Thursday, March 06, 2008

What... is your favourite colour?

Yesterday somebody called Pradeep posted a question in the OTN PL/SQL forum asking for careers advice. He is a VB programmer working in a Microsoft code factory (in India I would guess). He wanted to know what the Oracle job market was like, because he wanted thinking of training as an "oracle developer".

The reaction from some of the forum regulars was dismissive. Here is a sample:
"There are so many career/job opportunities in IT that to ask on a forum like this for career direction advice is just ... Well, just not a good idea.

But put yourself in Pradeep's position. (Note the following is an extrapolation: I don't really know his circumstances). A combination of the commoditization of IT and outsourcing has produced software sweatshops, where you, the developer equivalent of a sharecropper, churn out code chunks to be assembled into systems elsewhere. It's repetitive, stultifying and without much room for personal growth. Even if you do hear of a better job you know you are surrounded by dozens of other sharecroppers who stand just as much chance of getting it as you.

So Pradeep has thought to himself, Oracle is a famous company but he doesn't know anybody who works as an Oracle developer. That means he is going to face much less competition for any Oracle job which might arise. You might find this optimistic but it is thinking outside of the box. He then shows further initiative by posting a question about Oracle careers on the OTN forums. Because he thinks that the people who answer questions there will be helpful - which they are - and they will have the relevant knowledge - they all have careers in Oracle development.

What he hadn't anticipated was that quite so many people regard the PL/SQL forums as a suitable place for rehashing Monty Python jokes and discussing antiquated programming languages but not for offering careers advice. It's a funny old world.

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