Tales From Beyond the (IT) Grave

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2003-12-03 Print this article Print

In spite of getting downsized, right-sized and/or trivialized, tech pros have survived. Read on for their survival strategies and what they'd have done differently.

Reader reaction to a recent commentary, "Tech Job Cuts Slow Because We Hit the Bone," was that I hit some raw nerves, particularly when it came to my advice to avoid getting laid off. One reader said I had left out cutting your salary by 90 percent, changing your name to (fill in an ethnic name common in countries to which IT work is often outsourced) and asking native-English-speaking co-workers to explain things to you after the boss has walked away. Are IT professionals bigots? No. Most are just bitter. In the years since the bubble burst, theyve been laid off, had to retrain their replacements, taken on contracts for which theyve had to rewrite outsourced code that wouldnt compile, and seen their salaries shrink in the wash. In spite of the fact that the technology sector dismissed and dissed them, many are still a vital part of their communities and the countrys economy. Some have left long-held careers in technology to go into teaching, sales or contracting, for example.
Reading through the reader mail, a number of questions nagged me. How tough was the switch to another career? Are those new careers rewarding? Are these skilled workers still hoping to get back into technology? What would they do differently if they were again faced with the layoff scenario, and what advice do they have for IT workers who fear that their own jobs are vulnerable?
Those are the questions I asked, and in the following pages are the layoff and survival tales three IT professionals told me. May the lessons serve you well, whether youre considering a move out of IT or if youve already been cut. Next page: IT pro goes from technology to teaching.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for eWEEK.com and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on eWEEK.com, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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