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Businesses Programming The Almighty Buck

East Coast vs. West Coast In the Quest For Young Programming Talent 235

Posted by timothy
from the we're-all-in-the-same-chain-gang dept.
McGruber writes "The Wall Street Journal is reporting that tech interns are in high demand in the Bay area. According to the author, 'Technology giants like Google Inc. have been expanding their summer-intern programs, while smaller tech companies are ramping up theirs in response — sometimes even luring candidates away from college.' Meanwhile in NYC, CIOs lament that they are unable to retain 20-something techies according to a report in Network World. Says one CIO, 'It puts us in a really uncomfortable position to have this kind of turnover because knowledge keeps walking out the door. We invest in training people and bringing them up to speed to where they need to be, and boom they're gone. That has been my biggest struggle and concern.' It's the pay, stupid!"
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East Coast vs. West Coast In the Quest For Young Programming Talent

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  • err (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tsingi (870990) <graham.rick@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Saturday December 24, 2011 @09:33AM (#38481218)
    You get what you pay for. If you aren't keeping trainees, you aren't competing on salary. You would think that obvious, I guess it isn't.
  • by El Torico (732160) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @09:37AM (#38481228)

    This is from the article,

    No sooner does he hire a Java programmer and train him in the company's music industry niche, than the programmer is recruited away for a higher salary. Indeed, everyone on Trebino's six-person Java development team has less than one year of experience with HFA, which is the nation's leading provider of rights management, licensing and royalty services for the music industry.

    There's only so long you can compromise your principles.

    This is another gem,

    "They are looking for much more aggressive career development opportunities and the ability to learn new things quicker," says Lily Mok, vice president at Gartner for CIO Research. "Traditionally, it took two or three years for a person to move up into the next level in an organization. They want to be on a faster track than that. They don't want to stay in one spot for more than 12 or 18 months."
    Even when CIOs promote 20- and 30-somethings, they often don't have loyalty to the organization, Mok says.
    "Don't expect them to stay with you 15 or 20 or 30 years...That's not going to happen," Mok says. "They will stay with you as long as they see certain things, including personal growth or personal value enhancement, whether that's financial reward or career aspirations. But only think about being able to retain them for two or three years. If nothing happens, they will leave after their first year of employment."

    Of course Gartner has always had a gift for stating the obvious.

  • Re:err (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lalena (1221394) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @09:39AM (#38481248) Homepage
    Or maybe find a non 20-something that can program Java. They do exist and are more likely to stick around. They might even require less training. From TFA, it sounds like the CIO created his own problems by treating the web/java development team differently:

    It's been very mixed because I have two different development teams. I have the core developers, the RPG and LANSA developers, and they have five, 10, 15 years with the company. They are very well entrenched, they understand the music business, they understand the technology, and they understand how we relate to the music business. On the Java side, everyone right now has been here less than a year. We have excessive turnover for my Web-based team. It's a younger workforce. They have different needs, different requirements and different desires than our slightly older workforce. I'm seeing them being much more [transient.] It's much more challenging to get the newer generation of folks interested in trying to understand the business vs. looking only at the technology.

  • by decora (1710862) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @09:44AM (#38481274) Journal

    "We invest in training people and bringing them up to speed to where they need to be, and boom they're gone"

    as opposed to, say, employees who spend 30 years at a company, and then have their electronic ID turned off one day without anyone telling them, and someone sends them a text message saying 'we will mail you your stuff'.

    you just FIRED all those old people in order to make room for the 20 somethings, so that you wouldn't have to pay health insurance or deal with their maternity leave or, you know, ability to understand their rights as employees.

    you think the 20 somethings didn't see this happen? you think they don't know what you did? you think they don't understand how the game works?

    where did these kids learn to be disloyal? they learned it by watching you!!!!

  • Re:err (Score:5, Insightful)

    by frisket (149522) <peter.silmaril@ie> on Saturday December 24, 2011 @09:52AM (#38481316) Homepage

    They do exist and are more likely to stick around

    They certainly are. Hiring older people (assuming you pick the right ones) is a treble whammy: greater depth of experience, much lower training requirements, and no desire to be heading out the door in a few months (unless you dump on them). Downside: you have to pay them more. Upside: they'll probably be 100x more productive from day 1. Plus they know shit that the younger ones (and the CIO) simply have no clue about, which can save the company from making silly mistakes out of ignorance, if they're smart enough to take advice.

    Most CIOs, however, don't think like this. They lose. Game over. New game?

  • by Bogtha (906264) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @09:53AM (#38481330)

    He's got a > 100% annual staff turnover, and practically everything that comes out of his mouth screams "I have no clue about what people want even if it's common sense and even if they tell me to my face".

  • Career Advancement (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Philodoxx (867034) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @10:15AM (#38481462)

    I worked as a software engineer for 4 years at a fairly large software company after graduating university. The depressing reality is it's much easier to advance your career by switching jobs than it is by being loyal. I got a glowing review my first two years but did not result in a promotion. Meanwhile there were people who would leave the company, and come back a year later at +1 seniority level.

  • Nothing is new. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slasho81 (455509) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @10:16AM (#38481474)
    You pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 24, 2011 @10:23AM (#38481518)

    There is no such thing as "shortage" of anything. There is imbalance between bid and ask prices.
    "Shortage of specialists" = employers want too much work done for too little compensation, employees have a choice.
    "Unemployment" = employees want too much money for too little work, employers have a choice.
    Kinda symmetrical...

  • Re:err (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 24, 2011 @10:43AM (#38481654)

    The IT industry in North America has screwed the developers at every turn for the entire 30 years I've been in the industry.

    Post Y2K? Cut everyone's pay scales because the crisis was over.

    Florida in the early 90's? Cut everyone's pay because an Indian IT consulting firm moved into the region.

    Project over? Cut everyone's job instead of rolling them over to the new projects.

    With such an insulting lack of commitment to the employee by the IT industry, how can they imagine that their new employees would have any more commitment to them? And once they've got these 20-somethings "trained", do they increase their pay accordingly? No, they just expect them to keep working for the original pay scale and for obscenely long hours without any reward or recompense beyond the pay cheque they agreed to a couple years earlier.

    I have no sympathy for companies who treat their people so shabbily.

    There are good companies to work for, and I lucked into a few of those over the years, but they're the exception, not the rule. When you find a company that treats you well, you treat them well and build a reputation for yourself if you're smart about your career. Money is a short term goal; a career is a lifetime.

    msobkow -- Can I blame forgetting my password on age? :D

  • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @11:07AM (#38481852)

    and the other side of that is that new stuff isn't always better by a long way.

    I mean, look at the tools we're using to connect to this site - still using ethernet? surely we should have scrapped that ancient technology by now.... and the move towards thin clients with all the data held on the 'cloud'. Isn't that just mainframe style development all over again?

    A lot of the old guys will tell you that something is better, not because they're "stuck in the past" but because the techniques they're talking about really are better. There are too many 'latest fads' in IT today, often they become the biggest hyped up thing ever, and after a year or two everyone recognises that they were just bull.

    Ok, sure there are old guys who do reminisce about the past too much, but by the same token there are too many young guys who think that everything the currently exists is rubbish because they can do it better.

    The industry really needs to grow up and understand that building on what has gone before is beneficial, not to (continually) scrap it and start over again.

  • Re:err (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SonnyDog09 (1500475) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @11:10AM (#38481876)

    The only reason why they're aiming for young people is because they are dirt cheap compared to an experienced programmer.

    The most expensive thing in the world is cheap help.

  • Re:err (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @11:40AM (#38482044) Journal

    You can't exclusively forage. Sometimes, you need to plant.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @11:58AM (#38482176)

    In particular, be willing to keep up that sort of thing your whole life, including when you are older and it is harder to do. The reason is there ARE environments that value loyalty, and they'll look at your resume and see you have none. That won't automatically be a "no-hire" but it'll certainly put you behind others that don't job hop.

    The university department I work for is big on retention. Major pain in our ass every time we lose someone so we do what we can to hire people who will stick around. It is a good work environment. Pay isn't as good as private sector, of course, but benefits, hours, culture, all very good. I love it and I could conceive staying with it my whole life.

    So when we are hiring people, one of the things we look at is length of employment. If I see on your resume that you worked at one company for 10 years, that is a plus. Says to me you may stay put. If I see every job being two years or less, I'm not so interested. I don't want a new co-worker who will get all trained up, start to take on some real projects, work a bit on trying to improve things, and then leave for the next big thing, leaving us to find someone else to try and pick up the pieces.

    I have no ill will for people like that, I just don't want to work with them, not in this environment.

    Just consider things like that long term. Are you going to want to job hop when you are 40? 50? Because the more job hopping you do, and the longer you do it for, the harder it will be for you to find work at a place that doesn't care for that.

    Just remember there ARE work environments that value keeping people around, but they want to hire people who will stay around.

  • by seifried (12921) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @12:13PM (#38482270) Homepage

    Quoted from the interview:

    Years ago, when I was first out of college, IT guys worked round-the-clock. My guys work basically 9 to 5, so I find it interesting that people are complaining. The other big reason that people have left is flexibility. We have moderate flexibility. We do not have work-from-home arrangements all the time, only occasionally. The younger people want full flexibility.

    So essentially they're not willing to work unpaid overtime, and they want flexibility, which you won't give them, but other employers will. So they leave. And the manager is shocked. He even admits he knows all this. He even goes on to say:

    They don't have the same notion that you go to one place and you stay there for five, 10 or 15 years. But the incentives to do that aren't there anymore because there are fewer pension plans and less profit sharing.

    So he's also aware that profit sharing and pension plan improvements would help retain workers. These are easy things to implement (they require some paperwork but it's not like making a massive cultural change level of difficulty). In summary: the manager knows why his people won't stay (they want to work sane hours, be able to work from home, have pensions and profit sharing), but he is unwilling to make these concessions, so people leave after one year. He tops this all off by saying:

    The biggest point is to get them aware of and engaged in the new business opportunities here.

    How is it a business opportunity for the worker if they don't have profit sharing or a pension? And are expected to work unpaid overtime?

    The amount of fail here is staggering

  • Re:err (Score:-1, Insightful)

    by heinousjay (683506) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @04:20PM (#38484232) Journal

    For a bunch of whiners who want everything for free you people sure expect to be highly paid. Where does this money come from exactly, when you won't tolerate anything being sold? Maybe you expect the rich to donate to your life? (I know, there's no maybe about it. I've read your "manifestos.")

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 24, 2011 @06:54PM (#38485136)

    You are strong on emotion but weak on economics.

    Otherwise known as a "liberal".

"Gotcha, you snot-necked weenies!" -- Post Bros. Comics

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