Thursday, March 01, 2007

Ramblings About Jobs and Education

Ad hominem comments are very telling about those who make them. Generally, one should avoid people who attack messengers, no matter how nuts they think the messengers are. There are better ways to deal with differences of opinion.

I have two engineer friends, one in middle age one at retirement age. Both were laid off in the past couple years after long careers at a very large company. Both got good jobs in the engineering field very quickly. They both have wonderful personalities and are easy to work with, which is why I think they got jobs so quickly.

My early-30's daughter in law was phi beta kappa in psychology, but she got her first job as a contractor trainer in Microsoft end user programs. One of her customer companies hired her into their training systems area. Soon she was a manager, then a manager of a larger group. This week she leaves that company, after eight years, for a far better job at a company whose software she successfully implemented. Now she'll manage projects all over the U.S. from her home. Not bad for someone with no formal IS training.

For every person who's having trouble finding a job, I can find someone who's doing well. The question is, what are the characteristics of the successful people versus the unsuccessful ones?

I'm very familiar with EDS. A large group of EDS people once supported my organization, and I believe I had about 16 systems projects going at the time I retired. EDS has always been a pretty hard-headed company, highly structured and not paternalistic. But it operates in a world of rapidly changing technology and requirements, which requires it to adjust constantly. People who work for EDS had better stay current on technology and be capable of working successfully in small groups, or they are history. EDS employees need to understand that from the get-go.

When I was a manager I often took on bright people who were failing in other organizations. In most cases they became sought-after people within a couple years, and they accepted promotions out of my area. These employees became very attractive when they learned how to interact successfully with their customers. Just being smart didn't cut it. Lots of people still don't understand this simple fact of work life.

Yes, I'm embarassed that George Bush has an MBA. He obviously got by on his legacy status, and his job performance has been consistently crappy. But it's a mistake to judge the bushel on the one bad apple. Some people of every educational background are out of touch with reality.

I'm an optimist. I'm excited by all the challenges that we face, from global warming to religious conflict to foreign competition. It will take a lot of effective people, working hard, to tackle these issues and make the world a better place. I love it when I see somebody or some group come up with a better idea and make it happen. And I really enjoy being part of something really new and cool, like yesterday when we proposed an idea to Habitat for Humanity that they think is going to solve a big problem and make them much more capable of accomplishing their mission.

I was one of those people who took physics and "got through it". I appreciate it but I'm not good at it. Another one of my classmates got a PhD in nuclear physics in five years afer high school. We're all different. But I'm glad I was exposed to physics. It was not wasted time, nor was the time my genius friend spent taking English composition. Educated people know something about almost everything (even physics and economics), and that (along with shared ethical values) allows people with varied talents to work together and do great things.

So, I need to get busy working for one of the three non-profits where I volunteer. Later this afternoon I'll read to some kids in the inner city - it's National Reading Day! I hope they enjoy "Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile", which is about a very nice crocodile who overcomes others' prejudices about him and is ultimately embraced by those who persecuted him.

4 comments:

Dave said...

I was going to respond to eds's (?) response to my Lou Dobbs comment; but, in this and the previous post, you've done it, and you've done it eloquently.

I assume the crocodile is the center of loving attention after your stirring reading.

Life Hiker said...

I wish poor Lyle had done his job better, but he had a tough task.

My two little friends were 8 year old boys from the tough core of the city. The first could not read and was in first grade. The second could read a little but "faked it" when he got to a word he didn't know.

Both kids were cute and energetic, but they are in deep trouble and they have no clue. This may be the most difficult problem in America, and there are no easy answers.

I'm on the board and treasurer for this organization. My job is simple compared to that done by those heroic people who work with disadvantaged kids.

American Crusader said...

Thanks for stopping by...I haven't seen you in quite some time. As for your question about "over the top" media...of course both sides participate in nonobjectivity. Media markets slant the news in order to please/reaffirm their core customers. This is true in print, radio and TV.

I think the most important ingredient for a successful career is the ability to work with others..especially those you disagree with. People skills first and knowledge second.
Both are needed.

EDS Sucks said...

"Ad hominem comments are very telling about those who make them. Generally, one should avoid people who attack messengers, no matter how nuts they think the messengers are. There are better ways to deal with differences of opinion"

I assume you're referring to me.

First of all, you are not a "messenger"; these are your opinions that you're posting. A skinhead who walks around with a "Stomp Faggots" shirt can't hide behind the "I'm just the messenger" label.

These were not "ad hominem" attacks. I was directly attacking the ideas that you support. I did not call you stupid, I said what you were saying was stupid and I gathered my evidence and experience to support my claims (which you just conveniently keep ignoring). I did call into question whether people with your degree should hold a disproportionate degree of power and influence in society, not that they were all bad.

As far as "better ways to deal", you literally ignore nearly everything I say, twist it, and continue like a broken record.

Take this comment for example:

"For every person who's having trouble finding a job, I can find someone who's doing well. The question is, what are the characteristics of the successful people versus the unsuccessful ones?"

If 100 people are at a banquet, and you take away one chair leaving 99, guess what? "For every person who's having trouble finding a seat I can find, not just one, but 99 who are doing well.

Now repeat the process.

The same goes for outsourcing. This is not just my opinion and experience. I cited some reference material and apparently, you haven't read it.