Hello everyone,
I am a high school student looking to become a software engineer. But I hear that out sourcing is becoming a huge problem for them. Even my cousin an MIT top grad was laid off because of out sourcing. I would like to know how excatlly is the work like, is it difficult to get a stable job even at entry level, and what sort of back plans should I look into?

7 Years
Discussion Span
Last Post by redleaf1

Money and Job Security:
Every (except direct service: burger flippers, janitorial staff, personal trainers) job is subject to outsourcing, and every job and industry is subject to market forces of all kinds. In some ways, you should consider that the better you are (therefore the higher you are paid) the more likely you are to lose a job to someone less well paid.

It seems to me that some market niches are more highly leveraged in the economy than others. By this, I mean that the job market for some jobs (or companies) moves the same way as the economy, but faster. Some jobs are unleveraged, and some reverse leveraged, too. Construction, design, software seem to be highly leveraged: If money is tight, people put off doing such things: You don't need a new kitchen, a new magazine layout or a new version of your software package. Some service jobs are unleveraged: You may avoid going out to eat or hiring a personal trainer when money is tight, but you will still need health care, mortuary services ... And some are reverse leveraged: We need more guards and cops (though we may not be able to afford them) when the economy drives marginal people toward risky behavior.

What the work is like:
Software engineers have a variety of job opportunities, though once you begin to specialize in one, it is harder to move to another. Among the obvious:

  • System administration
  • (assist with) Numerical calculations, simulations, projections
  • Create or maintain PC software
  • Create or maintain mobile apps
  • Create or maintain service/server programs
  • Create or maintain firmware (everything from toasters to jet planes)
  • Be a professor, teacher or trainer
  • Write about the field for various journals/blogs
  • Do technical documentation (you don't need an engineering degree for this, but the background is good
  • Work where software intersects with the law (you can be a technical resource person for lawyers, be an expert witness at legal proceedings, etc)
  • Do some mix of the above, or something I didn't mention

The only reasonable way to know if you will like the work is to actually do some. You can get fairly close by taking some personality and skills assessment tests. Your guidance counselor, or a counselor at a local junior college or university can be very helpful. If you have my unhelpful first experience with guidance counselors, find another. If at all possible, talk your way into a job (even volunteer if need be) doing something that at least has you sitting near people doing the work you think you might like: This allows you to get a clear view of what the actual ups and downs of the particular job are, and more important, it allows you to spend time with the people who will be your colleagues later: If you find them pleasant company, you may very well like working in that field. On the other hand, if you find them to be less than congenial, you should probably find another line of work. Be very aware, though, that one person is not representative of all.

A few more words:
If you are the kid who took things apart before you could form clear sentences, and if you managed to actually (re)build things by the time you could write, you may be an engineer. If you were the kid who organized the neighborhood kids, saw to it that parties happened, delegated tasks and promoted the general welfare, you may be a manager or politician. If you are the kid who is constantly finding something better and promoting it to your friends, you may belong in marketing or sales; and if you are some of all, and not totally any, then welcome to the broad middle of the curve: You can probably succeed at pretty nearly anything.

You really should go see a guidance counselor, if only to validate what you already think and feel, but the big pay off would be if you learned something useful about yourself that led you toward a better, more productive happier career and life.

Good luck!

Edited by griswolf: n/a

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