Getting to Work

1/15/2004 5:00:00 AM

Outside the Technology & Learning offices, located in the South of Market area of San Francisco, the relative sparseness of both street and foot traffic are daily reminders that in today's job world, change is the operative word. Three years ago, Multimedia Gulch sidewalks were packed, parking lots had jacked up their prices, new restaurants were opening daily, and high rise construction was underway on what seemed like every corner for blocks. Since then, more than 200 restaurants have shut down, some parking lots have actually decreased their prices, you pretty much have the sidewalk to yourself, and gleaming, empty new office buildings are offering retail spaces at unheard of lows.

And yet, despite dark predictions in the wake of the dot-bombs that the Internet was dead and the promise of technology just a smoke and mirror fantasy, evidence to the contrary abounds. The central shared feature of all the publications and events I work near daily is technology. Network Computing, the Computer Security Institute, Secure Enterprise, Digital Video, InformationWeek, Bank Systems and Technology, Insurance and Technology, Diagnostic Imaging, to name just a few — all attest to the fact that technology is indeed entrenched in our lives and our jobs. IT, security, architectural and graphic design, medical, business, finance, and numerous other fields now need, and will continue to need, more and better-qualified tech-savvy workers, especially if our nation is to remain vital in the increasingly high-tech global economy.

This month's feature, "School to Career: Reworking the Model" by Barry Burke, provides an overview of the vision and philosophy behind one new approach to preparing kids for today's work place. It does not focus on technology careers per se, but the career cluster areas that form the basis of the academy model he profiles are direct matches to the job fields named above. To consider technology as a field separate from any of these seems like retro thinking indeed.

The industry-school partnerships Burke speaks of are a growing reality as well. A couple of doors down, our nearest neighbor, Game Developer, has recently released the 2003 Game Career Guide, a useful source of information and tips for students looking to enter the still-burgeoning software game industry. The issue includes a detailed chart of over 100 international game schools with tuition and financial aid information, degrees offered, contact information, and more (It's available for $5.95 at www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/store.php?item_id=296&category=9&book=).

But enough talk about all that's changed. It's also helpful to remind kids of what hasn't. Here are some words of wisdom from Jennifer Olsen, editor in chief of Game Developer magazine and Game Career Guide: "Behind the high-tech veneer of game development, it's still the more traditional qualities of well-roundedness, innate talent, intelligence, curiosity, and teamwork that remain the greatest indicators of success in the field."

Susan McLester, editor in chief, T&L smclester@cmp.com


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