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STEM degrees its more about experience

One thing about technology: it either works or it doesn't. A fancy brand name can't make up for a program that doesn't do what it's supposed to do. That pragmatic approach applies to degrees in STEM fields, too. A recent study found that for degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math, the "brand name" of the school granting the degree had less impact on long-term salaries than for degrees in liberal arts.

Skills Matter

The reason for that is the skills that lead to success on the job are both standardized and easy to assess. Programming languages are the same whether they're learned at an Ivy League school or at a community college. And coding skills are easily evaluated through technical questions and small coding problems during the interview.

The high demand for STEM skills means even students who develop those skills in an untraditional setting find opportunity. Online courses, hackathons, and nanodegree programs provide job-oriented training outside of the college classroom. Industry finds graduates of these programs appealing because training through these programs often includes the latest programming tools that haven't been incorporated into school curriculums yet.

Experience Matters

A degree from a top school will definitely open doors, but once you start working, it's your achievements on the job that matter more in STEM fields. Managers can easily track quality metrics tied to a specific employee, such as whether features are delivered on time and how many bugs were in their work. These metrics can impact the salary increases and bonuses employees receive.

The degree is also less important when switching employers after you've been working for a few years. Because technology changes so rapidly, the specific methods and techniques you learned in school are no longer relevant. It's important to take training and continuing education classes to become familiar with the new technologies in demand. In addition, employers value the nontechnical interpersonal and leadership skills that develop after working for several years. Employees who demonstrate up-to-date technical skills plus an understanding of how to get things done in a business environment will have a solid career no matter what it says on their diploma.

Python Engineers Must Haves and Nice to Have Skills

It takes years to learn all the ins and outs of any technology, but you don't need to know everything before putting the skill on your resume. Focus on the must-have skills first, then stand out from everyone else with the nice-to-haves. For Python engineers, the skills break down this way.


Must-Have Python Engineer Skills


Core Python. 

You don't need to know every module, but you need to know the basics, including the differences between Python 2 and Python 3.


Web frameworks. 

Almost no project today starts from scratch; most leverage an existing framework. Learn one of the common Python frameworks such as Django.


Object-relational mappers. 

It's easier to connect an application to a database through an ORM rather than through writing SQL.


Understand multi-process architecture. 

The ability to correctly write and manage threads and processes is key to developing high-performance applications.


Developing and using RESTful APIs. 

Understanding how to use RESTful APIs is necessary to integrate your application with other components.


Building Python application. 

Your team may have a build engineer, but you should know how to package up code for release and deployment.


Good communication skills. 

Even in a purely programming role, you need to be able to communicate with teammates and to collaborate to resolve issues.


Good design skills. 

You must be able to implement servers that are scalable, secure, and highly available.


Nice-to-Have Python Engineer Skills


Front-end developer skills. 

Python developers typically work on the backend of Web applications, but every application needs a front end also. Learn how to code front ends, too, and you can contribute more to every project you work on. JavaScript, HTML, and CSS are the basic foundation for frontend work.


Database knowledge. 

Despite the importance of ORMs, it's beneficial to understand databases as well. Some performance issues may be best resolved directly in the database rather than in code.


Systems administration. 

Knowing system administration lets you solve problems at the system level rather than just the application level. 


Script writing. 

Along with systems administration, the ability to write shell scripts lets you control the server.


Other programming languages like Java or C++. 

As useful a tool as Python is, it isn't appropriate for every programming project. Know other languages so you can use the best language to solve the problem.


3 Ways to Get Hired to a Mobile Team

Mobile application development is hot. According to Gartner, demand for mobile apps will grow five times faster than companies can deliver them. The salaries for mobile app developers reflect that, averaging around $102,000 and going up to $135,000. For developers who want to get in on the mobile development action, make sure you have the skills that will make employers notice you.

Know how to develop for Android.

Apple's iOS products get lots of great press, and there are plenty of jobs for iOS developers, but there's even more demand for Android developers. While the two platforms split the U.S. market almost evenly, Android has a far larger share of the global market. So make sure your resume has the skills you need for Android development, including the Android SDK, Android NDK, Java, and C++. If you can develop on multiple platforms, that gives you additional options, so learn Objective-C or Swift for iOS devices.

Build your own app.

There's no better way to demonstrate your capability to build a mobile app than demonstrating a mobile app that you built. You can point to an app that you built at your previous employer, but because company projects are team efforts, it's difficult to really claim credit. Instead, create your own sample app in your free time. The development tools are available for free on multiple platforms. If you take the app live, you'll learn the necessary skills for packaging it and publishing it in an app store. Taking your own idea from concept through deployment shows initiative and drive that impress potential employers beyond the technical skills you develop through the process.

Have skills that go beyond mobile.

Knowing the SDK for a specific platform is only part of knowing how to create a mobile app. Like any software project, you need to understand the business requirements, so business analysis skills and communication skills are still valuable. Databases were invented long before the smartphone, but mobile apps still store data in them, so understanding SQL and database technology is necessary. Many tools generate XML automatically these days, but it's still helpful to understand the syntax.

3 Project Manager Certifications You Need to Excel

An MBA degree is a valuable credential, but it's not necessarily relevant to project managers in information technology. Project management certification attests to your knowledge in specific skills that project managers use on a daily basis. Obtain one of these certifications and you'll gain skills that help you do better at your current job as well as attract potential employers' attention when you list the credential on your resume.

Project Management Professional

Offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), Project Management Professional (PMP) is one of the most well-respected project manager certifications. This credential isn't restricted to information technology, and requires mastery of skills that will help manage projects in any business domain. The requirements for obtaining the PMP certificate include several thousand hours of hands-on project management work, plus 35 hours of coursework. After these hours are completed, a difficult exam must be passed. Less experienced project managers can obtain the Certified Associate Project Manager (CAPM) certification, a more entry-level credential; PMI also offers additional certification for project managers in specialty areas such as business analysis and risk management.

Scrum Master

If your workplace follows agile software development methodology, as more and more organizations currently do, you participate in scrums on a daily basis. The Scrum Master certification from the Scrum Alliance acknowledges your expertise in guiding your team through scrum practices. Obtaining the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) credential requires self-study of scrum practices, followed by a CSM course led by a certified trainer. That course is then followed by an online exam. Successfully obtaining the CSM also grants access to Scrum Alliance resources, including a profile on the Scrum Alliance website, plus a logo to highlight your achievement.

Certified Project Manager

Similar to the PMP certification, Certified Project Manager (CPM) is offered through the International Association of Program and Project Management. Before taking the exam, you should have expert-level knowledge of project management practices, obtained through at least four years of project management work and 36 hours of study on the CPM syllabus. This preparation is followed by a three-hour exam. More junior professionals can obtain the Certified Project Professional credential.

Tuesday, Jan 05 2016

10 Interview Tips for 2016

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10 Interview Tips for 2016

Going to be looking for a new job in the new year? Update your resume and brush up on your interviewing skills with these 10 tips:

1. Have good manners.

Be nice to everyone you meet during the hiring process, including the administrative assistants who schedule the interviews and bring you into the office. Even if the hiring process doesn't formally solicit their feedback, you can be sure any bad impression you make on them will find its way back to the hiring manager.

2. Don't focus solely on technology.

If you're interviewing for a leadership or managerial role, your job is more about people than tech. If you are looking for a technical job, you'll have to interact with co-workers and colleagues in other business departments. If you make it clear you enjoy those interactions, you'll appear more flexible than someone who wants to keep their head down and just code.

3. Be ready to explain how you'd get started.

Companies are often hiring because they have an urgent need. Be ready to explain how your skills, background, and approach will let you hit the ground running.

4. Dress appropriately.

It's rare to need a suit and tie when interviewing for a technical position, but you should still bump your style up a notch. In some startups, casual, even sloppy, dress may still be appropriate for an interview, but even if you're rumpled, you need to be clean.

5. Be ready to show your portfolio.

Particularly for positions that emphasize creativity, such as user interface design roles, you may be asked to show samples of your work. Be mindful of any confidentiality or nondisclosure agreements you have with your current employer, but bring examples of your work when possible. (Don’t force an uninterested interviewer to look at it, however!)

6. Be ready to ask questions.

You can plan questions in advance based on information you gather about the company online, but you'll make an even better impression if you ask relevant questions about the specific opportunity that relate to information the interviewer gave you.

7. Indicate your interest in continuing development.

No one can afford to stop learning, whether in a technical or managerial role. Express your interest in continuing to develop your capabilities, including technical and leadership skills, and the company will know that your value to them won't end just because a technology becomes obsolete.

8. Have your references ready.

Companies expect that you'll be able to provide references; not having a list of names handy makes you seem unprepared and can raise suspicions that you don't have anyone who will vouch for you. Make sure you let your references know you'll be giving their information out and they are willing to respond on your behalf.

9. Rehearse.

You don't want to give canned answers to interview questions, but you don't want to ramble, either. Anticipate what you may be asked and think about your answers in advance. You can't anticipate specific technical questions, but you can brush up on the relevant technologies to refresh your memory.

10. Remember the evaluation process goes both ways.

Interviewing isn't just about you impressing the company; the company also needs to impress you. Pay attention to the facilities and people you see; do you think you'd fit in and enjoy working here? That's the most important interview question of all.

What Security Pros Need in the New Year

From an information security perspective, 2015 was a headline-making year, and not in a good way. Major breaches occurred at healthcare insurance companies, an online dating site, financial firms, and government agencies including the FBI. The challenges facing security pros are daunting. These are a few of the things they need to make their jobs easier:

Integrated security tools.

There are plenty of security products out there, including firewalls, intrusion detection systems, data loss prevention tools, threat feeds, and security information and event management products, but they mostly provide independent services. Security pros wish for integrated tools that would provide a comprehensive view of the network security posture and work together to address threats.

Increased security awareness.

Security doesn't make money for companies, so it often gets little attention—and money—until after a problem has occurred. Security pros wish consciousness of the importance of security would penetrate the entire business hierarchy, from the boardroom where strategic funding decisions are made to the lowest-level employees who are vulnerable to phishing and social engineering attacks.

Security implemented throughout the technology stack.

It's no longer possible to secure corporate data by securing the network. Security needs to be built into applications and databases to defend against attacks that originate from within the network. Security concerns should be part of an application's earliest design phases, not an afterthought ineffectually bolted on at the tail end of the development process.

Security focused on major risks.

It's impossible to provide effective security when you don't know where the biggest risks are. Companies need to perform risk analysis to understand which data is being used by which applications and where that data is being stored. Then security efforts can focus on protecting sensitive data which would do the greatest harm if exposed, rather than applying equal levels of protection across all applications regardless of risk.

More security engineers.

There's a shortage of security professionals, so even when a business is committed to investing in security, it's hard to find employees with the skills to implement the necessary tools and policies. Engineers with solid training and up-to-date security certifications will find plenty of opportunity in the new year.