Author Topic: Most hated jobs: further comments  (Read 3340 times)

I D Shukhov

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Most hated jobs: further comments
« on: September 17, 2011, 03:25:32 AM »
Somebody posted this a few months back:

http://finance.yahoo.com/career-work/article/113308/10-most-hated-jobs-cnbc

Yahoo trotted it back out again today.

Recall that it lists  Senior Web Developer  as unhappy job #4, and Director of Information Technology as unhappy job #1:
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Still, IT directors reported the highest level of dissatisfaction with their jobs, far surpassing that of any waitress, janitor, or bellhop.

Nowhere at http://www.careerbliss.com/ can I find the original source of the survey.  The best I can find is an "In the News" link back to the Yahoo Article.

CareerBliss' mission is: 

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CareerBliss is an online career community and resource dedicated to helping you find joy and success at every step in your career. CareerBliss discovers the hidden influences that drive your work happiness and offers you the tools to help you unlock your bliss potential.

Here's the Management Team:  http://www.careerbliss.com/about/management/.   Matt's bio shows that he has a MS in Computer Science and Heidi is the co-founder of both CareerBliss and CyberCoders.

It can't hurt CareerBliss' business if there are a lot of unhappy IT people.  If they didn't know before that they hate their jobs more than janitors, they know it now.

Be Prepared.

Peter Gibbons

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Re: Most hated jobs: further comments
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2011, 06:48:18 AM »
I think this "IT people hate their jobs" thing is overblown.

codger

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Re: Most hated jobs: further comments
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2011, 07:52:16 AM »
I worked in IT in various capacities for over twenty-eight years. Everything from programmer to IT directore and many years of independent consulting.  I had one stretch of four years that I refer to as my Camelot period. During that brief time, I can honestly say that I enjoyed getting up and going to work almost every day. Four out of twenty-eight years. I picked the wrong field, but it paid well, and I was usually optimistic that the next turn in my career path would lead to real job satisfaction. It didn't.

Most of the IT people I worked with held the opinion that if they could make as much money as they were in IT doing something else, they'd be gone in a heartbeat. There were some, but very few who seemed satisfied.
In another life, I worked as an accountant/auditor. The misery index among my accounting peers was far lower than I later encountered in IT.

Anecdotal? Yeah.

Added later: I have only maintained close contact with four people I knew and/or worked with during my IT days. Two are CIOs who can't wait to retire. One is a 57 year old tech - a victim of a layoff due to a merger. He doubts if he'll ever be able to get an IT job again. The fourth person is a 59 year old VP of engineering (board level high tech development), and he's doing all he can to arrange for an early retirement. He is pretty much burnt out.

« Last Edit: September 17, 2011, 09:42:25 AM by codger »

Walter Mitty

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Re: Most hated jobs: further comments
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2011, 11:07:47 AM »
I think this "IT people hate their jobs" thing is overblown.

I think IT people analyze their jobs more than other people do.  Why?  Because IT people analyze everything more than other people do.  Whether analysis inevitably  leads to dissatisfaction is something I wouldn't know.

Every now and then, you tune into a TV show of some kind where somebody like a park ranger describes their job.  They always love ther job.  Now, is park ranger a job than everybody would love?  I doubt it.  I think most people would hate the job.  Cold and wet.  Isolated.  Not much room for promotion or innovation.  And nature is always throwing a new problem at you.  But the thing is,  very few people drift into park ranger jobs only to find out that they hate it five years down the road.  Most people who are going to hate the park ranger job figure that out in the first fifteen minutes, long before they even apply for their first full time gig. 

This is only a piece of the puzzle.  But it's an important piece.

The Gorn

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IT is a job, not a career
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2011, 11:16:16 AM »
I think IT is despised because the people who do the work are at least well above average intelligence and well, well above average levels of dedication to the "craft" of their work, but - they are constrained by very impenetrable glass ceiling. IT people are never, ever considered for anything except techie grunt work. Executives rarely come from IT.

In other words IT asks a lot from its workers, and pays OK for some, but - for most, IT is a job, not a career. It leads nowhere except more of the same work.
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Walter Mitty

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Re: Most hated jobs: further comments
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2011, 11:16:25 AM »
I started my first programming course 49 years ago this month. 

I have to say that I was jazzed with computers.  I didn't think of it as my life's work.  Not by a long shot.  But that course consumed me a lot more than the other four courses did.

What did I like most about computers?  I can put it in a single word:  control.  I was in control of that machine, at an incredibly detailed level.  I had never experienced that kind of control before in my life.  Not in dealings with other people.  Not in driving a car.  Not in doing math.  Even it was only for a few milliseconds while my batch job ran,  I was in control.

I liked most of my IT career better than some of you.  But if I single out the jobs I hated the most, they all had one feature in common:  lack of control.  Lack of control over the schedule,  the requirements, the resources,   the metrics for success,  etc. etc.

This is only a piece of the puzzle.  But I think it's a key piece.  IT attracts people who are addicted to control.  And IT puts people in situations where they have almost no control.  A recipe for unhappiness.


The Gorn

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Re: Most hated jobs: further comments
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2011, 12:13:12 PM »
IT attracts people who are addicted to control.  And IT puts people in situations where they have almost no control.  A recipe for unhappiness.

This is extremely insightful. One of the best comments in the thread. I was thinking about the relationship of "control" to overall career satisfaction, but I hadn't put the thought together as well as you did here.

Also there is the matter of lack of control *and* accountability for a result. You're responsible but you have no say.

Yes, you probably hit on my own addiction to computer science with this theory. It also seems to account for my love of lower level languages and languages like C that allow tight control of the hardware. It also explains why I lost almost all interest in .Net and similar hooey and it explains my general disinterest in 4GLs, databases, and higher level tools.

My work with C++ had progressed to the point in my last/final contract that I felt for a variety of reasons mostly having to do with decisions made by my dumb client that I had absolutely no control over success or failure of even the smallest piece. It was all subject to being up-ended.

In the end I found absolutely no satisfaction even in smaller scopes of work related to coding, because I felt little control there, either.

I guess a progression of events similar to these account for burnout among many professionals in other fields.
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Peter Gibbons

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Re: Most hated jobs: further comments
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2011, 12:54:05 PM »
Quote
Quote
Quote from: Walter Mitty on Today at 04:16:25 pm
IT attracts people who are addicted to control.  And IT puts people in situations where they have almost no control.  A recipe for unhappiness.

This is extremely insightful. One of the best comments in the thread. I was thinking about the relationship of "control" to overall career satisfaction, but I hadn't put the thought together as well as you did here.

I agree.

Quote
Yes, you probably hit on my own addiction to computer science with this theory. It also seems to account for my love of lower level languages and languages like C that allow tight control of the hardware. It also explains why I lost almost all interest in .Net and similar hooey and it explains my general disinterest in 4GLs, databases, and higher level tools.

This was definitely a problem. Most of the work out there is about using languages like Java, C#, Python, Ruby ... to manipulate data retrieved from relational databases like Oracle, Sybase, SQL Server, DB2 ... and write it back.

This allows leveraging the work of the C/C++ experts that wrote the "Tight and Fast Code" for the "Just in Time" compilers for Java and .NET and the relational database engines.


There are consultants that make money even with assembly language:

http://luajit.org/sponsors.html

Ironically their work supports higher level languages - in the case above - Lua.

This kind of hard core algorithmic work is exceedingly rare ...

Mike Pall has created his own cutting edge fun project. And he is so good large companies has noticed him.

I D Shukhov

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Re: Most hated jobs: further comments
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2011, 12:56:18 PM »
I think this "IT people hate their jobs" thing is overblown.
Right, I don't think IT would have gotten to where it is if everyone hated it so much.

Sometimes it's a matter of attitude towards the work.   They say the best programmers are lazy, so if something looks like it's going to be a PITA to design or to keep maintained, maybe there's a labor-saving tool or technique that can be used. 

There's a guy at work who is always being creative about refactoring poorly-designed code with something a lot more interesting and easier to maintain.   The guy really has a great command of design patterns and knows how to use XML in places to introduce "smart data and dumb algorithms".  In this regard, some maxim like "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration" is true because I know he must have worked hard to be as creative as he is.

Usually when I find myself hating software it's because whatever I'm doing is boring and tedious, but there's enough interesting software engineering technologies (the explosion of languages, for one example) that it doesn't have to be.

I can blame schedule pressure most of the time for not being creative, but I also have to admit I haven't created a good learning program for myself and so don't know as much as I should.   Learning is something that a software engineer has to do for one's entire career.  It's what one should know when signing up since IT changes so fast.

 
Be Prepared.

Walter Mitty

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Re: Most hated jobs: further comments
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2011, 01:01:45 PM »
I think this "IT people hate their jobs" thing is overblown.

Sometimes it's a matter of attitude towards the work.   They say the best programmers are lazy, so if something looks like it's going to be a PITA to design or to keep maintained, maybe there's a labor-saving tool or technique that can be used. 


I've always thought that laziness, combined with creativity, was essential in the automation business.  You have to have a special kind of laziness to be able to work like hell to get something just right, so that the next 500,000 iterations can proceed with no direct effort on your part.

Show me a programmer who believes in the value of hard work, and I'll show you a programmer whose software I do not want to use.


Walter Mitty

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Re: Most hated jobs: further comments
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2011, 01:10:52 PM »
It's possible for me to overdo this thing about control,  but really think there's something to it.

I managed to transfer my love of control from control over the machine to control over masses of data.  Control over the machine kept me with assembler for far too long.  I didn't start seriously using higher level languages like Algol until very late,  the mid 1970s. 

Control over data, and making SQL sit up and dance,  has its own special charm.  No, I can't tell SQL which sorting algorithm to use.  No, I can't reduce the execution time of a loop by a few microseconds.  But yes I can find out which data element is defined in a contradictory fashion in the Database in the US and the one in the UK,  out of thousands of data elements.  I can find out which customer, out of 500,000 customers, has contradictory customer information in the reference tables.   I can tell you how many times a loss leader on a website resulted in profitable business from the same customer months down the road.

And I can speed up the weekend update from 46 hours to 46 minutes.

It's a different kind of control.

I'll admit that I got pushed into database work kicking and screaming.  But once I got settled into it,  I loved it.  And I think I liked it in part because it was so different from the stuff I had done before.

 

Walter Mitty

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Re: Most hated jobs: further comments
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2011, 01:13:51 PM »
It's very dengerous to generalize about gender.  Individual variation is enormous.

But I'm going to go out on a limb and say that most of the males I've met in IT are addicted to control.  And most of the females are addicted to communication.  And that fits with the difference, as I see it, between male brain function,  on the average, and female brain function, on the average.

The president of Harvard made some comments on these differences.  Shortly before he got fired.


Walter Mitty

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Re: Most hated jobs: further comments
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2011, 01:16:50 PM »
Programming is almost unique in that it's both a mathematical endeavor and a linguistic one.  Abstract analysis of the problem space is a very mathematical mode of thought.  And programming languages are called languages for a reason.  Using them is a very linguistic activity.

There are people with strong math skills and weak verbal skills and vice versa.  But by golly, to be a good programmer,  you need both kinds of skills.


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Re: Most hated jobs: further comments
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2011, 03:28:35 PM »
Show me a programmer who believes in the value of hard work, and I'll show you a programmer whose software I do not want to use.

You just outdid yourself. Fantastic observation.
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Incorrect conclusion (in my opinion, anyway)
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2011, 03:38:24 PM »
I think this "IT people hate their jobs" thing is overblown.
Right, I don't think IT would have gotten to where it is if everyone hated it so much.

There's a practical explanation for this fact:

Most of the advances in computer science and most of the code developed in industry is by relatively young, enthusiastic and prolific developers and researchers.

95%-99% of IT is repetitious factory work. 1% to 5% is truly creative or original. The repetitious factory work stands on the shoulders of the original platform work and original coding.

In short, a very few individuals in this industry get to do truly unique, vital work that truly matters, such as the invention of new languages that receive wide acceptance, the development of core OS code, or the development of really great application software.

And usually, those individuals only get to do this type of work for a few years of their early careers. There's a standard in this industry that (more or less) says that you shot your wad by the time you're 35 and you should get out of the way and let the new kool kids do their thing.

Everyone else and those at other points in their careers are doing: management (quasi or real), bug fixes and maintenance, QA, refactoring of old dreck, "requirements gathering" (BOR-ING but necessary - I suppose it's like taking the trash out, someone has to do it, and sorry  :-[ ), and all of the other pipe fitting and plumbing work required in IT.

IT *isn't* computer science anyway and we've discussed that distinction in the past. Information Technology is the application of known art and science. IT is wiring networks, and doing admin tasks on OSs, tending to workstation issues, etc.

Real computer science research requires a PhD. High end application development in novel areas probably requires a master's degree, or a few years of really good experience. "IT" is what everyone else of lesser credentials (2 year degrees or tech school certificates) is doing. As well as those of us who fell from grace and aged and are not deserving of the high honor of writing new code any more.  >:(

Most IT work is drudgery. Nothing the matter with it but it's repetitious and it can be taught.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2011, 04:21:22 PM by The Gorn »
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