's critical.

    I freely admit that I'm not a big fan of outsourcing...projects take way too long because of the language barrier, incomplete requirements, and the difficulty of coordinating efforts. BUT...it's here. Instead of fighting and complaining about it, work within the system you're given. Become really good at what you do. Study. Keep learning outside of your skill set. Get yourself a reputation for being a problem solver.

    Why do I say this? One of the tips was to never put your eggs in one basket. That's excellent advice. I'm constantly learning outside of my specialty because I know Microsoft isn't going to be the king forever.

    Anyone who's tried hiring people lately knows that the field is still full of people who truly don't understand things beyond the narrow scope of duties they have. These are the "eggs in one basket people" and the most likely to be replaced if they are deemed too expensive. I would much rather hire a natural troubleshooter and problem solver who can figure out the details of a system after reading the manuals and playing a little. The innate ability has to be there. Everything else is teachable.

    Some specialization is good too. You have to balance the need to be a good generalist with having a current, in-depth subset of your skills that you can market. Look at all the OpenVMS and IBM mainframe consultants out there. They print their own paychecks going from one weird specialist project to the other. Along the way, they pick up skills.

    In summary, stay educated to stay employed. Never assume your job situation won't change, and be ready for anything.

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