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How to add more credentials to myself?

Edy Yu
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Joined: Nov 21, 2000
Posts: 264
I've had 7 years experience on Software development/consulting, especially on Java/J2EE. I want spend another year to broaden my knowledge base in order to land a nice job in the future. The job I would like to do is more of an architect role. I've got all the former Sun's Java related certificates and about to get my SCBCD and IBM certified Enterprise Developer.
Here is what I planed to do next. I want to get an Oracle OCP DBA and add some knowledge on Web Service, which sounds hot nowadays.
What do you guys think about my plan? Any advice.
Thanks in advance.


SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, IBM Certified Enterprise Developer, WebSphere Studio V5.0
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Certifications do not make you an architect. Generally speaking, a good architect possesses the following:
- strong technical ability
- leadership
- good communication skills (oral and written) and can interact with engineers, managers, sales, customers, etc.
- knowledge of technologies
- business skills--both understanding the industry you are in as well as understanding how your company works and where engineering fits in
- presentatibility (can be shown to people outside the company)
Which of those skills do you have? And keep in mind, it's not enough to simply say "I'm a leader" or "I have good communication skills." You can demonstrate leadership by having lead a project. For communication skills, I note on my resume that I've written hundreds of pages of documentation.
Figure out in which areas you are weak, and make sure your jobs (current and future) help strengthen you in those areas.
--Mark
Kevin Thompson
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Joined: May 04, 2001
Posts: 237
Mark,
I agree with you - and I wish I was not always so sarcastic.
But I am.
The qualifications for "Architect" are stripped down to this ==>The ability to be profoundly selfish and full of self promotion skills so that everybody around is in awawe(spelling?).
i.e. be able to walk around thinking to oneself "ME! ME! ME! ME!" "EVERYBODY THINK ABOUT ME! I AM SO WONDERFUL!" "ME! ME! ME!"
The problem over and over again for myself - is I am the oposite. I just quietly work hard and produce results. Which of course, gets me nowhere.

Kevin
Edy Yu
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 21, 2000
Posts: 264
I will take both of you guys advice seriously and am leaning towards Kevin's a bit more.
Working in SF industry for many years and seeing so many "ARCHITECTS" in America, I can't help being cynical ...
Anyway, thanks ...
Adrian Yan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 02, 2000
Posts: 688
Wow, all those certificatons. I got only SCJP, and my job doesn't even involve Java, heheheeee. The question is more of what you want to do? Do you wanna do Java programming? My view on things like these are simple: learn skills that you can't get from a book. For example: let's say you work in finanial industry, there are alot of skills/knowledge you can't learn from a book, there will be fewer people for the job. Also, learn management skills, communication, leadership, vision. After all, do you really want to program when you are 50?
Al Newman
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Joined: Mar 30, 2003
Posts: 716
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
Certifications do not make you an architect. Generally speaking, a good architect possesses the following:
- strong technical ability
- leadership
- good communication skills (oral and written) and can interact with engineers, managers, sales, customers, etc.
- knowledge of technologies
- business skills--both understanding the industry you are in as well as understanding how your company works and where engineering fits in
- presentatibility (can be shown to people outside the company)
Which of those skills do you have? And keep in mind, it's not enough to simply say "I'm a leader" or "I have good communication skills." You can demonstrate leadership by having lead a project. For communication skills, I note on my resume that I've written hundreds of pages of documentation.
Figure out in which areas you are weak, and make sure your jobs (current and future) help strengthen you in those areas.

Architects come in at least two flavors, I've found. The first is the 'Technical Architect', which tends to have the strong technical ability and one or more of the other skills you listed. More likely to have the skills at the top of your lists & less likely as you go down the list. TA's are generally pretty worthwhile team members if not the entire package.
The second kind of Architect is the 'Solutions Architect'. A good one is a pearl beyond price but I've seen few good ones in my career. Most SA's I've seen have 'presentability' to a very high degree. That is often about the extent of it, though some have technical ability with (usually obsolete) technology as well. Some have the business knowledge but surprisingly few. Leadership? What's that? Communication? They don't tend to listen to the peons (senior developers) nor to be anywhere around when the excrement hits the impeller. Their job tends to rot away whatever 'strong technical ability' they ever had, and 'knowledge of technologies' tends to be very high-level or become so over time.
For a good solutions architect to stay good requires a degee of hands-on hard work which is almost impossible to achieve. They must stay with a project through delivery and testing and their employer needs to allow them plenty of learning time to keep up. Perhaps as much as 25-30% of their time.
Absent that they have a hard time staying current and relevant. Most don't even try. They focus on the presentation and political skills and let the rest go to the devil. Credit-grabbers for all they are worth.....


SCJP1.4, SCWCD
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Kevin Thompson:

The qualifications for "Architect" are stripped down to this ==>The ability to be profoundly selfish and full of self promotion skills so that everybody around is in awawe(spelling?).

No, that's the qualifications for a prima donna.
Kevin, forgive me if this is a bit harsh, but I feel very sorry for you. You seem to have had only bad jobs with bad people. Yes, there are plenty of engineers, of all levels, who have egos the size of the national debt. However, there are also good engineers and good architects.
Originally posted by Edy Yu:
I will take both of you guys advice seriously and am leaning towards Kevin's a bit more.
Working in SF industry for many years and seeing so many "ARCHITECTS" in America, I can't help being cynical ...

Edy, you're more then welcome to take Kevin's advice, but think of it this way, would you want to be on a team lead by that person? If not, then why would you want to become that person?
You are right that during the boom you could become an "architect" within 2 years if you happened to be in the right place at the right time. How many of those people are still architects today?

Originally posted by Alfred Neumann:

Architects come in at least two flavors, I've found. The first is the 'Technical Architect'... The second kind of Architect is the 'Solutions Architect'.

A good point. I was refering to the former, since the latter is more often found in consulting. But in either case, all the skills I mentioned are relevant, just that during the dot com boom there was such a shortage of workers companies often were willing to overlook gaps in someones capabilities. This is the boom; every skill helps.
---------------------------------------------------

Personally, I find the attitudes expressed here disappointing and disturbing. People complain about bad/stupid/egotistical co-workers and managers, and yet when someone asks for advice on moving to one of those positions, you recommend they develop these habits you loathe. All jobs--engineer, CEO, guidance counselor, politician, accountant, self-help guru--began because someone was able to do something benefitical and valuable. Unfortunately, charlatans learned that most people can't distinguish between valid progress and smoke and mirrors and so the profession becames cheapened. If you choose to play their game and make no effort other than your own smoke and mirrors you're no better than they are. I believe that in the end, once people have seen the charlatans, if presented with a strong enough candidate, they will make the right choice. And if you're not strong enough to beat out a charlatan (maybe not every time--they get lucky and people do make mistakes--but in the long run), then it's time to pack up and go home because you don't belong in the industry.

--Mark
Ashish Pagare
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 14, 2003
Posts: 101
I suggest in addition to your tech skills also showcase your business skills in a particular domain. Architect not only need to have technical skills but also business and political skills.
With 7 years of exp one can easily master a great deal of business understanding and that can really help you find a architect kinda job.
In addition to DB knowledge try to ponder in the system admin area also like unix/linux administration.
Dmitry Melnik
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 18, 2003
Posts: 328
I understand that business and political skills are hard to get by solely reading the books, but how to get them? Trainings? Life strategies?
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Dmitry Melnik:
I understand that business and political skills are hard to get by solely reading the books, but how to get them? Trainings? Life strategies?

This goes to what I always say about considerings jobs, there's more than just salary and technology. Pick jobs which will allow you to grow in these areas. Even if you're not changing jobs, talk to your manager about increased opportunity in these areas. This is especially opportune if your company gave little or no bonuses/raises and your boss said something like "you did great, we just can't afford to give you more money." Ask him for more responsibility/opportunity.

--Mark
Adrian Yan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 02, 2000
Posts: 688
Without knowing business and politics, then you are defenitely making yourself venerable in coporate america. I suggest you start position yourself in your company, particular with different circle. We as programmers always say "networking" is for people who doesn't know anything. You should start talking to people, not just within your team/department. Start talking to people who's on the other side. As you build more contacts, your name will be out there. Eventually, you'll meet someone who has some pull and skillful in those area, and you can learn from them. And if some new projects come up, and they have to pick a team and your name comes up, it's much easier for them to pick you over some other developers who they don't know.
Matt Cao
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 03, 2003
Posts: 715
Hi,
There are many ways to learn business and politics. I think the most achievable approach for IT folk is be friendly with your business co-workers. It might not be financial analyst or accountant. It could be the folks in operations such as general manager or line supervisors. Sit down and talks about how certain spec arrived and connect all the puzzle together. In the process, you may learn why the project is in favor or not because of certain app do not tying up properly with others, etc.
Do not feel bad, these talks will eventually report to your CIO or CTO. If you handle those talks rights, you will end-up playing politics without realizing it. All will come back and help you and your career years.
Regards,
MCao
Kevin Thompson
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 04, 2001
Posts: 237
Mark,
I don't mind it if you feel sorry for me.
But from my point of view, you do not clearly understand this profession. Programming is not a "legitimate" profession.
Careers like civil engineering, medical doctor, priest are "legiitimate" careers. In these professions competancy counts. Notice how that bridges rarely fall to the ground, and planes rarely fall from the sky, and so forth.
But have you ever actually worked on a new IT project that somebody somewhere actually used (installed into production and was used for a long period of time)? I have - but I am a old timer!
Information technology is more like prostitituion. You are only valuable if you are young & good looking & have the skills needed. If you loose any of those skills your profession is over.
I know PLENTY of old, fat civil engineers, medical doctors, priests.
How many old, fat programmers do you know?
And yes - I would leave this profession in a heartbeat - if I could figure out what else to do that paid anywhere near as much (or at least USED TO PAY). In fact, I have been considering the on-line prostitution industry as an option.
Kevin
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
(Posted since some non-native English speakers might not recognize the author's intended comment.)
Originally posted by Adrian Yan:
Without knowing business and politics, then you are defenitely making yourself venerable in coporate america.

I think you meant vulnerable, which means open to attack, as opposed to venerable which means worthy of respect. (Unless you were being sarcastic, but from the rest of the paragraph, I don't think that was the case.)

--Mark
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Kevin Thompson:

Careers like civil engineering, medical doctor, priest are "legiitimate" careers. In these professions competancy counts. Notice how that bridges rarely fall to the ground, and planes rarely fall from the sky, and so forth.

Competancy isn't critical for being a priest. Of course depending on how you define competance, you could say the same of any profession, it's just where you draw the line. Let's also remember that during the first 60 years of those professions they didn't exactly have much in the way of certifying bodies to determine competancy.

Originally posted by Kevin Thompson:

But have you ever actually worked on a new IT project that somebody somewhere actually used (installed into production and was used for a long period of time)? I have - but I am a old timer!

Yes.
Originally posted by Kevin Thompson:

But from my point of view, you do not clearly understand this profession. Programming is not a "legitimate" profession.
...

Information technology is more like prostitituion. You are only valuable if you are young & good looking & have the skills needed. If you loose any of those skills your profession is over.
...
How many old, fat programmers do you know?
And yes - I would leave this profession in a heartbeat - if I could figure out what else to do that paid anywhere near as much (or at least USED TO PAY). In fact, I have been considering the on-line prostitution industry as an option.


Somewhere in my youth, I picked up some very valuable advice: find people who are where you want to be and emulate them. I look at people like Michael Ernest, Frank Carver, Kathy Sierra, and Ilja Preuss (just to name a few of many people on this site I respect and admire). They are all extremely successful and aren't characterized by such negative idiosyncrasies.

--Mark
Dmitry Melnik
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 18, 2003
Posts: 328
What could be a good jump-start for learning politics and business? I (being a rookie) don't really want to compete in this sport with experienced players. Is there any way or a good strategy to practice and build those skills in some sort of a safe environment?
Adrian Yan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 02, 2000
Posts: 688
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
(Posted since some non-native English speakers might not recognize the author's intended comment.)

I think you meant vulnerable, which means open to attack, as opposed to venerable which means worthy of respect. (Unless you were being sarcastic, but from the rest of the paragraph, I don't think that was the case.)

--Mark

My apology, I didn't mean to insult anyone. Yes, Mark is correct.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Dmitry Melnik:
What could be a good jump-start for learning politics and business? I (being a rookie) don't really want to compete in this sport with experienced players. Is there any way or a good strategy to practice and build those skills in some sort of a safe environment?

First identify your weak areas. Perhaps your managers, co-workers, and friends can help. Then select a few you wish to start working on. Talk to your manager about taking on tasks which allow you develop in that area. You can also join groups outside of work to help you (e.g. networking groups, toastmasters, night school). Create a plan with a timeline to track your progress. I also recommend reading book in the target area.
Personally, I got started by reading project management books early in my career and discovering there was more ot software than I had been taught. Some of my favorite books are listed in hte bunkhouse.
--Mark
Theodore Casser
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 1902

Originally posted by Kevin Thompson:
But from my point of view, you do not clearly understand this profession. Programming is not a "legitimate" profession.
Careers like civil engineering, medical doctor, priest are "legiitimate" careers. In these professions competancy counts. Notice how that bridges rarely fall to the ground, and planes rarely fall from the sky, and so forth.

I'll add my voice to the chorus here. I disagree with your point. I think it sounds like you've had a few bad experiences, since where I work, competancy matters to a high degree. (I work in the IT division on a military base for a contracting firm.) If our software doesn't work, the operations here can't go forward.
Now, I'd hardly put it on par with a bridge failure or a plane crash when we find a bug, but it's also hardly a minor slip-up.
But have you ever actually worked on a new IT project that somebody somewhere actually used (installed into production and was used for a long period of time)? I have - but I am a old timer!

I'm hardly an "old timer", but yes, some of the software that I developed when I first came to this firm is still in use on the servers.
Information technology is more like prostitituion. You are only valuable if you are young & good looking & have the skills needed. If you loose any of those skills your profession is over.

Considering I was hired sight-unseen by my employer - we'd done telephone interviews, and he received my resume and references, sans a headshot I might add - "good looking" has nothing to do with it. (Nor does young - one of the other developers sitting in the next cubicle, who has been here about six months longer than I, is nearing retirement age.) And I am hardly good-looking.
Looks don't matter in the IT world.
And yes - I would leave this profession in a heartbeat - if I could figure out what else to do that paid anywhere near as much (or at least USED TO PAY). In fact, I have been considering the on-line prostitution industry as an option.

Good. Then go. Quit. Open up a job for someone who wants to program and stop complaining about it.
Despite the nasty tone of that last sentance... I'm actually serious. If you don't like your job, quit it and find another profession where you'll be happier. Life's too short, as I keep telling my girlfriend (who is seeking work), to take/hold on to a job that you don't enjoy.
And the IT field is still lucrative in certain sectors. For instance, if you're a US citizen, look into development jobs with the government or military, or with contracting firms in that space. The pay's as good as ever. I'm sure that it's likewise in other areas too - you just have to do some footwork and look.
Just my $0.02. I hate whiners.


Theodore Jonathan Casser
SCJP/SCSNI/SCBCD/SCWCD/SCDJWS/SCMAD/SCEA/MCTS/MCPD... and so many more letters than you can shake a stick at!
Theodore Casser
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 1902

Originally posted by Dmitry Melnik:
What could be a good jump-start for learning politics and business? I (being a rookie) don't really want to compete in this sport with experienced players. Is there any way or a good strategy to practice and build those skills in some sort of a safe environment?

I think Mark's answer is very good. Another way (though certainly not as useful) is to pay attention during meetings, see how folks work. Network with the people in those higher positions and be involved, and you'll get the skills. Ask questions when you don't understand something.
Remember, no one is born with political or business acumen - it's all learned along the way, even the ones who seem to have it in their blood...
Kevin Thompson
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 04, 2001
Posts: 237
Theodore,
In my personal experience, I have found that whole "job statistfaction thing" to be quite bogus. I really don't mind if you or other people here are really into "feeling good" about their jobs and think that "perkiness" and "just thinking positive" is the way to go!
If you want to believe that the IT industry operates under the same rules as other industries, it really makes no difference to me. You can believe whatever you want. Good luck to you!

Kevin
Pradeep bhatt
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 27, 2002
Posts: 8919

Mark,

Just want to know if reading book on sofware architecture help ? Or other skills like communication , leadership etc useful.


Groovy
Gabriel Claramunt
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 26, 2007
Posts: 375
Originally posted by Prad Dip:
Mark,

Just want to know if reading book on sofware architecture help ? Or other skills like communication , leadership etc useful.

Well, a software architecture book will always help
Of course, is hard to learn the so-called "soft skills" from books alone.
But anyway, I would like to share what I consider fundamental books for that: from a software development perspective, "Peopleware" by Tom De Marco and "The Mythical Man-Month" by Frederick Brooks. In a more general perspective,I found "Getting into Yes" by Fisher & Ury, an excellent resource for "negotiation" and for communication, "The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking" by Dale Carnegie, is timeless.
What do you think?


Gabriel
Software Surgeon
arulk pillai
Author
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 31, 2007
Posts: 3220
Certifications do not make you an architect. Generally speaking, a good architect possesses the following:
- strong technical ability
- leadership
- good communication skills (oral and written) and can interact with engineers, managers, sales, customers, etc.
- knowledge of technologies
- business skills--both understanding the industry you are in as well as understanding how your company works and where engineering fits in
- presentatibility (can be shown to people outside the company)




Mark you are right on target. I could not agree with you more. An architect needs to have well rounded ability. I will add couple of more traits

-- Good analytical & problem solving skills
-- Ability to look at the big picture and drill down to details as and when required to.

Certifications are quite useful for beginner level jobs but once you gain some experience one should concentrate more on commercial achievements as opposed to academic achivements for example


  • Reduced the monthly Java based commission batch runs from 18 hours to 7 hours at XYZ ltd.
  • Redesigned and migrated a poorly performing and outdated application to Spring, Hibernate and JSF based framework, which performs 40% faster for MQR Investment banking.
  • Mentored junior developers by providing technical guidance and motivating them to meet the tight deadlines at MQR Investment banking.
  • Initiated and facilitated agile development methodology, which improved the communication and cooperation between business owners and the developers.




  • Also one need to exemplify his/or her non-technical skills like domain knowledge, business skills, good understanding of full SDLC, interpersonal skills, analytical skills etc to have well-rounded ability.


    Java Interview Questions and Answers Blog | Amazon.com profile | Java Interview Books
    Mark Herschberg
    Sheriff

    Joined: Dec 04, 2000
    Posts: 6037
    Originally posted by Prad Dip:
    Mark,

    Just want to know if reading book on sofware architecture help ? Or other skills like communication , leadership etc useful.



    Yes.

    It's not an either/or it's both. For years I've recommended Peopleware and The Mythical Man Month as must reads. Beyond that, they sky is the limit. You can reads technical architecture books and that will improve your technical experience. You can read project management books and business books, too. You can also read historical books, from biographies to military history to books closer to home like The Soul of a New Machine. You can read business books put out by PhDs or you can read books written by guys like Jack Welsh. There's no right answer, whatever works for you. When it comes to communication for some people a formal training class is best, for others joining groups like Toastmasters. To students in school I often recommend the debate club or even an acting class. (For me, it was ballroom dancing that really made me into a good public speaker.)

    --Mark
    Pradeep bhatt
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Feb 27, 2002
    Posts: 8919

    Thanks. I will buy Peopleware and The Mythical Man Month. The first is bit expensive though in India.
    Arjun Shastry
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Mar 13, 2003
    Posts: 1874
    Second one is cheaper about Rs 250 I think when I brought.You can find it Book Paradise or Gangaram's


    MH
    arulk pillai
    Author
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: May 31, 2007
    Posts: 3220
    Mark,
    Just want to know if reading book on sofware architecture help ? Or other skills like communication , leadership etc useful.


    Reading books are vital part of career & persoanl development. By reading one can learn from other's experience, but what is more important is to consciously applywhat you read and experience it.


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