Saturday, February 16, 2019

IGH Career Day 2019

I did the middle school career day over at IGH again this year.    It's four twenty minute presentations on what it's like to be an IT/Application Development Manager.  I'm always worried everyone is more prepared than me because I try to give it with no power points, a few white board drawings, and it varies from presentation to presentation.  There are cops there with K9s some years, and firefighters dressed in their gear.  Best I could do is bring an app.

My outline generally goes like:

  • Hello, I'm me. IT Managers go by a few names.  I build apps.  I like my job.  Most people with my job have a CompSci degree and were developers.  I was in history/writing/English.  I know devs who were lawyers, bioscience majors, and travel agents.
  • I work for a big company that most works with lawyers and judges and the government, but we have reporters who are amazing as well.
  • Anyone's parents work with me?  It's a big place.
  • You're all familiar with apps.  If you get to the credits at the end of a game (Far Cry) or a movie (Avengers of some sort) you'll see those huge lists of people after the voice actors and actors...a manager helps pull all those things together to get a product out in time, although usually within a limited scope.  My scope is IT.  But that's more than just developers...
    • There are folks in quality/testing, PMs, big data, databases, ops (dev ops), business partners,  R&D, security, other kinds of development...I don't coordinate all of them, but I talk to all of them to make sure what's being built is what everyone imagines.  We have to agree.
    • On the dev side, for my big company, the levels are software engineer, senior software engineer, lead software engineer, and then architect or manager.  That can change from time to time and place to place.  Then I talk about how much all those roles make because that's the most exciting piece of info I have for some of them.
  • I've seen a lot of apps over the last 20 years
    • Mainframes and build it on your desktop
    • Distributed, but I could kick the server if I wanted to
    • Distributed , but the servers lived on the other side of the campus in a plane-proof bunker
    • Cloud, and the bunkers are in different regions
    • APIs where everyone is back to building it on their desktop, but all the expensive pieces are now cheap and in the cloud.
    • Patterns often remain the same from app to app and how to coordinate work, even if the underlying architecture changes.
  • What's exciting about what I'm working on.
    • There is a supreme court, district courts, state courts, county courts, even city courts.  Add up all those docs and you get hundreds of millions.
    • Extract the entities and pertinent data, and you get hundreds of billions.
    • Extract the relationships and you're in the trillions.
    • You couldn't do that with books.
    • Now you get a super cool chart/visualization that shows all that data distilled into a time to rule or other way to make a decision.  That saves them money.  Saves the customer money.  Means the law should be more affordable and accurate.
    • APIs mean you can give that power to a lot of developers who may create something you never imagined by mashing up products.
  • Questions
    • Best one was "is it easy to make something" which prompted a bit more talking about APIs and crowdsourced apps and how cheap the cloud and new tools make it if you want to run it at scale.
    • Do you know my mom?
It's a lot to fit into 20 minutes, and I usually take them to minute 19 before we get to questions.  But they almost never have questions, so I guess that's ok.  I was impressed this year that they weren't playing with their free fidget spinners (one presenter was in sales) - very well behaved.  The teacher told them it was nice to be back in 2015.

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