Career advice: Young and willing to move for a good job

Premier 100 IT Leader Fernando Gonzalez also answers questions on updating the job hunt and moving into project management.

Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader

Michael Macrie

Title: CIO

Company: Byer California

Gonzalez is this month's Premier 100 IT Leader. If you have a question you'd like to pose to one of Computerworld's Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to

I'm a programmer in North Carolina, still young enough not to be daunted by a major move (I'm 29). What are the best markets in the U.S. for my job skills right now (Java, JavaScript, C++, Ruby on Rails, etc.)? Of course, one of the best places for finding work is San Francisco or the Silicon Valley. The downside of that locale is the cost of living, with studio apartments renting for $1,800 and up. Seattle is another area where there is plenty of work, but again the cost of housing is high. Up-and-coming places are Austin, Chicago and Denver. My non-geographic advice: At your age, you are in the prime time to gain experience with a startup.

I was laid off in May. I have six years of experience in network administration. I haven't had any luck finding a new job. Admittedly, I'm a bit rusty at job hunting, but is there something about the process that has changed over the last few years that I should know about? Today, companies are looking for people who have experience in multiple areas, and network administration is one. If you have experience with storage administration, Exchange administration or Sharepoint administration, then emphasize those as well. More than ever, finding employment today is about networking, so sending résumés is just part of the job search. Find out about IT organizations in your area and join in. If you have relationships with any software or hardware sales or support people you have worked with in the past, contact them and let them know you are looking. And of course you now have time to work on your LinkedIn profile. A good idea is to build a website about yourself, covering everything from what you do for pleasure to some of your best personal and work accomplishments, including examples of the work you have done. Then include the URL for this website in any correspondence.

I have been doing systems development for a big project at a major financial institution for a couple of years. (I have another eight years of experience besides that.) On this project, I've been working closely with the project manager and now I'm interested in moving into that field. She has given me some advice, but I wonder whether you have any suggestions as well? My first recommendation takes the most effort. At a local college or university, you will find a curriculum to be a CPM (Certified Project Manager). Start with this; it will help you land the position you want.

Managing projects is not just about IT projects. Look around in your community for organizations that need help with projects of any kind. It's a good way to gain experience, and it's perfectly legitimate to include those on your résumé. Also, keep your eyes open for projects you're not involved in that are having problems, then try to determine where they are stumbling or have failed. You can do this through discussion groups; it can be a great learning experience.

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