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NYC - Financial experience?

John Fontana
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 28, 2002
Posts: 235
Hi,
I have a SCJP, more than four years' experience building web apps with Cold Fusion, Servlets, Perl, JSP, ASP and even taught myself some desktop programming with C++ and VB. It seems that every ad for Java skills in New York calls for financial experience. Some are even very specific to fixed income, blah-blah-blah. And unpaid interns are doing the basic web work.
Is this ever going to be a profitable career again? I got out of the travel business just in time, but have I just jumped to another dead-end? I really feel as if I've wasted my time learning Java...
Any words of encouragement? This job search is now 3 months long. I find that most of the ads online are just templates for opportunities the agencies MIGHT get someday...and hardly any of them offer benefits...not that you can even get an interview.
I think I need a hug.


www.websiteandsound.com
"If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten."
Vladan Radovanovic
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 20, 2000
Posts: 216
Originally posted by John Fontana:
Is this ever going to be a profitable career again? I got out of the travel business just in time, but have I just jumped to another dead-end? I really feel as if I've wasted my time learning Java...

I don't want to put you down or anything but I have "few" friends who are currently jobless. Some of them feel like they have wasted 4 years of schooling (CS major) and a quite a bit of money. Compare that to time just learning java.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by John Fontana:
Is this ever going to be a profitable career again? I got out of the travel business just in time, but have I just jumped to another dead-end? I really feel as if I've wasted my time learning Java...

Nope. Never. The internet was a fad. It's time has come and gone. Programming has been shown to be mostly ineffective. Sure there were some business applications which made money before the internet, and there will still be a need for those later, but by and large, most internet-based software projects have be shown to be entirely unprofitable. People should quickly retrain for other jobs, to leave this dead field.
(Sorry, I had to vent, too. :-p )

--Mark
William Barnes
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 16, 2001
Posts: 986

And unpaid interns are doing the basic web work.

Wow that sucks. I know that unpaid interns have been around for a while in industries like "publishing" but this is the first I heard about that for programming. Am I just out of the loop here?
Tony Yan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 10, 2002
Posts: 170
Given the bad job market, it is easy to lose your confidence in this field, more so for the web programming area. But I think there is one point worth poundering about. If Oracle, M$, the Big Blue are still spending money on developing for the Internet, regardless if they are 11i, .Net or XML or whatsoever, we programmers should have our days back sooner or later. Our responsibilities to ourselves may simply be keeping our skills up to date.
If you are not a great mind, following one may be the best idea.


Tony Yan<br /> <br />IBM Certified Developer XML and Related Technology<br />Sun Certified Web Component Developer For J2EE Platform<br />Sun Certified Programmer For Java 2 Platform
John Fontana
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 28, 2002
Posts: 235
Well, I've brought these troubles up with many of my (former) colleagues...some in graphic design, others in advertising, publishing, programming, management, etc. They all say the same things.
Seemed to me that the only people hiring Java Programmers are large financial institutions. Well, they seem to be the only companies who have money to hire ANYBODY no matter what department. Receptionists and programmers are in the same boat.
Now I have another question: Any financial-app gurus surfing this board? What can we, as programmers without financial backgrounds, do to break the ice in this aspect of programming? Should we just try to make an applet out of Microsoft Money?
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by William Barnes:

Wow that sucks. I know that unpaid interns have been around for a while in industries like "publishing" but this is the first I heard about that for programming. Am I just out of the loop here?

Well, I'm not sure what you mean by unpaid. Certainly many engineering schools have offered internship programs for years, in all fields. I'm not sure how little pay they get, though.

--Mark
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by John Fontana:
Well, I've brought these troubles up with many of my (former) colleagues...some in graphic design, others in advertising, publishing, programming, management, etc. They all say the same things.

Graphic design has become very web focused over the last few years. Once people realized you can't make money with pretty pictures and free products, their inudstry went south.
Advertising goes the way of the market, as a whole. (And web based advertising especially...)
Managers get laid off before programmers, as do marketing and sales.
Listen to other programmers. Don't compare apples and oranges (or even apples and crab apples).
--Mark
John Fontana
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 28, 2002
Posts: 235
Graphic design has become very web focused over the last few years. Once people realized you can't make money with pretty pictures and free products, their inudstry went south.
Advertising goes the way of the market, as a whole. (And web based advertising especially...)
Managers get laid off before programmers, as do marketing and sales.
Listen to other programmers. Don't compare apples and oranges (or even apples and crab apples).

Hi Mark -
What do you think the state of the job market is for programmers?
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by John Fontana:
What do you think the state of the job market is for programmers?


Personall,y I think it's mediocre. If you take the last 20 years and made the best time 100, and worst time 1, I'd say we're around 45.
If you've only been paying attention to the job market now, sure, it looks bleak. I remember the 90-91 recession. I've read about the one in 82. We've seen bad times before, we just need to put it in perspective.
The last few years were extremely abnoral. Right now the companies are being a little cautious and vindictive in their hiring (compensating for all the programmers who raked them over the coals the last few years), but all in all, it's not too bad.
If you are just out of school, yes, it's hard. You don't have experience, and experience counts more then you'd think. If you were some overpaid senior programmer, then it's time to reset your expectations on salary back to reality.
If you were a web designer, without a CS degree who started doing HTML a few years ago and moved into Javascript and then maybe more, sorry, gold rush is over, go back home.
Software is real. It produced real value. People just created valueless projects. Solid companies still need programmers. There is life beyond dot coms and startups. It might not be as glamorous, but it's solid and interesting. Companies are still hiring general, run of the mill, programmers.
I think our industry will only continue to get better.
This whole thing probably sounds a bit harsh. But this is what I've seen of reality. There are still jobs out there. Keep at it. (And it's going to be getting better--although this part is just my guess.)

--Mark
John Fontana
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 28, 2002
Posts: 235
Sounds like a good, solid perspective...I just got a SCJP last month, so I'm thinking of grabbing a SCWCD instead of rotting on the sofa...
SJ Adnams
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 28, 2001
Posts: 925
John,
True financial institutions are hiring, but even so they are very slow moving and seem to be 'cherry picking'.
I had an interview at an investment bank - the post had been open for 6 months, they 'couldn't find anybody suitable' and have reopened the post with a 20k lower salary.
Another bank has given me 3 interviews, and unofficially said they will offer me a job but I'm get to hear anything concrete.
Another inverview on monday with a dealing co. lets hope they will move a bit faster.
Simon
John Fontana
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 28, 2002
Posts: 235
Originally posted by Simon Lee:
John,
True financial institutions are hiring, but even so they are very slow moving and seem to be 'cherry picking'.
I had an interview at an investment bank - the post had been open for 6 months, they 'couldn't find anybody suitable' and have reopened the post with a 20k lower salary.
Another bank has given me 3 interviews, and unofficially said they will offer me a job but I'm get to hear anything concrete.
Another inverview on monday with a dealing co. lets hope they will move a bit faster.
Simon

Wow! I checked out your site, and I must say that the triumverate of J2EE/Oracle and UML is what I've seen asked for over and over in all of the ads I've seen...I'm surprised and sad that you ran into all of that trouble...I would have thought that if I had those skills and certifications under my belt I would have gotten a job by now...are you looking in NYC? Looking for very long?
SJ Adnams
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 28, 2001
Posts: 925
John,
I'm looking in London, and have been out of work for around 2 months now. I think companies are currently being spoilt by the number of good people looking for work, so (maybe understandably) are being fussy.
Something an agent told me,- Companies are not looking for good programmers in sandals with a beard. They are looking for management potential, candidates that are eager to take on responsibility etc, etc.
It's true that the Oracle knowledge I have is impressing the interviewers, knowing a little about the way your backend database works makes it possible to write really efficient code without too much effort.
Simon
John Fontana
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 28, 2002
Posts: 235
Ha! I knew that those days of - flexible hours/wearing jeans to work/bringing your dog to the office - were numbered. I could just picture all of those jealous CTO's drooling over the thought of getting revenge and making those "creative types" set their alarm for 6A.M. ready to say, "yes, sir, may I have another, sir?".
In a way I think those companies will end up paying later on...the industry only has to return slightly for the tables to turn on them...all of those cherry-picked programmers they're getting at fire-sale prices will just jump out the door the second other oppurtunities arise.
Going back to my original question, are there any skills which I can accrue on my independent study time which may prepare me for writing financial applications? Maybe there are common libraries/api's, or other software tools that may be downloaded as trialware or free developer editions? Things related to fixed-income/brokerage/accounting, etc....these items are coming up repeatedly in job descriptions involving Java in NYC these days....
Thanks again for your feedback and best of luck on your search....
SJ Adnams
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 28, 2001
Posts: 925
John,
You can download oracle, sybase and tibco as trialware (I'm still downloading 9i, 400Meg to go..). Most places wouldn't expect you to have experience with datastream or bloomberg etc.
For domain knowlege start out with 'how to read the financial pages' and a copy of the financial times/wall st journal. Then maybe work through one of Frank Fabozzi's books ( I have the handbook of fixed income securities).
Personally I recommend you brush up on your database skills. Thomas Kyte, one-on-one Oracle is a good start.
However I reiterate that there are lots of very good people looking for work and you will be joining the queue, that queue includes plenty of people with 4 years java and domain experience. So you will be taking you place at the back of that queue. If your serious about this career path think about doing something like 'MSc Financial Markets with Information Systems'. It will do much for you than a MA in Music :/
Sorry if that sounded like a good kicking when you were looking for a hug.
Simon
Franck Rasolo
Greenhorn

Joined: May 29, 2001
Posts: 21
Originally posted by Simon Lee:
For domain knowlege start out with 'how to read the financial pages' and a copy of the financial times/wall st journal. Then maybe work through one of Frank Fabozzi's books ( I have the handbook of fixed income securities).

Thanks a million Simon, this bit of advice was exactly what I've been looking for. Very handy!
However I reiterate that there are lots of very good people looking for work and you will be joining the queue, that queue includes plenty of people with 4 years java and domain experience. So you will be taking you place at the back of that queue. If your serious about this career path think about doing something like 'MSc Financial Markets with Information Systems'. It will do much for you than a MA in Music :/
Sorry if that sounded like a good kicking when you were looking for a hug.
Simon

I totally agree with Simon here. FYI, London Guildhall University offers a course in MSc in Financial Markets with Information Systems.. I'm yet to find out more about it myself.
Cheers,
Franck


<i>Franck Rasolo<br />Independent Consultant<br />London, UK</i>
John Fontana
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 28, 2002
Posts: 235
Originally posted by Simon Lee:
John,
You can download oracle, sybase and tibco as trialware (I'm still downloading 9i, 400Meg to go..). Most places wouldn't expect you to have experience with datastream or bloomberg etc.
For domain knowlege start out with 'how to read the financial pages' and a copy of the financial times/wall st journal. Then maybe work through one of Frank Fabozzi's books ( I have the handbook of fixed income securities).
Personally I recommend you brush up on your database skills. Thomas Kyte, one-on-one Oracle is a good start.
However I reiterate that there are lots of very good people looking for work and you will be joining the queue, that queue includes plenty of people with 4 years java and domain experience. So you will be taking you place at the back of that queue. If your serious about this career path think about doing something like 'MSc Financial Markets with Information Systems'. It will do much for you than a MA in Music :/
Sorry if that sounded like a good kicking when you were looking for a hug.
Simon


This is excellent advice...and much less patronizing than a hug, although I must say it only took me 5 minutes to get a hug at the Cold Fusion discussion board. For some reason CF programmers are more affectionate than most others.
Well, in a "normal" job market, my niche would not be in financial applications. I would be more suited to, let's say, a print, design, or publishing firm that needs an all-round guy that can program/design websites, macros, rescue others from viri and troubleshoot Windows, Mac OS, etc..
You have given some valuable info on getting into this....I do have 9i installed and can create tables (the small schema node that looks slightly like SQL Server Enterprise Manager)..other than that it looks rather cavernous...I will definitely check out the book and other resources you mentioned...even if I never get into the financial job market, it's just more knowledge and I love doing this....
A side-note to nothing...my Music degree has gotten me jobs in places where they deliberately hired people with arts/cultural background, but also a personal passion for technology...the places that do this are wonderful to work for, and I have made a living fixing problems left behind by CS degree-holding programmers...Many of them had such a smoke-and-mirrors approach to their jobs that they would spend months on an EJB aplication when all the client needed was a pre-fab Perl message board...
Thanks again for the great advice...
Jim Petersen
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 24, 2001
Posts: 241
Nice link Franck I may look at that next year as well...
Having worked 4 yrs in the banks here in London Simons advice is on the money in my last job out of the three candidates interviewed what swayed them in my way was that I had a 'sensible' haircut and wore a suit! - not of my technical merit. If you want to work in finanicials these days you'll have to get used to chinos and a button-down shirt


- Jim Petersen <br />SCJP2<br />SCWCD<p>- but then again, I could be wrong...
Sri Addanki
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 27, 2001
Posts: 195
Hi Franck,
is there a similar course in US too?
Originally posted by Franck Rasolo:

I totally agree with Simon here. FYI, London Guildhall University offers a course in MSc in Financial Markets with Information Systems.. I'm yet to find out more about it myself.
Cheers,
Franck


Thanks,
Sri
 
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