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H-1B Visas

The H-1B Visa Program has the right idea. The goal is to allow US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty jobs, often referring to positions in science and technology. It’s been proven that empowering foreign workers in the technology sphere has led to more innovation, with over 50% of billion-dollar startups being founded by immigrants. This program is meant to open the door to the American Dream for immigrants who are hoping to work in technology. Unfortunately some companies have been using it as a means of cheaper labor, paying immigrants much less than they would have paid an American for the same position. As a result, these companies have been able to reduce wages and increase profits while cleverly marketing the entire scheme as multicultural innovation.

Currently, the main issue with H1-B visas is how IT outsourcing companies are exploiting them. We know that the government gives out 85,000 a year through applications from several companies. Last year they received around 236,000 applications. When this happens, a lottery takes place to determine which companies will receive the visa. Large IT outsourcing firms have learned that the system benefits those who apply for a large number at once. When these companies are the ones to receive the majority of the visas, the entire program is undermined. They are not bringing foreign talent into the US to stay here and prosper, rather they train them and send them back to their countries to run technology support centers, test and debug basic code, and pass along the knowledge they’ve gained. Not only are they not bringing immigrants to work in the US, they also pay the least of all companies receiving visas by a wide margin. IT outsourcing companies raise the main concerns with how H-1B visas are used, and so I believe any reform that takes place should target their exploitation of the system. Currently, lawmakers are considering options to replace the random lottery system of giving out visas with one that would reward those companies paying proper wages to members of the program. Also they are attempting to prohibit companies from replacing US workers with H1-B workers. This is another way the visas are being used incorrectly, and the main way US workers are being cheated out of their jobs. Companies have a responsibility to maximize profits, as well as be ethical – not one at the cost of the other. When they exchange a US worker for a recipient of the visa in order to reduce costs, they are also improperly taking advantage of the system. This is the main way Americans are being hurt by the program as well. While it is true that a position given to someone through the H-1B program is one that could have been given to an American, it is too simple to assume that the job would automatically go to another American at a higher wage. Companies have several other options beyond hiring an immigrant or a native born worker. They could offshore or automate the work, or still hire foreign talent outside of the H-1B program. It is not as direct a threat to American jobs as people believe. I am in favor of continuing this program but only with the proper reforms. We truly are a nation of immigrants and when used properly, this program is in line with our American values. We should begin to view other immigrants as future brothers and not people who don’t deserve the American Dream we all share simply because of where they are born.

Loyal to Yourself

I am a person who embraces change. Whether it is expected or not, I pride myself on being able to adapt to new factors and situations in any facet of my life. I believe this is most true when it comes to my work. Truthfully, I can grow bored with a topic or project after a year or two and change is essential to rejuvenating my attitude and motivation, directly leading to an increase in productivity and innovation. That is why I believe I will frequently change jobs throughout my career. I am aware that certain positions such as consulting allow for a constant change in projects, yet I believe I will be craving a complete change in scenery every few years in order to continue challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone and to not grow complacent with my work. According to Penelope Trunk, serial entrepreneur and author, the learning curve at a new job “pretty much flattens after three years”. This frequent change is therefore key to my personal growth and development as a professional. The reason I believe switching jobs acceptable is because I must act with my own best interest in mind or no one else will. The company I work for never truly has my best interest in their mind. Their goal is to get the most out of their employees until they decide it is time to replace them. This is reminiscent of a recent trade made in the NBA between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics. Isaiah Thomas played in a playoff game for the Celtics one day after his sister passed away, giving that franchise his heart and soul. They chose to reward his loyalty and sacrifice by trading him away in the following offseason. Thomas could not have given anything more to the company that is the Boston Celtics, yet they did not reciprocate his loyalty and instead justified their trade by claiming, “it’s all business”. If this is the case, then there should be no loyalty in business for either side and all parties involved should always act in their best interest. Clearly companies are already doing so by binding employees through non-competes and trade secrets that are becoming more and more unjust. Non-competes have been described as “slavery in the modern-day form” and continue to dupe employees out of their own rights as professionals. Once a person leaves a company, that company should not be allowed to dictate their future career path unless it is to protect trade secrets. However, the definition of trade secrets has grown to encompass not only concrete knowledge such as the formula for Coca-Cola, but also less well-defined knowledge like customer relations and basic skills employees need to do their jobs. When employers push the boundaries on their power to hinder their employees, they are acting selfishly, unfairly, and unethically. Non-competes and trade secrets have become tools of extortion and we as employees must be very wary of what we are agreeing to when signing on the dotted line. Our years of hard work and earned skills are our personal assets and we are free to use and develop them as we please – we can’t let companies turn these assets into a liability.

H4X0R80Y

When I hear the word hacker, the first word that comes to mind is disruption. I did not grow up wanting to work with computers, I never spent much time on online forums such as Reddit, and I do not keep up with all of the latest advancements in technology. Up until I declared my major, I considered myself competent yet fairly insulated when it came to the world technology. That is why to me, a hacker has always meant someone who has gone rogue and whose main purpose is to disrupt a system and create chaos. After 3 years of studies, I’ve come to learn that the word ‘hacker’ has a much deeper connotation within the computer science community. While hackers do have a disdain towards systems and structures, they aren’t merely setting out to destroy these institutions. Hackers seek to explore and create outside of the mainstream establishment. They aim to break barriers that they believe should not exist, and they look to push the boundaries of any experiment or system. Hackers are complex yet brilliant individuals who are viewed negatively thanks to society. The media will label anyone who breaks through a computer security system as a ‘hacker’, which in this case is synonymous with criminal. However, through the gentrification of hacker culture that is happening today, we are seeing more and more ‘good hackers’ join the technology entrepreneur class. They have kept their core rebel attitude by doing things their own way and having an aversion to typical business models, yet their unmatched curiosity and thirst for innovation can be quenched in a safe space that is the startup culture. Here they are free to be their true selves, which often leads to products and technology with a positive impact. We know that hackers suffer from an unfair negative perception when in reality they can be morally good or bad. But in the words of Mark Zuckerberg, hacking simply means ‘ building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done’. Looking at this definition, I would loosely consider myself to be a hacker. I don’t like to plan too much before I begin working, rather I jump in headfirst and iterate without ceasing until I am pleased with my product. I am also constantly looking for ways to improve the systems I interact with everyday, yet I don’t always act upon what I discover. While there are several institutions that present barriers in this world that I do not agree with, I am not the kind of person to take initiative and implement my own solution unless it is simple and accessible to me. I don’t feel the need to fix every problem in the world, so long as I can take note of them all. Lastly, I believe I am someone who does his best work when inspired by the subject matter. Since I am not always fond of school assignments, I would rather work on a project that I am passionate about and create a solution that I can be proud of.

SuperCoder

When I decided to get my degree in computer science, I knew I would be learning how to program and gaining an understanding of technology in our world today. What I did not realize was just how much of a super-power programming can be. Everyone in the world relies on some or multiple forms of technology everyday, but only a small fraction of people truly understand how these technologies work. We as a society have developed a significant reliability on these powerful technologies without much questioning of them. From financial software to ride sharing apps, these technologies improve quality of life and increase productivity, and to thank for all of this, we have programmers. They are greatly responsible for shaping the world we live in today, as we can see their products having a profound impact in all industries and in the lives of people of all ages. Programmers have power because they possess this knowledge that the majority of people do not know. These same people however want and need the help of programmers to have smartphones, computers, and more technologies that they can no longer live without. For this reason, I view programming as a true super-power. And with this power comes a tremendous responsibility to write proper code that will be used to advance our society and culture and never to exploit others with less understanding or create potential harm. If we as programmers succumb to unethical practices in order to complete a project or please an employer, we are just as much at fault. In the words of Bill Sourour, “as developers, we are often one of the last lines of defense against potentially dangerous and unethical practices”. We must all follow a code of ethics to ensure that our power is never used improperly. But being responsible for our own code is simply not enough. The community of programmers is small yet growing rapidly; meaning people are gaining this super-power everyday. As a result, we must revise one another’s code where it is appropriate. If we want to be true superheroes we must go above and beyond when using our talents to help the greater good. Not only must we write clean, ethical code, we must also take every opportunity to vet any piece of code that we believe to be unethical and ensure that it not plague our society who is unable to revise the code for themselves.

Welcome to my Blog!

    Hello! My name is Christopher Beaufils, and welcome to my blog! I’m currently 21 years old, completing my senior year at the University of Notre Dame to earn my degree in computer science. I was born and raised in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and some of my passions include music, basketball, and film. I chose to study computer science so that I would never grow bored with my work and I would have an understanding of many technologies that have inundated our world. In recent years, technology has transformed seemingly every part of our lives and shows no sign of slowing. Nowadays, even kids have access to technology of the most complex forms without knowing its true power or having any idea how it works. With constant advancement and innovation in the industry, I will be able to contribute my talents to many different projects and fields throughout my career. There are endless opportunities around the world for a computer scientist and I look forward to having options at all points in my professional life. I know that no matter what career path I pursue, I will be doing important work that will have an impact on the advancement of our world and its inhabitants. I dream of one day helping create a new technology to improve or save lives of people around the world.

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