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A Commencement Speech For 2013 CS Majors

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the enjoy-all-of-your-debt dept.

Education 144

blackbearnh writes "Most commencement speeches are long on platitudes and short on practical advice. O'Reilly blogger James Turner has tailored a speech aimed specifically at the current batch of graduating CS majors. Among the advice that the 35-year industry veteran offers are to find a small company for your first job, but not one that is going to burn you out. Also, keep learning new things, but don't fall into the trap of learning the flavor of the day technology. Quoting: 'Being passionate about software is critical to being successful, because the field is a constantly moving target. What will net you $130K today will be done by junior programmers in five years, and unless you're constantly adding new tools to your belt, you’re going to find yourself priced out of the market. ... You are rarely going to get an opportunity to have your current employer pay for you to learn things, so learn them on your own and be in a position to leverage the skills when a new project comes along. But if you have a passion for technology, you'll already be doing it, and enjoying it without needing me to tell you to."

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144 comments

My commencement address (5, Insightful)

Latent Heat (558884) | about a year ago | (#43844979)

Show up to work. 99 percent of success is being there.

Be resourceful. Find ways to do your job without complaint or constantly and chronically asking for the next task to be done.

Do these two things and your will be prosperous.

(sits down to great cheers for having ended the speech in 30 seconds)

Re:My commencement address (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845179)

Here's mine:

It is more important to drink at the bar with your bosses than it is to do a good job. And assume that someone is going to stab you in the back--so stab them first. If you can't climb the ladder, go to another company. Pad your resume if you need to. Survival of the fittest, baby!

Re:My commencement address (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845735)

That's pretty accurate, I remember some speaker telling us once that "it's not the grades that you make, it's the hands that you shake"

Then again, that wasn't a graduation speech, I guess that's not applicable here

Re:My commencement address (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43846563)

It wasn't "hands" that she was shaking, either ...

Re:My commencement address (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about a year ago | (#43845217)

Do your co-workers really just skip workdays? Really?

Or is this some sort of over-the-top job-hunting strategy? Are you suggesting they sneak into an office and start doing work? That would make an interesting gradient of workers: Full-time engineers -> contractors -> interns -> and then that office ninja who doesn't officially work here, doesn't have a desk, but can be assigned to do things now and then.

Yes they do (1)

justthinkit (954982) | about a year ago | (#43845449)

In one of my past jobs I covered for other staff when they "couldn't be there". In two years at one location I worked one year of overtime. That is, I worked 2,000 hours of overtime in two years covering for people who, generally, just didn't feel like working. Oh, and this was at a location where 11 people worked. Shift structure was 2 people on day, 2 on afternoon, 1 on night shift, times 7 days a week. 392 total hours for the week and I averaged working 60 of those. So yeah some people just skip work.

Re:Yes they do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43847735)

Not all of us want to stop living our lives and become work droids.

Re:My commencement address (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845531)

Posting AC, because I have run through the CS major gauntlet. I would recommend a list of things:

1: If not too late, get an internship. That is more important than GPA, since companies will know what you do.

2: Consider the competition. $30,000/year CCIE H-1Bs who do not have to deal with student loan payments. Try to work on something you have that they don't.

3: This sounds like an oxymoron... specialize, but don't become an insect. Specialists make a lot more money than a "jack of all trades", no matter what the certs.

4: Know what employers want. When I was unemployed, employers would ask: "Do you have a TS/SCI clearance that is current or a CISSP? No? Exit is to the right. Next in line, please."

5: Hide your tattoos and piercings (perhaps flesh colored.) I worked at places that would roundfile someone's resume on sight if they walked in with full sleeve inkwork or Monroe piercing. The hipster mustache isn't going to cut it, so consider a clean shaven look.

6: Have dummy Facebook and E-mail accounts at the ready. Employers will ask for username/PW access just so they can go through everything.

7: Watch your credit rating. There are three things that will get you SOL at a job interview, an *arrest* record [1], bad credit, or being on the HR blacklist (yes, there is a blacklist shared among companies, and one single off-color joke can get you on it and unhirable for life. It is treated just like the RBL anti-spam list -- try suing them, they will counter with the list just being used as an option for companies to use.)

8: Certs are more important than performance unless one does something epically bad (such as leaving time bombs behind.) The peers and supervisor see skill. The HR people and upper chain will see the pieces of paper and hire/promote/fire solely by that. In fact, I've had auditors come by, demand cert ID numbers from everyone in an IT department, then order people whose certs were not current to be fired on the spot, as "they didn't have credentials to operate the equipment". Consider it like a pilot's license, except it is the license to be on the locked side of the data center door.

9: Get known and specialized. Network, network, network (as in being social). The cert treadmill is a must, but once you are established, your name should be able to allow you to get work/promotions, not what random characters come after it.

10: Do NOT go for the master's or Ph.D. It means you find fewer jobs due to being "overqualified", and you have shitloads of student loan debt that will hound you for the rest of your life.

Remember: You are competing against people who can make $14/hour, and be far better ahead, who will come with RHCA, CCIE, CISSP, and other top-end certs, and the three letters H-1B make them the apple of HR's eyes, due to the fact that they are exempt from payroll and other taxes. Develop skills these people won't have.

[1]: Employers look at *arrest* records, and not *conviction* records, because "people can buy themselves an acquittal, but if the cop says they are guilty, they are guilty."

Re:My commencement address (3, Insightful)

Jockle (2934767) | about a year ago | (#43845717)

6: Have dummy Facebook and E-mail accounts at the ready. Employers will ask for username/PW access just so they can go through everything.

Run away from jobs like that, if at all possible.

Re:My commencement address (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#43846023)

1: If not too late, get an internship. That is more important than GPA, since companies will know what you do.

It is amazing how many college students don't understand that internships are by far their best chance of getting a good job when they graduate. More than half my company's programmers were once under-grad interns. Do an internship every summer. Before you accept one, ask them straight out how many interns they later offer full time positions. If you don't think it will lead to a job offer, don't take it. While interning, arrive early, stay late, and work your butt off. Think of it as a three month interview. As an employer, that is the way I see it.

5: Hide your tattoos and piercings (perhaps flesh colored.) I worked at places that would roundfile someone's resume on sight if they walked in with full sleeve inkwork or Monroe piercing. The hipster mustache isn't going to cut it, so consider a clean shaven look.

This may be true in the mid-west, but if you are applying for a job in SF's SOMA, a tattoo and at least a few piercings are practically required. If you don't have any, then use a press on fake tattoo and a few clip on piercings just for the interview. Definitely don't shave.

6: Have dummy Facebook and E-mail accounts at the ready. Employers will ask for username/PW access

This is illegal in California, and may soon be illegal nationwide.

should also don't go for the masters with out some (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43844983)

should also say don't go for the masters with out some real work to back it up.

Goes along with my poll: (3, Insightful)

David Betz (2845597) | about a year ago | (#43844999)

In the past 10 years how many CS graduated did you have to fire/have had fired because of their inability to learn something new? (i.e. because they need classes to hold their hands). Parent's shouldn't push their kids into a field about which the kids have no passion.

and schools need to be more trades / tech school l (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43845135)

and schools need to be more trades / tech school like to much theory leads to skill gaps.

Re:and schools need to be more trades / tech schoo (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845173)

> and schools need to be more trades / tech school like to much theory leads to skill gaps.

Parsing error.

Re:and schools need to be more trades / tech schoo (3, Interesting)

Kaldaien (676190) | about a year ago | (#43845207)

I don't know that I'd say that. Honestly, software engineering broke off from computer science for precisely that reason. I would like to see CS curriculum stay theoretical, and leave the implementation to software engineering degree programs.

So many schools these days are dropping CS altogether and replacing it with software engineering, I would have to say that what you're asking for is effectively already happening.

Re:and schools need to be more trades / tech schoo (0)

russotto (537200) | about a year ago | (#43846057)

How about we ditch the Software Engineering curriculum entirely, and stick with CS? Because standard software engineering practices produce nothing but a lot of paperwork behind overbudget projects.

Re: and schools need to be more trades / tech scho (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43847383)

Uh, you got that backwards.

Re:Goes along with my poll: (2)

Kaldaien (676190) | about a year ago | (#43845143)

I definitely saw that in my undergraduate experience. I'd say a good 90% of my peers never went the extra mile on anything; if it wasn't going to be on an exam, you can bet they wouldn't bother studying it. When it came time to collaborate with them on projects, all they did was drag the serious students down. It was so frustrating by the time I graduated, but fortunately I had a really nice professor who worked with me to publish two papers on my independent study.

I really hope the slackers don't wind up with these mythical $130k a year jobs. I know I'll never be in a position to earn that much, because I'm more interested in research and theory. Which, to be honest, is what CS should really be about - these generic programming jobs are more or less software engineering, which has its own curriculum.

research and theory = a poor setting to learn job (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43845389)

research and theory = a poor setting to learn job skills and people in that setting may just do the min to pass and you can really see that in the filler and fluff classes.

Kill Philosophy/History/Art etc and focus entirely on STEM and nothing else. as well have a more hands trades / tech track.

The well rounded and a time overload of gen edus is pulling the tech schools down.

Re: research and theory = a poor setting to learn (3, Insightful)

Kaldaien (676190) | about a year ago | (#43845447)

research and theory = a poor setting to learn job skills and people in that setting may just do the min to pass and you can really see that in the filler and fluff classes.

I don't know how many times I can stress this. Computer Science is not supposed to teach trade skills, there are specialized programs such as software engineering for that purpose. At my school, many of the students who could not hack theory quickly dropped out of computer science and enrolled in either information systems or software engineering; the way it should be.

Re:Goes along with my poll: (2, Insightful)

waspleg (316038) | about a year ago | (#43845161)

It's not just their parents. I work in a public education. The entire system is set up to do that. I heard a show on NPR a couple weeks ago (Diane Rehm) about education "reform" and all of the panelists were saying the same thing: Kill Philosophy/History/Art etc and focus entirely on STEM and nothing else.

The suits won a long time ago. College has been reduced to you paying for the training your corporate masters would rather pocket the money for (and in many cases not getting even that). Schools do not teach entrepreneurship or independence. They teach working on the plantation, being a good little serf that offers no objections to anything ever, while being as big an atom of consumption as possible.

Welcome to the corporate states of America; check your soul at the door.

Re:Goes along with my poll: (3, Insightful)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about a year ago | (#43845375)

Well yeah they push STEM, that's where the job/money/need is. Duh.

As much as people would like to have a "classic" education and debate what the Greeks thought about spheres, it turns out that we need an educated workforce to function as a nation. I'd like to play games all day, but launching Kerbals to the moon won't pay the bills.

The big question is CAN you even foster the sort of passion that helps people excel at STEM careers? If yes, then keep on pushing. If no, then we'll get a lot of mediocre programmers with a passion for philosophy. And hey, that's not a bad thing. It still pays the bills.

A massive problem with colleges is that too many people are getting worthless degrees and can't get work out of college and are slung with hideous crushing debt. It used to be that having ANY degree would land you a cooshy job. Those days are over. (Hell, it used to be being able to afford college meant that daddy would line you up a cooshy job, but thankfully those days are over too).

I'm still a big fan of artists, but I don't think they really need to go to college. And we still need a couple History/Philosophy/English majors. Just not this many.

Re:Goes along with my poll: (5, Insightful)

Jockle (2934767) | about a year ago | (#43845411)

it turns out that we need an educated workforce to function as a nation

But that's exactly what we're not getting. Instead, we get rote memorization drones who think they're intelligent because they graduated from our lousy public schools with good grades, and then those people go on to be accepted into a degree mill that will drain them of any and all money they or the government may have. Alternatively, they may go to one of those 'good' colleges, but they'll come out with nearly zero practical skills because they're just rote memorization drones anyway.

apprenticeship system can fix that and add real tr (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43845505)

apprenticeship system can fix that and add real training. So you get people who know what they are doing not test crammers who can pass the test but not know that much.

Well the old MS tests started some of the memorization drones and having questions that seemed to be set in setting that you would have hunt to find.

Re:Goes along with my poll: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43846123)

memorization drones and people that know how to to use reference material will
far out pace you.
they'll have the skills to cut through the chafe.

unlike the dreamers who never seem to nail down anything.

who would you hire?

regards

mike

Re:Goes along with my poll: (2)

Jockle (2934767) | about a year ago | (#43847167)

memorization drones and people that know how to to use reference material will
far out pace you.

Someone who can't innovate will not outpace me in anything except maybe in a game where players try to memorize and then recall as much useless information as possible (understanding not required). That's what our education system (and increasingly, our colleges) is giving us: people who memorize but do not understand; people who can pass tests but not apply their knowledge to a difficult problem; people who have a flawed view of what education is.

Re:Goes along with my poll: (4, Informative)

burningcpu (1234256) | about a year ago | (#43846757)

I'm working with a masters in a STEM field (Chemistry), and I make about 60% of the salary of the HR drone who happens to have a degree in History. The job market is so shitty for new grads in science that my company is starting chemists with undergraduate degrees at $13 an hour. This is not atypical for the industry, at least in my state. Trust me, I've been looking.

My friends that went into the trades already have houses and are making families. Those of us that went into science are living with roommates and scrounging by like we're 20 well into our 30's.

Don't get me wrong. There still are some good jobs out there. But similarly to what apparently (from my reading of slashdot) is going on in the software field, these positions require 15 years experience in a technique that is 12 years old.

That $13 an hour job I was talking about earlier? We received 63 resumes for the position. 63. The pay was listed. As was weekend work and mandatory overtime required.

Another interesting tidbit is that as health insurance continues to become a larger portion of the cost of the employee, the employers are experiencing a higher sunk cost per worker, shifting the sweet spot of overtime versus staffing up to higher OT values. My lab has cut two positions and moved to mandatory 45 hour base weeks, with mandatory additional overtime up to 55 hours.

The number of part time positions that are capped at 39 hours per week are also increasing.

Go into a trade. It isn't for dummies. Ignore your cultural bias.

Best Advice EVER. Enter the trades. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43847753)

Best Advice EVER. Wish I had become a plumber or electrician, unfortunately my stupid father talked me out of it.

Now in my 50's. Two Master's degrees (CS and TEL). Zero job opportunities.

Oh well. I am learning to live off the generosity of others, and take great comfort in not having to work to live while others rack up their heart attacks and stress-related impotence. Exercise, reading, films, sex. It fills my days.

Re:Goes along with my poll: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845699)

That worked well for Steve Jobs.........

Reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845045)

You have several million other people with cs degrees out there right now. Most of the ones from last year still don't have jobs. Let alone in computers...

I suggest you start practicing for the job most of you will end up with.

"would you like fries with that?"

Re:Reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845083)

No thanks AC, CS has plenty of jobs as usual for those motivated enough to find them.

And actually, I'd like onion rings, mind accommodating that? Thanks!

Re:Reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845141)

"CS" may have plenty of jobs, but what it doesn't have are plenty of job seekers who aren't complete imbeciles. Most of the idiots that the colleges pump out are just trash, but despite that, many of the more idiotic employers still insist that you have a piece of paper that doesn't prove anything other than that you have a penchant for wasting money.

Re:Reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845225)

You can have a degree and still be a good CS employee..

Colleges do pump out a lot of trash, but that's the same in any field... much scarier to meet an incompetent doctor with a prescription pad and a pen.

I think CS is newer, but similar to other skilled trades that people go to school for. Biggest thing to prepare for is the whole nobody understanding wtf you do or level of effort required. All those imbeciles you're referring to are now packed into your HR & Accounting departments.

Re:Reality (2)

Jockle (2934767) | about a year ago | (#43845303)

Colleges do pump out a lot of trash, but that's the same in any field

Colleges are pumping out more trash than usual because they're letting in more trash than usual.

All those imbeciles you're referring to are now packed into your HR & Accounting departments.

Plenty have jobs as code monkeys, it seems. It's honestly frustrating to see HR idiots (even ones who work in small or medium sized companies) not hire people simply because they don't have degrees rather than take the time to test their skills a bit (but HR idiots can't do that, anyway).

and the same people think CS = IT work (3, Interesting)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43845417)

and the same people think CS = IT work

now CS is more on the programming side. But on the other side not only is there some skills that need to be very hands on Like Cisco / networking they have certs that you need to know stuff and do it in a real IT lab setting. Also others parts like desktops / servers 4 years pure class room is extreme over kill.

Re:and the same people think CS = IT work (2)

Kaldaien (676190) | about a year ago | (#43845493)

and the same people think CS = IT work

now CS is more on the programming side.

This is precisely what I have been saying for years. Computer Science is mistaken for software engineering or worse still, IT. It is a general study that should focus on theory, and form the foundation for either continued theoretical work or later specialization. It used to be that software engineering was an advanced degree program for CS graduates, but now you can even major in it at the undergraduate level. With this change, you would *think* that the industry would finally realize the two are not the same.

Re: and the same people think CS = IT work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43847431)

Right. A CS degree is good for absolutely nothing outside academia. You certainly don't want one as a programmer on your team.

You either learn to be a good programmer by doing it your whole life, and pick up the least expensive degree you can, or do something else. Our industry stopped hiring test takers with letters and mountains of debt, about 20 years ago.

Re:Reality (2)

unimacs (597299) | about a year ago | (#43845359)

Wow. At least when I graduated a CS degree wasn't exactly an easy one to get. It doesn't mean that everyone holding a CS degree is automatically a better candidate than everyone who doesn't have one, nor does it mean that they are good candidate for a given position. It at least used to mean that they have a pretty good understanding of how computers and operating systems work, that they have decent (if not great) math skills, that they have some ability to complete a project, work with others, and have reasonable writing skills.

Usually when I'm looking for people I'll state that a computer science degree is preferred. That has not stopped me from hiring people without CS degrees though I think pretty much everyone I've hired (as a developer) has had some degree.

Re:Reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43846647)

Good post, except one point needs to be changed(or you need to change your naive view): CS kids usually have no idea about "math" as you call it. It is much more encompassing than you think it is. That is, if you think there is no math beyond what is taught in CS curriculum. ( some form of "discrete math", calc, DE, basic statistics).

Just recall that mathematics predates CS in any form and CS is some really really tiny part of "math". In any case mathematics is much more abstract and pure than CS.

That's it.

Re:Reality (1)

unimacs (597299) | about a year ago | (#43847365)

Good post, except one point needs to be changed(or you need to change your naive view): CS kids usually have no idea about "math" as you call it. It is much more encompassing than you think it is. That is, if you think there is no math beyond what is taught in CS curriculum. ( some form of "discrete math", calc, DE, basic statistics).

Just recall that mathematics predates CS in any form and CS is some really really tiny part of "math". In any case mathematics is much more abstract and pure than CS.

That's it.

It's all relative.

I have no idea about modern CS degrees but 20 years ago the required math courses you had to take in order to get a CS degree left you about 10 credits short of a math minor (which I went ahead and got). I don't consider myself a math expert by any means but compared to an average college grad my math skills are (or at least were) pretty good. Believe me that I know I was just scratching the surface.

My post was in response to the AC who said that CS degrees are a waste of money and don't tell you anything about the applicant. It does tell me that they have above average math skills though not necessarily much above average. Someone who's programming skills are self taught may really suck at math and in the organization I work for that would be a problem.

Re:Reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845357)

Agreed, french fries is old tech. To stay marketable in today's market one must be up to date on all the current tech such as onion rings, curly fries and tater tots. I asked a recent applicant about fried pickles and just got a blank stare. Seriously, what is college teaching kids today?

the college system is stuck in the past and the pu (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43845433)

the college system is stuck in the past and the push for all to got is dumbing it down and hurting the tech / trades schools as well.

WTH? (1)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#43846643)

the college system is stuck in the past and the push for all to got is dumbing it down and hurting the tech / trades schools as well.

WTH?

Sorry, but how is the recent suckage of colleges and universities hurting the people with HVAC, Diesel, Plumbing, Electrician, etc. training from Wyotech again?

How are these things even comparable?

Re:Reality (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | about a year ago | (#43846413)

Fried pickles tends to be bar fare.....since they raised the drinking age to 21, you don't get nearly as many college grads who are familiar with bar far. Sure, there are a few who figure out how to fake an id, but they tend to be artists and not CS majors.....or friends of artists, at least (and we all know that CS majors don't really have that many friends -- and least not IRL friends).

Re:Reality (3, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#43845117)

You have several million other people with cs degrees out there right now. Most of the ones from last year still don't have jobs. Let alone in computers...

In the USA, the overall unemployment rate is around 8%. For computer programmers it is less than 4%. Stop whining.

$130k a year?! (1)

Kaldaien (676190) | about a year ago | (#43845077)

That's ridiculous. None of the jobs that interest me offer anything near that much, even for senior management. I guess he is silently implying that you find a job that will bore the hell out of you but pay well.

I'm not buying that, as a summa cum laude graduate, I want a job that challenges me. I could have settled for software engineering or even some mickey mouse IT degree if I cared about salary. Honestly, I think computer science is too lumped in with software engineering these days.

Re:$130k a year?! (5, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about a year ago | (#43845113)

See if you don't care about salary when you have a spouse and four kids to feed. And medical bills. And a mortgage. I'd say the majority of us in the software development and/or computer science would work different jobs if we didn't have these practical considerations. O'Reilly's speech was probably directed at the majority of people like us/you, not the rare few who can afford to go decades without balancing a desire for interesting work with a need to provide for one's family.

Also, you may find that unchallenging implies uninteresting. So, unless you want to be bored, you probably can't avoid challenge.

Re:$130k a year?! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845239)

So don't have 4 kids and a mortgage you can't afford?

Re:$130k a year?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845275)

How long can a society support only employees that are childless and homeless?

Re:$130k a year?! (2)

Kaldaien (676190) | about a year ago | (#43845363)

People working on minimum wage can afford to support themselves and pay rent. Someone with a degree in Computer Science ought to be smart enough to do the same with a salary based job, and to live within their means; otherwise, I sort of doubt the legitimacy of their degree :P

Re:$130k a year?! (1)

CaptainJeff (731782) | about a year ago | (#43845553)

You clearly have not worked for any amount of time on minimum wage.

Re:$130k a year?! (2)

Kaldaien (676190) | about a year ago | (#43845599)

I have most certainly. Nobody really needs luxuries like cable, cell phones, etc... If you live within your means, it is very easy. In fact, I do not own a cell phone to this day. Once upon a time, people realized what was a luxury, and what was really necessary to support oneself. Those days are over, it seems :-\

Re:$130k a year?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845673)

I have most certainly. Nobody really needs luxuries like cable, cell phones, etc....

I like the part where you conveniently ignore housing, and thus fail to comprehend why it is exactly that a person cannot live on minimum wage in the vast majority of this country.

Re:$130k a year?! (1)

Richard Dick Head (803293) | about a year ago | (#43846633)

You clearly have not worked for any amount of time on minimum wage.

It is certainly possible. I did it for years. The main elements of survival:

  1. Population density is your friend. That means roommates sharing the rent and utility load, preferably ones making the same wage as you so you're on the same page and skip things like cable TV.
  2. Dry goods: rice, beans, legumes, pasta. This stuff makes prepackaged ramen look expensive. Pay attention to flyers and focus on things that are buy one get one free, and bring coupons. Oh and splurge on a multivitamin supplement so you don't lose your sanity.(cut the pills into thirds otherwise you'll just pee it out)
  3. Never exceed 2000 RPM while driving. You can double the estimated gas mileage of the car. Oh and follow Youtube videos to perform car repairs...your car maintenance costs will drop by 90%. Or just forgo owning a car if humanly possible...they're a huge money sink.
  4. Go to bed early. Bad decisions (financial or otherwise) become a thing of the past since 99% those are usually done after 8 PM, and you can't make them if you're sleeping.
  5. Take classes if you don't have the degree. When you're dirt poor and collecting the Pell grant you're basically getting paid to go to college.
  6. Buying things new is not only stupid, but financial suicide. Plenty of perfectly fine furniture, appliances, and clothes can be found at garage sales. If you're taking classes like suggested above, make friends with foreign students. They'll be jettisoning all their stuff when they leave for home.
  7. If you have (or can beg, borrow, or steal) anything metal, take it to a recycling specialist. This can net you a nice bonus. A dead grill, washing machine, large printer, etc can be worth $50. A junk car can be worth $500+.
  8. Avoid the opposite sex. Much like a car these are a huge money sink. If you meet one, use coupons on the first date. If they're attracted to your thrift you've got a keeper.
  9. Obtain as many credit cards as you can. Then load them up and forget about them. You'll get sued by junk debt buyers eventually, but all you have to do is write a basic answer and show up in court with a halfway convincing motion. They only want to settle. If you grow some stones and refuse to settle and say you would rather go in front of the judge they'll usually just voluntarily dismiss (these guys don't have any stones). So not only are you getting a piece of all the damn money printing going on, you're also freeing money from the debt slavery machine through default (right now almost all money is tied to a bank loan or a fed loan...the only freedom from this can be default).
  10. Get fit and stay fit. This opens up so many doors it boggles the mind. It is hard to climb any kind of ladder, corporate or otherwise, when you're obese.

Re:$130k a year?! (1)

unimacs (597299) | about a year ago | (#43846723)

How long could society support every couple having 4 kids?

The point is that having 4 kids is a choice. So is two kids. So is none. Likewise there are 1,200 sqft apartments and $4,000 sqft homes.

Choosing more interesting work over a higher salary doesn't necessary mean you can't support a family, but certainly having a large family can make that harder.

Re:$130k a year?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43847113)

It's pure greed. These fuckers seem to be amazed they can breed and do it as much as possible. What a joke.

Re:$130k a year?! (2)

Kaldaien (676190) | about a year ago | (#43845261)

Also, you may find that unchallenging implies uninteresting. So, unless you want to be bored, you probably can't avoid challenge.

Which is why so many academics wind up staying in academia. It's not just those who "can't do" that teach, but those who find what the job market wants them to do uninteresting. Fortunately, I have a career in Computer Grahpics, which is challenging but ultimately does not pay as well as many generic software engineering jobs. I will never strike it rich, but at least I am doing something that I love.

Re:$130k a year?! (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about a year ago | (#43845265)

If you start work at a place that doesn't challenge you, just as O'Reily's speech points out, you're going to rot, not learn any new skills, and you'll be priced out of a job.

As a graduate, especially a smart graduate, he should definitely seek a place that will be challenging. And yes, you are EXACTLY right, after you gain responsibilities in life is the point you settle down and become the senior long-term developer for... whatever. Or, god forbid, go into management. But once you have a grey beard and become a domain expert in whatever it is you do, you don't have to chase after the newest technology. You still can, and that's good, but you don't have to.

tl;dr You're both right because priorities change over time.

Re:$130k a year?! (2)

unimacs (597299) | about a year ago | (#43845415)

Salary is but one consideration and high paying + challenging is not mutually exclusive.

I deliberately left a higher paying job for a non-profit even though I had a mortgage and two kids. Ultimately I'm happier for it even though I know I'd be making more money if I had stayed where I was. The work wouldn't be nearly as fulfilling or challenging. Still I'm not exactly poor and I'm content with my pay.

Re:$130k a year?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845533)

You're an idiot for taking on so many dependants.

Re:$130k a year?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845875)

You're right. We should be throwing babies into the furnace instead of coal to provide cheap energy instead. When we run out of babies, we throw in people like you.

Re:$130k a year?! (2)

Kaldaien (676190) | about a year ago | (#43846149)

Wow, for a thread about higher education, this has devolved into grade school antics.

Seriously though, it would be wise to wait until you have (if ever) a well-paying job before starting such a large family. If you have no interest in high-paying work, then the obvious solution would be not to start a family you cannot afford to support. I know it sounds cold, but the harsh reality is people overestimate their earnings potential and it leads to bad things in the future. Look at the housing crisis, there is blame to spread among all parties involved, but part of the problem was people buying into houses they honestly could not afford and banks knowingly allowing this.

I have no plans to ever pursue a high paying job, I like research and I am happy living a lower quality of life than my more money conscious peers.

Re:$130k a year?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43846279)

But start the family early enough that you can raise them in your high paying job before you get too old and cut out of the workforce.

Re:$130k a year?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43847321)

Condoms prevent minivans. Glad you believed you needed to continue overpopulating the world but a single child would have been enough, or even two. Four is just stupid. Enjoy having a shitty quality of life. It's not a feat to have children, in fact R&D efforts go into *preventing* children are the real feat.

You know what my wife and I still enjoy some 15 years into the marriage? Having sex.

Re:$130k a year?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845235)

I make more than that. In fact I would consider it insulting not to be offered more than 130k. You must not be working for the right company.

Re:$130k a year?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43846297)

You should try Microsoft. Senior management there probably make around $500k/year. A principle developer easily earns $200k. A mid-level developer (below Senior) is earning $130k. You can get there a few years out of school.

Re:$130k a year?! (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about a year ago | (#43846739)

It's really been a long time since I've taken a job because of the salary or I needed the money. Come to think of it, I can't think of a single job that I didn't go into because I thought it'd be interesting work. More often than not that was true, too. I've gotten to work at some very cool places over the years. Even my first job doing general IT and some programming support at a company that did dog track management software sent me all over the country and exposed me to a lot of challenges. Doing security auditing on AT&T's C library while working at Data General taught me a lot about C. Various contracting gigs at IBM and Sun always afforded opportunities to learn, and each time gave me more experience to leverage toward the next position. A while back I took a test position at Ericsson just to get my hands on that hardware, and learned an awful lot about how our telephone networks work. Ericsson's switches are masterpieces of engineering, if you ever get a chance to work with one don't pass it up. Lately I'm maintaining satellite tracking software in C++.

No company has ever used the full range of my abilities, but each one has taught me something new. Or rather, I've made a point to take away something new from each job. Of course, you don't need a degree to do that. I never got one.

The short list. (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year ago | (#43845085)

  • There is always more than one way to do something.
  • Knowing a little about many things is better than knowing a lot about one (see above).
  • Be honest with yourself and others about what you know and, especially, don't know and be willing to research the latter.
  • Everyone is at a different place on the learning curve (see above).

So just a typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845091)

"Don't sit on your ass and expect the world to come to you." Speech.

Small companies (2)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#43845105)

find a small company for your first job, but not one that is going to burn you out.

It may be easier to prove that unicorns exist...

I think the key is to know when to get out... of course there can be other reasons for staying.

Re:Small companies (3, Interesting)

David_Hart (1184661) | about a year ago | (#43845291)

find a small company for your first job, but not one that is going to burn you out.

It may be easier to prove that unicorns exist...

I think the key is to know when to get out... of course there can be other reasons for staying.

- Find a mature small to medium sized company with low turnover for your first job. It's a bonus if they are about to launch a new project using new technology. If you show enough enthusiasm, they'll happily throw you on it as a resource.

What you want to get from your first job is a mentor who has been in the industry for a while and who is a professional. Someone who takes their work seriously and who isn't there just for a paycheck. Someone who will show you the ropes.

I worked for a mature medium sized Oil Company for my first job. I learned how to be an IT professional, not just an IT worker, from my more experienced co-workers.

Re:Small companies (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#43845347)

Medium companies tend to be categorized by a willingness to grow and improve, small companies are more about making the owner rich and very little cross training or employee development. Big companies of course are categorized by structure and roles. That's what I've seen anyways. It's possible to have a good small company experience, but you've got to be on your toes and have a bit of salesmanship even.

Re:Small companies (1)

mikael (484) | about a year ago | (#43845487)

Avoid those companies which have had your predecessors leave because "they weren't allowed to learn anything new", or which see the group you are working in "as a holding tank for staff to move onto other projects". In each case, they'll be paranoid to make sure you don't talk to other employees let alone visit trade shows to network and socialize.

Also avoid companies which have had layoffs. This ages a company - a company goes from being a toddler (a startup company learning how to grow), to a teenager (knows where it wants to be, but not how to get there), to an adult (got close to where it wants, but still has to pay the bills), to an aristocrat (has built up large amount of money and an empire with influence). Every time a company has had layoffs, they'll be more guarded about letting new staff on board.

Best thing is to make contacts with people in the company, so you can know the right time to apply for a position. There is nothing worse than applying for a position, passing the interview and getting the position, only to be "bait-and-switched" on day one because head office wants the brightest graduate on marketing biggest itch.

Targetting 2013? (5, Interesting)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about a year ago | (#43845185)

I'm sorry, but this is the vague timeless advice that isn't targeting the class of 2013. It gives no information that is insightful for today's graduates that wasn't also true for the last 30 years.

Even start-up / small companies have been an aspect of the industry since... what? The 80's? Before that you needed some capital just to afford a computer.

Why doesn't he address the upcoming death of the desktop? That China and India are developing a middle class and that China is graduating more engineers than the USA has citizens? The effects of large corporations steering large OSS projects into the ground? That the hardware has bottomed out and full computers only cost you $30. What about the consolidation of the Internet? Or how about the war on general computing? I mean, these are computer science majors, I imagine it's kind of a thing for them.

Re:Targetting 2013? (1)

unimacs (597299) | about a year ago | (#43845273)

You're right, I think his advice is timeless and not particularly targeted towards the class of 2013. It's still good advice. The other topics you mention might be interesting (or maybe not) and have some relevance for them but I'm not sure they'd make good commencement speech topics.

Re:Targetting 2013? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#43845341)

I'd love to see your $30 "full computer".
Keep in mind that a $25 RaspberryPi requires an SD card, power supply, keyboard, mouse and TV to be a "full computer" a person can actually use.

Re:Targetting 2013? (0)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about a year ago | (#43845423)

Headless systems exclude keyboard, mouse, and display and yet they still compute. A cheap SD card is ~$5.00 and a cheap 5v transformer is ~$2.00.

Jesus Christ dude, quit with the nitpicking. And who doesn't have all this stuff lying about? Not CS grads, that's for sure.

Re:Targetting 2013? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#43846211)

So your China and India middle class are going to use headless systems with no other system to access it from? Good one.

As for China's engineers...
China is nowhere near graduating more engineers than USA has citizens. I doubt over 25% of their ageing population are studying engineering. They only have 4x the population of USA. Their growth rate is falling and tipped to go negative over the next 10-20 years. Their biggest age group is 40-50 years old.

Re:Targetting 2013? (1)

lightspeedius (263290) | about a year ago | (#43845475)

Perhaps you're right that this isn't specific to 2013, however it still seems amongst the most pertinent advice to CS graduates in 2013.

true... true (4, Insightful)

dfn5 (524972) | about a year ago | (#43845293)

I've been an IT professional since '95. Unix admin / DBA / network admin / SAN admin / Release Engineer / etc. etc. This advice really speaks to my career. You have to have passion for technology and you have to be willing to learn new things on your own. I run into so many people who want nothing to do with technology when they go home. I feel they are in the wrong industry.

Re:true... true (1)

Kaldaien (676190) | about a year ago | (#43845405)

I've been an IT professional since '95. Unix admin / DBA / network admin / SAN admin / Release Engineer / etc. etc. This advice really speaks to my career.

I have to wonder why, or even how, this was tailored specifically to computer science, though. Many of these statements are true of software engineering, and IT in general, but computer science is a theoretical field. So many of the things mentioned in this commencement really do not apply to someone who studied computer science to do research. We get the lowest salaries by far, which is made especially sad by the additional time spent in academia pursuant to an advanced degree, and definitely are not at risk of being replaced by slackers or under-paid Indians or Chinese 5 years down the road.

Re:true... true (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year ago | (#43845931)

I've been an IT professional since '98. Network admin, deployment, project management, etc. The only thing I haven't done is compile an application (dev work not my bag of tea). I *used* to love technology until I've gotten burned out working 65+ hours a week. Even before my first child was born, The last thing I wanted to do was start working on my laptop or PC at home. I just wanted to drink and veg out in front of my TV. My brain is too tired and shreaded to think let alone be exited by anything else. Which BTW is a coming-home-to-Jesus moment for me. If I'm not exited to be around my own son after work, I need to GTFO and choose an entirely different industry. IT work is for the young. I'm burned out and have no shame throwing in the towel. Fuck this shit!

Juniors doing my work in 5 years? (0)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#43845305)

I'm doing the same thing today for my $150k that my predecessors were doing for their $100k 10-12 years ago.

Re:Juniors doing my work in 5 years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845461)

I'm doing the same thing today for my $150k that my predecessors were doing for their $100k 10-12 years ago.

What would that be and where?

How many opportunites overall are there for what you do? Meaning, it's such a niche field that there are very few opportunities but if you can get in the door, pays really well.

wow, how inspiring (3, Informative)

decora (1710862) | about a year ago | (#43845453)

i thought commencement was supposed to be about life, the universe, and everything (TM).

here i come to find out it's supposed to be career advice like you'd find on any thrid rate jobs website.

thanks!!!! im glad i will spend 40 years with my head down in a cubicle, never thinking, never questioning, never acting on anything other than my desire to have a shit hot career and a fuckton of money.

i mean, that's what "success" is, right?

i'm pretty sure Steve Jobs book was full of practical, sensible stuff like that.

Great tennet (2)

lightspeedius (263290) | about a year ago | (#43845467)

“A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”

The question is, how to effectively communicate this to clients.

Re:Great tennet (1)

russotto (537200) | about a year ago | (#43846471)

âoeA lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.â

The question is, how to effectively communicate this to clients.

I believe the tradition is with a contract that specifies sufficiently rapacious bill rates for situations resulting from lack of planning that it encourages planning, and failing that, provides enough money that you can take time off looking for the next gig.

disagree with this: (3, Interesting)

buddyglass (925859) | about a year ago | (#43845525)

"What will net you $130K today will be done by junior programmers in five years"

That really depends on why you're getting paid a premium. Is it because you have experience with the current "hot thing", or is it because you are capable of crafting correct, performant and elegant solutions to hard problems? If it's the latter, then that probably won't be "done by junior programmers in five years".

"proper training" is worth its weight in gold. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845545)

You are rarely going to get an opportunity to have your current employer pay for you to learn things, so learn them on your own and be in a position to leverage the skills when a new project comes along.

Tech employers, mind that most white collar employers *do not* pay for training anymore like it was 20yrs ago. I remember in the old days I used to get OOA/D training, UML instruction, code optimization, real-time development, etc... today? Nada! You're on your own kid!

Training drives the salaries in this industry, period. s/w development is based on things with a design (e.g. languages), so there is truly 'nothing new invented here', just things to discover and exploit. And the only way to become useful is training. You can read an O'Reilly book, but its nothing compared to real hands on training. Employers used to do on-hands training, but found it to be very, very expensive to the bottom line. And with the culture of s/w development, hey the employees are willing to train themselves... AT THEIR OWN COSTS. So, why not take advantage of the cultural aspects of s/w employees?

So what I'm saying here is everyone here should demand top dollar for their salaries. Low ball salaries, low bids/rates, outsourcing, etc... it does hurt the industry and technical progress because we have to train ourselves--that's VERY costly if you think about (aka "time is money"). It really recovers the cost of training a corporation should (and once did) be providing in the 1st place... I mean they are investing in you as a resource. Right?

A Thornton in your side (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43845755)

More from the speech:

  Thank you,Dean Martin,
President Sinclair...

and members
of the graduating class.

I have only one thing
to say to you today...

it's a jungle out there.

You gotta look out
for number one.

But don't step in number two.

And so,
to all you graduates...

as you go out into the world
my advice to you is...

don't go!
It's rough out there.

Move back with your parents.
Let them worry about it.

Hey, everybody! We're all programmers. Let's never get laid!

Reinvention (1)

caywen (942955) | about a year ago | (#43845813)

Junior programmers will inevitably recreate what you created. It is then your job to grumble and start the task of putting proper locks in their code and running it in valgrind.

New idea: appreciate your homework (1)

atom1c (2868995) | about a year ago | (#43845835)

The current generation of kids (graduating since early-2000's onward) grew up in a consumerist economy: be the "one" and you'll be rich! Accomplish this by pursuing a degree in a field of study perceived as financially viable regardless of the greater economy's need for such "specialty."

Too many kids graduate without being prepared for adulthood -- much less the responsibilities expected of them that goes in-hand with a commanding financial package. These kids dutifully do their homework but never truly appreciate the significance of the assignments. This is the real truth: apply your homework assignment to some new-fangled idea that is more significant than yourself then quit school to pursue it to its fullest.

College drop-outs financially succeed not only because they take risks, but also because they actually appreciated what was taught to them by applying it in the real world. Some drop-outs were not computer geniuses... rather, they are the unsung heroes who go to work day-in/day-out with recognition for being young, ambitious, attentive to detail, and reliable workers (either as programmers, analysts, or support staff).

Moral of the story: do something worthwhile in college instead of waiting for Godot after shaking some person's hand with a rolled up piece of paper.

Personal success, financial success (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | about a year ago | (#43846535)

Well, the first thing to understand about this article is that it treats software engineering as a pure meritocracy.

Maybe at some places it is.

However, for me the important film is that timeless documentary, Office Space, which drummed into my head two things that I actually found to be true:

1. If you are good at office politics, you will be called "a straight shooter with upper management written all over him," if you are merely good at creating software you will be "Mr. Samir Naga... Naga... Naga... Not gonna work here anymore, anyway."

2. Even being a successful office politicker like Peter Gibbons or Bill Lumbergh, you will still possibly find that you have a hateful, soul crushing job that drains away your life and enthusiasm every day.

What does this mean? Well, it means that you have to decide early on whether you are chasing a good life or an early retirement. chasing the good life means hanging on until you get a job you can tolerate, early retirement means making as much as you can so you can get out as fast as you can. Or perhaps being hit by a truck so you can work at your real passion, "A Jump to Conclusions" mat.

All in all, I think wire fraud and armed robbery are probably more satisfying careers much of the time.

Re:Personal success, financial success (1)

unimacs (597299) | about a year ago | (#43847679)

I think the mistake some techie folks make is that they feel they should be judged strictly on their technical skills. Whether you want to call it "good at office politics" or "having people skills", ultimately the success of many projects depends on technical people being able to effectively work with non technical people to deliver a product.Those are skills that you should develop if you don't have them all ready.

I may promote or give better opportunities to an employee that is really good at getting user stories as opposed to somebody who's good at generating code but not much else. That's still a meritocracy.
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