I came across three articles with advice that seemed to move in opposite directions, recently. Two were reprints on Facebook. The first was about the trend among college students to view education as a pragmatic means to an end: good paying jobs. The second article centered on the academics who bemoaned this drift. College, they argued, was intended to expose young minds to ideas that were foreign and challenging.
The third article threw a monkey wrench into the thinking of the young people. Author, Norman Matloff, warns against becoming too practical. Students who imagine their skills will provide them a lifetime of juicy salaries, particularly in the tech industry, he says are wrong. To make his point, he quotes Intel executive, Craig Barrett, who observed that “the half-life of an engineer, software or hardware, is only a few years.” (“The Week”. 3/4/12) Even Mark Zuckerberg, Matloff points out, tends to hire tech people fresh out of college rather than reward depth of experience. One reason is that government regulation H-1B allows foreign coders to be hired for less money than American workers.
Matloff closes with a quote from another Intel executive:
“If you choose a software-engineering career, just keep in mind that you could end up working for one of those lowly humanities majors someday.” (“The Week,” pg. 39)
Apparently, being a generalists rather than a specialist may be the better choice after all… Did I just hear my philosophy professors chortling?