wanted: slave labor in massachusetts

August 5th, 2006

Reproduced above from the August 4th, 2006 Daily Hampshire Gazette of Western Massachusetts is a listing for the kind of tech job I might have been foolish and/or ass-broke enough to actually apply for in my mid-twenties. I direct your attention to the “minimum qualifications”! The “Center for Educational Software Development” has got to be kidding; and I would be laughing, except it’s a list so outlandish that it’s not actually funny. Some poor schmuck will probably fall for this, and fill this position — a position which, I would wager to bet, genuinely requires no skill set more complex than the ability to do low-level phone support and some gentle end-user hand holding.

Make no mistake, this is a list of technical skills written by some jackass who has absolutely no idea what they are talking about or asking for. “B.A. is Computer Science” — ok, sure. But “Experience programming in Java, C++, and/or object oriented systems”? “WWW applications development using C++, Java, or XML*”? “Artificial Intelligence techniques”? And then the punch line: a yearly salary of $16,100, with no guarantee of the shit job even lasting a year.

For their requirements, this salary is so fucking insulting, I don’t know where to start. But I’ll begin by pointing the finger at the slave labor economy of the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. There are five colleges in the area: Amherst, UMASS, Hampshire College, Smith, and Mount Holyoke. They’re all excellent schools — I personally graduated from Hampshire. But having so many schools in a smallish area affords local businesses a steady stream of hungry college kids who will work for peanuts — and who don’t need to pay rent. Thus the bottom tier of jobs (like this one) pays a pathetically small amount, because they know they can fill that chair with a college kid who doesn’t know better. This shifts the whole job market down a notch, as jobs that used to afford someone a living now are fitted to the needs of a kid who needs beer money and a signature on a work-study sheet. It’s miserly, mingy, mean and entited… it’s Western Massachusetts.

So from the younger me of 10 years ago, to the predatory and ignorant employers of today: fuck the hell off. You deserve the surly and slacktastic employee you’re almost certain to get. Never doubt how much they hate you.


*I love it when people speak of XML as a programming language, when in fact it is a generalized markup language — a meta-format for describing and arranging data. It can be used in a ton of different ways, and whenever you see a job listing asking for someone who has “XML programming experience”, it’s usually as bogus a job requirement as “10 years experience with text file programming” would be.

4 Responses to “wanted: slave labor in massachusetts”

  1. ldopa.net » archive » wanted: slave labor in massachusetts

  2. kerri says:

    Eh, I don’t know how outrageous it is. It says, “Experience with ONE or more of the following…” Heck, two semesters of ]intro CS courses could get you the experience you need. It’s an entry-level position, and $20k for two and a half days a week of work doesn’t sound beyond the pale. Certainly not for a state school.

  3. Jeff says:

    I made more money as a bookseller as a mall Waldenbooks at 16 years old. Don’t make excuses for these people.

  4. Ben says:

    Nice. Glad to see you got that scanned in. Good lord, I can’t imagine someone writing a WWW app in c++, which just goes to prove that these requirements are totally off-the-wall. In addition to the salary being pathetic, “continuation contingent upon funding” is exactly the root cause of why I left my last job. “Uhh, our grant to pay you appears to have run out, so if you could put your overtime pay from this week and last week into next week’s days on your time sheet, that would be great. MMMKAY? That way, it’s the same hours, but we don’t have to pay time and a half.”