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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, July 23, 2013

ACM CareerNews is intended as an objective career news digest for busy IT professionals. Views expressed are not necessarily those of ACM. To send comments, please write to careernews@hq.acm.org

Volume 9, Issue 14, July 23, 2013




 

Ten Best U.S. Cities for Science, Math and Tech Grads
Entrepreneur, July 17

The top U.S. metropolitan areas for recent STEM graduates include some obvious choices – such as Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. – as well as some you might not expect, like Huntsville, Alabama. Using data from Washington, D.C.-based think tank Brookings Institution, it was possible to compare 357 metro areas based on the demand in each city for employees with a STEM bachelor’s degree, the average salary of STEM graduates and the health of the local economy. If you’re an entrepreneur looking for technical talent to staff your startup, these are the cities and regions where recent STEM grads are likely to cluster.

Home to tech powerhouses like Intel and Adobe, the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro area is right in the heart of Silicon Valley and ranks #1 for tech jobs. There’s a lot of competition in the area, but there’s also a lot of demand for tech talent in the manufacturing, healthcare and information industries. The Washington, D.C. area, which ranked #2, supports well-paying jobs in biotechnology, healthcare, computer systems design, software publishing, and the science and technology consulting sectors. Huntsville, Alabama (#3) has become a national aerospace hub, thanks to the Marshall Space Center and an army missile program.


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IT Jobs Reports Show Growth
Washington Post, July 16

Information technology jobs in the country are growing steadily, according to new reports that analyze staffing patterns in IT and computer-related jobs across a wide mix of industries. For example, according to TechServe Alliance, IT jobs totaled 4,473,000 in June, which represents a 5.71% increase since last year. The June tally means the IT industry added 241,700 more tech jobs than the same time one year ago, and 22,600 jobs since May. At a time when demand for IT skills continues to increase, an inadequate supply of talent, not demand, represents the greatest challenge to achieving the full potential for IT employment growth in the U.S.

Other industry reports also suggest a similar upward trend in IT job growth, though not as steep. An analysis from Foote Partners suggests 18,200 new IT jobs were added in June, a figure that represents 8,400 more than added in May. The majority of these new jobs were in management and technical consulting and computer systems design services. The bottom line is there is optimism for IT workers based on positive momentum that started in October 2012 and has been running through the first six months of 2013.


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What IT Recruiters Know About You -- Whether You're Looking or Not
Computerworld, July 16

An emerging class of search engines is taking a Big Data approach to recruiting, and in the process, becoming an important tool for finding scarce talent in fields such as software development. By crawling the Web for every bit of data about you, assembling it into a master profile, and then rating your knowledge, skill levels and interests, they enable recruiters to filter it by location, skill, the school you attended and a range of other criteria. That means that recruiters will know a lot more about you than what you put on your resume. As this technology improves, it could broaden its reach into more types of industries, including high tech, legal, medical and engineering.

These new recruiting services take a Big Data approach, mining the social Web to identify and evaluate qualified talent. Working with these companies, recruiters are able to quickly come up with a ranked list of prospective candidates, complete with contact information. For now, there appears to be a strong correlation between traditional recruiting methods and these new Big Data methods: in addition to identifying new prospects, they also have correctly identified qualified individuals that companies had previously found using its traditional recruiting tools. The startups are benefitting from a growing trend in recruiting. In response to the high demand for high-tech talent, many large organizations have assembled sourcing teams --specialized recruiting groups that look for highly qualified people, which include passive candidates who aren't necessarily looking for a job.


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Big Data Career Switch: Four Key Points
Information Week, July 17

In response to the perceived lack of Big Data expertise in the workforce, a number of educational institutions are revamping their curricula to include programs in data science. In just the past year, some very prominent university (and non-university) programs have also partnered with organizations native to Big Data and to data science and are bringing practical, real skills into the classroom. These programs have risen to the top, produce highly sought-after graduates and are constantly getting better as they learn how to tame the issues related to Big Data and bring these insights into the classroom. However, other educational institutions are misrepresenting their curricula as data science, meaning that not all data science programs are created equal. The article provides a few important points to consider before pursuing a degree in data science.

The definition of data science is still a moving target, but most practitioners cite a few common characteristics: a strong grounding in mathematics; a familiarity with programming languages; a working knowledge of analytical modeling; and some area content knowledge. The fact that all these characteristics should be present in some form in any program using the label of "data science" explains why so many MBAs are having difficulty finding positions. No matter what universities say or how they try to market their degrees, no one with a Ph.D. teaching in a university today is a professor of data science. The concepts and the discipline are too new and have come upon us too quickly. That's why the best programs out there have strong partnerships with companies who are living the challenges of Big Data and, in many cases, are growing their own data scientists.


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Technology Workers Are Young (Really Young)
New York Times, July 5

The median age of workers at many of the most successful companies in the technology industry is less than 35 years old, making the tech industry one of the youngest in the nation. At a time when the overall media age of American workers is 42.3 years old, a new survey from PayScale found that just six of the 32 tech companies it examined had a median age greater than 35. In fact, eight of the companies had a median employee age of 30 or younger. Women were generally less than 30% of the work force, and in fields like semiconductors, represented much less than that. The results tend to affirm a widely held belief: the Silicon Valley firms that are growing or innovating around new areas tend to have the youngest workers.

The seven tech companies with the youngest workers, ranked from youngest to highest in median age, were Epic Games (26); Facebook (28); Zynga (28); Google (29); and AOL, Blizzard Entertainment, InfoSys, and Monster.com (all 30). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only shoe stores and restaurants have workers with a median age less than 30. Not surprisingly, the companies with older workers tend to be older companies, because some people still stay with one employer for many years, and over time, a company may accumulate more of these people.


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Why UK Women Are Choosing Startups Over the Corporate World
ComputerWeekly.com, July 18

A movement is taking place across the UK in which women are flocking to the tech startup scene, instead of choosing to join the corporate world. With more female business owners saying they have started to notice a rise in the amount of women opting to start their own tech firms, the article analyzes the reasons behind this new movement. For one, some women couldn't progress further in their jobs in larger organizations and decided to embrace the seemingly unlimited potential of a start-up environment. Another reason is that there are now more role models for women to follow, as startups led by women become successful and attract VC investment.

The growing number of inspiring role models, such as women speaking at events that celebrate achievers in the IT world, is one reason for the migration of women into start-up companies. Women realize they can now become the CEO, a role that would have been harder to attain via the corporate route. Companies have been able to attract some great female talent because the startup culture is definitely a very appealing alternative to the rigid corporate IT world. It is about the big vision, the flexibility and the scale of the trust and challenges. A startup isn't for everyone but those who are attracted are typically entrepreneurial and very keen to prove themselves. In startups generally, there is now a 50/50 gender split.


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Advertised Jobs are Just the Tip of the Iceberg
Job Journal, June 23

At a time when jobseekers are discovering that many open positions are no longer posted to the general public, candidates should expend more effort than ever before on using their network to discover new employment options. According to online career guidance resource Quintessential Careers, only 15-20% of available jobs are advertised through newspapers, online job boards or employment agencies. The hidden job market is real and, as discussed on LinkedIn, becoming more effective at delivering qualified candidates than conventional job postings. That means that at least half of all new hires find employment through networking and word-of-mouth.

The hidden job market is so huge because recruiters want to minimize the amount they spend on advertising. If they can get a recommendation, it puts them one step ahead in the vetting process. Hiring managers, too, seem more likely to hire a person who has been recommended by a co-worker or trusted associate. A 2012 New York Federal Reserve Bank study bears this out, citing that referred candidates were twice as likely to land interviews as those who were not referred, and 40% more likely to be hired. Hiring managers will often consider people inside the company for a new position, or people they know. Often, the next step is to seek recommendations from trusted sources.


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How Millennials Think and What To Do About It
Inc.com, July 3

Entrepreneurs and managers should be focusing on ways they can adapt their companies to attract Millennial workers. At the end of the day, older workers have built their companies’ cultures around the things that motivated their generation: money, career progression, and retirement plans. The Millennial generation has an entirely different consideration set for motivation. Given that Millennials already comprise more of the workforce than GenXers and Baby Boomers, companies need to invest time, money, and energy into creating workplaces that will attract and engage Millennial employees.

The first way to attract and engage with Millennial workers is to focus more on your company’s mission, less on money. When most of us graduated from college, we wanted a steady job that paid well. However, this new crop of employees is far more motivated by their mission than by the money they make. They want to transform a broken industry or save the planet. The second point to keep in mind is that this new generation is less focused on stepwise career progression. They work diligently in hopes of learning as much as possible and moving on to the next challenging project. They typically stay at a company for 1.5 years. Companies can adapt by creating formal rotation programs, experimenting with innovative training programs and building work environments that leverage social media interactions.


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Why Scientists and Engineers Must Learn Programming
Blog @ CACM, July 18

For both scientists and engineers, programming as a skill is becoming a way to work more intelligently than their co-workers and advance faster along their career paths. In an effort to motivate more people to learn programming, tech advocates are moving beyond “fuzzy responses” of why programming is important, in order to focus on the real skills and advantages it can confer to its practitioners. As the article points out, if you're a scientist or engineer, programming can enable you to work 10 to 100 times faster and come up with more creative solutions than your colleagues who don't know how to program. This is all the more important, given that modern-day science and engineering is all about processing, analyzing, and extracting insights from data.

Many scientists and engineers now realize how much more productive they could be at work if they had developed programming skills earlier. There are at least three reasons why scientists and engineers must learn programming: You can work 10 times faster by writing computer programs to automate tedious tasks (such as data cleaning and integration) that you would otherwise need to do by hand. If you know how to program, computer-related tasks that used to take you a week to finish will now take only a few hours. Programming also allows you to discover more creative solutions than your colleagues who don't know how to program. It lets you go beyond simply using the tools and data sets that everyone else around you uses, to transcend the limitations that your peers are stuck with.


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Russian, Chinese and Japanese Universities Take Top Spots in ACM ICPC Programming Contest
ACM Press Room, July 9

Four Russian Federation universities were among the among the top medal winners in the 2013 ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ACM-ICPC). For the second year in a row, first place went to St. Petersburg National Research University of IT, Mechanics and Optics. Shanghai Jiao Tong University came in second, followed by the University of Tokyo. The medal winners also included two Chinese universities and two Polish universities, as well as institutions from Taiwan, Ukraine, and Belarus. Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon, which finished in 11th place, was the top-ranking university from the U.S. The event, which ran from June 30 to July 4, showcased the analytical and coding skills of the contenders from 120 teams competing in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Earlier rounds of the ICPC competition, which is organized by ACM, included nearly 30,000 contestants representing more than 2,300 universities from 91 countries. The top four teams won gold medals as well as employment or internship offers from IBM. According to ACM President Vint Cerf, this international collegiate programming contest highlights the role of computer coding in driving innovation around the globe. Critical skills on display at the competition can be used to solve real-world problems across multiple disciplines.


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