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This page last modified: Mar 09 2007
Tom Laudeman, University of Virginia
Information Technical Specialist II 
(Senior software engineer, Web database developer, Bioinformatics Programmer)

Career Day notes, 2007

Describe your Career

- What do you do in your job?

I create bioinformatics software to support research goals of
scientists. My applications manage data, generate reports, and
integrate external software. The user interface is usually HTML (via a
browser, aka a "thin client"). The reports are HTML, CSV, or XML. I
telecommute one day per week. About 25% of my time is spent
coding. The rest of the time is on planning, system administration,
meetings, email, testing, and documentation. My todo list has 610
items. Everything I do is on a secure, network accessible server (my
desktop machine happens to be a server).

- What types of training and education are required for your job
  (i.e., high school technical training and accreditation, college)?

Bachelor of Science, Computer Science (CS) courses, 5 years experience

- What are the entry-level verses advanced positions in this field and
  how do the salaries vary?

$35K programmer/analyst 

$120K senior software engineer, software architect, bioinformatics
programmer, DBA

- What types of courses should one take in high school to help prepare
  for this career?

AP courses, math, science, computer science (CS), English

Share your Personal Experience

- What in your job gives you the most satisfaction?

Systems and utilities that fill a long term need, and are open source
so that others can easily use my applications, learn from them, and
build on them.

- What is the most challenging part of your job?

Politics, system architecture design w/colleagues

- What qualities/skills do you have that make you successful?

Smart, hard working, hard working, experience, patience.

- Why did you choose this career?

Money, fun (intellectually challenging)

- What was your path to your career?

Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology, self learning, CS courses,
programming jobs at UVa and in the private sector, developed software
at home

The Broader View

- What are related careers or directions one can take with this

There is a computer job for every type of skill and talent.

Programmer/analyst, senior developer, database administrator (DBA),
data entry, training, technical sales, account manager, quality
assurance (QA) and testing, management, content creation, business
startups, graphics and illustration, marketing and search engine
optimization (SEO), system administration, security expert, embedded
systems, electrical engineering (EE), integrated circuit (IC) design,
other hardware, game developer, network admin.

- What is the long-range outlook for your career field, e.g. growth,
  new directions, technology changes, contraction?

Astronomical growth

- What recommendations do you have for a young person who is
  interested in your career field?

AP courses

Survey technology: Linux, OSX, XP/Vista, HTML, Apache, Gimp
(Photoshop), Inkscape (Illustrator), Google Docs, word processing and
spreadsheets Open Office or GNUmeric (MS Office), blogging,
programming (Perl or Java), SQL and relational databases Postgres or
SQLite (MS Access), assemble a computer.

Start coding: Linux, HTML & CSS, Perl, SQL
(Postgres), Java, Lisp, C, C++, Haskell, XML/XSLT, .NET, C#, VB

Maybe: MySQL, PHP, Python, J2E