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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, July 5, 2011

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Volume 7, Issue 13, July 5, 2011

In Silicon Valley, Select Tech Workers Are in High Demand
San Jose Mercury News, June 26

Across Silicon Valley, tech workers with skills in the booming fields of social media, mobile software and cloud computing are often juggling multiple job offers -- some in the six figures. According to observers, the tech job market hasn't been this overheated since the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s. As Internet giants compete with startups for senior software engineers, data analysts, Web designers and application developers, salary levels are advancing as well.

With the current level of demand, skilled IT professionals can pretty much decide where they want to work. Many job candidates already have two or three offers. Even candidates that aren't looking are getting offers every day, because they are listed on LinkedIn or other places. Several trends are driving the increased competition for a small pool of workers, including the rapid growth in mobile computing and the accumulation of mountains of data that companies are discovering can be turned into new products. Anecdotal evidence suggests that candidates with a history of having worked for a mix of Web, networking and chip companies are particularly in demand by recruiters. Candidates with experience in specific programming languages and software packages are also in demand.

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The Six Hottest New Jobs in IT (via InfoWorld), June 14

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, nearly 10,000 IT jobs were added to payrolls in May alone, reflecting a steady month-over-month increase since January. With 65% of hiring managers and recruiters saying they will hire more tech professionals in the second half of 2011 than in the previous six months, which jobs have the greatest growth potential? Based on a review of listings on IT hiring sites and interviews with IT execs, the article offers a closer look at the six skills that are in greatest demand by IT employers.

The role of the business architect has emerged as a way to manage the integration of business and technology processes. It's a role built around business planning, as well as pointing out opportunities to utilize IT more effectively in sales, customer service, and other key areas. The business architect is a member of the business organization, reporting to the CEO and creating high-level company strategy with technology in mind. The role of the data scientist is to find invaluable nuggets about customer behavior, security risks and potential system failures within the data produced on the Web. On the business side, data scientists can open up new opportunities by uncovering hidden patterns in unstructured data, such as customer behavior or market cycles. On the development side, a data scientist can use deep data trends to optimize websites for better customer retention.

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Report Predicts IT Skills Shortage Crisis as Data Growth Set to Outstrip Staff Numbers
Computer Weekly, June 29

The availability of IT staff to manage big data will fail to keep pace with information growth rates over the next decade. Analyst firm IDC predicts 1.8 zettabytes of digital information will be created and replicated in 2011, equivalent to every person in the UK tweeting three tweets per minute for 1.7 years. To manage this increase of data, firms will need to find new ways to acquire the requisite IT skills, experience and resources.

The IDC report predicts IT departments will have to manage 50 times the amount of information, 75 times the number of files and 10 times the number of virtual and physical servers, with only 1.5 times the number of IT professionals to manage it all, by 2020. The number of files is growing even faster than the information itself. In the next five years, these files will grow by a factor of eight, while the pool of IT staff available to manage them will grow only slightly.

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Worried About Jobs, College Women Go Geek
Christian Science Monitor, June 27

In just the past year, perceptions of computer science on campuses across America have changed. To some degree, this is due to the financial turmoil of the last few years, which has made it tougher for college graduates to find jobs. So women at several elite schools are turning to computer science – not accounting or finance – in hopes of landing secure employment opportunities after graduation. Their numbers are still small, but the influx of women into computer science programs may change the image and relative attractiveness of what has been a male-dominated major.

The change is evident at some of the top computer science programs in the United States. At MIT, for example, the number of female computer science majors has jumped 28% in the past three years. At Carnegie Mellon University, the share of computer science majors who are women has moved from 1 in 5 in 2007 to 1 in 4 last year. However, the biggest change appears to be at Harvard. In the 2009-10 academic year, 13% of computer science majors were women. In the 2010-11 academic year, 25% of computer science majors were women. There is also a big uptick in sophomores who have taken the intro course in Harvard's undergraduate computer science program.

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Your Next Job: Mobile App Developer?
Computerworld, June 27

As market demand surges for apps to run on smart device operating systems, companies are facing a shortage of mobile development talent, and that could lead to new opportunities for IT professionals with the right programming skills. For example, job postings for Android developers soared 302% in the first quarter of this year compared to the first quarter of 2010; ads for iPhone-related positions rose 220% in the same time frame. By some estimates, the number of mobile developer job listings has increased by 101% compared to the year-earlier period. It's not just tech companies that are on the prowl for mobile development talent. Today, all kinds of product and service companies are rushing to debut new apps.

Despite healthy demand for mobile app developers, that demand isn't translating into widespread offers of full-time jobs on corporate IT teams just yet. That's because many companies with lean IT budgets aren't ready to commit to hiring highly specialized mobile development talent. Whether you're a recent college grad or a midcareer professional, you may have what it takes to be a good mobile app developer if you possess certain specific qualities, such as strong Java, HTML and general technical skills. Developers who are steeped in the tenets of modern object-oriented programming and understand user interface and design patterns will have a leg up. Expertise in the specific APIs and user interface toolkits of major mobile platforms like Google's Android and Apple's iOS is a plus. A skilled programmer should be able to move between languages fairly easily, since mobile development essentially just involves learning a new syntax.

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Older Americans Fuel Entrepreneurial Boom
Smart Money, June 29

Faced with diminished retirement savings and high unemployment rates, older Americans are becoming entrepreneurs. According to the nonprofit Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, individuals between the ages of 54 and 64 represented 22.9% of the entrepreneurs who launched businesses in 2010 – up from 14.5% in 1996. In a Q&A, Eric Ries, Entrepreneur in Residence at Harvard Business School, discusses the trend toward older entrepreneurs, suggesting that the United States might be on the cusp of an entrepreneurship boom in its aging population.

The stereotype that you have to be a young 20-something just out of college to be a successful entrepreneur is just not true. Older entrepreneurs outperform younger ones in terms of their success rates. While entrepreneurial vision is very important, it’s still important to test ideas as quickly as possible with empirical data. One idea is to go is the web site, which helps projects get funding. By looking at pre-orders, you can gauge demand for your idea. If you simply ask people whether they think something is a good idea or whether they would pay for a product, most are not going to be able to give you an accurate answer.

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How To Interview For VP: Expert Advice
Information Week, June 29

In interviewing for a VP position within the IT organization, every candidate should be aware of the questions and expectations that they will face from recruiters and hiring executives. With this in mind, a senior technology executive with extensive experience interviewing and promoting VP candidates weighs in with his view of how to make a solid promotion decision. Hiring officers should set their expectations of the candidates in advance and have a documented process for determining the successful one. The candidates need to have researched the organization, job, and interviewers; know what they plan to say; and recognize that they're in a competition, no matter how many years of experience they may have.

A promotion to VP is based on the candidate's demonstrated ability to work at that level. Candidates begin as equals: past achievements are just the ante to get the interview. The interview is to confirm the candidate's qualifications and select among those determined to be qualified. Candidates must sell themselves, showing the ability to lead and influence others. After all, convincing people, often with incomplete information or unknown motives, is a fundamental role of a technology VP. Even open-ended questions like "Tell me about yourself" are an opportunity for candidates to be inventive and reveal more than is on their resumes. This is an invitation for them to talk about their rich experiences, set the tone, and address any negative perceptions.

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Most IT Pros Don't Fear Losing Their Jobs to the Cloud
Network World (via, June 21

While most people in the IT industry predict that enterprise cloud computing usage will accelerate in the next two years, they are just as confident that IT professionals will not be displaced from their enterprise jobs because of the cloud. In a survey conducted at the Cloud Leadership Forum, experts suggested that IT professionals may even want to prepare themselves to convert their enterprise IT infrastructures into private clouds, and to take on the role of provisioning cloud services for end users and business partners.

The Cloud Leadership Forum survey asked attendees to predict the future of cloud computing by agreeing or disagreeing with 46 predictive statements. The predictions with the most consensus were those that said that adoption of cloud computing would boom within the next few years. By 2015, at least 30% of Fortune 1000 enterprises will deploy at least one business critical system in the cloud. By 2014, one-third of all IT organizations will be providers of cloud services of one type or another to customers and/or business partners. Cloud service brokers that provide integration, management, security and other services across public cloud offerings will emerge as powerful industry players by 2015.

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The Status of Women of Color in Computer Science
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 54 No. 7, July 2011

As U.S. colleges are already majority female and are increasingly enrolling more minority students, women of color represent a growing potential source of domestic talent to meet the needs of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The current situation, in which there is an underrepresentation of women of color in these fields, presents challenges for addressing the need of attracting and retaining other women into computing. For example, among U.S. citizens and permanent residents receiving 2008 degrees in the computer sciences, women of color fared worse compared to their white female counterparts at both the bachelor's and Ph.D. levels. The article considers several policy decisions that could lead to more women of color pursuing advanced degrees within computer science.

While policies aimed at increasing women of color in computing should be based on empirical research, not much research exists yet on the challenges of race and gender simultaneously. The NSF-funded project, "Inside the Double Bind: A Synthesis of Empirical Literature on Women of Color in STEM," aimed to gather, analyze, and synthesize empirical research that had been produced between 1970 and 2008. The findings identified 19 sources on women of color in computer science, including 16 that were produced after 2002. Most of the literature focuses on higher education, and the research covers an array of topics, including the "digital divide" that separates girls and women of color from others, social challenges for women of color students, the roles of minority-serving institutions, and nontraditional pathways to CS degrees.

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S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation Awards $50,000 Grant to MentorNet
MentorNet, June 22

The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation awarded MentorNet a $50,000 grant to build awareness of its one-to-one online mentoring program to all underrepresented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) university students in the United States. As a result of this grant, MentorNet will be able to grow its program beyond its 100 campus partners and help to foster a robust and competitive workforce that understands and appreciates the contributions made by engineering and science to society's welfare.

Keeping in mind that technology has the power to positively transform the lives of thousands of students nationwide, MentorNet hopes to extend a helping hand to students beyond its 100 partnering campuses by exploring the power of social media to reach its target audience. According to the CEO of MentorNet, there are about 1.5 million women and minority STEM students in the United States. MentorNet currently serves about 3,000 students a year.

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