Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Just Graduated from College.

College later in life is an interesting experience.  I had not finished my Computer Science degree in my 20's because I got a job before I graduated and rapidly moved up in my career.  For over a decade not having a degree actually made more more employable in finding computer jobs than having a degree.

Having worked programming and administering computer networks from the time I was 25 until my mid 40's, I found that I had suddenly become unemployable after the economic crisis of October 2008. I worked at a variety of small odd jobs, basically taking anything that anyone offered to me during this phase.  One of the main reasons I was told that I could no longer get a computer job is because it was easy for HR to do a quick scan of resumes and just toss any that didn't have at least a 4 year degree.

After working an assembly line job for a year I decided that I needed to do whatever it took to get back to working with computers again. So I quit my job and signed up for classes that were just beginning at the local tech school.  Coming back to school after having worked jobs for so many years made school very easy the second time.  It also helped that I am years past distractions like dating or drinking.  The only thing that was tougher than a job was having so many different classes at the same time, each one totally unrelated to the others.

I took all my prerequisites and got associate degrees in both General Science and Liberal Arts Transfer at the community college. Because my grades were so good I was able to be accepted into Phi Theta Kappa, and because of that I got a scholarship at a fairly prestigious local private college.

In two years I earned a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems along with minors in Mathematics and Philosophy.  I knew that I would not get A's in Mathematics, so that I would be giving up my Latin "with highest honors."  I made the conscious decision to learn more than was required even though I knew that it would negatively impact my final GPA.  I ended up with an overall GPA of 3.855, which I am happy with but it put me short of the highest honors by 0.045, because of two B's and an A- in mathematics courses.

This is something that grades really don't reflect, because an A in an easy introduction course is worth as much as an A in a high level advanced course in calculating GPA.  So someone that challenges themselves may look worse on their GPA despite having gained a more well rounded education.  I really don't know how employers can judge this except on a case by case basis.  It is a shame that nobody has come up with a standard system to evaluate how difficult classes are so that more advanced classes are worth more and to rate people higher that take a variety of courses from many disciplines.

Now that I have graduated I am beginning to look for a job.  This is still a total mess. There is no standard XML format to submit resumes to employers.  Such a format combined with a few simple editor tools would make it very easy for a person looking for a job to create a comprehensive resume in a standard XML format, easily submit the resulting resume.xml file to multiple job search and company websites, and for employers to automatically do a rapid match against the requirements for every job opening they have.  As the XML was being processed by the company additional fields could be added to the XML as interviewers rate

Such a format could even easily be presented in a variety of ways that emphasis different aspects for a specific company, if you were printing out a specific resume to more exactly match an old fashioned employer that can't accept data in the information age.

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