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02/28/2007 - IT Job Myths Debunked at Seminar

There are jobs in Information Technology (IT) – lots of jobs – and the number of jobs will continue to grow. That was the message delivered to nearly one hundred high school students at the “Future Potential in Computing” seminar presented at the Riverpoint campus Tuesday evening. The seminar was sponsored by Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga, Google, Microsoft, and Whitworth College and others.

Wanda Miles, director of marketing communications-engineering excellence at Microsoft debunked the “five myths” of IT. Myth one is “there are no jobs in IT.” In fact there are many jobs in all parts of the country with above average starting salaries for people with four-year computer science degrees. She referred the audience to with postings of 96,000 jobs in IT.

Myth two is that there will be no jobs in four years when a beginning student completes the degree program. In fact, IT is the fastest growing job market in the United States. Even programming jobs will increase ten to twenty per cent in the next four years.

Myth three is that all IT related jobs are moving off-shore. According to Miles, the movement of jobs off-shore has largely been misrepresented. Companies like Microsoft aren’t moving jobs, they are hiring people in India and China because the have acquired companies in India and China and are hiring to fill positions within those companies. Although it is true that some call center jobs have been moved, jobs for highly skilled people with core competencies have not and will not be moved. Technology companies are still hiring more people here than overseas.

Myth four contends that computing and IT salaries are “cheap” due to overseas rates of pay. In fact, the starting salaries for newly graduated IT employees are still some of the highest starting salaries available. These salaries are expected to rise due to the shortage of IT graduates.

Myth five is that CS related educational degrees are not valuable. Actually, without the four-year degree, an IT job candidate will not even get an interview at many large technology companies such as Google.

To sum up the probable future, Miles pointed out that computing is now and will remain vital to all businesses profitability. The fast pace of technological change will keep the field interesting. The off-shore threat has been mis-communicated, and that the globalization of IT represents an opportunity, not a liability. The US IT worker demand is strong and will remain strong for the foreseeable future.

Following Miles presentation, Peter Tucker, assistant professor of computer science at Whitworth talked about his years of working at Microsoft starting as an Intern and ending as a project manager. A panel discussion followed with panelists that included GU alumna Jordanna Chord, now at Google; Whitworth alumnus Jeff Lundin, Cyan; EWU alumna Kris Rudin, Ascentium; Susan Mabry, Whitworth computer science faculty; and Rebecca Long, computer science graduate student, EWU.

Advice given by all included: finish a four-year degree and learn to work in teams, communicate both in writing and in public speaking, and get internships. Learning one or more foreign languages will be as important as learning one or more computer languages. Perhaps the most important advice was to “be passionate about what you do.”

Billie Moreland
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