This week's book giveaways are in the Java EE and JavaScript forums.
We're giving away four copies each of The Java EE 7 Tutorial Volume 1 or Volume 2(winners choice) and jQuery UI in Action and have the authors on-line!
See this thread and this one for details.
The moose likes Jobs Discussion and the fly likes Tragically Low-balled Big Moose Saloon
  Search | Java FAQ | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies
Register / Login


Win a copy of The Java EE 7 Tutorial Volume 1 or Volume 2 this week in the Java EE forum
or jQuery UI in Action in the JavaScript forum!
JavaRanch » Java Forums » Careers » Jobs Discussion
Bookmark "Tragically Low-balled" Watch "Tragically Low-balled" New topic
Author

Tragically Low-balled

Winston Smith
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 06, 2003
Posts: 136
Friends, I've stumbled my way here from my usual watering hole, the JSP forum. Since this post would hardly be appropriate there, I've found my way to your company, with a story that is rapidly developing into a Greek tragedy.
Imagine a young, enterprising new programmer who appreciates the art and science of software development, who invests time in learning the foundations of the science, the theories and the practice. He is not an armchair programmer with an IT degree who has mastered the art of point-and-clicking (no offense, please). He has done his time in the trenches of differential equations, linear algebra, and the formidable calculus series and in a few short weeks, he will graduate with an MS in Computer Science with a 4.0.
This programmer has been an intern for the last year with a company whose name will not be mentioned. It has come time for this company to offer the programmer a full-time position.
The offer came and the programmer's vision of a bright, rewarding future with this company faded to black.
Such a tragic, gut-wrenchingly low amount. He knew for a fact people with BS degrees in IT were making at least $5K more within this company for the simple fact that they have been there longer.
So, if you've had the patience to get this far into the story, I ask for your opinion(s) on the following:
  • what is a reasonable salary for a new graduate with an MS in Computer Science?
  • what is a reasonable salary for a new graduate with a BS in Computer Science??
  • should this eager, young programmer flee to India, where apparently there is greater respect for software developers?

  • Thanks for your attention,
    WS


    for (int i = today; i < endOfTime; i++) { code(); }
    Marc Peabody
    pie sneak
    Sheriff

    Joined: Feb 05, 2003
    Posts: 4727

    He knew for a fact people with BS degrees in IT were making at least $5K more within this company for the simple fact that they have been there longer.

    Gosh, you know I think all the more experienced people at my company make more than I do, too.
    The salary floodgates don't burst open when one gets an MS. It may pay off over the years though, so don't get too discouraged.
    Chances are you'll need to pay your dues at the company in addition to those you paid to the University. I suggest talking to your employer now to discover what qualities they value for someone of your position and possibly map out a career plan. Then when promotion/raise time comes along you can show them that you were able to meet and exceed their expectations.
    If that's not a good enough answer I suggest getting in touch with Kwame Johnson.


    A good workman is known by his tools.
    Warren Dew
    blacksmith
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Mar 04, 2004
    Posts: 1332
        
        2
    what is a reasonable salary for a new graduate with an MS in Computer Science?
    About the same as for someone with a BS plus about one year of experience, or perhaps less if the new graduate's undergraduate degree is in a nontechnical field.
    what is a reasonable salary for a new graduate with a BS in Computer Science??
    Five digits. Other than that it's hard to say right now given how much the industry is in flux. It would also depend a lot on what school the degree is from.
    should this eager, young programmer flee to India, where apparently there is greater respect for software developers?
    If he thinks "respect for software developers" equates to "respect for letters that would be software developers place after their names", possibly yes. If on the other hand, he can come to see that "respect for software developers" includes - indeed, largely consists of - "respect for people with software development skills and ability as developed and demonstrated through years of experience", he may come to value this company's attitude long before he himself retires with 40 years of valuable experience of his own.
    [ April 16, 2004: Message edited by: Warren Dew ]
    Rufus BugleWeed
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Feb 22, 2002
    Posts: 1551
    If you liked the company,
    the people you worked with,
    you feel they command a place in their market,
    it's a stable company,
    and their technology is progressive,
    take the job.
    In the beginning the hikes can come fast.
    Michael Ernest
    High Plains Drifter
    Sheriff

    Joined: Oct 25, 2000
    Posts: 7292

    "Winston Smith" -
    As much an Orwell fan as I am, your name falls under the "obviously fictitious" category to me. I probably wouldn't really have noticed, but the melodramatic word choice and subtle references to, all of things, Aldous Huxley leaves little to the imagination.
    Please note our naming policy at JavaRanch. I'd appreciate it if you changed your name appropriately and thank you.
    There is, alas, no policy against company pay scales that value tenure. That's a fairly common practice. Potential and the right kind of training will usually get you in the door, and that's about it until you prove yourself.


    Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.
    - Robert Bresson
    Rufus BugleWeed
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Feb 22, 2002
    Posts: 1551
    Getting hired by your intern company validates your personality too.
    GPA is no predicator of success on the job either.
    Tara Bhattacharjee
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Nov 25, 2003
    Posts: 36
    I concur with others- just having a degree does not get you a higher slary. take it from someone that has two Masters degrees and still getting paid less than guys with B.S in comp. sci. You will have to show that you have something to offer to the business. In my case, e-commerce is relatively new to me ( 2 years) and there are people at my work place that not only have more e-commerce experience, they have been w/ the company longer. In most cases this is true.
    John Dale
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Feb 22, 2001
    Posts: 399
    The payoff in a more advanced education isn't necessarily short-term. Education and experience are in some ways complementary. As you gain experience with technology, business, and organizational culture, you will find more places to apply things you learned and the insight you gained from learning those things.
    I suspect that over time, you'll earn more than the average person with less education because you'll be able to better with more things that are important to the business. You will find some people who didn't finish high school but can run circles around you; education isn't the only way go learn and develop insight. But if you focus on doing the job and learning whatever you need to do the job, I thing you'll find that your education will serve you well over time, even if you start off with less pay than someone with much less education.
    Another thing to keep in mind is that many people with just a few year's experience entered the job market when demand greatly exceeded supply. Now, in many cases, supply greatly exceeds demand. I hear that this has resulted in some pretty big changes in hiring pay. People who stay in their jobs are usually less drastically affected in the short run than those who take a new job, especially a first job. However, things tend to even out over time.
    Mark Herschberg
    Sheriff

    Joined: Dec 04, 2000
    Posts: 6037
    Originally posted by shay Aluko:

    what would you consider a "real name"?, and how do you determine if a person's name is "obviously fictitous"?.Are you saying it is impossible for
    for a person to be called Winston Smith?. I think the obsession with "real names" is unhealthy on this forum.

    Please don't hijack this thread. (I recognize that it wasn't your intention.) This is a fair question to ask, but please ask it in the JavaRanch forum.
    --Mark
    Jeffrey Hunter
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Apr 16, 2004
    Posts: 305
    Greetings all, let me first express appreciation for all your insight and responses. My previous identity (inevitably uncovered by too damn many Orwell fans) has been banished (see signature below). My apologies, but I prefer anonymity when speaking about work (as some of my co-workers occasionally drop by the Ranch, but oh well, there goes my cover!). So, let me continue with this discussion.
    Another thing to keep in mind is that many people with just a few year's experience entered the job market when demand greatly exceeded supply

    I suppose this sums it up quite elegantly. Certainly there are those companies which will take advantage of this fact and exploit the current state of the market. A good friend of mine (recent CS grad) began work for a company called Bank Trade in NYC doing J2EE development. They made the stipulation that he would work for "free" as an intern for 2 months, afterwhich, they would make a decision on whether to hire him or not. And once more, another chapter in the Greek tragedy -- they offered him a position after 2 months, with a paltry salary that would barely pay the bills (in NYC no less). In my opinion (I make this stipulation to avoid any legal action should some ass from Bank Trade read this), they have a racket going on -- hiring software developers and having them work for free? Great, just cycle through developers every 2 months and they'll never have to pay a salary.
    Now, other companies value dedicated, top-quality programmers and pay them accordingly, like Harris Corp. for instance. They employ some of my friends also, down in South Florida, where the cost of living is lower than NYC -- and they start their software engineers at 45k - 50k, which is almost double what Bank Trade pays.
    What's the moral of this story? I suppose it's like most of you said...do your time in the trenches, find a worthwhile employer and the salary will eventually increase, and like it's been said countless times before, you gotta walk before you run.
    Me, I'm still pissed and I'm going to the Jobs-Wanted bar to drink myself into a stupor after I post my resume.
    Jeroen Wenting
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Oct 12, 2000
    Posts: 5093
    Right now you have to be happy to get a job offered AT ALL and the company knows it.
    It's either take the job or enter the unemployment line for the next 6 months to a year at least and they know you know it.
    Those guys have experience, which counts for a LOT more than a piece of paper.
    With your higher degree you should advance more rapidly if it's worth the paper it's printed on (iow, if you're as good as the degree says you are) and rise over them quickly.
    They will not grudge you that just as you should not bear a grudge over a lower starting salary.
    When I started with a BS I didn't mind making less than people with 5 years experience and no degree. 5 years down the line I make the same as they do now or more.
    A first job is a learning experience more than anything else. It's NOW that your education is really starting and you can unlearn all that useless theory that was poured into you at uni and replace it with realworld knowledge.
    That transition costs the company money which you in part pay by taking a lower starting salary.


    42
    Manish Hatwalne
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Sep 22, 2001
    Posts: 2578

    Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:
    A first job is a learning experience more than anything else. It's NOW that your education is really starting and you can unlearn all that useless theory that was poured into you at uni and replace it with realworld knowledge.
    That transition costs the company money which you in part pay by taking a lower starting salary.

    Very very true.
    Once you prove yourself whle working, you can grow fast. The salary would be based on the value you bring to the organization with your performance.
    - Manish
    Jeffrey Hunter
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Apr 16, 2004
    Posts: 305
    A first job is a learning experience more than anything else. It's NOW that your education is really starting and you can unlearn all that useless theory that was poured into you at uni and replace it with realworld knowledge.
    That transition costs the company money which you in part pay by taking a lower starting salary.

    I agree whole-heartedly. You know, I'm inevitably amazed at the benefits to be gained from listening to other perspectives...I suppose this is one of the main goals of the Ranch, and to that end I applaud them for a job well done. Thanks for your insights (at least they've kept me from launching my computer monitor out the third story window -- ha, what am I saying, I don't even have a window!).
    Jeffrey Hunter
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Apr 16, 2004
    Posts: 305
    Yes, unfortunately that ugly, squirmish creature called bureaucracy sometimes gets off the leash and begins to work contrary to rational thought. I'm sure the naming policy was instituted in part to prevent yahoos from naming themselves after their favorite Bond girl (e.g. Pussy Galore (my personal fav), Holly Goodhead). Enforcement of such a policy is doomed however, since it is at best subjective. Who's to say my folks weren't die-hard subscribers to the Ian Flemming Fan Club, and decided to show their devotion by naming their first-born after some piece of the female anatomy.
    Oh well, the Ranch runs a good shop, so I'm not going to argue about it.
    Tim Holloway
    Saloon Keeper

    Joined: Jun 25, 2001
    Posts: 16019
        
      20

    At the risk of drawing out the side discussion, the reason that we want "real" names is because - despite the "saloon" motif, we're all allegedly professionals here and we want to keep at least the illusion of being professionals. 733L HaxOrs (sp? ) or flame-and-hide posters are welsome to find forums more in line with their weltanschaung.
    Anyway, on the question of whether you'd get more respect in India, frankly, I doubt it based on the reported working conditions there. I'm virtually certain, in any event, that employers banding together to blacklist job-hoppers - which appears to be a common occurrance over there - would be illegal in the U.S.
    On the other hand, sometimes you have to decide between respect and an income. Especially when it's an income that outstrips most others in the locale in question.


    Customer surveys are for companies who didn't pay proper attention to begin with.
    Jeffrey Hunter
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Apr 16, 2004
    Posts: 305
    What burns my tail is the DOD (Dept. of Defense) pay charts and the salary process in general, hence you now have a better perspective on my initial post. Though it burns my tail, I'm a masochist I suppose because I've jumped into the brush fire and signed up to work as a software developer, knowing that I will be making substantially less than folks who have been there longer -- but realize, I'm not talking about that old white-haired engineer in the skinny black tie and short-sleeve shirt, or the girl who's done her time in the cube farm and bloomed into a coding force to be reckoned with. I'm talking about unmotivated, dreary individuals, or what I call LCDs (least common denominators because they do just enough to get the job done and keep the boss away from their cube). The LCDs make ridiculous amounts of money based on tenure, and yet, hardly know an SQL query from a grocery list.
    So, once more, imagine the same ambitious, capable programmer fresh out of the uni getting hired at the same time as an LCD with 14years in. The budget will be set back 70k to pay the LCD's salary, which does not bode well for the new programmer. I suppose it's been the way the DOD has always worked, but hopefully it will improve as they're moving to a new pay system based on performance. So yes, there may very well be light at the end of the tunnel.
    Pardon my continued venting, and if anyone from DOD is reading this, I'm not that Jeffrey Hunter!
    [ April 19, 2004: Message edited by: Jeffrey Hunter ]
    Marc Peabody
    pie sneak
    Sheriff

    Joined: Feb 05, 2003
    Posts: 4727

    I can see your frustration. I would agree that performance should be rewarded accordingly but it doesn't always work that way. Life kinda works that way too.
    It's like joining a poker tournament and a couple hands into it find out everyone's playing old maid. It doesn't seem right. First object of a game is to understand the rules - then play your cards accordingly; you never know what game everyone is really playing until you've been dealt a hand or two.
    You may need to either switch gameplan or find somewhere that operates under rules you're willing to accept. Both options, unfortunately, are probably less than favorable.
    [ April 19, 2004: Message edited by: Marc Peabody ]
    Marc Peabody
    pie sneak
    Sheriff

    Joined: Feb 05, 2003
    Posts: 4727

    I just read this from one of Suze Orman's articles on Yahoo! about proper methods in paying allowances to children: (I except full responsibility for any and all flames )
    Rather than you setting their allowance simply by their age - a misguided approach, in my opinion - try having them tell you each week what they think their allowance for that week should be and why. You can agree with them or not, and then engage them in a discussion about the relationship between money and work. This process takes the money out of the fable arena and starts teaching them the fundamental money lesson they need to learn, which is that ultimately their own efforts will determine how much they make in life and what they make out of their life. If you just pay your kids by the age formula this tends to confuse that lesson for them. For how do you explain to a six-year-old who makes their bed up better than their nine-year-old brother or sister that the older ones get $10 for doing the same task poorly, while they only get a dollar for doing it well? That makes no sense. Don't reward a kid just for getting older. They didn't have to work at getting older, did they? Reward a kid for the effort they put into a project. Otherwise it really does start a cycle of entitlement that could take years to break, or break your wallet before the kid gets his or her act together.

    I thought the concept applies to your scenario.
    Warren Dew
    blacksmith
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Mar 04, 2004
    Posts: 1332
        
        2
    Originally posted by Marc Peabody:
    You may need to either switch gameplan or find somewhere that operates under rules you're willing to accept. Both options, unfortunately, are probably less than favorable.

    Not necessarily. In my experience, the co-op to full time employee path usually involves a slightly lower than competitive salary; companies often take on co-ops for exactly this reason. Doing a real job search can pay off.
    And man, if you want to get paid according to your contribution, stay away from the Federal civil service. With not too many exceptions, the civil service is all about sinecures.
    Michael Ernest
    High Plains Drifter
    Sheriff

    Joined: Oct 25, 2000
    Posts: 7292

    Originally posted by Marc Peabody:

    I thought the concept applies to your scenario.

    As a child I don't ever remember equating allowance amount with the quality of the work I did. It was always about the difficulty of the task and the time it usually took. It was a given you had to mow the lawn "right." How quickly you could do it right thus determined both how much and the time required to earn it; that, to me is the reality of making a living. How much do you want? How much time are you willing to spend to get it? There it is: tall stalky grass, a push mower and 90 degree heat. Put some shorts on that entrepreneurial spirit!
    Even in certain aspects of what I do now, where quality (in the form of positive student reviews) is always touted as the most important aspect of instructor-led training, our system doesn't financially reward the best instructors. It rewards those who teach the most.
    It was very easy for me to criticize the corporate game when I first entered it: salary is just another way to say "fixed bid," isn't it? You agree to a rate of pay when accepting a job, but what can change seemingly at will is how hard you have to work to keep it. Especially in the cube world of systems programming and network administration, all you needed to do was stay in one place long enough to take on more work than you could handle. I started at one bank as a C programmer, and before I wised up I was running a data lab full of AT&T MP-RAS midrange servers running USL Unix, a 75-node Novell network, and the requisite fixing every new Windows driver that somebody loaded and configured into an AFU module. More and more work...same pay? Not what I was taught, and I looked for ways out very quickly.
    I think the important thing is that if allowances are going to be tied to earning, the system should be consistent. A merit-driven could be fine I'm sure, but I haven't seen too many practical applications for it that have immediate, kidlike returns working for them. For example, while the "best" instructors don't make more money than the average instructor, they might in fact get more chances to teach because they're good. If you're a salaried instructor, though, that's probably not what you're looking for.
    Most kids don't have long-term goals or a way of seeing their goal through a series of indirect moves. Long-term returns to my kids probably means knowing how long it takes to walk to the Cold Stone Creamery.
    In thinking about this topic, I realized I haven't really shown my kids very much yet about earning, although my sons asks lots of questions about where the money comes from in my line of work -- by default, I encourage them to save, rather than earn. Hm. I'll have to give that some more thought.
    [ April 19, 2004: Message edited by: Michael Ernest ]
    Jeffrey Hunter
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Apr 16, 2004
    Posts: 305
    And man, if you want to get paid according to your contribution, stay away from the Federal civil service

    Yes, a lesson I've come to learn all too quickly. I suppose what I've gained most from this thread is the piece of mind that, not everyone out there starts at the head of the game, even if they're motivated and capable. Perhaps I'm a victim of all those cheesey .com movies that came out after the boom, where CS grads could afford to walk out of interviews, and your office space looked less like a cube farm, and more like a Five Flags amusement park and new cars were the order of business for all new-hires.
    So, I'll do my time. It appears the performance-based pay scale will be based on a point system, where your supervisor has x many points to distribute among his/her employees, and each point equates to some amount of $$$. At the very least, it's a step in the right direction.
    Jeroen Wenting
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Oct 12, 2000
    Posts: 5093
    If the US civil service is something like ours, promotions are automatic for civilian staff.
    So just hold on to your job long enough and you'll end up earning serious money (compared to people just starting out there, free market pay is usually higher but the job security was always less which is a tradeoff).
    Whether you did any real work was not important (in fact, people who worked hard were frowned upon by their peers for showing the ineptitude and laziness of those peers more often than not).
    Personal empire-building was an important part of the daily life of many of the mid to high ranking staff.
    Luckily I never worked for the government directly but I did work there a while as a contractor and that's what I saw.
    My sister does work there directly and that's what she sees as well.
    We know several people working there and that's what we see in them (they're lazy ).
    Don Stadler
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Feb 10, 2004
    Posts: 451
    My first job out of college was with a federal government department (not DOD). Very similar to the experience of Winston Smith (sic). They paid me less than peanuts in the middle of the last tech depression. Anyone more experienced than I was would have turned their nose up at the job.
    The advantage was that it was a decent place to learn. There was next to no pressure to perform but they were grateful when you did. The downside was there was nobody to learn from, so simple stuff hung me up for longer periods than seems possible. On the other hand there was nobody to bail me out of my problems, which ensured that I learned how to solve problems.
    It can be a decent place to start particularly today when much of what you need to know you can find in books or on the web. It's a ton better than unemployment. When you get more experienced get out into a faster shop where there are people who can teach you stuff.
    B Hayes
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Feb 07, 2003
    Posts: 61
    If you can find any job, and stick with it for three years, you could then try your hand at consulting. There are a few more hassles involved, but it's very challenging and the pay scale is higher.
     
    I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
     
    subject: Tragically Low-balled