Not-Dot Kids

FRAMINGHAM (02/21/2000) - Step right up and meet your company's future workforce, the newest IT people on the job. They're twentysomethings seeking diverse assignments and creative challenges. They like working in small, informal teams, the kind that inspire people to yell questions across the room to one another. They're looking for a little freedom and a ton of responsibility.

"Oh," you're thinking, "I know where they work these days. They're swirling around in that dot-com drainpipe that's sucking away such great talent from the old standbys like my company." Wrong. Delightfully wrong. Feel free to fling this editorial aside and go straight to our business section where you can read part two of Kathleen Melymuka's eye-opening stories on the "New Kids" of IT.

Our reporter talked at length with 15 young IT professionals at the beginning of their careers, delving into why they chose established, traditional companies to launch their work lives. Read what they said about what they want from work, and how they're finding it far from Silicon Valley-style startups, at places like Kraft Foods Inc. in Northbrook, Ill., Monsanto Co. in St. Louis and Caterpillar Inc. in Peoria, Ill.

Yes, Peoria.

They're seeking to balance their lives, rather than to become slaves to their stock options. They're looking to traditional firms to show them how business really works, to pair them up with expert technologists for a little career nurturing and eventually to pay for their MBAs. They're smart enough to know what they don't know. (I can't wait for my teen-agers to reach this stage!) If the companies they work for now don't have a dot-com strategy in development, guess who will stand up and volunteer some advice?

Speaking of dot-com advice, I asked for some two weeks ago in this space, wondering what we could call established companies instead of applying the clumpy "bricks-and-mortar" label. About two dozen of you kindly responded with some fine suggestions, such as "analogs," "off-lines," "solids" (with a nod to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Constable Odo), "3D-coms," "heartland shops," "profitables" and "non-coms" (a special favorite with ex-Marines). "Dot-inks" was my favorite (betraying my publishing roots), but "not-dots" was definitely the cutest. Let's see what catches on.

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