Please help with career advice -- is UNIX a good choice?

Please help with career advice -- is UNIX a good choice?

Post by Jeff Berm » Wed, 11 Aug 1999 04:00:00



Hi there,

You probably get these questions a lot.  However, I looked around and
couldn't find anything so here goes...

I'm an AS/400 Senior P/A who is getting a little bored and wondering how
big the AS/400 market will be in 5-10 years.  I'm thinking about not only
changing jobs, but also changing platforms.

What platform would you all recommend?  I've asked my programmer friends
and have mostly heard "Windows NT" and "UNIX" from them.  I'd prefer not
to work on NT due to personal issues with Microsoft (can't work on a
platform I don't truly believe in :) but I've heard that NT is stealing
marketshare away from UNIX.  Obviously, we all want to develop code for a
growing industry, and none of us want to end up as maintenance programmers
in a niche market.

What do you guys think?  I'd really appreciate any words of wisdom from
those of you working in this field.

Thank you!!

Jeff

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Please help with career advice -- is UNIX a good choice?

Post by Nick Wag » Wed, 11 Aug 1999 04:00:00


Why not learn both UNIX and NT?

If you can't pick up the rudiments of a new O/S in a few weeks
then you are in the wrong business.  Of course it could take a
lifetime to get to grips with all the nuances of UNIX but you
ought to be able to get by with just a dozen commands on any
operating system.
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Please help with career advice -- is UNIX a good choice?

Post by Jeff Berm » Thu, 12 Aug 1999 04:00:00



> Why not learn both UNIX and NT?

> If you can't pick up the rudiments of a new O/S in a few weeks
> then you are in the wrong business.

I think learning NT would consist of learning the thousands of NT APIs to
control the GUI, networking, file I/O, printing, etc.  Presumably, the
same could be said for UNIX.  Maybe I'm not as smart as you, but I think
it would take me more than a few weeks to learn that stuff...

Jeff

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Please help with career advice -- is UNIX a good choice?

Post by Nick Wag » Thu, 12 Aug 1999 04:00:00



> I think learning NT would consist of learning the thousands of NT APIs to
> control the GUI, networking, file I/O, printing, etc.  Presumably, the
> same could be said for UNIX.  Maybe I'm not as smart as you, but I think
> it would take me more than a few weeks to learn that stuff...

Since you describe yourself as a Senior P/A (Programmer Analyst,
I presume, not a personal assistant) I assume that you have some
experience in writing financial and commercial software. Maybe you
use COBOL or Delphi, probably integrated with some RDBMS. As your
background is AS/400 maybe we are even talking CICS.

Those skills (except CICS) should be portable from one O/S to another,
although they are probably more appropriate to the NT world than UNIX.

You may have to do a bit of GUI programming but file I/O is fairly
straightforward on UNIX and NT - it was only really convoluted in
the bad old VMS and MVS (and AS/400) days.  If my guess is right
about your skill set then few employers are going to let you hack
away programming networks or device drivers because they can always
hire someone who knows what they are doing.

Concentrate on your analysis skills and get to know the dozen or so
commands which you need to know on any operating system. Once you
get a job on another platform then you can really get to grips with
the O/S and the different APIs.

Speaking as an employer, don't forget that it is the core skills which
will get you the job and a nodding acquaintance with the relevant
platform.  Only system managers get jobs solely on the basis of
the operating system.

--

Technical Project Manager                 Science Park, Milton Rd,
Tel: +44(0)1223 420414 (ext 213)          Cambridge, CB4 0FY, UK.
Fax: +44(0)1223 420044                    http://www.laser-scan.com/
Opinions expressed are attributable to me, not my employer.

 
 
 

Please help with career advice -- is UNIX a good choice?

Post by Jeff Berm » Fri, 13 Aug 1999 04:00:00


That makes sense.  Thanks, Nick, for taking the time to offer your insight.

You're right about my skills; I started off writing financial software in
RPG.  The past few years, however, I've been working on AS/400 utility
software, which is much more coupled with the OS than normal business
programming.

Again, thank you!

Jeff

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1. Is a career in AIX Unix a good career move?

Scott,

A few things to consider:

1.  What kind of salary are they offering?  If it is the same as you present
salary (and I hope
     that it isn't) then:

2.  Where do you want to be in say 10 years?

3.  Define on-call.  If you don't have to wear a pager or carry a cell phone
then you're not on call.

4.  What is your promotion path?

5.  What kind of application will run on the AIX system.  Who is responsible
for the software &
      database?

6.  Are you changing supervisors?  Do you "like" the new supervisor?  Sometimes
it is better
      not to make a move if you know that the new supervisor will be difficult
to work with.

7.  How old are you and how long have you been in your present position?  Some
younger
     people have a hard time working in an autonomous environment.

8.  The training that they want you to take is great.  This is an excellent
opportunity to develop
      new, and very marketable skills.  But, you need to consider that you will
have to travel quite
      a bit to take the necessary classes.  Can you do that?

9.  I'd ask to sit with the decision makers and look over all the paperwork
related to the purchase/
      lease agreement.  Find out where this system fits in to the total IS
scheme and how dedicated
      they are to keeping up with the technology.

If all of this seems to point in a positive direction, then I would say that
this is a good move for you.
Welcome to the world of AIX/UNIX Administration.

Cheers,

Bob Harlan
Senior Technical Support Analyst
Goodyear Tire and Rubber

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