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ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, June 4, 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 11, June 4, 2013




Seven Healthcare IT Roles That Are Transforming Tech Careers
Computerworld, May 16

The healthcare IT sector has become one of the fastest-growing areas for career opportunities for IT professionals, due to a convergence of several factors – rapidly increasing mobile adoption rates, new legislation, concerns about HIPPA compliance and emerging technologies. As a result, there is a market that is hungry for talent that not only knows IT, but also has a solid understanding of healthcare. In fact, the importance of IT to healthcare providers continues to trend upwards, with 89% of physicians and other providers now rating IT as important to their practice. The article details seven different roles that hold the most promise for healthcare IT professionals.

One healthcare IT role experiencing a recent boost in popularity is the Clinical Applications Analyst. These IT professionals connect the workflows between patients, clinicians, doctors and social workers. These individuals will have a strong clinical background and work to improve workflows using their unique experience, whether it's on the revenue side or in the operating room. Another important role is within Clinical Informatics, an area where information science and healthcare converge. Hospitals collect an enormous amount of data and someone needs to be able to make that data useful. Clinical Application Trainers are HIT pros that work with analysts and end-users to walk them through the applications they will use. They work both in the classroom and side-by-side with nurses and doctors.


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Tech Hotshots: The Rise of the Data Visualization Expert
Network World, May 23

By 2015, there may be as many as 4.4 million Big Data jobs, with many of them requiring new, nontraditional skills like data visualization. For now, the data visualization function is not yet well defined, and it's rare to see it as a job title in and of itself, IT career watchers say. Rather, it's a skill set that more and more companies are demanding as part of other roles, notably business intelligence and analytics jobs. Data visualization is still in its infancy but will become more prominent as companies wrap their strategies around the extraction and usage of data. The article looks at the emergence of data visualization as a discipline, as well as the types of skills and capabilities required within this new role.

Career experts say that there are two levels of data visualization skills emerging. One level refers to a person's ability to use the latest technology and tools to analyze and present information. However, that's not enough in some applications. Organizations need someone with deeper skills to visually present a sophisticated and comprehensive analysis. This means that a person needs more than just the right tools and technologies -- the person needs a specialized understanding of how the brain reacts to and digests visual information. Meanwhile, companies seem to be recognizing the need for data visualization training not just for their business analysts but also for individuals across their organizations.


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The Cities Winning The Battle For Information Jobs
Forbes, May 23

Over the past two years, spurred largely by social media and the growing use of data in business, the information sector has been revitalized, with strong hiring in software publishing, data processing and other information services. Of the largest metro areas, the top two for information jobs are San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (“Silicon Valley”), followed by San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City. Since 2007, the number of information jobs in the Valley has grown by 25%. Several other popular tech hubs, including Boston (#4), where information employment is up over 8% since 2007, and Seattle (#15), which has posted solid growth of 4% in the sector since 2007, also scored highly for attracting new information jobs.

The big story in the information sector may be the emergence of a whole series of smaller metro areas that are usually less expensive. Some of the metro areas probably would not be a surprise, such as Austin, Texas (#5), and Raleigh-Cary, N.C. (#8). Less well known has been the growth in other upstart locations. Perhaps the most underrated metro area is New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner (#3), where information employment is up 28% since 2009. In many ways, New Orleans’ success story in information — the migration of jobs to lower cost, but still attractive, regions — is mirrored in other metro areas in our rankings. This includes Atlanta (#6), whose 85,000-strong information sector is now the nation’s fifth largest. Several other large but affordable metro areas are also gaining momentum, most of which are in the Sun Belt. These include San Antonio (#7), Phoenix (#9) and Nashville-Murfreesboro-Franklin (#10).


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Six Secrets to Better Networking at Conferences
LinkedIn Today, May 26

Most IT professionals spend time every year attending conferences, so they need to spend time cultivating the networking skills required to make the most of attending them and spur career development. While it's great to be inspired and to learn at conferences, the most valuable aspect of a conference is the people you meet and the relationships you can form and nurture there. Above all else, when you attend a conference, have concrete goals in mind for your networking in advance, be both interesting and interested, and spend time to get to know people and help them. If you follow these simple tips, you'll be able to meet more people and get more out of each conference you attend.

Start by researching speakers and attendees ahead of time, figuring out the people you'd most like to meet and spend time with, and then reaching out via email, Twitter or LinkedIn. Figure out how you can truly help them so that you'll be differentiating yourself from everyone else, who just wants to get something from them. Also, use social media to connect with and compliment the speakers. One of the best ways to grab a speaker's attention is to engage with him or her on Twitter before the conference, and pay him or her a genuine compliment before or during the speech. As valuable as the content of a conference can be, if you're there to meet people, it can be more valuable to hang out outside the panels, in the break room, trade show floor, or by the coffee or snacks. There, you'll have more time to meet people - a speaker who's just arrived, an attendee who stepped out to take a phone call, or a sponsor you might be able to partner with.


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The Case for the Entrepreneur Generation
Inc.com, May 22

The new generation of young workers entering the workplace is perhaps the most entrepreneurial ever, and that will change the future of work in ways that are just now becoming clear. In a recent survey, 72% of young workers who are still at "regular" jobs said they wanted to be entirely independent, and 89% said that they prefer to "work where they choose." More than half (58%) identified themselves as "entrepreneurs." All of this means that young workers identify themselves more as part of the “Entrepreneur” Generation rather than as part of a “Millennial” Generation. People in their 20’s want independence, mobility, challenges, and a rewarding occupation – and employers will have to respond to this new wave of knowledge and youth and energy that's hitting the economy soon.

First and foremost, this young, entrepreneurial generation is mobile – they are at home using smartphones, iPads and laptops. In many cases, they have been using these devices since high school and can't imagine not having them around. Not only that, but they also can't imagine not having information wherever they go. When they enter the workforce, they will have the same expectations – they will assume they can do their work from anywhere and any time they want. They are also more attuned to the world than any generation before them. They are used to seeing almost real-time videos of revolutions, war, natural disasters, and daredevil feats. As a result, they will expect that your company has customers around the world and is willing to do business wherever opportunities appear.


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Nine Steps to Build Your Personal Brand (and Your Career)
CIO.com, May 22

With the rise of new social media technology and the increase in the popularity of IT consulting work, personal branding is becoming more prevalent and more important than ever. Regardless of your role in IT -- whether you are a CIO, a developer or a helpdesk technician -- developing and maintaining your personal brand should be a part of your long-term career strategy. A personal brand is more than just maintaining your LinkedIn profile, according to the experts. It means figuring out what you do best, and then putting all your energy into it because your talents are what make you stand out.

First, figure out how your talents are relevant to your industry. People are looking for specialists, not generalists, when recruiting and promoting now. If you can become the best at what you do you will become sought after. Once you've got a handle on the one or two things that you do best, you have to relate how that is important to potential employers. You have to think larger than your company and look at the industry as whole sometimes in order to do this. Then, build out your social profiles, using different social networks. The Internet is like a global talent pool, so if you don't have a website or profiles on these social networks then you aren't part of the global talent pool.


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Soft Skills Can Help Get You Ahead
Wall Street Journal, May 18

Although hard skills like programming and software knowledge can get you through the employment door, more companies are asking for soft skills as well from job candidates. Soft skills refer to personal aptitudes and attitudes, such as being a good listener and communicator, that affect how people perceive you in the workplace and strongly influence workplace relationships. Fortunately, most soft skills can be adjusted or learned on your own time with some feedback from peers. The article summarizes a few day-to-day skills that can play a big role in determining whether you get promoted, hired or even fired.

When thinking about soft skills, compile two lists to use as an action guide. One should itemize what you do well and the second should list improvements others would like to see in you. You have to be open for that feedback and willing to work on those points. Learn to control your emotions, and you should see a quick improvement in your working relationships. Uncover what your emotional triggers are so you can predict and head off any potentially rash or embarrassing responses to peers or bosses. Emotional outbursts aren't viewed favorably in most workplaces, which is why you should just excuse yourself from meetings or work if you feel emotionally overwhelmed.


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The $7,000 Computer Science Degree and the Future of Higher Education
TIME, May 21

In response to growing concern about the average debt load of new college grads, Georgia Tech is rolling out an alternative program that makes it possible for students to earn a three-year master’s degree in computer science entirely online -- and for less than $7,000. The university is partnering with Udacity, a for-profit provider of MOOC education, and AT&T, which is contributing $2 million and will provide connectivity tools and services. The goal of the new Georgia Tech program is to establish corporate acceptance of high quality and 100% online degrees as being on par with degrees received in traditional on-campus settings.

This isn’t academia’s first foray into offerings that promise some combination of low cost and high tech education, of course, but it’s the first one that industry observers say has the potential to shake up the status quo. Georgia Tech’s announcement probably is a game changer that will have other top-tier universities that offer degrees in computer science scrambling to compete. The price is a key factor in that. MOOCs are typically open and free, unless you want to attach any type of assessment, credentialing or professional certification to them. Compare that to the average cost of an online computer science master’s degree program, which is just under $25,000. Georgia Tech undercuts that average by more than two-thirds.


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How to Start a Career in Entertainment Technology
Computers in Entertainment, May 2013

As the entertainment arts continue to leverage technology in new ways, the sector is growing as a viable option for creative individuals with strong IT skills. If you have an interest in (or have an aptitude for) technology and have always had visions of a career in the entertainment business, you need to be able to navigate promising career paths amidst a myriad of job descriptions. With a focus on recent grads, the article examines three strategies for launching a successful career in entertainment technology.

First, you need to know where you’re going before you select the first career path that catches your attention. That means you have to put the prerequisite thought and research into the types of jobs that best suit you. Be honest in assessing what you genuinely like to do, what you are good at, and what you want most out of life. Consider the attributes and experience you already possess, in addition to the amount of preparation you can reasonably accomplish, when setting your sights on the perfect job. Next, identify promising career paths from the many job descriptions that fall in the category of entertainment technology. There are a growing number of highly technical career paths, from computer simulation to interactive environments, as well as strictly IT work that is needed as much in the entertainment industry as in any other business.


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On the Pleasures of Teaching Computer Science Students
Blog @ CACM, May 23

Inspired by recently helping to award degrees to 50 computer science students, computer science instructor Judy Robertson weighs in on the perks and pleasures of teaching computer science. According to Robertson, one of the major perks in teaching computer science is becoming a part of the learning journeys of her students. Another major perk is seeing the sheer passion of her students for computer science shine through early in their careers -- and then helping guide them toward this passion while simultaneously teaching them the foundations of computer science.

As Judy Robertson explains, the real privilege of being an academic is seeing students learn how to write, how to present their ideas and how to think. It’s also exciting to see a young person's sheer passion for computer science shine through the shyness of youth. This might be a passion for computer games development, or the passion created by being the first person in a family to apply to the university. Along the way, academics get to talk to their students about their programming projects. Students may have been teaching themselves for years, but now they have someone else to talk to about their favorite topics.


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