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Mixed Signs On the State of IT Education

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the you-get-what-you-pay-for dept.

Education 257

snydeq writes "Advice Line's Bob Lewis comments on the mixed state of IT education in the US, which sees some students graduating with computer-related degrees despite never having written a line of code. And while some institutions are emphasizing the value of teamwork in their curricula, an approach that fosters specialization in lieu of uniform standards, others are simply advertising their 'success rates' in graduating students. 'Education is a marketplace, and if you have the money and want to buy, you can find someone willing to sell,' Lewis writes. In other words, 'If you want a degree that indicates you know something about computers without having to actually know very much about computers, you can get one.'"

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257 comments

Or you could get an MSCE (5, Funny)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356278)

An MSCE is much cheaper and it also indicates you know something about computers without having to actually know very much about computers.

Re:Or you could get an MSCE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32356296)

Degrees are overrated.

Re:Or you could get an MSCE (5, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356378)

When I have people applying for roles here, I have found some rather funny perceptions, in the way that we look at a degree and the person with the degree looks at their degree.

For me, if someone is applying for a role and they have a related degree, I assume that they probably know a little about the theory behind it, but have no clue in terms of how the real world functions. For those with certificates, I generally have an even lower opinion.

Most kids fresh with a degree assume they know just about all there is to know about that field.

The amusing part comes when they find out that even with their degree, they basically come in at the bottom rung of the ladder - a large number seem to think that because they have a relevant degree, they will start off in middle management or a team lead role.

Degree or no degree, when you come to work here, you pretty much start at the bottom and have to prove to everyone that you are actually capable of doing the job we hired you for. That often means working under people without degrees, but ones with years of experience in the real world. For a lot of kids fresh out of uni, that's a bitter pill to swallow it seems.

Re:Or you could get an MSCE (4, Informative)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356720)

Most kids fresh with a degree assume they know just about all there is to know about that field.

Huh? That hasn't been my experience. Most fresh-faced college graduates in my experience tend to be extremely nervous and well-aware of their lack of experience.

Re:Or you could get an MSCE (4, Interesting)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357094)

Huh? That hasn't been my experience. Most fresh-faced college graduates in my experience tend to be extremely nervous and well-aware of their lack of experience.

I should have specified it in my post I guess, while my background has been in software development, I work under the business side of my company at the moment in a solution and business application role, so the majority of degrees we deal with are business (logistics mainly) based. It probably does make a significant difference in attitudes.

Re:Or you could get an MSCE (0, Flamebait)

somenickname (1270442) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357322)

I think it depends on several factors. 22 year old kids with a bachelors in CS from a state school are usually bright eyed and eager to learn. If they come from "prestigious" tech schools and "settle" on a company that isn't a household name, they are usually aghast that they aren't everyones manager a year into the job as they've over-engineered every piece of software they've been tasked to write and treat even seasoned veterans as if they don't know what they are talking about.

Also be wary of anyone with a Masters in Computer Science getting their first industry job. Be sure to grill them about why they aren't getting their Ph.D. Often it's because they were good enough to get to the Masters level but couldn't get into a Ph.D. program. Those kinds of people often end up being overly expensive dead weight as they try to turn their job into their own personal Ph.D. program.

Re:Or you could get an MSCE (5, Interesting)

Calsar (1166209) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356996)

I've actually seen this more from people who don't have a degree. I've had several people apply for jobs that think they are geniuses because they taught themselves to program. I should have kept an email one of them sent me a few years ago after I told him he didn't have the skills to be a senior developer. He went off about how how he starting programing when he was 15 and how awesome he was. By the way WTF and STFU are not proper acronyms for business correspondence. All the top developers in the company started programming when they were teenagers, then they went on to get degrees, and then they still need at least another 6 years of experience before I categorize them as senior level. Some people have 20 years and they still never make it to senior level. The only exception I've seen is a kid who started working for me when he was 16 and worked 30 hours a week while he finished out high school and then college. He actually had 6 years of experience by the time he graduated.

I can usually get an idea of skill level by talking to people, but occasionally people are just good talkers. So I have a coding test. I give them a simple set of requirements and set them down in front of an IDE and have them write an application. The requirements are to display a list of users with add, edit, and delete capabilities. The test takes an hour and it doesn't have to compile or be complete. I'm just looking for how people approach it. I've had people actually complete the application in an hour using XML as a data store, others may get a few classes written, some people produce nothing or cut and paste something from the internet that makes no sense. This weeds out the talkers from the doers very quickly.

Re:Or you could get an MSCE (5, Interesting)

scamper_22 (1073470) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357118)

We just went through an interview cycle.
It was bad...
I'm not a great software engineer... but I'm a decent one.

The hardest thing I ever had to do was go through these resumes. Everyone seems to know the game. I compare there resume to mine, and yeah.... I couldn't tell the difference.

Two of our candidates had masters degrees in computer science. Couldn't even talk about variable scoping. It wasn't a trick question or anything. I was blown away. I had a literal WTF going on in my head. Are universities that desperate for funding and grad numbers, they will pass anyone.

The other spend 10 years at a bank doing ASP.NET development. The first question I ask people... is what topic would you like me to ask you a question on? So I ask him what little I know of web development... (impersonation, authentication, how do get a message box up...)
I was amazed at how you spend 10 years doing development and not learn anything.

Another I thought would be a good guy to train. He had 5 years at Nortel... seemed like he had hardware exposure. Lots of fancy words on his resume... nothing behind it.

We have a coop student now in her 3rd year at the University of Waterloo (my university... a supposed top engineering university in Canada)... calls me up to solve a problem. I help her out... I tell her to step through some code... she says what? Apparently she has never ran a debugger before. Hooooowwwwwww!!!!

I almost feel the pain HR and recruiters must go through. I'm sure somewhere in the bank of resumes we get are some good candidates... how we'd find them... no idea.
To an extent, I saw it coming as software is viewed more and more as a commodity job. Top talent is not going to enter the field. Top talent has gone back to traditional medicine, legal...The industry could burn through some of the older better trained talent from the old days... but those candidates are dwindling in number. I'm still in Canada, and all we have left are 45 year old ex-Nortel people and the last bits of talent from the tech boom of the late 90s.

And now we have a talent shortage. And you can't replace a grade A engineer with a grade C project manager, a grade C product manager, a grade C requirements analyst, a several grade C programmers.
Nothing gets done. It's like taking all the C students you had in high school and seeing if they can somehow solve the complex calculus problem. Some jobs just require high caliber individuals.
You can't replace a good lawyers with a team of secretaries and a requirements analyst either.

But I digress in my frustrations :P Maybe the industry just needs some good consolidation and the good people can form good teams again.
And maybe... just maybe... we can get back to having senior engineers, and real mentors, and training people.... ah the dream world I live in.

Re:Or you could get an MSCE (2, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357380)

I really liked the end of your post. It's so true. You can't slot it different people into different roles and just expect them to work to the same levels, and you certainly can't expect that a C grade person will work as well as an A grade person.

And maybe... just maybe... we can get back to having senior engineers, and real mentors, and training people.... ah the dream world I live in.

You can. Learn to network. Go in, do your best. Don't be afraid to take extra work to get things done. This will earn you kudos with everyone. As you work with these people, try to determine who the A grade guys are and who is the next level down, and then the next one down again and so on. Now, when you need something done, ask the good guys for help, but try to make it as easy for them as possible. Go out of your way to make their job easy if you are the one asking for the favor. Be sure to return favors when they ask for things in return.

Pay attention to the little things. Need a half hour of someone's time with a solution? Bring them a coffee. Arrange meetings where it will be easy for the OTHER person to be. Above all, treat them like PEOPLE, not resources - even if you outrank them.

That sort of little shit, that stuff REALLY gets noticed by others. That's when you get your "good people" work together.

Re:Or you could get an MSCE (1)

scamper_22 (1073470) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357618)

"You can. Learn to network. "

I hear that. If there's one thing I'd have changed about my university life, it would have been better networking. During that time, I had a stutter, so it didn't come naturally to me.

But it's constant improvement. Doing presentations, toastmasters... talking to various groups at work...

C'est la vie.

Re:Or you could get an MSCE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32357822)

What kind of developers and skills are you specifically looking for, and how hard is it to get a work visa in Canada?

Lesdyxia? (2, Informative)

Pezbian (1641885) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356322)

Sure you don't mean "MCSE"?

Re:Lesdyxia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32357074)

I put the "sexy" in "dyslexia"!

Re:Or you could get an MSCE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32356354)

Yeah, but any "qualified" Indian employee won't just have every possible certification from Microsoft, but they will also have every certification from Sun, Oracle, RedHat, Cisco, and even some from long-dead companies like DEC and Apollo that never even offered certification.

Re:Or you could get an MSCE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32356370)

An MSCE is much cheaper and it also indicates you know something about computers without having to actually know very much about computers.

A previous employer of mine rejected all resumes listing MCSE certification. Having an MCSE cert does say something about you, but probably not what you think it does.

Re:Or you could get an MSCE (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32356616)

A previous employer of mine rejected all resumes listing MCSE certification. Having an MCSE cert does say something about you, but probably not what you think it does.

Wow, that really sounds like someone I want to work for.

People who judge others based on any education, degree, cert or lack of either, are usually people who suck to work for. They know next to nothing themselves, have no confidence in their own abilities and base their self worth completely on previous "accomplishments" like what college they attended or what degree they have.

Also, programming isn't IT. The lack of proper definition is one of the main problems with the industry.

Re:Or you could get an MSCE (4, Funny)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356400)

An MSCE is much cheaper and it also indicates you know nothing about computers without having to actually know very much about computers.

There, fixed that for you.

Re:Or you could get an MSCE (1)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356544)

Pretty much. If I have a co-worker with an MCSE I tend to be very sceptical of their abilities.

The basic problem with certification programs... (4, Interesting)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356530)

Every certification test I've ever taken measures, not knowledge, but rote memorization. Seems that the tests are created by people with no understanding of the subject matter. Questions are created by simply taking material literally from the study material, context and real-world applicability be damned.

As long as you can remember the study materials (especially the company specific terminology) long enough to get through the test, you pass. Understanding/knowing anything useful gets you nowhere.

Re:The basic problem with certification programs.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32356716)

Re:The basic problem with certification programs..about having to take the CISSP. It proves that I can memorize. That buys me nothing, but costs me something. I am surrounded by people who have passed who understand nothing about computers.

Re:The basic problem with certification programs.. (1)

Xacid (560407) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357122)

Funny thing is that I work with a guy who has been with us for about 2 years supporting our systems and still can't pass his network+...

While I mostly agree I do prefer to see someone with some sort of certs, even if it isn't a direct correlation of transferrable knowledge. What I do see out of it is someone not only willing to learn, but is capable of learning (as opposed to the guy I work with who can be a pain to show new things). It definitely shows you know a *basic* understanding of the information in many aspects.

I met another guy who got his degree from one of these supposed technical schools and didn't know how to navigate any of the basic tools in win (traceroute, ping, nbtstat, etc) let alone *nix, but thinks he's the king of networking.

The best people I've met are those with straight up work experience and a couple of certs here and there.

Re:Or you could get an MSCE (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32356672)

I'd just like to comment, as much as the MCSE gets knocked around. If you actually DO the coursework you WILL know lots about the software and networking computers of computers beyond the average joe. I've known programmers that DON'T KNOW much about anything when it comes to PC's and they can program alright, it's the effort you put into understanding that determines whether you end up knowing anything or not with anything anyone does.

If you just binge and purge for the tests and don't really have an interest in computers then yes you will not know much about computers. But I still have all my old MCSE course materials with TCP/IP essentials, and if anyone told me MCSE taught you nothing about computers I'd have to slap them silly.

While many aspects of MCSE can be memorized this does not mean the course contains no knowledge worthwhile like most people seem to think.

Re:Or you could get an MSCE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32356796)

In all seriousness, has this improved??

I've known a few MCSEs. Some of them didn't understand how subnets worked. Others could explain TCP packet headers and NetBIOS protocols correctly. I at first assumed that the good ones knew what they were doing before taking the tests, but they'd actually learned their stuff in the coursework.

I remember the explosion of tech schools in the Nineties... Maybe the MCSE got a bad rep because of the certification mills rather than the worth of the cert itself.

So how did the ones that couldn't explain a subnet mask or iSCSI or DNS manage to pass the tests?

Re:Or you could get an MSCE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32357096)

These days getting a MCSE, CCNA, A+ is part of getting an IT/IS degree at many colleges.

Re:Or you could get an... MCTS (1)

mcferguson (733767) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357576)

Oops, MCSE does not really exist anymore. Microsoft's new certification lines are "MCTS" and "MCITP". [microsoft.com] And if those are a joke (the TS line is pretty easy -- ITP somewhat more challenging), then I'm sure the Linux certs, in whatever form they come, are equally useless or useful in determining your level of knowledge. Hell, even someone with 5+ years of "work experience" may be a complete joke... but you've got to go on SOMETHING, right?

No kidding (1, Troll)

DrugCheese (266151) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356340)

I don't think I've come across a person with a programming degree yet that I'd call a programmer. But they sure know how to use MS Office!

You can buy a piece of paper (4, Funny)

Frequency Domain (601421) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356390)

but it won't take long for prospective employers to discover that it has utility only if it is perforated and comes on a roll.

Re:You can buy a piece of paper (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356494)

Yeah, but you know how much of a pain in the ass it is to actually fire someone? Most companies will only push the useless programmers around a lot and hope they quit. If they can bluff their way through an interview, they're pretty much set for life.

What? (1, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356428)

And while some institutions are emphasizing the value of teamwork in their curricula, an approach that fosters specialization in lieu of uniform standards

Wouldn't "teamwork" have the opposite effect - emphasizing uniform standards over specialization? A more individualistic approach would encourage specialization more, one would think. Also, the whole premise seems a bit off. "IT" encompasses many things, programming is not involved in all of them.

Re:What? (2, Insightful)

shimage (954282) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356512)

I believe the idea is that an individualistic program requires that individuals know everything, whereas those in a team can specialize since your team mates will handle the things you can't.

Re:What? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356538)

What IT job involves no programming?
Here even the Helpdesk folks automate stuff via simple scripts and even some fairly basic C++ programs.

Re:What? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356728)

What IT job involves no programming?

Hardware assembly/repair, database entry, web content (via CMS), training, project management, CEO, CTO. The list is nearly infinite. I'd go out on a limb to say that the majority of IT jobs probably don't involve any programming.

Re:What? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356768)

None of those I would call IT.

Those are mostly management and data entry. The only exception is the hardware assembly/repair and that is just a factory job, not IT.

Re:What? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356810)

None of those I would call IT.

Then you have a very unusual idea of what IT is. It is work relating to technology used for information. Even a librarian in a library that doesn't have any computers counts.

Those are mostly management and data entry.

The management of an IT company has nothing to do with IT? Data entry has nothing to do with IT? How do you use IT if you don't get the data in?

The only exception is the hardware assembly/repair and that is just a factory job, not IT.

People who make house calls to repair someone's PC is somehow a "factory job"? You're not making a lot of sense.

Re:What? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356882)

I might indeed have an unusual idea of what IT is.

A librarian is not in IT, they are just librarians. They have lots of information not much technology.

Management of IT companies has little to do with IT, most of the managers no nothing about IT. they manage like in every other firm by the numbers or by the idiotic book their kinds likes this year.

Data entry is to IT like fry cook at mcdonalds is to the culinary industry.

People who make house calls may indeed be in IT. I did not consider that what you had meant, I envisioned refurb depots.

Re:What? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356982)

A librarian is not in IT, they are just librarians. They have lots of information not much technology.

They have heaps of technology. Their entire world is based around the printed word, which is one of the most revolutionary technologies ever invented. They know algorithms, like the Dewey decimal system. They know databases.

Data entry is to IT like fry cook at mcdonalds is to the culinary industry.

Right. A fry cook at McDonalds is definitely a part of the culinary industry.

You seem to be conflating "chef" with "member of the culinary industry." The problem is that "IT" is such a useless term, particularly these days, when nearly every job involves some level of IT.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32357292)

The OP seems to have a very closed mind view as to what IT is. I think the word is called elitist and I bet he probably doesn't do well on a team. /cue the "I'm a project leader with 20 years of yarg yarg yarg. "

Re:What? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357906)

Most of the hardware people I know at least know a bit of programming. It's a useful skill for a project manager so they can at least review and understand the work being done. Data entry is not traditionally considered IT (just because it's data and you use a computer doesn't make it IT, sales people do that too). True enough for web content and often for CxO

Then people would have to do their own work (1)

xzvf (924443) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356552)

Without teamwork, the majority of the team would have to do its own work. Now you find the dude in class that truly loves coding and technology, leach and get a good team grade. But what do I know, I was a poly sci major. Of course I've found that prisoner's delima, nuclear deterrence and brinkmanship are far more useful in IT than silly computer stuff.

Re:Then people would have to do their own work (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356844)

Without teamwork, the majority of the team would have to do its own work.

But with a team, you find a bunch of people with different abilities, so you are able to do a wide range of things. Pretty much the opposite of specialization.

Think of a sports team. You don't want the whole team to be specialists in the same thing, you want a team of people with different skills who can work together.

It's not just the diploma mills (4, Interesting)

JThaddeus (531998) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356434)

There are diploma mills that crank out such types for exorbitant fees--Phoenix U, Strayer, etc.--but I don't think the big names are exempt. I once met a University of Maryland College Park grad (B.S. in computer science) who didn't understand pointers and who couldn't grok hexadecimal math. These shortcomings notwithstanding, she was enrolled in their graduate program.

Re:It's not just the diploma mills (2, Funny)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356980)

I once met a University of Maryland College Park grad (B.S. in computer science) who didn't understand pointers and who couldn't grok hexadecimal math.

Obviously a real computer scientist. [l-w.ca]

Re:It's not just the diploma mills (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32357038)

Except a CS degree at UMCP requires coursework in C, so her lack of knowledge is rather surprising.

Re:It's not just the diploma mills (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357420)

I think that 5F% of the people don't grok hexadecimal math, but I agree that C.S. grads should be better informed.

Coding and computer-related degrees (5, Insightful)

lyinhart (1352173) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356478)

I'm not sure how Computer Science courses are at other educational institutions, but my school's Comp Sci program didn't focus much on programming at all. Everything was largely theoretical and we never did much programming at all. If you wanted to fine tune your coding skills, you'd have to do it on your own, or even better on co-op or internship.

Re:Coding and computer-related degrees (2, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356714)

The problem with missing coding skills is you also miss the dependent skills

a) debugging
b) refactoring
and the one they never get to
c) reuse/rework/repurpose
which leads to a greater appreciation of
d) documentation

Re:Coding and computer-related degrees (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32356776)

That's the problem with the computer science field. It's really two fields. Computer science which is more abstract and what your school focuses on. The other is software engineering. Those are the two broadest fields I can think of and even they have a decent amount of overlap.

Re:Coding and computer-related degrees (3, Insightful)

catmistake (814204) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357366)

Really, the problem isn't with the Computer Science field at all. Computer Science is a subset of the study of Mathematics. The problem is with the field of Information Technology, i.e. the field of Computer Practice. The number of IT programs at universities has probably expanded, but many are masquerading as a C.S. program, but in reality Computer Science is ill equiped in either case to fill the field of IT, whether it's theory or software design (it's never really been engineering), I would compare it to expecting medical schools to somehow fill all the roles of the entire medical field, including orderlies, nurses to physicians assistants and pharmacists.

Re:Coding and computer-related degrees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32356828)

I did some comp sci. courses at the University of Victoria in Canada and you sure had to code well to get through, including pointers. It is not a Ivy League school but the theory was that in order to code well, you have to be able to code fast under pressure.

But I thought we had out sourced all of this coding stuff to India? Only managers and sales people and lawyers are left, unless you enjoy working for less money those are the things you do.

Re:Coding and computer-related degrees (1)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356886)

Anecdotal, but in my intro CS course we did quite a lot of programming. Simple programming, but programming nonetheless. Almost all of the labs involved creating or debugging some kind of simple C++ program. Everything else we covered in the course (particularly the first half) was supplementary: circuits, logic, pseudocode, bin/hex/dec, etc.

It seemed to be a fairly popular course, but before long almost half of the class had dropped out upon discovering it wasn't a cakewalk (at least for non-geeks). The remainder of the class had a B+ average. Funny that.

this is where eu education system is much better (0)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356950)

this is where eu education system is much better as they have good vocational systems had real hands on work vs lot's of theoretical stuff and big class at most US schools and it to bad HR looks down on the tech / vocational schools hear in us and even more so on people who may have 2-4 years doing jobs get passed over for some with 0-1 years on the job and 4 year BS that may not even be in tech.

Re:Coding and computer-related degrees (1)

lcllam (714572) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357708)

The theory does help when writing code, though. At least the code doesn't look like a bunch of cut and pasted examples. It also helps in optimizing and what CS people refer to as 'elegant' solutions to complex problems. I'd say the theory helps one become a better, more 'complete' coder than one is, without it. I don't think the OP is grumbling about the lack of coding experience. See my other post for my take on the matter.

Time to drop the need BS to get a low level job as (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356528)

Time to drop the need BS to get a low level job as the school part most of the time is far from that work on the job is like.

Re:Time to drop the need BS to get a low level job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32356602)

Has anyone really been far as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

where do you get these degrees? (1)

shimage (954282) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356580)

I would expect that employers would quickly discover which institutions are crap and which ones aren't which makes the diploma worth more-or-less what you put into it ... But then I am in a relatively small field with a degree from a relatively well-known institution.

Re:where do you get these degrees? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32356646)

ITT

Re:where do you get these degrees? (1)

Pezbian (1641885) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356744)

*Nods*

Learned more in high school with my IE teacher mentoring me than I did at that triumph of marketing "college". When your class is full of forty-somethings who blew their backs out at the steel mill and need to be taught which end of a soldering iron to hold, as opposed to people who aren't there just because "I heard electronics pays well" that's a pretty big clue you've been had.

I feel dirty.

Re:where do you get these degrees? (1)

shimage (954282) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356938)

Sounds like a worthless degree, which brings me back to my original assertion: schools that produce worthless graduates are selling worthless degrees.

Re:where do you get these degrees? (1)

Pezbian (1641885) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357630)

*nods again*

Even though it sounds like you're calling me worthless there, I'd agree with that sentiment if it weren't for the training I did pre-ITT and my lifelong passion for "fixing broken stuff". When an eight year old learns how to solder, it means something.

Having ITT on my resume opened few doors for me. It took years to get a proper job related to my field, but every experience from lowly solder monkey to SMT line operator to rework cell lead to full-on tech has been worth it since it helped me trace some nasty process issues that were costing some serious money.

Re:where do you get these degrees? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32357820)

no..the initial screen is just "degree from accredited institution?".. Check.. send for interviews.

Enter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32356670)

MBA-MOT (Management of Technology)...

HR looks downtech schools that have more work done (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356678)

HR looks down on tech schools that have more work done that is like what is done on the job while the big schools that have way less and lots more non tech / non core filler are placed higher.

Re:HR looks downtech schools that have more work d (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356710)

No, the big schools just make you do both. They also often require co-ops. ITT on the other hand will show you the windows way to do it and teach you no theory or basics. This means you can solve that problem but not figure out how to solve problems.

Re:HR looks downtech schools that have more work d (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356758)

Yeah, but ITT grads tend to gravitate towards jobs where hands-on work is far more important than theory. I think the for-profit technical schools serve a valuable niche, or could if they weren't almost universally overpriced to the point where they're not worth it for anyone.

Re:HR looks downtech schools that have more work d (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356808)

Honestly, I think most of those jobs are gone. Even our helpdesk folks have a good grasp on lots of basic theory. They may not be able to build a shift register, but they could tell you how a netmask works or why spanning tree is important.

Re:HR looks downtech schools that have more work d (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356820)

I should mention one is a college student and disappointed graduate of ITT the other has an EE degree.

It's getting better in some places (4, Informative)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356778)

I just wanted to provide a counterargument to the gloom-and-doom scenarios that are probably going to permeate this page: I'm studying for my CS degree at an Ivy League school right now, and the University actually just completed a major overhaul of the requirements for CS, which I think are a major improvement. I know Slashdotters love to complain about how useless college graduates are when they first enter the workplace, but I'm optimistic that I can be at least somewhat handy when I end up getting a job.

The biggest change is that you're now required to declare a concentration, ranging from pretty specific (Database Programming), to very general (Security), there are about fifteen of them and you can create your own with approval from your advisor. This means that everyone is still required to take the theoretical courses (which are useful, no matter what the curmudegons say: I'm a way better programmer than I was before I took algorithms and lambda calculus), but now has time to do tons of practical programming in their field of choice: many of the lecture classes now have 1- or 2-credit electives alongside them which are nothing but semester-long practical projects (for one course in particular, we actually have to find someone not affiliated with the CS department, who needs software written for them, and write it, with our grade dependent on the client's satisfaction- definitely not an academic cookie-cutter project), and in many cases these are now required rather than optional. In addition, while the low-level CS classes (which are taken by all kinds of people across the University, not just CS majors, and so sort of have to be dumbed-down) are junk like PHP and writing Swing GUIs with Java, we have to fight it out with C and Ocaml in many of the more advanced classes.

Again, before a million people complain about how naive I'm being, I'm not saying I'm going to walk out with my degree as a world-class programmer or that I won't have plenty to learn in the real world, I'm just saying that this trend towards easier programming languages and more hand-holding isn't occurring everywhere. And yes, most schools aren't the Ivy League, but if the market demands curricula like this from higher education, it will trickle down. There's hope yet.

Re:It's getting better in some places (0, Troll)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356838)

Yet, your little sig shows how ignorant you are.
Both of those are real world tools used by many in your chosen field to do actual work.

So, what skills ARE needed in this field? (1)

BlueBoxSW.com (745855) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356890)

If degrees aren't covering what needs to be taught, what ARE the main objectives that would produce the best functioning graduates?

The ability to keep learning. (2, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357190)

If degrees aren't covering what needs to be taught, what ARE the main objectives that would produce the best functioning graduates?

You'll see it all over. People with "20 years" of "experience" who really have 1 year of experience 20 times over.

Next up would be the ability (and desire) to dig to FIND problems. Not just "it compiles" or "it doesn't crash".

After that would be the ability to think in pluralities. Anyone can handle a single system with a single purpose used by a single user. Can you scale to multiple servers? Multiple users? With multiple services?

And finally, maintenance. Design your design ... to make maintenance easy. Implement your design ... to make maintenance easy. Design and implementation are fun. Maintenance is a bitch. Now people are using it and it is "business critical" and you only have a maintenance window of 1 hour at 11pm on Sunday.

Even if you are NOT perfect at all of the above ... at least be aware of them and WORKING to improve your abilities in them.

Is there a IT degree that teaches outsourcing? (-1, Offtopic)

Rivalz (1431453) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356926)

If it is good enough for the fortune 500 companies to hire workers that have no degree, no experince, and little language skills than why bother going to school.

It's the opposite of the old complaint... (2, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357024)

Now we are complaining that people with

computer-related degrees despite never having written a line of code.

Previously we complained about

computer-related degrees despite not knowing how to troubleshoot a hardware problem or even turn a computer on

So in other words, educators responded to complaints by changing curriculum. We now have some computer-related degrees that have programming as an optional trait rather than a required trait.

And on top of that, what is a "computer-related degree" anyways? CSci would seem to fit that; how about Computer Engineering? Or an IS Management degree?

Repeat After Me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32357046)

A Computer Science degree is not a degree in Programming.

Re:Repeat After Me (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357178)

Yabbut.. It should be a degree with lots and lots of programming and lots of software engineering process stuff and lots of crunchy math stuff, logic stuff, and data modelling stuff etc etc.

I expect good programming skill as one key outcome of such a degree. Any compsci degree program that isn't weeding out people who can't program fairly well is doing a disservice to their graduates (all of whose qualifications are being devalued) and to industry.

10 Years behind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32357098)

I majored in IT in order to get my associates and then switched over to Comp. Sci when I went for my bachelors. I don't like to code, it's not what I intend to do. However, it's been a prevalent requirement in my various courses and I've enjoyed it. It just simply isn't where I intended for my career to go.

Midway through my 2nd semester at university (After my associates), I became extremely discouraged by my professors knowledge and the curriculum itself. It wasn't a matter of just the curriculum being flawed or my professor being outdated. Typically it's one or the other. I just felt both were utterly irrelevant to the fields I intended to go into.

So, I went out and applied for IT jobs...and damn, I got one. I work at an extremely small shop for a mid sized company but it's allowed me to learn alot. I'm fairly savvy and pretty open minded when it comes to OS. So I managed to get primarily windows based network with some nice little freenas and trixbox action on our network when push came to shove.

I think it's simply a matter of willingness to learn on the fly. Alot of students see "Computer Science" as a thing you can take in school and just go with the rest of your life. It's constantly evolving though and you really gotta love it to stay on top of it imho.

I went to state schools (in new york). They're good...but I think it's extremely difficult to keep up with the demand of technology for educational institutions. Now, at 24...I find myself underpaid for my abilities and vastly overqualified...so I'm going back in the fall.

I don't expect to learn everything I want too, but I have much better idea of what's relevant and what isn't. So I know when to pay attention and when to go through the motions.

Also, before all the developers hate on me. I LIKE to code. I just couldn't imagine doing it as a job. I really enjoy web design...but after being coerced into designing a flash webpage for a charity my company is largely responsible for - I hate it. I can't deal with being forced to create things I disagree with as a whole. So I do IT and I like it. So, god bless all you programmers out there doing things in the name of end users who know...well, nothing.

I'm a bit on a tangent but I hope something relevant can be salvaged as I seem to fit the age group not represented in these comments.

Outsourcing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32357108)

It doesn't matter anyways.. more companies are going to other countries to hire IT workers.

Job applicants have cookie-cutter knowledge (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357110)

I'm noticing a lot of supposed comp sci bsc degree holders who are very superficial in their knowledge of, for example, basic object-oriented concepts. They seem to be parroting back certain terms like polymorphism, encapsulation etc without really understanding what they are or why the might be important.
Also, everyone says "java" skills, j2ee etc but has no idea what, for example, the term "object-relational impedance mismatch" might mean.

All this bespeaks cookie-cutter exam-passing types of knowledge and a seeming lack of i-depth experience with the problems and issues encountered when doing serious system creation with software.
 

Re:Job applicants have cookie-cutter knowledge (3, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357272)

"has no idea what, for example, the term 'object-relational impedance mismatch' might mean."

I have to say, having gone through a real CS program (quite a while ago now) that covered everything from assembler to algorithm analysis and theoretical proofs, "object-relational impedance mismatch" set off the buzzword warnings.

A Google search confirmed my impression. The problem it describes is (sort of) real, but the term is idiotic. The kind of thing they'd put on one of these newfangled multiple guess CS exams.

Re:Job applicants have cookie-cutter knowledge (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32357284)

that's because comp sci isn't about creating software systems. that would be the "software engineering" major.

Re:Job applicants have cookie-cutter knowledge (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357732)

Yeah, well back in my comp sci degree days, we hewed software systems out of stacks of punch cards with our bare hands.

Just kidding. I missed that by maybe five years.

Re:Job applicants have cookie-cutter knowledge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32357392)

Dude, I don't know what that "object-relational impedance mismatch" thing means. It sounds like garbage. If I was asked a question about it, I would tell the interviewer that it is the stupidest question I've ever heard. I have 10 years of experience in OOP and so I know a fair bit about it. You need to take a step back and look for skills rather than jargon.

Re:Job applicants have cookie-cutter knowledge (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357714)

Actually, in the interview, I gave the candidate the choice of explaining what one of the following terms meant, roughly:

"Object-relational impedance mismatch"

"Polymorphic collection"

And it was 0/2 pretty much across the board.

I think what we have here are people who know how to drive cars, but don't know how to build cars.

We revamped our grad IT program to require coding (1)

trygstad (815846) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357114)

In the graduate program in Information Technology that I work with, we recently revamped the degree to make coding mandatory. Incoming grad students must pass a programming placement exam or complete an intermediate level (not beginning!) software development class, currently in Java or C++. We found we had a lot of students moving to IT with undergraduate degrees in electrical engineering who had seriously deficient coding skills so they were not able to make an adequate contribution in system and network security and voice over IP course projects.

We've always had a fairly robust coding and scripting requirement for our undergrads, who have to do introductory and intermediate Java, introductory C++, UNIX/Linux shell scripting in BASH or Perl, and Javascript. In the undergraduate program we cover all of the core elements of the Information Technology profession as defined by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the IEEE Computer Society [acm.org]:
IT Fundamentals
Programming
Human Computer Interaction
Databases
Networking
Websystems
Information Assurance and Security
Professionalism

Whats the best. (2, Interesting)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357136)

The MSCE shows you know how Microsoft works and that means nothing. Getting all the Cisco level cert's means you know how to read and pass a test and that means nothing. The best IT professionals teach themselves and come up with solutions that aren't in a textbook or in a slideshow. The best IT schooling is the one your give your self.

I've been taught by people with Masters in the IT field who know less then high school students and I've worked with people off the boat who put Gates and Linus to shame. In IT you know it or you don't and the best way to show it is to make a name for yourself.

Should IT require an education ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32357314)

Should IT require an education ??

If products and services are well designed, then it should be like reading time, driving a car, finding a book in a library, etc.

We have created an incredibly poorly designed infrastructure that requires a technician class knowledgeable in arcana to run it. Why cant we just make stuff that works ?

Thats not to say we don't need a *small* priesthood to make it work, but 99.99% of people shouldn't have to care.

How is this news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32357508)

Computer degrees have always been more of a red flag rather then an endorsement. Far more often then not someone with an actual degree got it because "programmers make a lot of money". Those with actual talent for the industry rarely bother wasting time and a great deal of money on a degree.

Computer people, regardless of specialty, need a talent for debugging far and above anything and everything else. If you can't investigate, research, and diagnose a problem then you shouldn't work in computing. From programmers and architects to system admins and managers, debugging is the #1 skill required. Absolutely nothing else matters whatsoever if that isn't there. Nothing. Zip.

And they just don't teach it in school.

Oddly, the only unifying aspect to good software people I've found is a strong background in music. Their field of degree, if any, hasn't been a fitness indicator of any real value. That isn't to say all musicians are good computer people, but (nearly) all good computer professionals are musicians.

Human Nature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32357574)

I have always been amazed by the "baffle them with bull" types. They always rise. Look at our politicians. Talent appears to be a hindrance!

What training is required for "Advice Line"? (2, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357678)

The original article is almost devoid of facts. What training is required to speak for "Advice Line"?

It's not at all clear what training is required for IT today? The Cisco "Rack Test"? How to fix broken Windows systems? J2EE programming? Linux server administration?

CS is even tougher. Robotics? AI? Machine learning? Graphics? Digital logic? "Cloud" programming? There are too many narrow niches. Pick the wrong one and you're toast.

How about 'Operations' degrees? (1)

lcllam (714572) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357794)

I believe the degrees that focus on technical skills and theory are not what the OP is commenting about. I've noticed there's a huge number of 'degrees' out there that are based on Operations, and not Engineering and Technical Skills. These typically have buzzwords in their titles and should be classified as such (Operations), and not confused with the 'pure' science and technical degrees.

In my country, the local universities churn out a number of dodgy-sounding 'degrees' such as Management Information Systems, Business Information Systems, etc. I actually have no idea what these are, but there's a preoccupation here with sitting in a desk in an office, versus doing the work. They sound 'managerial' and give the freshie a skewed viewpoint in that they expect to be leading teams of engineers and IT departments, all the members of which could probably talk them under the table in a technical conversation.

Seriously, I'm presently looking for great engineers to grow my practice, but everyone I talk to seems to want Google pay without Google technical skills. They want to be project managers and team leaders, yet confess they're 'not very technical' in the phone interview. They also have no answer to my follow up on how they expect to lead a team without understanding the work at hand. I've believed that great engineers manage themselves, with a good eye on the realities of the project and the customer interests. The 'project manager', if not having engineering background, is most likely redundant. No, please don't give me the 'engineers don't have time to manage themselves'.

My question to everyone is this: At what point did the engineers allow themselves to become the grunts of the industry?

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