The Big Evil Question



  • I left college with a degree in Psychology. While I was there I got my first IT job working at the school's help desk.

    In some ways I think the psych degree helped me in IT more than a computer science degree would, at least for the level I'm currently at.

    It taught me good research practices, how to critically analyze statistical data and determine whether or not it was still relevant. IT moves quicker than psychology but there are definitely similar principles at play when it comes to citing good sources to make your point. It also helped cement the idea that people make mistakes with surprising regularity, but will go out of their way to avoid acknowledging that fact. It taught me the importance of wording when it came to crafting surveys, which has translated nicely into asking the right questions about a user's current predicament. I hated learning most of this stuff at the time but now that I have it's very helpful. In other words, college helped me learn the skills I lacked the intrinsic motivation to learn on my own. Plus, it would have probably been more difficult to get a job/references in the field outside of school since I didn't have any certs or job experience.

    I went into school thinking I would want to eventually get my PhD and become a psychologist. By the time I graduated I realized I had done enough formal schooling... if I were to do it all over again, knowing I would be going into IT, I would have probably looked for an IT-based technical school or a local mentor instead. But as it is, this crazy twisting road I've taken has taught me some pretty useful stuff and helped me get some good clients on the side so I can't complain!



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    And likewise you as someone being hired can use the use of that as a barometer as a means of gauging the skills of the hiring manager. Do you want to work for someone for whom college is a confusing thing that was very challenging, they attended and yet know nothing about?

    Probably not - but then, is it the hiring managers making these requirements? Generally no, it's HR. Of course I'm only talking about larger companies here, not SMBs. My experience has shown that SMBs don't care about college degrees much if at all, so this only applies to larger companies.

    The HR people who are doing level one interviews for these larger companies don't know the difference between a phone cable and an ethernet cable, so they can't possibly do more than check a list of requirements to see if you should go onto the next level. Sadly HR continues to put college as one of those requirements.



  • In my opinion grit and hustle are the keys, not a piece of paper. Someone who is determined to succeeded will do so no matter if they went to college or not. Also, someone who has no drive will not, despite having the best education money can buy. I think this article sums up the pros and cons well. I went to a 4 year school, though a cheap local school. The doors having that piece of paper opened up made it pay for its self quickly. I didn't have the drive at 18 to do it on my own, and paying money made sure I shut up and listened, so it was good for me. However, if someone puts their nose to the books and is good, they will do just fine without a degree.



  • @Dashrender said:

    i.e. my accounting classes have all been taught by people who work for larger firms in my area in the accounting departments.

    Accounting is one of the things that colleges do well. How often do you get an IT class and say "This IT professor has a job that I am envious of, I hope I get that job someday?"

    I only once had a professor that even had a respectable job in IT, and it wasn't great, just okay. The only difference between him and other professors that I had was that he was brave enough or confident enough to ask me for a job.



  • HR seems to be a mess of itself though, they make these requirements and even fuss when people don't stay at jobs more than 3-5 years. Yet, most HR people I know do not last at one job longer than 1 year. Makes no sense to me.



  • I've harped on this a number of times on here and on SW. I got a bachelor's in IT from a local Community College (that was part of the SUNY system). The IT education was terrifyingly bad... to the point where I was teaching most of the technical classes outside the classroom to several students who were in the same track as I was but weren't grasping the material. The good thing they did was make the degree itself part of the business department and we were at a 10/1 business to technical course hour ratio.

    I took entry level accounting (and a few other courses while I was still in High School). I took a behavioral psychology in business course. These gave me a leg up when I went for my Master's degree. I even took "liberal arts" courses like Anthropology and Sociology. All of which I deem had more value then the actual technical courses I went to school for.

    Overall.. I place a no net gain in value that I received in college. The courses I attended for were awful, but the ones that I originally scoffed at ended up being much more helpful.



  • @Nic said:

    The big advantage of actual IRL college is networking. And getting laid.

    The problem is, you only network with the people who aren't going anywhere. It creates a network of the low end and makes it seem acceptable to not be being successful.

    I've never met someone in a college class that I used in professional circles. Met nice people, made friends... but never found someone that I would want to hire, be hired by or was a useful connection.



  • @Dashrender said:

    I think motivation is probably the other huge factor with it comes to school - many, perhaps even most - people aren't motivated enough on their own to read a book and sludge through the homework problems, so going to school surrounding themselves with people who are doing the same makes it easier to create a little competition to provide the motivation.

    So they lower the bar really, really far in order to raise it partway back. That's a big fail 🙂



  • @Dashrender said:

    This is starting to break down today since we have so many online resources and those resources have social aspects to them that allow interaction between people studying the same material. This social aspect also allows you easier access to others who you can help and whom can help you.

    AKA social networks 🙂 If you skipped college, you've had these for a long time. Another area where college seems to be holding people back.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    @Nic said:

    The big advantage of actual IRL college is networking. And getting laid.

    The problem is, you only network with the people who aren't going anywhere. It creates a network of the low end and makes it seem acceptable to not be being successful.

    I've never met someone in a college class that I used in professional circles. Met nice people, made friends... but never found someone that I would want to hire, be hired by or was a useful connection.

    Maybe you didn't go to the right college 🙂



  • I will say going to college for any creative field is the worst idea ever. You can't teach creativity. You'll be paying a lot for nothing. You just need to learn to use tools, and the best way to do that is from people in the field and owning your own equipment (which can be much cheaper than college). A creative college professor is the worst person to learn from, becoming a professor/teacher is normally a sign they failed at being an artist, filmmaker, music producer so they decided to teach. Full Sail University is the top school for creative degrees yet, is the biggest rip off of any college I know. Many of the graduates have hunderdes of thousands in debit (it's a very expensive school), and end up working min wage jobs. Having a degree, especially that expensive of one in the creative world is seen as a negative as firstly the students think they are worth more than they are because full sail says it's real world experience but, it's not. No one wants a stuck up brat on set who thinks they know everything while having done nothing. And secondly creative types are expected to manage some of their budgets for the respective departments, going to college like this show a lack of business sense.



  • @WingCreative said:

    In some ways I think the psych degree helped me in IT more than a computer science degree would, at least for the level I'm currently at.

    I've actually spoken about this several times just this week....

    IMHO, if you go to college then to work in IT you want:

    • Accounting, Finance, Business, Communications, Psychology and other things that colleges are good at are the best. Having this type of degree I see as a mild positive.

    • IT, CIS, MIS are middle of the road. Colleges are horrible at teaching this stuff, can't hire good staff and don't teach good material. Taking these classes means you mistook college for a trade school. See this degree I see as a neutral, neither good nor bad, just ignore that part of the resume.

    • CS is the worst because it is neither in the top category where the schools are good at teaching the material nor is it in the second category of treating college like a trade school but ALSO then not taking the time to know what field you wanted to go into and listening to an uninformed high school guidance counselor and going into the wrong one AND not realizing it the whole way through college! Nothing wrong with CS, but it is a "trade" degree for a different field than IT. No degree is a bigger red flag than a CS degree for an IT candidate (or an IT degree for a CS candidate.) It means, almost certainly, that the person was confused AND didn't get a decent education AND got their own trade wrong. It means they don't know, don't care and don't realize how far askew they are. This is the degree that I see as a black mark and a solid negative for someone applying for IT work. Assuming the best, they are confused. Assuming the worst, they bombed out of CS and are slumming it in IT. All bad.

    Also...

    • BA (or MA) is best, you want liberally educated, well rounded people.
    • BS is okay but not as good. Overly focused which is not something you really want ideally in any IT candidate from their collegiate work.


  • @Dashrender said:

    The HR people who are doing level one interviews for these larger companies don't know the difference between a phone cable and an ethernet cable, so they can't possibly do more than check a list of requirements to see if you should go onto the next level. Sadly HR continues to put college as one of those requirements.

    This should be its own thread BUT..... is HR driving hiring in the enterprise? I've seen absolutely zero of this. I think this is one of those myths circulated in the SMB by college grads in an attempt to justify, after the fact, their degrees. Someone certainly does this, but is there really a volume of this out there?



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    @Dashrender said:

    The HR people who are doing level one interviews for these larger companies don't know the difference between a phone cable and an ethernet cable, so they can't possibly do more than check a list of requirements to see if you should go onto the next level. Sadly HR continues to put college as one of those requirements.

    This should be its own thread BUT..... is HR driving hiring in the enterprise? I've seen absolutely zero of this. I think this is one of those myths circulated in the SMB by college grads in an attempt to justify, after the fact, their degrees. Someone certainly does this, but is there really a volume of this out there?

    Are they driving it, probably not, but are they inserting themselves in the middle with their own requirements - this I have seen. West Corporation is an example. My friend who manages an IT dev team has been told by his management and hr that his new hires have to have college (and in most cases masters) degrees. Of course there are always exceptions to this, but that's the job posting that's put out to the world.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    • IT, CIS, MIS are middle of the road. Colleges are horrible at teaching this stuff, can't hire good staff and don't teach good material. Taking these classes means you mistook college for a trade school. See this degree I see as a neutral, neither good nor bad, just ignore that part of the resume.

    I would say Universities are bad at this stuff. Many Community colleges are good at it. They are way ahead of in terms of technology than the 4 yr colleges. And most of the professors are part time people who actually work in IT and just teaching on the side for extra $$



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    @Dashrender said:

    The HR people who are doing level one interviews for these larger companies don't know the difference between a phone cable and an ethernet cable, so they can't possibly do more than check a list of requirements to see if you should go onto the next level. Sadly HR continues to put college as one of those requirements.

    This should be its own thread BUT..... is HR driving hiring in the enterprise? I've seen absolutely zero of this. I think this is one of those myths circulated in the SMB by college grads in an attempt to justify, after the fact, their degrees. Someone certainly does this, but is there really a volume of this out there?

    Yep, HR was not involved in my hiring here (I guess we are enterprise). Never did I once talk to them, and I report directly to the IT director at corporate. All they've done is make sure paper work was in order and do the background checks.



  • @coliver said:

    I've harped on this a number of times on here and on SW. I got a bachelor's in IT from a local Community College (that was part of the SUNY system). The IT education was terrifyingly bad...

    I actually had a great SUNY CC and SUNY college experience. Both MCC and SUNY Empire were amazing schools but were dramatically different than any other colleges and universities that I worked with over the years. I've had both the experience of "good classes" and the experience of "bad schools without a single respectable class" for comparison.

    This has been handy, because I've seen both that it can be good but more importantly that it isn't necessarily and it is the second thing that is key - having a degree means nothing because of the latter. Anyone can buy a degree, so anyone claiming that a degree means something is to be heavily suspect - either they are challenged by things that are very simple OR they don't understand the college process. One is very bad, the other isn't positive. And as a hiring manager, I can't tell which it is, or if it is both.

    I've also worked heavily with OCC to improve their programs, which they honestly worked very hard to do.



  • @thecreativeone91 said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    @Dashrender said:

    The HR people who are doing level one interviews for these larger companies don't know the difference between a phone cable and an ethernet cable, so they can't possibly do more than check a list of requirements to see if you should go onto the next level. Sadly HR continues to put college as one of those requirements.

    This should be its own thread BUT..... is HR driving hiring in the enterprise? I've seen absolutely zero of this. I think this is one of those myths circulated in the SMB by college grads in an attempt to justify, after the fact, their degrees. Someone certainly does this, but is there really a volume of this out there?

    Yep, HR was not involved in my hiring here (I guess we are enterprise). Never did I once talk to them, and I report directly to the IT director at corporate. All they've done is make sure paper work was in order and do the background checks.

    I've always had HR involved, but never "in the way." They were always just there to discuss benefits, talk about legal stuff, make sure that paperwork was done correctly, etc. They were there to assist, not to sabotage.



  • @Dashrender said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    @Dashrender said:

    The HR people who are doing level one interviews for these larger companies don't know the difference between a phone cable and an ethernet cable, so they can't possibly do more than check a list of requirements to see if you should go onto the next level. Sadly HR continues to put college as one of those requirements.

    This should be its own thread BUT..... is HR driving hiring in the enterprise? I've seen absolutely zero of this. I think this is one of those myths circulated in the SMB by college grads in an attempt to justify, after the fact, their degrees. Someone certainly does this, but is there really a volume of this out there?

    Are they driving it, probably not, but are they inserting themselves in the middle with their own requirements - this I have seen. West Corporation is an example. My friend who manages an IT dev team has been told by his management and hr that his new hires have to have college (and in most cases masters) degrees. Of course there are always exceptions to this, but that's the job posting that's put out to the world.

    I know GE gets involved a lot in there stuff, but they are also a very politically driven company. (along with the others they own NBC, Time warner(I think) etc, etc)



  • @thecreativeone91 said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    • IT, CIS, MIS are middle of the road. Colleges are horrible at teaching this stuff, can't hire good staff and don't teach good material. Taking these classes means you mistook college for a trade school. See this degree I see as a neutral, neither good nor bad, just ignore that part of the resume.

    I would say Universities are bad at this stuff. Many Community colleges are good at it. They are way ahead of in terms of technology than the 4 yr colleges. And most of the professors are part time people who actually work in IT and just teaching on the side for extra $$

    Even there, though, how many are top IT people rather than just "who needed some extra cash?" University doesn't pay well and it is a decent time commitment. How many top IT people need extra money and/or have spare time to dedicate to something like this?



  • @Dashrender said:

    Are they driving it, probably not, but are they inserting themselves in the middle with their own requirements - this I have seen. West Corporation is an example. My friend who manages an IT dev team has been told by his management and hr that his new hires have to have college (and in most cases masters) degrees. Of course there are always exceptions to this, but that's the job posting that's put out to the world.

    Other than West, a known small enterprise with all these problems, have you ever seen a respected or any other enterprise do this?



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    @thecreativeone91 said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    • IT, CIS, MIS are middle of the road. Colleges are horrible at teaching this stuff, can't hire good staff and don't teach good material. Taking these classes means you mistook college for a trade school. See this degree I see as a neutral, neither good nor bad, just ignore that part of the resume.

    I would say Universities are bad at this stuff. Many Community colleges are good at it. They are way ahead of in terms of technology than the 4 yr colleges. And most of the professors are part time people who actually work in IT and just teaching on the side for extra $$

    Even there, though, how many are top IT people rather than just "who needed some extra cash?" University doesn't pay well and it is a decent time commitment. How many top IT people need extra money and/or have spare time to dedicate to something like this?

    Realistically why would they teach? If they are at that level in the field they could spend less time and gain more money doing hourly consulting.



  • West, we have previously determined, isn't a good place to work and doesn't consider themselves to be a good place. They see themselves as very low end by their actions. They've come up again and again as an example of how bad a smaller enterprise in the midwest can be.

    But the bulk of the enterprise is bigger than them and more competitive. There is no question that there are bad shops out there, but the question is .... is this normal or the exception?

    There is also the question of "is it true?" Lots of people say that they have these requirements but don't have them in the real world.



  • I've heard most telecom companies aren't good. Dish is one of the worst. Verizon seems to be on the better end offering many services and good quality (but very high priced for the consulting and cloud services).



  • WSTC: West Corp has a market cap of 2.5BN USD and is traded on NASDAQ.

    Headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska.

    26K employees world wide.

    So big but not huge. Much smaller than our local grocery store here in Rochester, NY, for example. That has grown significantly and was much bigger in market cap (but not publicly traded) and much bigger in staff, by 10K, a decade ago and they have grown significantly since and is not considered an enterprise and acts mostly like an SMB 🙂

    Looked it up, I underestimated the size of the grocery store's growth since I was there...

    Up to $7BN USB now and 44K employees!!



  • @thecreativeone91 said:

    I will say going to college for any creative field is the worst idea ever. You can't teach creativity. You'll be paying a lot for nothing. You just need to learn to use tools, and the best way to do that is from people in the field and owning your own equipment (which can be much cheaper than college). A creative college professor is the worst person to learn from, becoming a professor/teacher is normally a sign they failed at being an artist, filmmaker, music producer so they decided to teach. Full Sail University is the top school for creative degrees yet, is the biggest rip off of any college I know. Many of the graduates have hunderdes of thousands in debit (it's a very expensive school), and end up working min wage jobs. Having a degree, especially that expensive of one in the creative world is seen as a negative as firstly the students think they are worth more than they are because full sail says it's real world experience but, it's not. No one wants a stuck up brat on set who thinks they know everything while having done nothing. And secondly creative types are expected to manage some of their budgets for the respective departments, going to college like this show a lack of business sense.

    Agreed on most counts. I will say that I was doing some graphic design stuff for one of the school groups I was involved in when I started taking some art history classes, and found that the analysis of classical works was extremely helpful for me. I tried to frame what we learned in those classes as finding the reasons why these pieces of art, out of all the art in the world, had withstood the test of time and become regarded as "important". It helped me learn how to use form, coloration and contrast to more intentionally guide a viewer's eye throughout what I was making so they could pick up the important bits at a glance. This also helped get me on the path to UX when it came to web design instead of just stuffing content down users' throats.

    The straight-up art classes were better for teaching specific skills like sketching, pigment mixing, etc... but I feel like the people that went to my school to learn that sort of stuff were making the best of a silly choice their high school selves made.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    WSTC: West Corp has a market cap of 2.5BN USD and is traded on NASDAQ.

    Headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska.

    26K employees world wide.

    So big but not huge. Much smaller than our local grocery store here in Rochester, NY, for example. That has grown significantly and was much bigger in market cap (but not publicly traded) and much bigger in staff, by 10K, a decade ago and they have grown significantly since and is not considered an enterprise and acts mostly like an SMB 🙂

    It's bigger than us if you count just the Subsidiary I work for at a big under 10k employees. But with our cooperate company, and the other subsidiaries we are way way bigger. Granted we are #2 in our industry.



  • @thecreativeone91 said:

    It's bigger than us if you count just the Subsidiary I work for at a big under 10k employees. But with our cooperate company, and the other subsidiaries we are way way bigger. Granted we are #2 in our industry.

    You know someone isn't too big when you are comparing them to the subsidiaries of other companies 🙂