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Young IT Workers Disillusioned, Hard to Retain 853

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the your-special-just-like-everyone-else dept.
bednarz writes to mention that NetworkWorld has an interesting examination of young IT professionals and why many make unreasonable demands for their services. "'The issue managers are facing is with retention, not hiring. That means the work environment is not living up to the employee's expectation,' he says. For instance, many younger workers expect to get an office immediately or be paid at a rate higher than entry level."
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Young IT Workers Disillusioned, Hard to Retain

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  • by ironwill96 (736883) on Friday January 11, 2008 @09:38PM (#22009636) Homepage Journal
    At least where I work, the IT workers (myself included) are paid 40% less than the market rate so there is a reason everyone has low morale and the turnover rate is around 25% or more each year. I don't think there has been a time since I started working there in the last 4 years where there has been every position in the department actually staffed at the same time. This IT department is around 75 people.

    Now, maybe that is just working for the State is not very well paying, but it is a problem affecting thousands of employees not just the younger ones. I guess when it comes down to it though, people need to get off their tails and apply for other jobs that pay more if we want to leave. The problem is often that you like the area you are living in, just not the pay rate you are making working there...
  • by NNKK (218503) <nknight@runawaynet.com> on Friday January 11, 2008 @09:43PM (#22009696) Homepage
    I think our CEO technically has an office, but it's usually being used for meetings he's not in.

    I believe the only time I've actually seen non-management tech workers get a private office was the result of a fluke. Large company (several thousand employees) buys remains of relatively small company (few hundred) with a long lease on half of a very roomy building with lots of small individual offices, and underutilizes the space. As a result, the only people in the largely-desolate cube farms were temporary workers. Everyone making more than, say, $35k, got an office.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 11, 2008 @09:49PM (#22009764)
    It isn't just IT, it can be seen in many other industries as well. It believe this is just one more example of what my generation is facing (19-30), the "something for nothing" problem.
    Many of my peers expect to graduate college and start off on the same level their parents are (who have worked for 30 years). I see this both in all my peers, from the construction workers to the computer scientists. I don't believe it is unique in I.T.
  • by Ritchie70 (860516) on Friday January 11, 2008 @09:56PM (#22009822) Journal
    Oh please, who do you think your parents generation is?

    If you're a "millenial" (what a stupid term) then, roughly speaking, it's me. Everyone I know in the technology arena has at least a bachelor's degree.

    I just have a BS in Computer Science. My wife has an MBA, half of another Master's degree, and a BA with a double English/Math major. And don't tell me about student debt!

    When I started working in technology 17 years ago, everyone at that company had at least a bachelor's, and most of them had an advanced degree, including some doctorates.

    There's nothing special about this latest generation except being whiney spoiled brats. And get off my lawn, damnit.
  • by SilentChris (452960) on Friday January 11, 2008 @09:58PM (#22009848) Homepage
    * Could be that we got out of college and started jobs at or below entry level salaries given the economic downturn immediately after 9/11.
    * Could be that 5-10 years later the market has changed so dramatically that it's unusual to even find a company with an "IT department" anymore. It's all been outsourced.
    * Could be that most IT workers are tired of seeing executives get 20% raises and stock options year after year while we get flat 3% annual - or no raises at all.
    * Could be that with all this automation we're still checking our Blackberries at 3 AM and rebooting servers. We're always on call (like doctors) but we don't paid like them.
    * Could be that the "fun" of this industry left long ago. It's no longer hacking away at circuit boards. It's watching server farms blink.

    * You want to know why employers are having a touch time retaining us? Could be that we're smart enough to realize the "traditional" career of an IT professional is all but gone and the only real career paths left are through management (hence folks skipping the certifications and going for the MBAs). Alternatively, consulting still proves lucrative. But to chide us because we know that the "IT professional" career is dying is silly.
  • by SirLurksAlot (1169039) on Friday January 11, 2008 @10:16PM (#22010026)

    and the most depressing thing about entering the workforce for me is how hard it is to get your foot in the door anywhere. I have absolutely no problems starting at the bottom and working my way up, but there doesn't seem to be many places out there that are willing to hire straight out of the gate. Go do a search on Monster or Dice in any major metropolitan area (or anywhere else for that matter) for entry-level positions and I guarantee you won't find more than one to two positions, if that.

    ...22% said they struggle to find new qualified candidates.

    I can certainly understand that, considering that the vast majority job postings consist of "Must have 5+ years of exp. with (extremely specific) technologies A, B, & C" as well as a wide swath of skills that are generally only picked up on the job. The companies that complain about not being able to find qualified candidates are often the same companies that outsource all of the entry-level jobs to India.

  • Retaining Employees (Score:3, Interesting)

    by crosstax (1206716) on Friday January 11, 2008 @10:18PM (#22010052)
    My last employment was terminated in April of 2007 where I earned $35,000 cdn/year.

    I was hired in December of 2006 to follow a software development plan to implement a visualization suite which allowed building developers to visualize housing before construction to show potential buyers, city planners, etc..

    The software development was in Microsoft Visual C++ 2003 using OpenSceneGraph, XML based configuration and skinning, used OpenThreads and had TCP based network sessions for live or pre-recorded guided tours.

    When I was hired, I replaced an intermediate software developer that could no longer get along with the director (immediate supervisor). There was a senior programmer above me but he left by mid-January of 2007, but before he did I was told the development team was going to be expanded to 3 full time developers. We had a graphics artist who used tools like 3D Studio Max to visualize the buildings from architectural blue-prints (or floor plans if you prefer).

    Just after the senior programmer left, I started going through all of the modules to get an idea of what would need to be done to prepare the rendering engine for the development plan which had been presented to me. I found that whenever a HUD button was being pressed a new thread was being launched. In fact if you pressed the 'move forward' button twice quickly, the camera would jump back and forth between two positions because two threads were being launched without mutexes or any other safe-guard. I also noticed that nearly all class data members were public and being affected from other classes. And finally that the event processor had code that depended on the event be associated to a HUD button.

    So I made recommendations to decouple the modules, fix the event model & processor as well as eliminate the excessive threading which was not making things faster as the unexperienced multi-threading programmer who implemented them had obviously assumed.

    When I presented these recommendations to the director he laughed in my face and began yelling at me when I tried to explain why these changes would be necessary. So I backed off after the president of the company heard us out and decided to back the director who had been there longer than I.

    At the beginning of April I was falling behind the schedule because of problems directly associated to the event model where the software development plan called for events to be generated by the camera walking through tagged plains. As mentioned, the event processor contained code which read fields from a HUD button which had to be present, so I was trying to emulate a button's state but the events would run in a continuous loop. While struggling with emulating the button states properly there was construction crew in our new office building during the day and my director was having (business?) friends in the office in the evening to drink wine and chat within earshot of my cubicle.

    In my last few days of my employment, in early April of 2007 I started going into the office in the late afternoon to ensure at least 4 hours of my 8 hour shift had no distractions since my employers who told me when I was hired that my hours of work were flexible as long as they amounted to 8 hours a day. They decided to fire me without telling me why, though I expect it had to do with my decision to go in during the evening to avoid the distractions during the day. Up until that point I had never handed in any work late. Get this, they still had not hired any other developer, so I was the only programmer left when they terminated my employment.

    I have been unemployed since April 2007 (we're now in January of 2008) despite looking for work at junior and intermediate levels, software development, testing, maintenance, help desk support, etc, etc..

    In my years of IT work I've found management to be incompetant, not at technical skills but soft skills. It sounds as though the new generation of IT workers have been informed of what kind of crap happens in thes
  • Re:Non-news (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Friday January 11, 2008 @10:43PM (#22010264) Homepage Journal
    Any building in Redmond. Microsoft puts programmers in offices so they have a chance at concentrating.
  • Re:Pay your dues (Score:3, Interesting)

    by micheas (231635) on Friday January 11, 2008 @10:48PM (#22010310) Homepage Journal
    AN OPEN LETTER TO HOBBYISTS
    By William Henry Gates III

    February 3, 1976

    An Open Letter to Hobbyists

    To me, the most critical thing in the hobby market right now is the lack of good software courses, books and software itself. Without good software and an owner who understands programming, a hobby computer is wasted. Will quality software be written for the hobby market?

    Almost a year ago, Paul Allen and myself, expecting the hobby market to expand, hired Monte Davidoff and developed Altair BASIC. Though the initial work took only two months, the three of us have spent most of the last year documenting, improving and adding features to BASIC. Now we have 4K, 8K, EXTENDED, ROM and DISK BASIC. The value of the computer time we have used exceeds $40,000.

    The feedback we have gotten from the hundreds of people who say they are using BASIC has all been positive. Two surprising things are apparent, however, 1) Most of these "users" never bought BASIC (less than 10% of all Altair owners have bought BASIC), and 2) The amount of royalties we have received from sales to hobbyists makes the time spent on Altair BASIC worth less than $2 an hour.

    Why is this? As the majority of hobbyists must be aware, most of you steal your software. Hardware must be paid for, but software is something to share. Who cares if the people who worked on it get paid?

    Is this fair? One thing you don't do by stealing software is get back at MITS for some problem you may have had. MITS doesn't make money selling software. The royalty paid to us, the manual, the tape and the overhead make it a break-even operation. One thing you do do is prevent good software from being written. Who can afford to do professional work for nothing? What hobbyist can put 3-man years into programming, finding all bugs, documenting his product and distribute for free? The fact is, no one besides us has invested a lot of money in hobby software. We have written 6800 BASIC, and are writing 8080 APL and 6800 APL, but there is very little incentive to make this software available to hobbyists. Most directly, the thing you do is theft.

    What about the guys who re-sell Altair BASIC, aren't they making money on hobby software? Yes, but those who have been reported to us may lose in the end. They are the ones who give hobbyists a bad name, and should be kicked out of any club meeting they show up at.

    I would appreciate letters from any one who wants to pay up, or has a suggestion or comment. Just write to me at 1180 Alvarado SE, #114, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87108. Nothing would please me more than being able to hire ten programmers and deluge the hobby market with good software.

    Bill Gates

    General Partner, Micro-Soft
  • by aussersterne (212916) on Friday January 11, 2008 @11:31PM (#22010650) Homepage
    One thing that matters very much is location. There are universities across the U.S. in places where there's very little call for the graduates they produce. That's the situation I was in when I got out of undergrad—and it was several years before I got smart and headed for the coasts.

    I think for undergrads at the top of their class in NYC or DC there is always something to do. For undergrads at the top of their class in New Mexico or Montana or Wyoming or Utah this may not be the case, especially for undergrads in very clearly "academic" fields like the humanities or the social sciences.

    It's yet another thing we should probably be warning kids about: "You realize that if you get a college degree and want it to help your career, it basically means moving to one coast or the other for at least a decade or so, right?"
  • I don't get this idea of hiring people and then not giving the an environment that the can do the job you are paying good money for.

    Part of it is because a lot of managers, HR people, and furniture police don't understand what people writing code actually need. All they see are a bunch of people typing all day, and typists don't need offices, privacy, quiet, etc. They just need a desk and a computer, so that must be all that anyone who just types all day needs.
  • by fuocoZERO (1008261) on Friday January 11, 2008 @11:57PM (#22010914) Journal

    I started working as an IT professional right out of high school (I had to show my diploma to be hired because I wasn't even 18 yet). I've been an IT consultant now for about 8 years.

    The first 5 of my years I worked for a small (3 techs at a time) company. There I found myself under-appreciated, underpaid and hugely taken advantage of. Right before leaving that company, a guy (my age) who just graduated college had the entitled attitude and it did nothing more than piss me off. His focus was "if I don't get a raise in X time, I am going to quit." I had to train him in all I do and I wasn't all that impressed by him nor his attitued despite being part of the same generation.

    I may have resented that job, but those 5 years allowed me to gain the experience I needed to obtain the job I have now. I did my time, paid my dues and the company I work for now pays me well, I have the respect of my peers (despite the fact I am one of the young guys) and I am authority in various technologies. Nothing wrong with starting small. Count me among the believers that hard work gets you places.

  • by hdparm (575302) on Friday January 11, 2008 @11:58PM (#22010924) Homepage
    That very well might be but the worst are stupid managers who don't see farther of their noses.

    I agree with you - every new generation has it easier, apparently for all the wrong reasons. However, there is a huge amount of bright young people who have every right to ask more of their employers. More money, better conditions, not to be treated as children just because they only started working in last year or so. It takes forever for a young person to advance, even if he/she is more productive and better educated.

    I've seen my share of this over the 25 years of my salaried working life.
  • by DaftShadow (548731) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @12:01AM (#22010952)
    You may have little patience for people who demand more than they are worth; but this generation has absolutely no patience for companies unwilling to engage them at market value.

    It's simple economics. If a key employee thinks that he is worth $X salary, you evaluate whether or not he's worth it. If he is, you pay it. If not worth it, you don't. That's it. These people are not quitting to go work at McDonalds, they are finding other work that pays them what they want.

    The 'retention' problem is not because this generation wants the kitchen sink; it's because these companies don't have any money to buy kitchens.

    - DaftShadow
  • Re:Your innocent (Score:3, Interesting)

    by crosstax (1206716) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @01:03AM (#22011392)
    Dog, your loyalty to corporate 'values' befit you.

    I've got a permanent scar on my right major finger as a reminder of the grunt work I did as a rite of passage and here I present it to you.

    I got it while working at gas stations cleaning the shit in toilets, facing product, cleaning pumps, shovelling snow and salting ice, mopping slush when I eventually became assitant manager, doing the paperwork, preparing bank deposits (you can imagine the cash totals I'm sure) and earning trust. In my spare time I learned C, then C++ and a few years after learning it on my own I took courses as 'confirmations' of my efforts. I received 'A' as a final grade in both of those languages from a University with a reputation for it's computer science department.

    Then I worked as a help desk agent for a national corporation where we had to know the corporate procedures manual (several hundred pages) for operational assistance and also had to have technical skills for fixing computer related problems for the point of sales systems. I did this for a couple of years then went on to University full time.

    I left University studies for employment as a software developer and maintainer at a multi-million dollar company where I had the chance to be a member of a small team that produced the kiosk software system for a government program under contract to allow the public free internet access from locations across the country. The company wanted it programmed in VisualBASIC for maintainability quick-hatched college students, so I made wrapper libraries around RAS32 so that dial-out was strictly controlled by the software such that the user could not modify the call out number etc... (Windows 2000 allowed the user to modify values if the session did not connect on the first try). Seperately at that position I also maintained databases in Microsoft Access with employees' (tens of thousands of) private information and as another example a database of the banking information for all retail sites across the country.

    The deadline for RRSP signup was looming and I had tried to contact the employee who was responsible for the signup unsuccessfully so I asked my manager who their manager was so I would know who to look for if I could not find the employee in person. He accused me of going to start trouble for our group and I responded that I wasn't going off to start any trouble. He sent me home for talking back to him then promptly laid me off on the next business day because he expected me to apologize despite his lack of apology for having accused me of wanting to get the other employee in trouble (which I swear to God I did not intend to do). The 'lay off' was commented as a 'corporate restructuring' on my official government forms despite the fact that I got word from employees I still knew that they hired another programmer to do the exact workload I was doing.

    Now these things I've told you are examples of someone performing those rites of passage but despite the trustworthiness exemplified and the crappy jobs I went through to get that first programming job at the age of 26 after originally learning how to program in BASIC at the age of 11 or 12, I'm now impoverished because I would not accept some corporate dog slandering me in from of my peers.

    If you think it's those people who refuse to serve a system that serves the elite who don't care about the people that do the work that make it possible for them to even be in the positions they're in, I'm here to tell my story and set the record straight. They'll use you, abuse you and cover it all up neatly while collecting money from your hard work.

    Now go be on and be a loyal dog to your corporate masters and give 'em a good rim job.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2008 @01:32AM (#22011552)
    I'll post my story (AC for obvious reasons) as an underpaid young IT worker.

    I got the largest raise (in %) of everyone in my office, yet I'm still one of the lowest paid. My boss didn't understand why I wasn't exhilarated at the rase I got (- but it's twice as large as anyone else's!, he exclaimed).

    Because people got hired at different rates (based on experience), they got in at a different level. This would make sense if you think that because they bring more experience: they work better, they have more knowledge, more work ethic, etc.

    Turns out I'm one of a handful that do their job well. I've become the "go to" guy because I usually have the answer at the tip of my fingers, or can suggest something in the right direction.

    Even though I've been with the company the longest of anyone there; even if I continued to get many "very large" raises (6%?) I'd still not be one of the best paid for many years.

    My argument is that the work you do should be compensated according to everyone else and the work they do. Your work, not this nebulous "experience[1]" concept, is what should determine your rate of pay.

    So what do I do? I find another job, wish me luck!

    AC

    [1] Not to discount experience. If your experience measurably helps everyone do their job (or saves the day), you've justified your keep. I'm talking about "experience", aka what's on the resume. It's impossible to know from a title and some bullet points what the job actually entailed. Some guys have impressive resumes and are completely incompetent. Just because you had a great job, doesn't mean you were any good at it.
  • by xenocide2 (231786) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @01:57AM (#22011706) Homepage
    So now that you don't have to extra work hard to provide for your children's future, we're blaming these people's upbringings as lazy? The problem isn't stated as "hiring", or "bad workers", but of "retention". Newsflash: less and less now, young people don't need you, but you need them. They're starting their own websites, their own companies, while you're losing employees to retirement, and they're coming in with new skills and technologies that will drive your company to compete.

    So when it comes around for performance reviews a year later, everyone looks back at what they've gone through, and realized that their time is being wasted. Too many meetings, too much cost micromanagement, over goals that they simply don't care about. And so new hires are now looking elsewhere, for some place where their work might matter to people they meet around town. Employers might talk about managing unreasonable expectations, but I've seen many dog and pony shows telling potential software engineers that they have great retention rates, they have great benefits, but when you talk to friends who took the job there, it's radically different than the people they trotted out to tell you about the Corporate Experience.

    Basically, stop telling me you have a great workplace while I overhear two people who interned there talking about working 45 hour weeks on a project that wound up getting canned.
  • by pimpimpim (811140) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @03:30AM (#22012140)
    Academic code from a quality point of view is completely horrible.

    As an academic I hope, for my own sake, that the quality of a code doesn't represent the intelligence of the one who wrote it, but more the lack of proper training in writing proper code. A lot of academic software is meant to solve one specific problem and then forget about it. At some point someone discovers that with a bit of rewriting an existing code can be re-used for another project, and over a few years you have yourself a 'software package' based on a combination of scripts, fortran, and C code, with a Makefile that should be tuned by hand and an input file format that is only comprehensible to the one who wrote it, and breaks at the moment you reverse two lines. Let's not talk about documentation at this point.

    Things are getting better, though, projects like gromacs [gromacs.org] (a moleculer dynamics package) and jmol [jmol.org] (a viewer), are build up pretty strictly, carefully written and sufficiently documented.

    Crafting a solid code is an important and difficult task, which requires an experienced person to do it. A PhD is bound to have experience, but more likely in developing algorithms, not in writing solid code. I guess a matter of hiring the right person for the right job.

  • by PietjeJantje (917584) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @04:21AM (#22012378)
    What is it with the open office people that they always want to use this "collaboration" or "communication" points? Explain it to me, how is it superior to stepping outside your office for a mo and talking to someone? Are you unable to get up and walk out the door? Is it the 5 seconds time saving? Are you an extreme programmer? How many minutes of a day do you communicate? Is it 60m? 120m? How many hours do you work in a day? 8? In those 6 to 7 hours, you are in an environment that is noisy because of others' communications without advantage to you. A particular setup.

    So what you're saying is that if, say, one has a job where you have to be on the phone an hour a day, the best way to operate is to always have the receiver at your ear and ignore it till it mentions your name.

    No sir, the "communication" point is just nonsense. If you want to make a point, talk about "socializing", or, since there is no money in that, use the magic "team work". This will work much better for you, as at the same time, without name calling, you portrait your introvert counterpart as unsocial or not a team worker, which only makes you look better!

    Logic dictates that "concentration" workers should have offices. Communication jobs, like many of the management or HR, could use the open floor plan. The only reasons it's the opposite are status and finance. In my experience the second reason is most often a case of "penny wise, pound stupid", although one can argue that if the work is not rocket science and if you get a team of junior extrovert monkeys and it works for them on an open plan, it works for the company and it's cheaper.

  • by Kokuyo (549451) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @04:27AM (#22012398) Journal
    From my personal experience I have to say I see the problem from a different perspective. Though keep in mind that I am not an American so my situation might be a completely different one.

    See, when I tried to get my first job it was the year 2002. IT staff was fired left and right and I decided I was lucky to get a job at all just after one month.

    The job was crap. They hired me because I would work for the least money (being so young) but expected me to run their complete IT including fixing a newly introduced business software that had been more like forced into the environment rather than introduced into it.

    When they started expecting that not only should I be on call 24/7, do the consulting, learn to handle the whole business software, do user support and actually code some equivalents to things the software should have done in the frickin' first place in Access but also, on top of all that, I was to fix hardware problems without any money I knew it was time to go.

    My next job was to be just user support and 'low level' IT work such as deploying workstations and fixing them and such. Then, during the interview, I got offered to work together with the consultant and be the one to actually build the support foundation for the new business software they were introducing. I had never worked in such an environment before, I didn't know the old software and I certainly diddn't know the new one but I thought to give it a go. After all I was offered the fall-back to the original offer of supporter.

    A few weeks later they had hired another supporter and I was called into the boss' office and told that some people didn't like some stuff about how I was doing my work. I was neither told what exactly was the problem nor was I told who had complained so I could have discussed the problem with them. I was just told to do stuff differently.

    Then I got the job I'm working at now. It is a good job because I like my coworkers and the stuff I do. But until this year, I was 20% underpayed (meaning you had to add another 20% to my actual salary to get to toe average salary). I was told that getting the 10% I asked for would be hard. Usually people in that company had to be happy with raises around one or two percent if they got anything at all. I was lucky since two IT people had left shortly before so they were in something of a tight spot.

    But my experience thus far has been as follows: It doesn't matter whether you have managers as your boss or the owner of the company, they're all trying to screw you over and unless you are willing to risk being laughed at because you have such high demands you will NEVER get fair conditions on your job.

    If companies started to actually treat us workers like we were trying to help get our company along instead of just an expense on the budget then perhaps we might start to have realistic demands in the first place. I am just unwilling to be treated as slave that has the bonus of being paid. If you think I'm unreasonable to ask that then, frankly, screw you.
  • by dtmos (447842) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @05:32AM (#22012706)
    This is not the first time entry-level people have thought times were tougher on them than the preceeding generation.

    In the mid-1960s my father worked for a contractor on the Apollo space program. Realizing that once the moon rocket design was substantially complete, engineers would be superfluous (a Briton would say redundant), in 1968 he transfered, within his company, out of the space program to a group in another state designing time-shared mainframes for business applications. It was the best decision of his career, but one that was very controversial at the time ("you're leaving the space program?!?").

    I will carry the memory of the period that followed to my grave. Some time after the transfer, the NASA cuts began, and we started getting phone calls (at home!) from my father's former coworkers, looking for work -- any work, any where, in any field. More than 20,000 engineers, scientists, and technicians in the state of Florida alone -- and probably 100,000 or more around the country -- were laid of as fast as the mimeograph machines could reproduce the pink slips. Engineers were driving taxis and bagging groceries in the towns around the Kennedy Space Center.

    The ultimate was when my father returned to the dinner table from another call to announce that the caller had been his former boss's boss's boss, looking for any work -- even a drafting position (six levels down the corporate ladder, and one that did not require a college degree). Like all the other callers, he had a wife, x young children, and a mortgage to support. (Homes were essentially unsellable in the areas around the major contractors' plants; the mortgages were greater than their market value, so foreclosures were the norm.) I hope I have sufficiently expressed the desperate nature of the situation.

    And yet...

    No university dropped its engineering program; freshout engineering graduates appeared, just as they always had, at the end of every semester. And all of them needed jobs. Entry-level jobs. All of these people entered school at the height of the space program, only to find when they graduated that the job market was considerably more difficult than they had expected. Having a difficult entry-level job market is not a new thing.

    One of the pleasures of age is that one sees the world as dynamic, rather than static. A young person sees a constant world, for it's the only one he's ever known. With age, however, one sees things change, and can evaluate, say, the first derivative of the world function. With greater age, one can see the rate of change change, and appreciate the second derivative; at that point, one can begin modeling the dynamics of social structures.

    The shortage of engineers in the 1960s led to the glut of engineers in the 1970s. However, because of the 4- to 6-year delay between entering and completing engineering school, the system is not necessarily stable; the glut of the 1970s led to such an engineering shortage by the early 1980s that separate, higher, salary ladders were established at major corporations for entry-level engineers (creating salary compression that demotivated experienced engineers, but that's a different thread). The system continues to oscillate today; the point is, it's oscillating through values we've seen before.
  • by Tim Browse (9263) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @05:46AM (#22012784)

    I was on Helldesk for the last 8 months, and I've observed that one of the guy that I work closely with would routinely put on his headphones if he need to work on something with some concentration

    Of course, even that doesn't work well - see the book Peopleware, for example. Listening to music tends to harm your ability to concentrate. I like to listen to music while working, but I have also found that if I really need to concentrate, I turn it off.

    This is assuming your co-worker actually listened to music, and didn't just use headphones as a social mechanism (i.e. wasn't actually listening to anything).

    Anyway, all the people saying nobody needs an office should read Peopleware. They did the experiments and the math so that we don't have to.

  • Re:Spoiled (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drsquare (530038) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @06:02AM (#22012864)

    I have to kowtow to an alarm clock that rings at 6:30 AM. Where are the promises that technology was supposed to reduce working hours and make our lives more pleasant?
    Thanks to technology, you no longer have to get up at 4am and walk 10 miles to work 14 hours down a mine. I think your post just sums up how spoilt today's generation is:

    "Woe is me, I have to drive to work in an air conditioned car, sit down for 8 hours doing horrible exhausting typing, then go home to my leather sofa and big-screen TV, never having to worry about going hungry or cold. Why is the world so cruel????"
  • by Shajenko42 (627901) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @09:14AM (#22013950)

    In 1958 most everyone could count on working for a big megacorp throughout their career and retire with a big fat pension to carry them through their golden years.
    They couldn't actually count on this - they only thought they could.

    Guess they didn't forsee corporations doing everything they could to welch on their agreements.
  • by Moraelin (679338) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @10:09AM (#22014346) Journal
    I'm not going to disagree with you at all. If I'm allowed a small addition, I'd add why that's even a good thing.

    See, the whole idea behind capitalism, going all the way to Adam Smith, is that it essentially optimizes using the resources we have, to create the things we actually need. You have X million people, Y million acres of land, etc. You also have these needs that the population has. The "wealthier" nation will be the one which uses them to produce more of what its people need, and less of what they don't.

    If it's more profitable to raise sheep than make wine in England, there's probably a good reason why, and you're doing all of us a service if you raise sheep. And if you raised sheep anyway, and France pays more for wool than you'd get in England, then by all means, go sell that wool in France. Then buy the wine where it's cheap and good quality with that money and sell it back in England.

    Or if you want to sell your land, and there's this peasant who can only pay you 1000 pounds for it, while another one would pay 2000, then by all means sell it to the latter. Probably he has a better business plan, knows what and how to raise there that's more profitable, and in the end it's better utilization of that resource and makes us all better off. Right?

    So then the same applies to the workforce. If another company can pay you more for the same work, they've probably got a better business plan and can make better use of that work. It's making us all better off if you quit your work at the one who pays less, and take the job that pays more. The same resources produces more for society, right?

    That's been the theory of capitalism all along. Self-interest is what makes Adam Smith's "invisible hand" work. I mean, right?

    At any rate, that's the kind of a theory that apologists of all-out cut-throat capitalism love to wave around. And it's surely used, in one way or another, when they have to justify doing something for _their_ self-interest. So then it's _weird_ to see them turn around 180 degrees and moan about these ungrateful, disloyal graduates who'll leave at the first opportunity to get a bigger wage.

    You'd think they'd be _thrilled_ to see the younger generation apply the same kind of capitalism all the way. I mean, surely, if cut-throat capitalism is good for us all, then people using the same principles in their job hunt are, well, nothing short of _patriotic_, right? And if the role of the corporation is solely to produce money for the shareholders, then it's _good_ to move to a corporation which has a better plan for your work and can afford to produce more with it. It's probably producing even more value for its shareholders, then.

    Well, ok, that was partially tongue-in-cheek and partially taking the piss, but still... it never ceases to amuse me when people go "capitalism is good! we only have a duty to maximize our profits!" when it excuses their own actions, but demand the exact opposite (e.g., unconditional selfless loyalty) from their employees. I wish they'd make up their mind whether they want one _or_ the other.
  • Experience Matters (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stewbacca (1033764) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @10:39AM (#22014644)
    Correct. Young kids of every generation are ungrateful, unproductive pricks who demand too much. Hell, I'm almost 40, and I still don't feel deserving of my salary and benefits. My wife gets it though. She is 10 years younger than me (so in the 20-something crowd) and works at the same software company as I do, in a higher position, but has a lower salary. She understands that she doesn't really deserve anything without any experience, and is just grateful to have a good job with good pay (that will only get better with experience).

    Experience matters, and I'm not just talking tech skills experience. Knowing how to contribute to the business processes, meetings, people skills, customer interface, etc. etc. aren't taught during IT studies. Most of the 20-somethings at my work don't even understand that sandals, T-shirts and jeans don't really qualify as "business casual". And with flex hours, they don't understand that coming in around noon and working until midnight isn't very productive when the majority of management and other "adult" employees tend to work around the 7-4 range. As the article states, this is indeed one difficult generation to manage, for sure!

    Oh yeah, and get off my lawn! (or get out of my office, and back to your cubicle...to keep it on topic..heh)

  • by PietjeJantje (917584) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @10:57AM (#22014816)
    I agree that fortresses guarded by secretaries are the opposite end of the spectrum and no good either. The English are still pretty good (or bad) at that. If you look at some of the big guys who dig deep into this like IBM or Microsoft, they end up with a small cluster of offices spanning a central meeting area. See for example:
    http://www.research.ibm.com/journal/sj/171/ibmsj1701C.pdf [ibm.com]
    Or even:
    http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/BionicOffice.html [joelonsoftware.com]
  • Same Old Song (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vic-traill (1038742) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @11:41AM (#22015300)

    Every generation complains about the work ethic of succeeding generations. Oh, yeah, and the music they listen too is just noise and too damn loud.

    I'm not trolling. If you have a good hiring process - one which explores the expectations of both the employee and the employer - then you'll bring in people who have an understanding of what is expected of them.

    I'm no big-time manager of people. I've got 27 people reporting up to my position. The twenty-somethings are no different than anyone else; they want to learn, have some interesting project work to go along with the more mundane aspects of operations and they want to be treated with respect.

    If you treat people otherwise, they won't respond well, no matter their age.

    And yes, I understand that some people are just assholes, and it'll never work out with them. But that's your responsibility, as a hiring manager, to figure out in advance.

  • retention (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cas2000 (148703) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @05:01PM (#22018744)
    i once worked in a place where the (unofficial but self-evident) criteria for hiring tech support staff was how little money they were prepared to accept. neither knowledge, experience, or aptitude were considered important.

    so, of course, most of the hires were completely clueless.

    occasionally, though, we'd get lucky and get someone with talent who just didn't have much, or any, experience so had to accept a low paying job.

    the inevitable result was that anyone who was any good or had the potential to become good (or even the ability to pick up enough knowledge to bullshit their way into looking as if they were good) stuck around for 3-6 months until they got enough experience to be able to apply for similar positions paying the industry-standard entry-level rate (typically, about 1.5x to twice as much as what we paid them).

    leaving us with the complete deadwood who weren't even capable of learning enough to bullshit their way into a better job, who held on desperately to their jobs because they knew they couldn't get or keep another one. it was like a sheltered workshop for technical support retards.

    the CS manager (who was far from bright himself) just could not be made to understand that the constant retraining and cleaning up newbie messes etc cost us a lot more than just paying people a decent wage to start with.

  • by kaiwai (765866) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @10:25PM (#22021260)
    I worked at an organisation, I averaged 70-80 hour work weeks; one stretch I worked for 42 days straight without a break.

    After 12 months the department I was in charge had gone from one of the worst performing to one of the best; from wastage measured in the double digits to below 1%. From having loss leaders during specials to everything making a profit due to better procurement of stock.

    Who made these changes? Me. Did I get any pay rise or kudos? fuck no! I was working quietly and dillgiently hoping that one day the manager of the organisation would say, "hey son, you've done a great job with this department, we need a real can do person like yourself - how about a promotion" - nope, not even that. Not even a damn bonus after all the money I worked to save the company.

    Sorry, I don't expect million dollar salaries, I don't expect huge amounts of cash, but I do expect at the very least an attempt by management to acknowledge those who go far beyond what management expects through some form of recognition. I've since left that organisation, and funny enough, under 3 months everything has not only gone backwards but worse than before I started.

    Was I offered a job? yes, I told them that they never took the time to give me due respect when I was there, buggered if I was going to bend over backwards for them now!

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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