Computerworld Career Adviser

Computerworld Career Adviser
If you have a question about career and recruitment tactics, send your queries to Fran Quittel by clicking here

Career Adviser

By Fran Quittel

A biweekly, interactive advice column in which selected questions will be answered by nationally known columnist and recruitment expert Fran Quittel.

February 28, 2000

Dear Career Adviser:
I'm a programmer developing financial applications on top of Windows. Should I acquire Linux skills to stay ahead of the curve in my career? What's the market for Linux programmers like? Is demand higher for people with expertise in specific applications?

— Linux Lou

Dear Double L:
Naturally, if your principal focus is consumer desktop applications where Windows predominates, it might be hard to justify Linux studies.
"However, if you are thinking about moving to the server side and the Internet, then learning Linux is definitely worthwhile," says Michael Tiemann, chief technology officer at Durham, N.C.-based Red Hat Inc. He cites the increasing interest in open source, the use of Linux for public Web servers and Intel's work with the Linux community to develop the Itanium, the next generation IA-64 chips, among other industry developments.
Take introductory Linux classes emphasizing Internet infrastructure and software development and deployment, counsels Tiemann. Get involved in projects where applications are being written or ported to the Internet and work on obtaining some standard certifications.
Then add classes and experience with the top databases behind the next generation of Internet applications, such as Oracle, and the new wave of embedded technologies in line to deliver a whole new wave of Internet appliances.
In short, says Tiemann, with the abundance of traditional applications rapidly migrating to Linux plus a whole new future of embedded devices just waiting to explode, start your education process now.

A Reader Writes:
Concerning this column's advice to SAP Samantha [Business Advice, Jan. 17], Glenn Sawyer, group manager of enterprise management technical services at Osprey Systems Inc. in Charlotte, N.C., counsels that Basis administration is a critical skill.
"It is the one skill set required from almost Day 1 of an SAP implementation, upgrade or even day-to-day care and feeding of an [SAP enterprise resource planning] system," says Sawyer. "Without Basis, an SAP landscape quickly falls out of sync and becomes a disaster waiting to happen."
In short, Basis plus SAP Samantha's AS/400 skills are very much in demand in the Southeast, where AS/400 is heavily installed and running SAP. Therefore, while other SAP skills are important, there's also high demand for people with Basis talent.

"Dear Career Adviser:
I am an experienced mainframe programmer/analyst with technical experience in Cobol, CICS and IMS/DL1. In addition to feeling uncertain of my skills in this particular Web-oriented job market, I have another problem. I am dazed by a recent significant change in my health status, which over time could have a real impact on my ability to continue working in the same way. I am concerned about whether or not to reveal my change in health status at work, and I'm wondering what else I should do.

— Dazed Dennis

Dear Dennis:
In a highly competitive job market, insecurities understandably run rampant when serious health problems arise.
But "save revealing this information for later, when it's unavoidable," says Joe Pellerito, director of consumer technology at Michigan-based I-Can Inc., which provides a multitude of personal and employment-related resources for the disabled. Right now, you must use every second available to strategize how you will handle your evolving workplace and home accommodation needs.
Start by investigating the key term assistive technology and the many resources highlighted through the Tech 2000 project, the assistive technology grant from the federal government that is part of the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act passed by Congress in 1988.
Affiliate yourself with nonprofits, support groups, Web organizations and the community assistive technology councils in your state. These will offer ongoing consultations with experts, rehab engineers, occupational and physical therapists and speech language physiatrists who will continually evaluate your physical condition in relation to available enabling technologies.
Visit sites such as and webABLE!, a Web directory for disability-related Internet resources, counsels Pellerito, plus sites addressing your particular needs as a computer professional. These include Job Accommodation Network, which offers information about job accommodations and the employability of people with disabilities, and the Assistive Technology On-Line Home Page, which has links to vendors with products that provide alternative methods for using computers or modifying the workplace.

Quittel is an expert in high-tech careers and recruitment. She is the creator of The FirePower Career Forum on The Microsoft Network (MSN) and of the Web sites and, which offer her tips and advice for job seekers and employers, repectively.

Copyright © 2000 IDG Communications, Inc.

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