Down Economy? Bah. Not at Code Camp


Sagging economy got you down? If you’d been at Silicon Valley Code Camp last month, you would have thought you were on a different planet. At this event, the sense was that the economy was jumping and the opportunities are abundant.

SVCC organizer Peter Kellner said he thinks it all boils down to eagerness. Everyone is there on their own time. Because it’s a weekend event, they don’t have to ask for permission from their employer.

“The telltale sign comes when you tell someone that the technology is changing and you’re going to have to learn a new tool and a new environment. If they roll their eyes and say, ‘Oh my God, I’m so tired of that,’ chances are they’re unemployed or near unemployed,” Kellner says. All the people here are employed and are doing well, he adds.

“If they’re excited about the new learning opportunity. These are the ones recruiters are desperate to hire.”

No Responses to “Down Economy? Bah. Not at Code Camp”

  1. Yes, of course we roll our eyes and say, “I’m so tired of that”, and of course we’re unemployed. Because while we had a job, the technology we were using was good enough. That was all our old employer required of us. If and when we invested the time and money to learn some new technology, we soon forget it from lack of use. You have to USE something to remember it, and the old employer very possibly frowned on its use. Using the new technology could very well involve an expensive re-tooling of all the old legacy stuff.

    Then, for whatever reason, we lose our job, joining the burgeoning ranks of the unemployed.

    NOW we’re interested in the new technology, and we’re EAGER to learn, because all the hiring companies are interested. (But we’re still going to roll our eyes.)

    Unfortunately, the hiring companies are not interested in us “eager beavers” who’ve only just now learned the new technology, despite what you might find at “Code Camp”. What the hiring companies are looking for are people who have EXPERIENCE in the new technology.

    Well, who has experience in the new technology at the old job where it wasn’t necessary? Who has experience in the new technology when you’ve only just now completed a class?

    And then, to top it all off, the new technology isn’t enough — it’s never enough — because half-way through learning the new technology, you discover there is a NEWER technology, and the hiring companies want people who have experience in THAT.

    It’s a never-ending cycle.

    So don’t put us down when we roll our eyes at your new technology. We’re all doing our level best to keep up with the bleeding edge of technology, but seriously, we’re tired of it.

    • Alvin, whether or not the technology you were using was “good enough” misses the point. Tech is always evolving, and Peter’s saying is the people who look on that as a positive are the ones who get jobs. If employers are looking toward adopting a new technology, it’s the people who’ve got the skills to use that technology they’re doing to hire — or keep.

  2. My current company severely restricted my access to even much of the current technology, let alone taking a look at anything new. Now, they are talking about RIF (reduction in force) and my job has been eliminated. I’m disappointed but not surprised because they have a record of moving jobs overseas whenever an austerity mandate comes down from on high. I’ll be looking for a position at a different company soon – hopefully I’ll find one that embraces new technology and gives me a bit of freedom to keep my skills ahead of the power curve.

  3. James Green

    Mark, it’s sad you don’t understand what Alvin is saying. Peter was lucky enough to work for companies that use leading edge technologies were he could gain EXPERIENCE using. If Peter were in the situation Alvin and myself’s situation were we’ve had leaned the latest technologies in class room instead of on the job, because they were not interested in deploying the bleeding edge technology or interest in training you in that technology. For example, I was a Lotus Notes Developer, 6 months prior to me being laid off I completed share point certification program, in which my manager did not understand why I was taking it. I told him the new CIO and the people he brought in are more familiar with Microsoft technology then Notes. Sure enough 6 months later our department was disbanded and I was laid off. I found out though friends who still worked there they switched from Lotus Notes to Share Point/Outlook and outsourced that worked to CSC who interned outsources it to Indian firm. I disparately tried to find a job or contract as a share point developer but recruiting firm and the companies they represented would say I did not have enough “REAL WORLD EXPERIENCE” so I continued to take Lotus Notes jobs “UNTIL THAT DRIED UP”. So if Peter and the others would could afford to go to Code Camp had the same experience I’ve had I doubt they would be so positive.

    James Green

    • James, Peter’s saying employers are looking for people who are excited by the newest technologies, the things that are on the bleeding edge. From what I can tell, they’re looking for people who are really breathing the stuff. It makes the competition all that tougher, but there it is. What strikes me is that when people hear what employers are looking for, they pile on with a bunch of criticism — at the people who are doing the hiring. That makes no sense to me. I’d think a better thing to do would be to note what companies say they’re looking for and be sure they note you’ve got it, whether they’re talking about technical skill or attitude. In your case, I’d be all over the fact you were thinking ahead, whether it worked out in that particular case or note. When you ignore what employers say, only one thing happens: You don’t get the job. There may be other reasons that come into play, but if they don’t like your fit or your attitude, you’re done.

      • I’m not criticizing the companies for wanting people who have experience in the latest technology. I understand that tech is always evolving.

        I’m criticizing the prevailing attitude that we’re all supposed hop around with glee at every brand new technology that comes down the pike, and that we’re somehow “damaged goods” if we show the slightest bit of hesitation when the college boys develop still more YASOA (Yet Another Set of Obfuscating Acronyms, or what some people call, “alphabet soup”).

        I’m also criticizing the failure to acknowledge that getting the job done requires MORE than simply being on the bleeding edge of technology. Isn’t that what’s important? Getting the job done?

        I have many years of experience creating applications using a wide variety of different tools. I had to learn and master each one of those tools, and I shirked from none of them. I have skills and abilities that will get the job done, regardless of any favored selection of tool. Doesn’t that count for something? Apparently not.

      • No they are not. They want someone who will be their wage slave, do their bidding, take one for the team, and work in a tiny cage (cubicle) for decades. Then along comes a management change wherein they will be kicked out with obsolete skills.Enthusiasm counts for naught without experience, then all you get is a job and a paycheck, nothing more.

      • James Green

        Mark, what employer values enthusium over experience. Please list these employers so I can send them resume. Mark most people are not on here to complain just to complain about employers, but I am complaining about unrealistic job requirements that very few people could acheive. It takes months, sometimes years to acquire new skills and for the unemployed you only obtain these skills through self taught, school, YouTube , etc , etc…But if you don’t learn the skill on the job a company not consider it has experience and it’s very do get a job in that field…

        • James, I’m not rising to the bait of “please list these employers.” I’m just saying that I’ve talked to a number of them — a lot of companies, actually — who’ve said they’d train the people who they think have the inherent skills to grasp technology, want to jump into it, and are excited about what the companies are doing. It’s fine if you don’t believe me — all I can do is pass on what people doing the hiring tell me.

      • I agree with James, and I’d like to add that it’s pretty hard to get “excited” about new technologies when I’m working a $10/hour temp job stuffing envelopes while wondering how I’m going to pay my basic bills every month, and especially wondering what’s going to happen to me when this gig is over in two weeks. Meanwhile, collectors call me night and day; I’ve put my cell phone on silent because of them. The next chapter in my life will be 7…when I get the money to declare BK. I don’t even have that right now.

        What would “excite” me would be a JOB, even if it only paid $14.00/hour…heck, even if it paid minimum wage but the employer was willing to train me, so that I could work hard and claw my way up to a decent wage. I’m stuffing envelopes now, so it’s not like I’m not willing to work or think I’m “too good” for an entry-level position.

        And please, don’t tell me to “just move where the jobs iz plentifullllllllllllllllllll.” I have NO MONEY NO MONEY NO MONEY, and NO, I can’t just call Moo or Duhd and have them write me a check. I can’t even afford to move to the next county, let alone hundreds or thousands of miles away. (Not to mention that I don’t think the jobs iz plentifulllllllll ANYWHERE. The ugly, overprivileged cows who bleat that are the same ones who think there’s no Depression…until, of course, their employer decides to send their jobs to India or import indentured servants to take them here.)

        Lastly: RON PAUL 2012. He is the only hope for this country. He is the only hope for the MILLIONS of people like me. The prospect of a real President is what I am excited about.

      • Unfortunately the same mentality is what will keep you exactly where you are at $10 per hour forever. People like you that think that they are the only ones that struggle through life bring down the economy, not until you change your way of thinking is that your life will improve. Free Code Camps are all over the country, but that would not matter for you. You will continue to concentrate on how you cannot make it and how you don’t have any money. Someone wise said once “whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right either way”

      • James Green

        It is in Silicon Valley correct? If you don’t live in Silicon valley, you need to fly there (COST), you need stay in hotel correct(COST). When will DICE realize the Silicon valley is not the center of the IT universe and there are people employed in IT outside of California.

      • That’s nice, but this “camp” is in California. I live in Philadelphia. Being as the only job I have is a $10/hour temp gig stuffing envelopes (and it took me 8 months to find this, despite my Math/CIS degree from Temple), I can’t even afford to travel to New York City, let alone across the continent. No, I can’t credit-card it, either; all of my cards are gone, me having had to default on all of them.

        Bottom line: I have NO MONEY NO MONEY NO MONEY. I know that’s a difficult concept to grasp when you’ve always been able to call Mommy and Daddy and ask for a check; most of us are not in that situation. I cannot be concerned about classes and certifications; I need to survive by any means necessary, even if it means stuffing envelopes or even cleaning toilets.

  4. What can I say – regardless of how good your technical skills are, if Europe get trapped into another recession soon, what’s the point of being angry of a (former) employer that did not use the latest technology… and offered you no chance?

  5. Hey all. This is your friendly blogger/videoblogger jumping in on this dialogue.

    One of the great things about Code Camp is that you get some insight as to what is popular so you don’t, as many of you have shown concern, have to chase down every single new technology.

    It’s pretty easy to see which technologies are most popular because they have the most people registered for the classes. Peter makes that information very visible to any and all. I actually used much of that information to determine which stories I was going to cover. So if you’re just trying to go after what’s most popular, you could just go by that.

    But, there are still plenty more technologies that are very niche and still have an audience. Luckily, there was someone there to teach a class for that audience even if it numbered in the single digits.

  6. Interesting comments. I’m always amazed how there are always at least two sides to everything. In the interview, I was really thinking about all the positive things associated with learning new technologies. I was not so much thinking about those who are forced (for whatever reason) to stay in one technology with no easy way out. I have always been fortunate in that my life (whether work or personal) has allowed me to keep up with latest technologies. I hope that continues. I realize after reading these comments that I should not take that for granted.

  7. Yes we are all excited to work on new and exciting technologies. But, most companies are not using any new technology they are just trying to spend as little as possible and to keep their code base alive event though it should have been dead and buried decades ago. They think that C++ is cutting edge technology because they are still running C code from the 1960’s. They still do not even understand objects. They are only interested in exploiting their programmers to keep their old code alive. They have no intention of upgrading unless they have to.

    I guess the bottom line is that programmers should not even consent to work for such firms. The truth be told, there are very few companies that will use cutting edge or even just up to date technology without being forced to do so. The bank where I now work is still using office 2003 and win XP. For them this is Rolls Royce technology.