ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, July 7, 2020

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Volume 16, Issue 13, July 7, 2020

IT Career Paths You May Not Have Considered
Information Week, June 30

Since IT is constantly evolving, having a static skill set could be a career-limiting move, especially in the new post-COVID hiring environment. While there is plenty of room for specialists and generalists, the only constant in IT is rapid change, so it is important to understand how technology is changing, as well as why and how that could impact your career. For example, more companies are accelerating their moves into the cloud and remote work has taken on new meaning. As a result, there are several career moves you could make as a seasoned IT professional, regardless of where you are right now in your career.

Many traditional IT roles such as DBA, systems administrator and network administrator are shrinking as organizations move further into the cloud. As a result, you could modernize your skill set by getting some cloud skills under your belt. Alternatively, if you prefer doing what you have always done, you might consider a consulting role that uses your existing skills. A third option would be to consider an entirely different career path right in IT. For example, seasoned IT executives primarily trained in areas like network administration might consider careers in cybersecurity, data analytics or artificial intelligence.

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How to Get a Full Stack Developer Job
The Enterprisers Project, June 24

A full stack developer must be capable of working with every level of the application technology stack from the user interface to the database back end. As a result of this versatility, this is one career path that is likely to remain in high demand despite economic shocks to the job market. Startups and innovative corporate development teams need specialists in front-end and back-end tech, but many also need a full stack developer who can pull it all together. Adding full stack developer to your resume, then, ought to help you find a better job and negotiate a better salary, assuming you can align these skills and experiences with the current needs of organizations hiring today.

According to technology recruiters, there is particular demand from startups for developers experienced with the open source MERN stack (MongoDB, Express, React, and Node), which allows the front-end experience, server-side middleware, and database to all be programmed in a modern JavaScript framework. For other startups, full stack might mean something different, with Python or Ruby on Rails on the server side and React or another JavaScript framework on the front end. For corporate IT, a full stack developer might need skills with Java or the .NET framework as well as relational databases. When people think of becoming a full stack developer, they need to decide which path to go down. The right choice might be to focus on whatever technology stacks that the companies in your target market use. You can learn those technology stack details by networking and securing informational interviews with people at your target company.

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4 Tips to Boost Your Tech Resume During COVID-19
Dice Insights, June 30

Many technologists are job-hunting during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to one survey, for example, just under one-third of technologists who already work full-time are either on the job hunt or plan to start looking for a new job within the next two weeks. For those seeking their next position, it is important to rewrite their resume to take the pandemic and its impact on the workplace into account. No matter what the broader circumstances are, it is important that every resume emphasize unique and relevant skill sets, as well as any previous projects and experience that align with what a new employer is looking for, especially with regard to remote work.

Depending on how things evolve, the modern office could look very different after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. Everything from hiring to team meetings could be conducted largely via videoconference. In light of that, it is important to use your resume to emphasize your remote work capabilities. In the bullet points where you describe your experience, reserve one or two for discussing how you effectively managed a remote team or successfully met project goals while working with teammates dispersed in multiple time zones. If you list your previous employer locations, make sure to note that the work was remote. The shift to remote work has spiked usage of certain key apps, such as Teams and Slack, as well as various file-sharing and cloud-storage platforms. As you rewrite the skills section of your resume, make sure to highlight your experience with messaging and cloud-based apps, especially any that you know your target company actually uses.

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5 Best Careers in Artificial Intelligence and How to Get Hired Into Them
The Burn-In, June 8

If you are looking to future-proof your career, there is perhaps no better job field to enter than that of artificial intelligence (AI). Even if machines and automated systems take over countless jobs, humans are still necessary to program the algorithms. Moreover, jobs in the AI field pay top dollar as companies look for the brightest minds to create cutting-edge solutions. Whether you are just getting ready to start your career or are re-skilling into a new position, some of the best AI jobs out there include machine learning engineer, data scientist and artificial intelligence research scientist.

At its core, artificial intelligence relies on a technology known as machine learning. It involves carefully crafted algorithms and software platforms that enable the AI to do its job. Of course, those need to be created by someone. Machine learning engineers are up to the task and can command a six-figure salary for their efforts. They are primarily responsible for building and managing these platforms. Those with a background in data science and who are fluent in multiple programming languages are ideal candidates for the role. A machine learning engineer can expect to work with predictive models, natural language processing, massive datasets, and a variety of other development tools. In terms of education, most companies look for someone with an advanced degree in mathematics or computer science. For individuals without those academic credentials, a position as a regular software developer is a great starting place. This not only lets you gain the programming skills needed, but it also opens the door for valuable experiences with problem solving and analytical skills.

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How Are Tech Companies Helping the Unemployed Recover After COVID-19?
World Economic Forum, July 3

Tech giant Microsoft has pledged $20 million to help retrain people who lost their jobs because of the economic crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Using data from LinkedIn, it has identified 10 specific tech jobs that are in demand, offer a livable wage and require skills that can be learned online. The company recently announced a wide-ranging, global portal for free skills training for people who are out of work. Alongside that, Microsoft said it plans to disperse $20 million in grants to nonprofit organizations that are working to help those who have lost jobs due to COVID-19 and subsequent shifts in the economy, and with a specific emphasis on those that are working with groups that are underrepresented in the tech world. The move comes as other tech companies like Google and Facebook make their own efforts to leverage their platforms to provide their own versions of relief efforts connected to COVID-19.

Microsoft identified 10 specific tech jobs that are in particular demand right now and will continue to be in demand, offer a livable wage and require skills that can be learned online if you do not already have them. They are software developer, sales representative, project manager, IT administrator, customer services representative, digital marketer, IT support specialist, data analyst, financial analyst and graphic designer. LinkedIn has designed Learning Paths that it offers through its online education portal for these jobs, and these will now be available to everyone free to use, globally, until the end of March 2021. Alongside these, Microsoft Learn is offering supplemental technical content to these Paths, and Microsoft is also making the GitHub Learning Lab free to practice if you are learning software developer skills. Alongside these, Microsoft is also giving a push to so-called soft skills that complement hunting for a job at the moment, including tips on looking for a job right now, learning critical soft skills, more on the concept and meaning of digital transformation, and a learning track focused on diversity and inclusion.

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Why Apprenticeships Are The Best Way To Learn Data Skills
Forbes, June 18

Over the past decade, data science has exploded onto the hiring scene as one of the most popular and dynamic career paths for technologists. While many of the current data scientist and data analyst jobs of today do require a degree in computer science or STEM-related discipline, the fact remains that there are many other routes and alternatives into a data science career, including data science bootcamps and apprenticeships. As technological innovation continues to accelerate, so must models for training and creating the workforce of the future.

When considering the data science talent gap, supply side dynamics only tell half the story. To stay competitive, employers have no choice but to accept alternative sources of skilled data science talent and rethink hiring practices. While some employers have relaxed strict educational requirements, the majority of data scientist roles still hold Ph.D. or other advanced degree requirements. Some of this can be attributed to the lack of a common framework for skills. Regardless, advanced degree hires are expensive and in high demand. Moreover, because the average Ph.D. takes more than five years to complete, this talent pool simply cannot expand fast enough to meet demand. Fortunately, data science experts with this level of academic training are not necessary for the majority of data science roles. An emphasis on real world skills and projects that enable candidates to hit the ground running can go a long way.

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The Rise of Work From Home Careers
Built In, June 30

If implemented correctly, new work-from-home initiatives can have a positive impact on productivity, quality of life and overall efficiency. Moreover, these initiatives can reduce overall office space required and improve employee retention. However, companies must be intentional about how the changes are carried out. Seventy-five percent of organizations do not have any formal policy or programs or training, because they do not approach it as a strategy. Not having clear policies can lead to uneven implementation, which on a larger scale could result in controversy about which employees get to work from home and which ones do not. As a result, there are many concerns organizations must now take into account. They must ensure that people who are working remotely actually have the right technologies they need and have the security in place, as well as access to the data that they need.

For organizations, it is important to have plans in place in order to take advantage of benefits that having a remote workforce can bring to a company. Most obviously, companies can really reduce their real estate and office rental costs by having people work from home. But this also introduces a number of questions of how to empower employees to work from home with maximum productivity and efficiency. Recently, a survey on the pandemic found that 72 percent of people were able to manage distractions better at home than at work, but that people were not as able to collaborate with coworkers or help to mentor others compared to at the office. Seventy-six percent of people said that they wanted to work from home at least one day per week after COVID-19. Some companies have found that remote work is well suited to their businesses, even structuring their workforces so that employees work remotely by default.

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Technology in the Time of Cataclysms
Blog@CACM, June 8

COVID-19 has caused untold hardship around the world and has already changed the way we work and play. During such cataclysmic times, there will undoubtedly be an impact on how technology develops, and changes today may very well determine which technologies become popular in the future. There is no exact parallel to what we are seeing now, but perhaps some inexact parallels can be illuminating. One was World War II. Another going much farther back was the bubonic plague in Europe in the 17th century.

Sometimes, cataclysms can lead to important, world-changing inventions. For example, the invention of all inventions triggered by the events of World War II was the Automatic Computing Engine, which was a precursor to the ubiquitous machines of today. Alan Turing invented the Bombe and then the Colossus out of dire necessity: to break the German codes, which literally meant the difference between life and death. Little would the military funders of the research have thought of the computer making its way to every desk in our offices and homes. This was an invention born out of a classic case of a military need. This propelled us with amazing momentum into the age of electronic computers. After the war, to make these electronic machines more reliable, Bell Labs launched a large research effort to build the transistor in order to replace the failure-prone vacuum tubes. Researchers announced the first transistor two years after the end of the War. This would be followed by the microchip, or as we commonly know it today, the integrated circuit.

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Teaching Online: 10 Tips For a Better Experience
Blog@Ubiquity, June 15

In this time of pandemic, many universities will need to switch to video teaching for the remainder of the year, and this will require a closer look at best practices over the past two decades, as well as a review of what worked well in early 2020. In order to become a better video teacher, you first have to focus on the video experience itself and how students will receive your presentations. Fortunately, these lessons are valid for anyone using video conferencing to get a message across, even after the current pandemic subsides.

There are several key takeaways when it comes to the overall video experience. One of these is that sound is often more important than picture. Instructors need to look into the camera and avoid the obvious mistakes related to background, lighting, and clothing. Also, since the medium consumes energy, you need to compensate. Get to know the tools and how they can make your presentations more dynamic. With that in mind, there are several important factors for successfully moving what you do in the classroom to a video environment. The main thing is that you still know your material and care about the people at the other end.

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