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Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:54 AM

DHS bigwig 'adamantly opposed' to degree fetishism

HR and in-house recruitment types should get rid of the myopic idea that to work in IT you must have been to university, says a Department of Homeland Security honcho. Many "corporate and government jobs actually require a college degree or equivalent work experience," DHS deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity Mark Weatherford, told El Reg at security circus RSA on Monday. "I am adamantly opposed to that idea."

Though many of these jobs specify that equivalent experience is acceptable in lieu of a degree, "there's still an expectation" among bureaucratic organizations that wannabe security workers will have gone to university. This expectation can make life difficult for candidates, Weatherford said, noting he'd been in interviews where otherwise sparkling candidates were probed about their lack of university experience. "They just melt," he said.

Getting organizations to understand that a college degree does != brains could help plug holes in IT security employment.

...

In fact, the people who don't go to college may even benefit by being able to apply their hormone-drenched selves to something other than rote learning, gaming the system, and attempting to drink brake fluid. Instead of college, these people "spent those four years breaking things and fixing things and figuring out how applications and operating systems work," Weatherford said in an earlier keynote speech at the conference. "Probably the five smartest people I know in our business have never been to college."


http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/02/26/no_degree_needed_for_infosec_pros/

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Reply DHS bigwig 'adamantly opposed' to degree fetishism (Original post)
FarCenter Feb 2013 OP
ProdigalJunkMail Feb 2013 #1
Bradical79 Feb 2013 #5
ProdigalJunkMail Feb 2013 #6
One_Life_To_Give Feb 2013 #2
Recursion Feb 2013 #3
redgreenandblue Feb 2013 #4

Response to FarCenter (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:11 AM

1. in the hiring I have done over the years

an IT degree has not really been one of the factors under consideration. I needed to know 'what can you do?' as opposed to 'what do you think you know?'. I would almost not hire someone with a degree from a place like DeVry... they needed to get their feet wet before applying for one of the posts I had available. Now, the jobs we had weren't for entry level folks, but god knows we got loads of people with ZERO experience and a 'tech degree' applying for them.

sP

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Response to ProdigalJunkMail (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:55 AM

5. Does your company use any kind of computer filtering?

That can be a problem especially if it's an employers' market and you're dealing with large companies. Someone can simply set the computer application to toss out many applications for not having certain things, or filter based on arbitrary key words. Lots of hiring managers are never even aware of many applicants existence.

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Response to Bradical79 (Reply #5)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 11:14 AM

6. that actually was a problem for a time

but in going to our HR folks (who did the pre-screening) i asked them to just send me the lot and i would go through them. all applicants had to but a job code in their email for what i was searching for and they stopped filtering any resumes that we sent for that job code. it was a lot of work... but i think i got to see some people that would have been dropped by the filtering.

sP

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Response to FarCenter (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:38 AM

2. Engineering degree not necessary, but a good start

Engineering was never about rote learning but strategies to solve problems. Not required to be an effective VXWorks expert but certainly puts a number of useful tools into the toolbox.

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Response to FarCenter (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:48 AM

3. We just hired, at my insistence, an IT director without a college degree

The VP wanted to require a BS in Comp Sci until I convinced him that if you have a BS in Comp Sci you should be able to write an operating system from scratch. We don't need that.

VP: "But you have an MS in Electrical Engineering!"
Me: "Yes, and a BA in Classical Studies, neither of which I use directly; I have this job because I've been using computers since I was 12."

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Response to FarCenter (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:55 AM

4. As a person who works in computational science I have to say...

...I agree that college is not necessary to work in IT. I never took a programming course but over the years managed to pick up skills in seven or so programming languages, basics of system administration etc.

The bottom line is: Programming and IT are easy, compared to, say, math and physics. They are skills which can easily be self-taught over the internet. Just download a compiler and start a tutorial in C, and keep going until you are able to rewrite the linux kernel to suit your needs.

I went to college and got a degree, but IT skills were not something for which anyone considered coursework necessary.

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