ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, March 6, 2018
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 14, Issue 5, March 6, 2018
The number of artificial intelligence related jobs listed on Indeed.com has doubled since 2015. Moreover, postings that referred to artificial intelligence and machine learning in the job description rose 50% in January 2018 compared to the same period last year. It now appears that AI will create a wave of new jobs and pave the way for new cutting-edge industries. New AI technologies require highly skilled workers who can develop and maintain complex systems and applications, leading to increased demand for these workers.
Of these AI job postings, the most common job title was data scientist, at both senior and junior levels. Data scientists are in huge demand in Australia and globally, and they are able to command high salaries compared to predictive analytics professionals, even at the entry level. The role of data scientists is much broader than simply creating AI, since they play a pivotal role in creating the algorithms that teach machines how to use and interpret data. Every day we are dealing with the end result of their work, whether it be via recommendations on Amazon, what we see on social media, or even the news that we consume.
If you want to change careers, being able to network effectively is one important key. Studies estimate that as many as 80% of all jobs are obtained via some sort of referral or networking process. That means that relying too much on online job boards and applicant tracking systems for a job offer is not always a successful strategy. Your best shot for getting into a new industry or type of work is to use your connections so you can get in front of an actual person. When it comes to your career, your network is your net worth. As a result, it is important to understand how to use this network to open doors and get in front of someone with hiring authority.
One tip that is proven to land you a new career faster is networking outside your industry. Meeting people who are in different industries and do different types of work from yourself not only provides you with a better understanding of other careers, it also widens your network in new directions. Just because you are in computer science, doesn't mean you should not spend time getting to know people in operations or marketing. Those people have friends, family, and significant others who just might be in the career you aspire to transition to.
The Blockchain Market Is Hot
Computerworld, February 28
Blockchain developers are in short supply and hot demand. The job of developing blockchain distributed ledgers for businesses was recently ranked second among the top 20 fastest-growing job skills, and postings for workers with those skills grew more than 200% last year. Salaries for blockchain developer or engineer positions are accordingly high, with median salaries in the U.S. hovering around $130,000 a year. That compares favorably to general software developers, whose annual median pay is $105,000. In high-tech regions of the U.S. such as Silicon Valley, New York City or Boston, a blockchain developer has a median annual salary of $158,000.
Most who choose to add blockchain to their skillset or seek a career as blockchain developers are typically versed in programming languages such as Java or Python. However, knowledge of these are not a prerequisite. More universities are starting curricula and several accredited U.S. universities now offer courses on blockchain, such as MIT, which has offered two courses on cryptocurrency engineering and design, and Stanford University, which has a course called Bitcoin Engineering that teaches developers how to create bitcoin-enabled applications. Currently, the easiest and fastest way to become proficient is to learn on your own or attend programs organized by blockchain vendors and industry groups. While software developers tend to be the ones who sign up for blockchain courses, you do not have to be a coder to glean business-oriented knowledge of the distributed ledger technology or even learn to create blockchain networks for your company.
From Scranton to Silicon Valley, Preparing For Jobs of the Future
The Hill, February 9
The U.S. labor force is experiencing a period of radical disruption, as demand for labor shifts from low-skilled to high-skilled talent. Today, the country has a record-low unemployment rate, but 6.5 million Americans are still looking for work and there are six million unfilled jobs. Many of these open positions require tech-related skills in the areas of cybersecurity, software development, data analytics, robotics and artificial intelligence. Tech companies today are desperately seeking talented employees with tech backgrounds, degrees, credentials and certifications, but cannot find enough workers with the right skills. As a result, senior leaders in the tech industry expect significant hiring challenges: 86% say they’ll need many more employees with technical skills in the next five years.
One key step in preparing for the jobs of the future is evolving our education system while also encouraging, preparing and exciting our youth to seek employment in the thriving technology sector. Code.org, a nonprofit that works on representation and diversity in computer science, says there are more than 486,000 computer science jobs available across the country, but only about 43,000 computer science students graduated in 2016. By investing in K-12 education, we can introduce our students at a very young age to science, technology, engineering, math and computer programming. We also need to educate them about the jobs in high demand as well as engage their imaginations about the potential for entrepreneurship.
Why Computer Scientists Should Care About Art, Chemistry and Biology
Information Week, February 23
For computer scientists and IT professionals looking to get ahead, one of the best ways to advance their careers is interacting with peers from a range of different disciplines, background and industries. Even better if these peers comes from non-traditional backgrounds. At the very least, within your own IT workplace, search out peers in different departments or business units so that you get a good overview of the organization and how it works. This can lead to new ways of thinking and new problem-solving approaches that will boost your career.
One of the best pieces of advice that you can receive early in your career is to always be willing to talk to the co-worker in the office next door, or the person down the hall. Find out what they are doing and how are they doing it. Take it all in. By interacting with people who are working in very different fields, you will be able to see things you would not have been able to see day to day and find new connections to your own work. The more we can find ways in our daily interactions to learn from different perspectives, the faster we are going to move forward.
These Are the Signs That Your Boss Wants To Give You a Promotion
Fast Company, February 28
According to a new report by Glassdoor, career stagnation is a leading cause of employee turnover. As a result, employers should offer an attractive culture and values and provide clear upward career paths for employees. Offering a stretch assignment is one way your employer can provide that path and keep you engaged in your role. It is a nod that management recognizes your diligence, skill, and talent and has confidence in your ability to take it to the next level. A stretch assignment might be deliberately created to advance talented employees, or it may be the result of organizational growth, an unexpected vacancy, or a new product or initiative. But it is usually a clear sign that your boss wants to give you a promotion.
Whatever prompted you to earn the nod, you will recognize a stretch assignment because it seems a bit lofty. The assignment should help you do one or more of the following: build new skills, increase your visibility, try out a new discipline or geography, or gain an experience like managing people that you have not had before. While this may seem a bit intimidating, leadership will only ask you to take on a stretch assignment if they believe that you can do the work, and that it will develop your skills. If you have been invited to take on a stretch assignment, and it stands to drive your career in a direction that excites you, consider taking the leap. To actually be a stretch assignment (and not just more work), it should enable you to grow in a new direction. The stretch should be interesting and challenging and include skills you want to learn or an opportunity to do something new.
Navigating Talent Management, Millennials and Workplace Diversity
Information Week, February 21
Rapidly changing workplace environments and the emergence of new technologies have made the jobs of hiring managers more dynamic and complex, requiring them to navigate the IT job market in new ways. Many organizations are outsourcing core functions, and the skills that are valued today are not necessarily the ones that will be valued tomorrow. Plus, a new generation of young millennial workers are making their mark on organizations. Going forward, everybody in the organization needs to understand how a few big trends in the marketplace are changing the world of work forever.
Digital transformation, new technologies, open source, and collaboration are all trends pointing to the fact that we are living through a dynamic and changing environment at work and in IT organizations. We all know that people are not staying as long in their jobs. There is a lot of change, and managers are leading through uncertainty. Uncertainty is the name of the game. The diversity trend is very much at the top of the list of trends today as organizations look at the diversity of their workforces. Organizations must learn how to work with people who use a different language, who are from a different culture, who are a different age, and who also have a different standard of how they work. That includes working with independent contractors and working side-by-side with AI-based systems.
Why Code Comments Still Matter
Blog @ CACM, February 26
In computer science, students have traditionally been taught to comment their code, but that way of thinking has recently come under fire. In fact, some are now arguing that commenting code is bad practice, and that you should avoid all comments in your programs. Those who believe that commenting code is a bad idea argue that comments add unnecessary maintenance. When code changes, you must also modify comments to keep them in sync with the code. They argue that it is the responsibility of the programmer to write really obvious code, thus eliminating the need for comments. Although these are valid reasons to avoid commenting code, comments are still necessary for a variety of reasons.
First of all, not all programmers can write really obvious code. Beginning programmers are just happy to write a correct program. They are still mastering the craft. Even experienced programmers write sloppy code, sometimes due to laziness. Programs are unique like fingerprints, so judging whether code is obvious is a subjective call. It can be overwhelming and tedious to comment too much, but some comments are like titles and subtitles in articles. They guide you, provide context, and convey an overall meaning. Comments are not just for code. They can document important program information such as author, date, license, and copyright details.
Getting Serious About eLearning
eLearn Magazine, January 2018
The field of eLearning has reached a point where new ideas and new approaches may be required to take it to the next level. One solution might be the Serious eLearning Manifesto. The inspiration for this manifesto was a lot of thinking about what good, serious eLearning looked like, and how you could get there. It was modeled on the Agile Manifesto, and similarly, was an attempt to get as many computer science educators and practitioners to buy into the concept as possible. What ultimately resulted was a statement of eight specific ways that serious eLearning differs from typical eLearning.
According to this new manifesto, the future of eLearning means being focused on the performance outcomes, not on the content. It also means being meaningful to learners, not just efficient for authors; and being driven by engagement, not mere attendance. Overall, there are eight values supported with 22 research-based principles culled from decades of work by scientists around the world. The work builds on decades of prior work about what leads to successful learning and instruction. Moreover, this manifesto on eLearning can apply to all instruction. The individualized challenges element is a bit harder to address in face-to-face instruction, but there are interpretations that are doable.
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