The San Francisco Bay Area continues to lead the nation in job creation in the tech industry. Although demand for new tech workers is expected to be robust this year, so will the competition vying for high-paying positions. Dan Skeen, a Bay Area tech expert who spent much of his career working for the Department of Defense, displays valuable insight for job seekers in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley.

(Photo courtesy of Dan Skeen)

(Photo courtesy of Dan Skeen)

What was your position and area of expertise?

“My background is in hardware/software and quality engineering. I completed my studies at Santa Clara University in Physical Sciences, Math and Law Enforcement. I also have medical training as a paramedic. In the final 15 or 20 years of ‘full-time’ employment, I was mostly an R&D engineer at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an agency of the Department of Defense. I worked mainly as a consultant to IBM and Apple. When others had given up/failed, I would be called in to ‘make it work.’ Solving problems is my number one skill.”

What advice can you provide to graduating students or new seekers in a career in technology?

“For many, the transition from school to the workplace is traumatic. The technical skills taught at universities are valuable, but not always in sync with the current needs of employers. Many times in the realm of software engineering, a person with a B.S. or even a Ph.D. will be skipped over in lieu of a young person in a junior college that already knew how to program in the real world. While at least a B.S. is now required for many posted jobs, real world experience is also needed. Employers hiring people out of college plan on two to three years of training before the new employee is useful. This ‘lag’ will be reflected in the benefits offered. One way or another, you will have to pay some dues.”

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on


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