Career advice: Tech and the city

Marty Paslick of HCA Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader Marty Paslick Title: Chief operating officer, information technology & servicesCompany: HCA

Paslick is this month's Premier 100 IT Leader, answering questions about finding a good tech job while living in a rural area, the prospects for software engineers and the benefits of learning about business concepts. If you have a question you'd like to pose to one of our Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to

I have never really strayed from my hometown, which is in a rural area. For the past 15 years, I have managed to string together a career doing a bit of everything related to IT for several small businesses, but I've been out of work for four months now. I really don't want to live in a city. Any advice? Depending on your specific skills, teleworking could be an option. It continues to expand in popularity. Teleworking isn't for everyone, though, and most companies, including mine, require candidates to demonstrate a great work ethic and ability in the traditional work environment before they will allow them to work remotely. And of course, remote arrangements can be reversed at any time. Perhaps there are companies close to you that will extend a flexible remote working arrangement to you.

What is the outlook for a 29-year-old graduating with a degree in software engineering? Right now I am working on a help desk. There are still plenty of opportunities for software engineers who possess differentiating engineering skills, but great success seems to be more and more reserved for those who intimately grasp the business concepts for which they are engineering, can effectively establish relationships through top-notch interpersonal skills, and can apply great imagination and creativity. Commodity-based engineering increasingly is being outsourced. In other words, success is to be had for the top 25% of engineers, and an ever lengthening search may be in store for those not in that class.

I will be completing my degree in computer science soon. I am choosing among a few technical courses to satisfy the requirements but wonder whether I should substitute one or two business classes instead. I actually began my academic career in the business school, and after graduation I returned to school for a second undergraduate degree within the engineering school. The combination of the degrees jump-started my career, and I believe adding a couple of business classes could do the same for you. I would investigate the possibility of classes that may focus on business analysis. Mastering the frameworks used to understand business applications and processes can be hugely beneficial. In addition to business analysis, I would also suggest looking into classes that focus on disciplines like Lean/Six Sigma.

Read more about it careers in Computerworld's IT Careers Topic Center.

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