Am I good at programming?

  • (3 Pages)
  • +
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

33 Replies - 8502 Views - Last Post: 07 May 2014 - 09:17 AM

#1 searcher920  Icon User is offline

  • New D.I.C Head

Reputation: 15
  • View blog
  • Posts: 44
  • Joined: 30-December 11

Am I good at programming?

Posted 30 December 2011 - 06:05 PM

I started programming about 20 years ago, and I've been at my current job for 10 years. I have formal education, but not in CS, and I taught myself programming. I have always wondered if I am good at programming, or not, and never was able to find out. I feel that, over the years, I have learned a lot and my understanding continually improves. However, my manager, who I have worked for about 6 years, suddenly decided I am no good and wants to fire me. I don't know if it's because he is 30 and I am 60, or if it's because I really am no good, after all these years of programming every day.

The languages and frameworks and databases we use at this company all changed in recent years, and most things I knew became obsolete, but I don't think I have a lot of trouble learning the new stuff. Being older does, possibly, make us want to stay with what we already know well, rather than constantly change. Still, I think my manager is being unfair.

I want to keep my job, since I am too old to get another. I want to find out if my manager is right about me being no good. Is there any kind of programming ability test I could take? I always loved programming and always felt I had a natural ability for it.

It's true that the young guys where I work learned the new stuff faster, but I think it was because the manager gave them all the good projects. He probably finds it easier to work with guys his own age. Also, I am the only female programmer there.

I want to find out if I am any good, and I want to convince my manager that I am. Thanks for any advice or ideas.

Is This A Good Question/Topic? 0
  • +

Replies To: Am I good at programming?

#2 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

  • Self-Trained Economist
  • member icon




Reputation: 10396
  • View blog
  • Posts: 38,464
  • Joined: 27-December 08

Re: Am I good at programming?

Posted 30 December 2011 - 06:08 PM

What reasons has your manager cited for you being no good? It sounds to me like if you can be productive, get the job done well, and learn new technologies, then you're a good programmer. It sounds like a case of you getting too high up the ladder and making too much possibly, that your manager wants to cut costs and hire junior programmers whom he can pay less money. Or perhaps he's threatened by your ability?
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

#3 AdamSpeight2008  Icon User is offline

  • MrCupOfT
  • member icon


Reputation: 2241
  • View blog
  • Posts: 9,412
  • Joined: 29-May 08

Re: Am I good at programming?

Posted 30 December 2011 - 06:12 PM

The issue as I see it is, your not good at the stuff the company see it needs now and in the future. Wouldn't it be prudent for you to learn the them?
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

#4 searcher920  Icon User is offline

  • New D.I.C Head

Reputation: 15
  • View blog
  • Posts: 44
  • Joined: 30-December 11

Re: Am I good at programming?

Posted 30 December 2011 - 06:23 PM

View PostAdamSpeight2008, on 30 December 2011 - 06:12 PM, said:

The issue as I see it is, your not good at the stuff the company see it needs now and in the future. Wouldn't it be prudent for you to learn the them?


Yes of course, and I have been learning the new stuff. The other guys learned faster, but I think it's because they had good projects while I was stuck on some bad ones. Maybe this was just bad luck, but more likely it was because my manager likes working with people his own age.

We switched to Ruby on Rails, but I never had a Rails project until recently. I had to learn everything. My manager got angry because I didn't know about Restful design. Ok, now I know.

Everything we do is MVC and test-driven and object-oriented. Ok, I get all that. It took me a while but, as I said, I was stuck on dumb projects for a long time.

Every single thing I had to learn I was able to learn.
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

#5 ishkabible  Icon User is offline

  • spelling expret
  • member icon




Reputation: 1622
  • View blog
  • Posts: 5,709
  • Joined: 03-August 09

Re: Am I good at programming?

Posted 30 December 2011 - 07:04 PM

Test you say? Write an OS :P jk, maybe a performance review instead? If you pass a formal performance review then your manager can't fire you for not being good enough(Or so I would think).

This post has been edited by ishkabible: 30 December 2011 - 07:05 PM

Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

#6 CTphpnwb  Icon User is offline

  • D.I.C Lover
  • member icon

Reputation: 2895
  • View blog
  • Posts: 10,028
  • Joined: 08-August 08

Re: Am I good at programming?

Posted 30 December 2011 - 08:27 PM

If you've been at the same company for more ten years then it's hard to believe you suddenly lost your abilities when you got a new manager. My guess would be that it has nothing to do with them anyway. Your manager may just want to save money on junior programmers, he may be more comfortable working with people his own age or younger, or he may fear or dislike you. It's probably some combination, and if it's even partly due to age then he may be setting the company up for a big fat lawsuit.
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

#7 searcher920  Icon User is offline

  • New D.I.C Head

Reputation: 15
  • View blog
  • Posts: 44
  • Joined: 30-December 11

Re: Am I good at programming?

Posted 31 December 2011 - 04:52 AM

I passed all my formal yearly reviews for 9 years. We get graded on each project, and my grades were usually around B. Then suddenly, on my 10th review, this year, I got a failing grade on every project. Even though the projects had no bugs and are being used with no problems.

I asked my manager why I failed every project, even though they are all being used and are successful, and he said because they were small projects and he had to ask me to make improvements in the code.

He said the department has raised its standards and I am not up to the new standards.

Because I failed the review, according to the company policy, now he can fire me if he feels that anything I do is not up to his standards.
Was This Post Helpful? 1
  • +
  • -

#8 Programmist  Icon User is offline

  • CTO
  • member icon

Reputation: 252
  • View blog
  • Posts: 1,833
  • Joined: 02-January 06

Re: Am I good at programming?

Posted 31 December 2011 - 07:04 AM

*
POPULAR

The fact that you suddenly got a failing review after 10 years tells me that he's starting the documentation process to fire you. If he has on record an uncontested failing review then it will be easier to justify firing you later without any recourse from you (legal or otherwise). If it were me I'd contest the review and take it up with HR. I'd also tell HR that your manager is discriminating against you because of your age (based on what you have said). Get that on record. Yes, it may make things a little uncomfortable in the office, but if he's planning on firing you and you don't want to lose, you're going to have to fight back. You have a long track record of doing well at the company (longer than your manager has been there), so that should hopefully give you some leverage.

This post has been edited by Programmist: 31 December 2011 - 07:05 AM

Was This Post Helpful? 6
  • +
  • -

#9 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is online

  • Please show what you have already tried when asking a question.
  • member icon

Reputation: 5436
  • View blog
  • Posts: 11,663
  • Joined: 02-June 10

Re: Am I good at programming?

Posted 31 December 2011 - 08:59 AM

My suggestion for self-testing one's skills is usually this...

Go to vWorker or some similar coder-for-hire website.
Look through all the contracts up for bid to coders.
Do you think you could do many of them?

Pick out a couple and do them - don't bid on them - just build them to see if you can. Time yourself. How long does it take you to actually get the job done. What would you have to change to make a living at it as an independent coder?

Do you now seem, in your own eyes, to be a coder that someone would hire?
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

#10 CTphpnwb  Icon User is offline

  • D.I.C Lover
  • member icon

Reputation: 2895
  • View blog
  • Posts: 10,028
  • Joined: 08-August 08

Re: Am I good at programming?

Posted 31 December 2011 - 09:38 AM

View PostProgrammist, on 31 December 2011 - 10:04 AM, said:

Get that on record.

Get everything on record. What he says, and what your counterpoint is. Don't have a conversation with this guy without a notepad specifically for this purpose. And don't let anything negative he records go unchallenged. If he sees that this is going to be more trouble than it's worth he may change is focus towards something else. If he doesn't, then your records may prove profitable for you when he does fire you.
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

#11 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is online

  • Please show what you have already tried when asking a question.
  • member icon

Reputation: 5436
  • View blog
  • Posts: 11,663
  • Joined: 02-June 10

Re: Am I good at programming?

Posted 31 December 2011 - 12:27 PM

Anything going in your official file, that a superior is willing to put in print is something they should be willing to have recorded. Last I checked every modern smartphone had a voice recording application.
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

#12 Martyr2  Icon User is offline

  • Programming Theoretician
  • member icon

Reputation: 4316
  • View blog
  • Posts: 12,096
  • Joined: 18-April 07

Re: Am I good at programming?

Posted 31 December 2011 - 12:46 PM

Everyone here is making very valid and good points. I want to add that you should not wait for them to give you a project either to learn the skills. Do a ruby on rails project yourself in your off time. Try doing something you know they wanted but can't yet do because of budget. Heck, how can they fire someone who just dropped a 10-20k project in their lap for free and is exactly what they have wanted? Not to mention if they like it and want to keep it, you are the designer so they will want to keep you to help troubleshoot in the future.

The idea is to fight back and also make yourself relevant. The manager probably has all those problems you mention (likes to work with younger, intimidated, needing to cut costs etc). You have to stay marketable and outshine everyone else. Heck, make him look good somewhere. You will be surprised how far one free project (which you learn something doing as well) will get you if it makes him look good. Is it morally right? Probably not. Jerks don't deserve these extra projects. But it isn't about him here, it is about you keeping a job and fighting a firing after a long career.

Do the documentation as others have said, but also give him no reason to fire you... if that means stroking the ego and making him look good, it makes it all that much harder. Not only to justifiably fire you, but also wanting to fire you.

P.S. Also get the idea out of your head that you are too old to start another career. Sure it might be a bit harder due to breaking the stereotype of age, but young or old it is all about what you can offer a company and at what price. They are not going to not hire someone who can deliver them the next Twitter or Facebook just because they are too old. If it means money in their pocket and much more than you cost in salary, there will people that will take you.

:)

This post has been edited by Martyr2: 31 December 2011 - 12:49 PM

Was This Post Helpful? 2
  • +
  • -

#13 searcher920  Icon User is offline

  • New D.I.C Head

Reputation: 15
  • View blog
  • Posts: 44
  • Joined: 30-December 11

Re: Am I good at programming?

Posted 31 December 2011 - 02:12 PM

Thank you for the suggestions Martyr2, but I really am not someone who could do a great project that my manager would love. I tried that many times in the past. I had to give up, because my manager ignored everything I did. In fact, he seems to resent it when I take an initiative and go ahead with a project on my own. That could one reason I'm in trouble now -- I got tired of waiting for him to assign me something and went ahead and did something that was needed.

I really am not a great programmer, partly because I have been isolated in my job and not assigned good projects. But I do not think I am no good either. I am not good enough to amaze them with the next Facebook, but not bad enough to deserve to be fired.

I had gone ahead and learned Rails in the past, but now I realize I did not learn it very well. I did not know about RESTful design, and I did not know most of the view helpers. I just did things my own way, whatever made sense to me, and of course that was wrong. It was probably from being isolated.

I can change all that now, because I have learned a lot, and I know where to look up whatever I don't know yet.

My boss also says I lack a basic understanding of object-oriented design and the standard patterns. That is not true, I have read about and understand all that very well. But I lack good experience.

I believe I can prove to him that I am as good as, or nearly as good as, the other guys. That should make it hard for him to fire me, I hope.
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

#14 anonymous26  Icon User is offline

  • D.I.C Lover

Reputation: 0
  • View blog
  • Posts: 3,638
  • Joined: 26-November 10

Re: Am I good at programming?

Posted 07 January 2012 - 07:32 PM

One thing to remember is that there will always be at least one person to complain about your work at some point during your programming career. I have many who think I'm quite a genius (even though I don't really think so), and about three in my life who thought I could be better, even though I completed work that no-one else could do!

Don't beat yourself up over it. In the world of software development there are some big and very ugly egos out there, and if I'm honest I can't think of any programmers in my industry (games) that make it into their 60s. Kudos to you for still being flexible with your programming work.

You're just unlucky that the ugly ego I mentioned before happens to be your boss. That is where the problem is, not your skill.
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

#15 no2pencil  Icon User is online

  • Toubabo Koomi
  • member icon

Reputation: 5189
  • View blog
  • Posts: 26,896
  • Joined: 10-May 07

Re: Am I good at programming?

Posted 07 January 2012 - 07:39 PM

Find another job that pays more & give yourself a raise.

Don't put up with their time wasting paper-work bs.

I agree with what Programmist suggested about them starting a paper trail. Just cut the bs & find something else making more. Most likely this process started from the top down & may not even be the doing of your manager. Has the company had new investors, partners, or possibly a change in direction? Anytime there are new people at the top level, or some sort of company to company investment or buy-out, they start trimming the fat. & by fat it's usually experienced, veteran employees with years of benefits & increased salaries. They'll look to replace you with someone fresh & out of school who is willing to take experience over pay.

Once a company starts caring more about their pockets than their product, everyone has a problem & it all goes downhill. Fast.
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

  • (3 Pages)
  • +
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3