[TriLUG] OT: Certifications - Education
shaneodonnell at gmail.com
Mon Aug 29 12:15:24 EDT 2005
On 8/29/05, Mark Freeze <mfreeze at gmail.com> wrote:
> I have found that traditional (read clueless) HR departments will look
> over a person with 2 or 3 years experience and no degree and hire a
> college grad with no experience. I don't know why this happens other
> than it could be that most upper level, non-technical, HR & management
> types are looking for some validation that they can relate to their
> own experiences. Now we all know the reality: Take two people, equally
> intelligent, but with no real work experience. Who would be better
> qualified to work a shift at a computer lab or perform tasks in a live
> network environment -- A person who has taken and passed their RHCE
> exam, or a person who just graduated from college? We know the
> answer, but I'll bet you that 90% of HR departments in the US would
> hire the recent college grad.
Hmmm...I don't know that you've provided enough information for us all
to make the same decision here. And I don't think that a
high-schooler that spent the summer cramming for an RHCE cert is the
obvious choice over a college grad with no work experience.
As an industry, especially with the recent proclivity for
outsourcing/offshoring, I believe we're heading for the rapid
"blue-collarizing" of many tech jobs. And I think this is good. When
the car was first introduced, only the guy that invented it or had
similar understanding of its inner workings (likely, a college
edumacated engineer) could work on it. Now, high schoolers can go to
vocational education, get a CERTIFICATION, and be duly qualified to
work on cars. And if they've got the cert, they might make a little
more money than their uncertified counterparts. Certs only mean that
you are familiar and comfortable with the subject matter that they
cover. Trades unions provide similar testing/certification programs
before a tradesman can be hired to do certain types of work.
If I were hiring for someone to execute a given, limited set of tasks
with relative frequency and nominal variance in the output they should
expect, someone certified in that area would foot the bill just fine.
However, if I wanted to hire someone to do this task today, but to
also feel comfortable operating with a broader set of
responsibilities, perhaps in an area of multiple operating systems,
application support, administration (e.g., record keeping, etc.), and
have the expectation that this person would possibly grow into larger
roles, I would likely consider someone that brought something to the
table beyond a specific certification.
If we're looking for colleges to provide nothing more than training in
a trade, then they aren't serving their purpose.
Colleges/Universities should be providing a broader educational
foundation, in essence, teaching someone how to think, reason, and
continue their education on their own--drawing from experience,
research, and *gasp* reading to learn more. Additionally, where
colleges must provide some level of "these are the facts required to
operate in this industry/role", they excel in providing a relatively
uniform coverage of topics--something that self-trained or "boot
camp"-trained folks USUALLY lack.
As an example, most CS undergrad programs teach one or more classes in
data structures. Without a firm understanding of the concepts from a
course like this, folks (and I've worked with several of them) are
doomed to go with what they know, versus what might be a better tool
for the job at hand. This leads to problems in efficiency,
performance, scalability, etc. However, that doesn't mean that the
program won't work with wrong data structures. This then leads us
down a path of what defines the quality of work we expect from
employees, and that's a thread for another day.
Now don't get me wrong--some of the brightest folks I've ever
hired/worked with do not have degrees. Conversely, some of the
dumbest folks I've ever hired/worked with have had college degrees.
The differences between the "good IT guy" and the "bad IT guy" are
many, but if I had to try to identify the common theme that I've seen,
it has much more to do with someone's ability to grasp ideas at a
conceptual level rather than a simple task-execution level.
Unfortunately, I've not seen many degrees, certifications, employment
tests, etc. that can accurately guage someone's ability to think like
that. Certifications ABSOLUTELY DO NOT guarantee this. College
degrees don't either, but college degrees--given their broader subject
matter and longer duration of the program--usually do a better job of
weeding out those that don't "think well".
No offense intended to non-degreed folks on the list. Consider this a
little insight into my thought processes should you ever have to
interview with me...
Degreed and certified (perhaps "certifiable"),
> One of the saddest things I have ever witnessed was a couple of years
> ago when I was running a company in Alabama. We had a temporary
> receptionist and I had to show her how to start and use Excel. All she
> really needed to to was data entry several sheets and then total a
> couple of columns, but, she had no clue how to get started. The sad
> part is that she was working at the temporary service because she had
> just graduated from Auburn with a 4-year degree in MIS and was looking
> for what she called 'a computer job.'
> If anyone is looking for a job in a traditional environment, the best
> thing to have, IMHO, is a 4 year degree from an accredited institution
> that everyone recognizes. Many HR departments look down their
> pencil-pushing noses at technical certifications and online degrees.
> If you don't have your 4-year degree, a couple of the best programs
> (to me at least) are the ones at East Carolina and Florida State.
> Both of these universities will allow you to complete your undergrad
> in computer science online. All you need is a 2-year AA or AS in
> general studies from your local college and you can do the other two
> years at home while you watch reruns of Friends. Plus, when you get
> your degree, its the same degree as someone who had been at the
> college campus for 4 years. Your degree doesn't say 'Florida State
> Online Campus.' Also, I know Auburn University used to have a
> Technical and Engineering MBA program (TEMBA) that they offer online.
> There may be other online undergrad programs at conventional
> universities, but these are the only two that I am familiar with.
> http://online.fsu.edu (Even with an AA or AS make sure you meet the
> foreign language requirement on the admission forms.)
> "Boy, you need to get a good edumacation. Just like your dad." --Homer Simpson
> Best of luck,
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shaneodonnell at gmail.com
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