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The Pirates of Silicon Valley Want You
By Regina Pickett Garson

Despite a still sluggish economy, prospects for high-tech jobs, especially in software areas, remain promising and are projected to continue looking good for the coming decade. According to the Department of Labor's (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a 67.9% increase in software publishing jobs between 2002 and 2012. Software publishing has, in fact, been identified as the DOL's top projected growth industry for the decade.

This improvement is not necessarily across the high-tech board though. High-tech stocks tend to fluctuate, as do jobs in those markets. Nevertheless, there are jobs and a wealth of opportunities in this and related fields. Information technology (IT) is now one of the fastest growing industries in America and includes not only software publishing, but also Internet publishing and service, web search services and data processing services to name a few. Network computing represents yet another area of phenomenal growth, as does computer systems design and a host of related support services.

Realistically, it is important to note that the inflated industry salaries of the last decade have virtually disappeared, and countless numbers of computer techies now accept jobs that pay substantailly less than in previous years. The jobs are, however, there and the industry as a whole is in a significant period of growth that is projected to continue. So where are those jobs? Let's take a look at three of the top names in the industry, all of whom all hiring software professionals. Which company is the right one for you?

Sun

Sun Microsystems, Inc., based in Santa Clara, California, is a major player in network computing. They are the leading manufacturer of corporate level UNIX-based servers, also providing a wide range of peripheral devices to their customers. Sun computers run on Sun designed chips, operating under Sun's operating system, Solaris. Sun also provides comprehensive software; application servers, office productivity and network management applications; all geared to corporate/business needs. Despite their virtual stronghold as a corporate technology provider, Sun's reputation is definitely as a high-tech trendsetter.

Sun's innovations in computing technology have been likened to James Bond and his gadgets. Java, the first universal platform programming language, written and released by Sun for Internet and intranet applications, has kept web junkies entranced ever since it was first released. "Toy Story," the first computer-generated feature film, was produced using Sun hardware and software systems. When NASA allowed virtual participants on earth to share in their mission to Mars, it was Java technology that made that feat possible as well.

Despite computing and networking technology that spans both earth and sky, Sun has been and continues to be a leader among leaders when it comes to not only maintaining, but defining the cutting edge of what makes technology exciting, alluring and just plain fun for the masses. That is one of the biggest attractions that draws young tech talent to Sun. Ed Valdez, Vice President of Marketing System Solutions at Sun, explains, "Java is the underlying software that makes all the games and interconnectivity work. It has become an industry standard. Gaming companies like Samsung and Sony have standardized on Java for gaming development for things like Nintendo and Xbox. Java has allowed the expansion for cell phones as well, downloading ring tones, in addition to games, services and news programs. All of this is enabled by the Java world and that's why a lot of engineering graduates look at Sun and see a leading innovator of the last twenty years and a continuing innovator for the future."

According to Valdez, "Sun is hiring today. That's good news. We continue to look for highly qualified professionals in areas of software engineering, and hardware engineering as well. It ranges many different areas, hardware, software, services and support. These are the key areas we are building in order to deliver what we regard as systems solutions in the IT data center space… Our vision is everything and everyone connected to the network. That overriding vision really compels us to develop the things that we do and why engineers come to be part of the exciting, fun environment. All the customers that continue to choose Sun and the new ones that are turning our way look to Sun and enjoy Sun because we have the most compelling vision in the industry. It's this vision that keeps us on fire for this passion that we enjoy doing what we've been doing." Candi Castleberry-Singleton, Director of Global Inclusion and Employee Environment, added, "Regardless of whether they have a software background, if they come to Sun, their career wouldn't be limited to just simply software, because if we are designing marketing strategies for software products, the ideal kind of candidate would be someone who knows a little bit about the product in addition to having marketing experience as well."

Valdez continued, "We actually look for engineering graduates who can move into marketing. These folks need to be able to tread the thin line between the technical world and the business world, being able to serve in transmitting customer requirements to actual product design and definition. We look for graduates with MBAs, or Masters in Engineering, and Masters in the Arts, specifically so they can work in public relations, communications, marketing communications, and many of the other skills that are vitally important."

In addition to a diversity of education and experience at Sun, there is also a significant diversity of people and culture. Affinity groups connect employees by common interest and vision. Among these, there is the Society of Latinos, SunNet for African Americans, SunABLE is dedicated to making the workplace safer and more productive for those with disabilities, and GLAF@Sun is an email list discussion for those with alternative sexual orientations.

According to Castleberry-Singleton, "The four strategies that we have, one is around the multicultural talent pipeline, one is around global leadership, which is really about competencies and inclusive behavior, and imbedding them into existing programs, and processes. We also have Sun Best Practices, which are the employee lead initiatives that allow us to leverage employee interest in driving diversity forward inside of Sun and in the community as well. From an external perspective, we partner with groups such as the Society of Hispanic Engineers, and NASHIMBA, the Society of Hispanic MBAs."

"In doing business and partnering in over a hundred countries," Castleberry-Singleton continued, "greater than 40% of our employees are outside of the US. So in order for us to be effective, we have to partner effectively with all employees around the world. Global inclusion is really the foundation for us being able to collaborate more effectively as teams across the world, within the United States and outside the United States. My organization's goal is to bring inclusion into the consciousness of every employee."

So what does Sun look for in an employee? Valdez was quick to respond, "The Five E's: Envision, Energize, Edge, Execute and Emotion. When I look for new hires, it's not only important to have technical skills, but a certain amount of emotional intelligence, cross cultural intelligence, they need to be able to understand the differences that add strength to what we have to work on."

Dell

Most widely known for their personal computers, Dell Computer, headquartered in Austin, Texas, in the first quarter of 2004 set a new world record for the number of computers shipped.

While many in high tech industries experienced hard times and layoffs over the last few years, Dell focused on lowering manufacturing costs, coupled this with aggressive pricing of quality machines, and very rapidly increased their share of the PC and server market.

Setting a world record in computers sold is not, however, a reason to kick back at Dell. One of the fastest growing companies in history, with business booming and times good, they recently appointed a new CEO. President and CCO Kevin Rollins' move into the CEO position is an indication that more of the same is sure to come. He has long been an integral part of Dell's success.

Rollins and founder Michael Dell will continue to run the company with their 'distinctive shared-leadership structure;' Rollins now as president and CEO, Dell as chairman of the board. Dell explains the change as "…primarily one of title, not of roles or responsibilities, so it won't alter the way Kevin and I run the business. However, the change is a very important and exciting milestone, our first transition of top leadership." According to Dell, "There is no single person who deserves more recognition for our great accomplishments than Kevin. His becoming CEO is as much about recognizing what he's already done as it is about our confidence in his future and Dell's."

With a reputation for providing the best buy in personal computers, Rollins and Dell plan to stay focused on their current course, providing competitively priced servers, storage systems and professional services to corporations, PCs and peripherals to consumers.

Nicole Holliman, Dell Corporate University Relations, says that Dell is definitely hiring. "We will begin on-campus interviews in September for a variety of positions including opportunities in sales, marketing, IT, finance, and operations." Both internship and full time positions are available.

What does it take to work for Dell? According to Holliman, "We look for a balance of strategic and tactical orientations, directly related work experience, and demonstrated leadership capabilities. Also, an uncompromising commitment to the customer experience and integrity." Dell employs a comprehensive team approach to its goal of diversity. At Dell diversity means much more than achieving a simple and equitable employee mix. Dell managers are required to go through a diversity-training program. In addition, Dell partners with organizations such as the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, the National Society of Hispanic MBAs, the National Council of La Raza, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHIC). In partnering with CHIC, for example, Dell helps provide the latest computer technology to the country's next generation of Hispanic leaders.

At Dell, diversity is not a buzzword. Diversity is good business, establishing mutually beneficial relationships with minority suppliers is part of an overall strategy that opens doors to increased growth potential. This expanded goal of diversity remains an integral part of their business strategy. Clearly for Dell, diversity breeds success.

Holliman explains, "Regardless of company or industry, employees will learn more and learn it faster at Dell than anywhere else. With annual global market share gains, profitability in every product line in every region around the world, employees have remarkable opportunities for advancement and global experiences and they will build equity ownership in the one company that has grown bigger and faster than any company in history. Dell looks for employees that have diversity of thinking, diversity of leadership and diversity of new ideas. Diversity is an integral part of our culture and we've found that it fosters innovation, unique perspectives and new ways of doing business. We have approximately 46,000 employees who live and work on six continents and deliver products and services to more than 190 countries. We recognize that diversity is essential to enhancing our customers' experience and it is key to being a great company."

IBM

The corporate seed for International Business Machines (IBM), known as Big Blue, was planted over a century ago when Herman Hollerith, in an attempt to come up with a way to simplify the 1890 US Census, decided that punch cards might just be the ticket. He invented a machine to do the job, and it was a success. In 1911 New York City, his company merged with two others to form the Computing - Tabulating - Recording Company (C-T-R), which eventually changed its name to IBM. Since then they have set the standard for technology in office machines and products around the world.

Over the years IBM has been touted for producing the first commercially successful general-purpose computer, the world's first super computer, and the first commercial transistorized computer. Dominating the computer market for decades, the IBM PC is credited with bringing the term PC into everyday use. Today IBM is still a world leader in the computer and office machines arena, as well as advanced information processing products, software, networking systems, and information technology services. There is a comprehensive family of IBM products including: microprocessors, semiconductors, and operating systems.

IBM, as a company, is known for its stability, for the dependability of their computing and office products, and for their employee friendly corporate environment. Business at IBM is good and they are also hiring. There are positions for software engineers, programmers, technical specialists, tech support positions, co-op and internship positions for students. In the coming year they are looking to hire graduates in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Computer Information Systems, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Human Factors Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Materials Science. They also hire from other technical backgrounds, and degree programs such as math, finance, business and marketing.

According to Sabrina Lanosa, of IBM Diversity Communications, "IBM tries to recruit the best, individuals that will show passion, commitment and a willingness to progress."

Frequently in the news for its diversity and employee initiatives, IBM was recently named one of the top companies for women of color by Working Mother Magazine. Among their many honors, in the last several years in the Hispanic community alone, IBM received the 2004 Corporate Achievement Award from the Society of Hispanic Engineers. From 1998 -2003: Among The 50 Best Companies for Latinas to Work in the US from LATINA Style Magazine. The 2003 Company of the Year Award by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. 2002 and 2003 -- one of the top U.S. companies in creating business and job opportunities for Hispanic Americans by Hispanic Magazine.

At IBM diversity is not just about recruitment, it is about success and seeing to it that every employee has an opportunity for success. Lanosa explains, "Inside the company we focus a lot of attention on retention. We make sure our employees are connected to the right groups. We make sure they are linked together and a part of the community. There are 320,000 IBM employees in 160 different countries. Of course, in different places diversity means different things. In the US it is principally about race. In other areas it is religion. Outside the organization IBM assigns top executives to major diversity organizations to make sure we are included. With the Hispanic community we have to work with the Digital Divide. For a lot of reasons Hispanics are not as connected with technology as they should be and we have programs to help, La Familia Technology Week is one way we connect with the community and younger, middle school aged students to get them involved and interested in technology at an early age. This program reaches Latino communities nationwide. IBM Hispanic Executives and other Latino IBMers get involved as volunteer mentors and role models in the communities." Lanosa concluded, " IBM does so much, on so many different levels, it is a company I feel very proud to work for."

Published
Fall '04: Hispanic Career World
Copyright 2004 Regina Pickett Garson

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