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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, July 9, 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 13, July 9, 2013




The 10 Cities With the Most STEM Job Openings Right Now
Forbes, June 18

According to Forbes and online job search engine Indeed.com, the U.S. cities with the most available STEM openings right now are New York, Washington, D.C. and San Jose. Indeed.com searched through its data to find all open STEM jobs, as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor, in the 50 largest metro areas by population. It then sorted the results by location to find the 10 cities that have the greatest number STEM job postings right now. While these results do not reflect the precise number of available jobs, these numbers do offer a strong, broad gauge of hiring demand for STEM jobs across the country.

New York City is currently the most attractive metro area for STEM professionals, with local employers looking to fill 47,754 STEM positions. In terms of the start-up technology scene and the number of active venture capital firms, New York is also one of the top cities in the nation. Additionally, New York City is the home of cutting-edge science and medical research. Washington, D.C., came in second place, with 39,368 STEM job openings right now, many of them in the aerospace, defense and healthcare industries. Rounding out the top three with 30,731 STEM job openings is San Jose, California. Not only was San Jose at the heart of the Internet boom during the 1990s, but also in the past decade, it has become a center for technology start-ups, venture capitalists and financial companies.


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Tech Talent Wars Spill Into Marketing
CIO.com (via Network World), June 21

The demand for top tech talent is now coming from outside the IT department, to include core business functions such as marketing. The reason is that marketing departments are now recruiting their own tech workers to deploy and manage new apps and systems. Chief marketing officers are now building their own teams, a trend that is accelerating the hiring in large corporations. For some recruiters, marketing-related jobs now account for 30% of all IT hiring, up from a level of around 5% just three years ago. Due to the new technology demands from the CMO, there is now renewed optimism for tech hiring, which is now expected to accelerate in the second half of 2013.

One reason marketing executives are taking IT hiring matters into their own hands is because CIO-led tech departments are busy with core IT responsibilities and might not be as responsive to new marketing initiatives as the CMO team would like. Having in-house tech talent can help marketing departments deploy new tools at the fast pace they'd prefer. The sense of urgency of a CMO is different from the sense of urgency of a CIO.


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Big Data Needs Creative Types, Too
Information Week, June 24

While today’s data scientists must have knowledge of multiple technical and business disciplines -- including analytics, computer science, math, modeling and statistics -- it’s also becoming a prerequisite to be able to showcase creative approaches to data analysis. Not surprisingly, it's often a challenge to find individuals with such a wide range of abilities, a reality that might soon transform the position of data scientist into three distinct job categories. There will be technologists to write algorithms and code; statisticians and quantitative analysts to crunch numbers; and creative thinkers who will find insights in data that their more technically inclined colleagues might miss. For companies, the challenge will be to combine these different personality types into one cohesive Big Data team.

In the Big Data world, the technologists are the people who build the systems, get data loaded and transferred and maintain the critical infrastructure of a company. The creative analysts, in turn, will mine massive volumes of data for actionable insights. Not surprisingly, these so-called “artist explorers” probably won't manage computer systems; instead, they will be completely operationally focused and a little more creative and strategic in the way they think. As a result of this transformation of the data scientist role, universities and technology companies must work together to address the "data skills gap" by giving students the tools and training to compete in a data-driven economy.


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Cyber Security Training on the Rise for Young Students
USA Today, July 2

Robert R. Ackerman Jr., a serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist who invests heavily in cyber security, weighs in on the growing number of ways that young IT professionals can prepare for a career in cyber security. There are a growing number of cyber educational opportunities, starting even before the college level, which may spark the desire of young students to pursue cyber security careers. That’s welcome news since recent surveys show that listings for cyber security positions have risen 73% in the five years through 2012 – a rate that is 3.5 times faster than postings for computer jobs overall. By 2015, projects the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. will need 700,000 new cyber security professionals.

Most notably, there are growing opportunities at the college level – not just to take a few courses or workshops, but also to graduate with a degree in cyber security. For example, the University of Maryland already has undergraduate concentrations in cyber security, an honors program, summer research opportunities and postgraduate opportunities (e.g. a master’s degree in cyber security). There is the Center for Cyber Security Education at the University of Dallas and a new master's degree offering in cyber security at the University of Southern California. There are also extensive cyber programs offered by Champlain College in Vermont and at Bellevue University in Nebraska. More such expansive programs are needed, given the importance of cyber security to the future of U.S.-Chinese relations.


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Where the Jobs Are 2013
IEEE Spectrum, June 26

While the job growth rate for the engineering profession might be modest compared to pre-recession numbers, hiring is increasing, salaries are up, and long-term job prospects look good. Not surprisingly, electrical and computer engineers are still generally in demand at high-tech companies, consulting and finance firms, research institutions, and government organizations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in the United States for electrical engineers and computer engineers at the end of 2012 was 3.3% and 2.8%, respectively, compared to the general rate of 3.9% for people with bachelor’s degrees. Even more importantly, these U.S. numbers reflect what’s happening elsewhere in the world, where demand is also strong for engineers.

The return of manufacturing to the United States has brought with it high-paying jobs. For newly minted computer engineers hired in manufacturing, the average starting salary is now $74,900, according to an April 2013 salary survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Automotive jobs that were lost a few years ago are making a comeback. There is also growing demand for engineers in peripheral industries that support the manufacturing and auto industries. The natural gas boom in the United States has created tens of thousands of jobs, while an aging workforce means that the power industry is desperate for fresh talent. Meanwhile, hot areas like Big Data and online education are creating demand for information technologists. Pretty much all sectors need candidates with strong programming and Web-building skills, whether it’s nonprofit, high tech, or education.


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Computer Scientists Get Wet in Biology-Related Careers
Science Careers, June 14

By adding knowledge about the fundamentals of biology and genetics to their computer science training, computer scientists are contributing and preparing themselves to contribute to the advancement of the life sciences. In the process, they are laying the foundation for entirely new branches of study. The article looks at how CS researchers are adding computer science techniques to the techniques of their native fields; explores the impact of big data and new statistical tools on these fields; and speculates about the future development of entirely new career paths related to emerging areas such as synthetic biology and the study of the human genome.

Biology is emerging as a new area for computer scientists to apply their skills. In one example highlighted by the article, a recent Yale graduate with a Ph.D. in computer science transitioned from a future career in AI to a career in which he joined the fledgling Human Genome Project as a programmer. After a decade of learning more about biology – including weekly genomics seminars – he is now considered one of the leading names in the bioinformatics field. Similarly, the field of synthetic biology, which involves designing and building genetic constructs and testing them in living cells, requires computer science skills. The combination of quantitative abilities and experimental biology skills is very valuable in synthetic biology. In most cases, incoming researchers have no background in cell biology, but grow quickly fascinated by the ability to understand the genomic information of various organisms.


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Six Highest and Lowest Paid IT Jobs
CIO.com, June 21

C-level titles top the list of highest paid IT jobs, while technical support positions dominate the low end of the pay scale, according to new salary data from technology staffing firm Mondo. CIO is the highest-paid IT role, with a salary range of $195,000 to $230,000, followed by CTO ($145,000 - $208,000); CSO ($145,000 - $208,000); IT security manager ($145,000 - $177,000); software architect ($144,000 - $170,000); and application architect ($136,000 - $185,000). Looking ahead to 2014, Mondo predicts a spike in demand for HTML5 developers, with salaries to range from $97,000 to $135,000. Midway through 2013, the rate of IT hiring and the rate of IT salaries is accelerating compared to the first half of the year.

There's strong demand for IT professionals with expertise in areas such as mobile, big data, cloud computing, and user experience, and that demand is, in turn, driving salary increases. Everybody wants big data business analysts. Not database developers or programmers, but business analysts, people who can look at a big data architecture and help translate how that would be valuable to the business. Another role that's in high demand is user interface analyst, with expertise in optimizing the user experience. Mondo singled out a number of jobs that saw big pay gains, percentage-wise, in 2013. The largest increase in base compensation went to seasoned IT security managers (from $90,000 in 2012 to $145,000 in 2013) and systems analysts (from $65,000 to $83,000). Other big gains went to data analysts, senior help desk staffers, technical writers and Android developers.


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Three Stealth Ways to Network at Conferences
LinkedIn, June 24

For tech professionals who attend conferences, trade shows or conventions on a regular basis, it’s important to be able to know how to network effectively. This is especially true since the people you meet at these events can influence you and change your career in ways that listening to a simple keynote speech may not. Based on the experiences of veteran conference-goers, LinkedIn offers a list of three ways to meet others and network more effectively – even if you don’t know anyone else at the event.

The easiest way to network is by simply exchanging business cards with others attending the event. Just remember that everyone feels the same way you do, so simplify it by just asking the person you’re standing next to where they work, why they came to the conference, how long they’ve worked in the industry, or whatever you think might put them at ease. Also, look for ways to get involved in any conference you attend. More and more organizers are offering attendees a chance to work at a service project in the community or to take on a shift as a conference worker. Getting involved behind the scenes is a great way to network and meet other people passionate about your industry. The relationships you build will inevitably help you better understand the opportunities in your business.


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Closing the Computing Labor Shortage with Computing in Schools
Blog @ CACM, June 26

One way to close the looming computer science labor shortage over the next decade is by increasing the amount of computing and coding that is taught in schools. According to estimates from Code.org, there will be 1.4 million jobs for IT professionals over the next ten years, but only 400,000 graduates to fill those jobs. That’s why it’s important to get more computer science into schools, to give students the opportunity to see real computing and discover an affinity for it. The argument for more computer science in schools is stronger than the argument about STEM generally. Most people in computing agree that we really do have a labor shortage — we need more people who know computing. Moreover, the evidence is stronger that improving computing education in schools will have an impact on computing careers.

First, there is very little computer science in high schools today. There are 2,000 Advanced Placement Computer Science teachers in the United States for approximately 25,000 high schools. There is science and mathematics education already in schools, and marginal improvements may not have a big impact on careers. For the most of the U.S., we are talking about providing computing education where there’s nothing. Second, the research evidence suggests that adding computing education into a high school has a dramatic impact, especially on under-represented minorities. In some cases, minority students want to study computer science, but simply can’t get access to any courses. Those are exactly the students that we need in order to fill the computing labor gap. Broadening access will be critical to getting enough computing professionals.


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People of ACM: Joseph A. Konstan
ACM Today’s Topics, June 27

In this ACM interview, Joseph A. Konstan, a distinguished professor of computer science at the University of Minnesota and long-time ACM volunteer, discusses some of his award-winning work in the field of Computer-Human Interaction, such as the development of the MovieLens movie recommendation system. He also discusses his decision to found and publish the Harvard Computer Review when he was an undergraduate and describes why he continues to pursue volunteer opportunities at ACM. Based on insights acquired over a successful career, Professor Konstan wraps up the interview with some practical advice for students who are currently considering career opportunities in computer-human interaction.

As Professor Konstan explains in the interview, MovieLens is a recommender system that differs markedly from classic data mining techniques. The system is based on automated collaborative filtering, which is a technology focused on making personal recommendations rather than finding patterns or trends. As originally developed, MovieLens used an algorithm that identified for each user the MovieLens members whose tastes were most like theirs, and then combined the opinions of a neighborhood of users to form personal recommendations. Today, collaborative filtering algorithms sit alongside other data mining techniques as part of the toolkit a computer scientist can bring to a big data problem.


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