Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Captain Returns to College

A day in the life of the Captain is basically this;

10AM - Wake Up and SSS

1030-1130 - Get my morning power drink, answer e-mails and answer any questions my students have in my online classes (all of you should take)

1130-1145 - Look at Drudge, curse, make a post for you guys.

1145-130PM - Run around Lake Calhouns and the Isles

130-430PM - House work, cutting wood, work out, eat

430-10PM - Leave for dance class early to avoid rush hour, teach and drive back home

10PM -Midnight - Meet with my crew, drink, dance, crash with the lovely Natasha

Midnight - 2AM - internet, watching Hogan's Heroes and Venture Brothers

Now, this is certainly not a bad life. But it leaves one wanting. It certainly is not hard teaching dance classes, and online classes are certainly great, but loafing around going Galt does not fill the soul of a true, productive American man. You feel empty. Ergo why your Captain started his two year degree in computer networking.

Now the merits of computer networking should be obvious;

1. In demand skill that will get you the highest income with the least amount of schooling.
2. No need to go 4 years (most of which would be pissed away on worthless liberal arts pre-req's) to learn a skill that is deployable in 2 years.
3. The finite nature of computer networking makes it much more immune to politics and moronic middle aged bankers. For example if you design the network correctly and it works, it works. There's nothing to complain about. Versus predicting a housing crash 2 years before it happens, trying to tell your baby boomer bosses to not make bad loans, even if you're right, you're still going to be berated, disciplined and yelled at because you got in the way of their big, fat commission check. There is no politics simply because of the nature of computers.

So the Captain goes to his first networking class and what do you suppose the breakdown of the students are?

The sole, lonely Captain and a score of bodacious, hot 20 something babes?

The Captain and an equal mix men and women of his age?

The Captain and a rainbow of diversity where the Captain was the only non-Catholic Irish, quarter-Jew with a smattering of German blood in him, representing the white man?

No, it was the Captain, a score of fat, pasty nerdy white guys between 30-50 and two lonely girls.

And it depressed me. Not because there weren't tons of totally hot and find babes in the class, but because once again the reason women make less than men, the reason for the wage gap was sitting there right in front of me. All the complaining, all the demands for justice, all the whining, and yet there was the proof that women, by and large, are not going to make the right choices to close that gap.

Of course, when I went to the bathroom and walked pasted (what I believe to be) a media arts class, what do you suppose the break down of that was?

Makes me wonder if people really are that stupid or just plain brainwashed.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm a computer guy and all I did was an online certification course that cost about a grand. Considering I make $140k now, that is an investment that paid off. Note that I live in a horrible far-off place, if I lived in a major city I'd make 70-80k.

After 13 years in this industry I can tell you that the amount of schooling one has is inversely correlated with competence. I'm glad you're not doing comp sci.

Pete said...

The finite nature of computer networking makes it much more immune to politics and moronic middle aged bankers. For example if you design the network correctly and it works, it works. There's nothing to complain about. ... There is no politics simply because of the nature of computers.
Oh you're wrong oh so wrong on this point. Just wait until you put together the perfect network, only be told by the SVP of IT and Development that no, you can't do that, he has better ideas than you, and though he's just an ex-cell-phone-sales-guy, he's the CEO's best friend and has more pull than you'll ever have.

The last 9 years of my working career have been dealing with idiots like him. It's the reason I've left/am leaving my last two jobs. Politics just doesn't go away because of technology.

Oh, and gender equality:

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/09/14/doctorates/

Women are getting more doctorates than men in:

Social and behavioral sciences
Public administration and services
Health sciences
Education

daniel_ream said...

"There is no politics simply because of the nature of computers."

You are charmingly naive about the nature of the IT industry. There's a reason a lot of intermediate-senior IT managers burn out and leave the field, and it's not because they got rich.

I should also point out that the market has been oversupplied with junior IT people since about 1997 and has not even come close to correcting yet. Last week I interviewed ten different people for a junior-intermediate developer support IT position and not one of them was qualified (we hired a referral from one of our existing employees instead).

Also, a lot of what you learn in a college computer networking course is going to be just barely enough to qualify you to do desktop support, which is the "would you like fries with that" of the IT industry. You can't learn this job in a classroom because it's very much like a skilled trade, except without the formal apprenticeship infrastructure, the professional organizations, or the internal policing mechanisms.

If you're dead serious about making this a real career, you're going to need a mentor to help you get a leg up, especially since you're coming to it late. I'd offer, but you need someone local because this job can be highly regional. I can point you to some of the things you won't learn in your courses, though, that are ten times more likely to get you a job.

Baron Metzengerstein said...

Welcome to my world, cap. 20 students in our CS program here and only 2 are female. D'oh!

BashTheMsm said...

two years for computer networking? isnt that a lot of time?

Anonymous said...

I agree with the others here - politics is rife in the networking and IT sectors. I've been in the business 30 years and frankly, it gets more stupid every day.

You get all sorts of self-proclaimed executive "experts" demanding that you implement the latest technology buzzword because they read it was so wonderful in ComputerWorld or InfoWorld or CIO Magazine. Of course, they give you zero funding and zero staffing to do exactly that - oh, and get it done by tomorrow.

And in IT and networking, there is always a large backlog of work (I have projects backlogged 6 years) and rather than actually working down that backlog, you get different units in the organization each wanting their pet project done yesterday, so you waste ungodly amounts resource trying to prioritize work so as many people are satisfied as possible.

And damn, when things fail (as they occasionally do despite our best efforts) then you have all sorts of "help" from execs demanding what broke and how long it will take to fix, interrupting you while you are trying to fix it. And of course, you have the post-incident blamestorming and root cause analysis to do.

So, you have many bosses most of which are total morons, you don't have half the resources to do everything people want and you're treated as uncooperative jerks because you have to say no. Oh, and don't forget those new unfunded required corporate projects.

And lest you think that networking is a stable job that can't be offshored, the skilled planning/design stuff is being offshored - for example AT&T has been offshoring to Slovenia or is it Slovakia? leaving only switch installers and cablers in the US.

ScottH said...

daniel_ream said...

If you're dead serious about making this a real career, you're going to need a mentor to help you get a leg up, especially since you're coming to it late.

Captain - talk to Brian Dunbar, he's an IT guy in Wisconsin and can probably give you some good advice:

http://space4commerce.blogspot.com/

Tell him ScottH(Pan-Am) sent you.

Jacob Oost said...

Hey Mr. Anonymous, the Internet, networking hardware, circuits, software, programming languages, and electronics that make the basis of your "computer guy" job were all designed by people with graduate degrees in math, engineering, and computer science. I guess they're all incompetent?

Frank said...

Jacob: correct. I'm sure there are a few exceptions (i know of a couple), but I'd certainly think twice about hiring a junior developer without the discipline learned from an undergraduate comp sci or comp eng degree. It's just not possible to learn all you need to know about software development from a short course. You need good education and many years of solid experience. "the amount of schooling one has is inversely correlated with competence" could not be further from the truth. Hiring someone without at least an undergraduate degree and a couple years experience is a huge risk and would require a lot of investment. Good ol' programming tests usually filter out the not so good ones.

And yes cap'n, when I studied comp sci back in '95, most were nerds. Good to see not much has changed - I haven't missed out :)