Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

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37 Replies - 5258 Views - Last Post: 26 January 2014 - 09:34 PM

#16 BBeck  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 13 January 2014 - 11:17 AM

The way I look at it is that tech jobs are found in cities. I feel like I cannot live away from a city because there are no jobs in my field away from major cities. Otherwise, I would probably not live in the city because I'm not that fond of it.

But anyway, in a small town there may only be 8 programmer jobs in the whole town and likely all 8 of them are currently filled. These are probably jobs working for major corporations that just happen to be there in the small town. They may all be with one company. For example, maybe Exxon has 8 programmer jobs in the area because they are drilling for oil in the area and need programmers to write software for what they are doing or possibly even to maintain the existing software.

I mean, if you think about it. Some little "mom and pop" bakery probably doesn't need to ever hire a computer programmer. The vast majority of businesses and industries in smaller towns have no need of programmers. They buy Quicken or MS Office to do what they need to do. And Intuit and Microsoft don't exist in small towns; they have offices in large cities where they can find programmers when they need them.

And maybe you can get that job at Exxon out in "the middle of nowhere, America". But keep in mind that if you get laid off, or just don't like the job, there are no other jobs in that field to apply for. Or maybe Conaco Phillips has programmer jobs there too, but the jobs are filled until their next programmer dies 6 years from now. There's just no where to go if that job doesn't work out "forever". At the very least, you need to be prepared to move to another part of the country if you get laid off or something, which could mean selling a house and uprooting a family if you have a family there.

The bottom line, in my mind, is that you can't work in this field unless you live in a major city. That's why I'm here. If I could figure out a way to live deep up in the mountains and still have a good DBA job, I would be doing it.

This post has been edited by BBeck: 13 January 2014 - 11:20 AM

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#17 BBeck  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 13 January 2014 - 11:29 AM

I don't really think its a situation where the competition is too tough and so you should go somewhere else.

Actors move to LA because that's where the jobs are. There simply are not as many oppurtunities in Dallas as there are in LA or New York. But people get acting jobs in Dallas. Still, your career will go further if you move to the hot spots like LA. The hotter the spot, the further you can climb, as a general rule. Still, its not a bad strategy to move to Dallas where rent is cheaper while you are going through acting school, learning to act, and getting your first couple years of experience where the competition is maybe not "quite" so fierce. But that doesn't mean there aren't a ton of actors out of work in Dallas, or that you can get a great acting job without any skill.

The important things is your skill level and experience. If you lack that, it will be difficult to find work anywhere. If you've got it, you should shine no matter where you go.

In today's work environment, you can't really afford to take the attitude of "I'm going to be a second rate programmer and so I need to find second rate oppurtunities in second rate places." Instead, you need to be thinking, "How can I make myself a better programmer than the programmer I am today so that companies want to use me?" And you should never stop doing that until your resume goes on top of the stack every time. In programming especially, there's always something new to learn. The things that will make you good at it, and successful, are the fact that you enjoy programming and that you never stop improving your knowledge of it. If you learn new skills constantly, you'll be amazed at yourself in 10 years.

This post has been edited by BBeck: 13 January 2014 - 11:31 AM

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#18 dev9  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 13 January 2014 - 11:45 AM

So is it better for second-rate programmers to be in those hot tech spots or average places? :)

Look I'm not saying people should accept their "fate" as second rate programmers. I'm just saying as the years go by, you're less able to compete with the 25 year old genius who is both willing and able to hack all night, every night, fueled by Coke and pizza.

And as someone who has no experience or information, I was wondering if those hot tech places are filled with such wizards, leaving no room for the mere mortals amongst us to live there.
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#19 no2pencil  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 13 January 2014 - 12:00 PM

View Postdev9, on 13 January 2014 - 01:45 PM, said:

I'm just saying as the years go by, you're less able to compete with the 25 year old genius who is both willing and able to hack all night, every night, fueled by Coke and pizza.

I disagree, I can show progress & growth, experience, & change. A fresh-out-of-college student will be armed to the gills with industry latest-&-greatest. But that does little good for a company that needs help getting to that stage.
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#20 blankwavercade  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 18 January 2014 - 11:13 AM

View Postno2pencil, on 13 January 2014 - 12:00 PM, said:

I disagree, I can show progress & growth, experience, & change. A fresh-out-of-college student will be armed to the gills with industry latest-&-greatest. But that does little good for a company that needs help getting to that stage.

But will you work for a company with no funding? Get paid less then 30k/year and equity or stock options? (thats if the company goes anywhere) Are you willing to work an insane amount of hours to get the product done or a prototype for the founders next tour to get funding? The reality of it is the hot tech cities don't normally get the older more experienced developers at the start, hell sometimes not even in the middle. Most older developers are looking for stable jobs, and rightfully so. Having a family, mortgage, car isn't realistic working for an early stage start up in a hot tech city. All in all someone who isn't fresh out of college who isnt willing to take the risk, get paid little for 80hrs+ a week and able to accept the failure of the company isn't going to bring anything to a start up. The start up culture is a fast and brutal culture. People are asked to leave companies in their first week if they aren't performing to the founders expectations. They may even be asked to leave if they will only work 40hrs a week.
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#21 xclite  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 18 January 2014 - 09:08 PM

View Postdev9, on 13 January 2014 - 01:45 PM, said:

So is it better for second-rate programmers to be in those hot tech spots or average places? :)/>

Look I'm not saying people should accept their "fate" as second rate programmers. I'm just saying as the years go by, you're less able to compete with the 25 year old genius who is both willing and able to hack all night, every night, fueled by Coke and pizza.

And as someone who has no experience or information, I was wondering if those hot tech places are filled with such wizards, leaving no room for the mere mortals amongst us to live there.

The best engineers I've seen don't have to hack all night. They get an unbelievable amount of work done during normal hours, and it's of better quality than the code produced by a pizza consuming "hacker."
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#22 depricated  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 21 January 2014 - 05:46 AM

View PostAtli, on 07 January 2014 - 09:44 PM, said:

Who moves to a new city before nailing down a job there? That's just silly.

Perhaps understandable for people in the movie business, since Hollywood seems to be "the" place for that sort of thing, but good programmers are needed pretty much everywhere.

I was $15 and a pinecone away from moving to Seattle without a job.
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#23 dev9  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 21 January 2014 - 05:55 AM

View Postdepricated, on 21 January 2014 - 05:46 AM, said:

I was $15 and a pinecone away from moving to Seattle without a job.


How was it? A good place for a decent middle aged progammer or a dog-eat-dog warzone for 20+ year old sleepless code wizards ?
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#24 Skydiver  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 21 January 2014 - 07:57 AM

View Postxclite, on 18 January 2014 - 11:08 PM, said:

View Postdev9, on 13 January 2014 - 01:45 PM, said:

So is it better for second-rate programmers to be in those hot tech spots or average places? :)/>/>

Look I'm not saying people should accept their "fate" as second rate programmers. I'm just saying as the years go by, you're less able to compete with the 25 year old genius who is both willing and able to hack all night, every night, fueled by Coke and pizza.

And as someone who has no experience or information, I was wondering if those hot tech places are filled with such wizards, leaving no room for the mere mortals amongst us to live there.

The best engineers I've seen don't have to hack all night. They get an unbelievable amount of work done during normal hours, and it's of better quality than the code produced by a pizza consuming "hacker."


Very true when they are tackling a problem that they have experience with. But when they have to cover brand new territory, I think that you'll find that they will also be burning the midnight oil -- that or they will give estimates for their work that will include the learning curve.
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#25 depricated  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 21 January 2014 - 01:54 PM

View Postdev9, on 21 January 2014 - 05:55 AM, said:

View Postdepricated, on 21 January 2014 - 05:46 AM, said:

I was $15 and a pinecone away from moving to Seattle without a job.


How was it? A good place for a decent middle aged progammer or a dog-eat-dog warzone for 20+ year old sleepless code wizards ?

I held off knowing I'd need more experience to realistically land something at Microsoft or Google out thee. I think being a fledgeling programmer is hard wherever you are, but in areas with large coporate entities it can take the wind right out of your sails.

So...I landed the job I'm at now, which is kind of amazing. I'll be happy if I work here for the rest of my life - but if something happens here it's next-stop Seattle.
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#26 no2pencil  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 21 January 2014 - 01:57 PM

View Postblankwavercade, on 18 January 2014 - 01:13 PM, said:

View Postno2pencil, on 13 January 2014 - 12:00 PM, said:

I disagree, I can show progress & growth, experience, & change. A fresh-out-of-college student will be armed to the gills with industry latest-&-greatest. But that does little good for a company that needs help getting to that stage.

But will you work for a company with no funding? Get paid less then 30k/year and equity or stock options? (thats if the company goes anywhere) Are you willing to work an insane amount of hours to get the product done or a prototype for the founders next tour to get funding? The reality of it is the hot tech cities don't normally get the older more experienced developers at the start, hell sometimes not even in the middle. Most older developers are looking for stable jobs, and rightfully so. Having a family, mortgage, car isn't realistic working for an early stage start up in a hot tech city. All in all someone who isn't fresh out of college who isnt willing to take the risk, get paid little for 80hrs+ a week and able to accept the failure of the company isn't going to bring anything to a start up. The start up culture is a fast and brutal culture. People are asked to leave companies in their first week if they aren't performing to the founders expectations. They may even be asked to leave if they will only work 40hrs a week.

Now, no. My experience awards me the ability to not have to take such risks. When I was in my early 20's? In a heart-beat.
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#27 blankwavercade  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 23 January 2014 - 06:09 PM

That's the general consensus of most experienced developers right now. (experienced as in not in the their 20's). I dont disagree either! I work at a start up. If an opportunity popped up to work in another one I would take it. If it was on the west coast I would put my house up on the market as soon as I got the offer. Im 24 I can move do, live the start up life, work the insane hours. (except tuesday thursdays due to class) and do it all over again the next day. But i fully agree with you. At some point in my life I would love to be settled down where I work 40hrs/wk and get paid well and that's all from gaining experience now.
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#28 xclite  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 24 January 2014 - 08:40 AM

View PostSkydiver, on 21 January 2014 - 09:57 AM, said:

View Postxclite, on 18 January 2014 - 11:08 PM, said:

View Postdev9, on 13 January 2014 - 01:45 PM, said:

So is it better for second-rate programmers to be in those hot tech spots or average places? :)/>/>/>

Look I'm not saying people should accept their "fate" as second rate programmers. I'm just saying as the years go by, you're less able to compete with the 25 year old genius who is both willing and able to hack all night, every night, fueled by Coke and pizza.

And as someone who has no experience or information, I was wondering if those hot tech places are filled with such wizards, leaving no room for the mere mortals amongst us to live there.

The best engineers I've seen don't have to hack all night. They get an unbelievable amount of work done during normal hours, and it's of better quality than the code produced by a pizza consuming "hacker."


Very true when they are tackling a problem that they have experience with. But when they have to cover brand new territory, I think that you'll find that they will also be burning the midnight oil -- that or they will give estimates for their work that will include the learning curve.

No, what I find is that they are capable of getting up to speed quickly at work and deliver the results with minimal delay. The effectiveness of "burning midnight oil" has been proven time and time again to be nonexistant.
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#29 blankwavercade  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 25 January 2014 - 12:51 PM

It normally has nothing to do about burning the midnight oil because the developers didn't achieve what they needed to within 40hrs. It has a lot more to do with getting a product ready to show investors + devoting themselves to the company. A lot of what if questions come up in this. What if this company gets sold for xxxmil/xbil dollars in two years? Unlikely but it does come up. Putting more effort into the product leads to more money for you when the company sells.
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#30 xclite  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 25 January 2014 - 07:13 PM

View Postblankwavercade, on 25 January 2014 - 02:51 PM, said:

It normally has nothing to do about burning the midnight oil because the developers didn't achieve what they needed to within 40hrs. It has a lot more to do with getting a product ready to show investors + devoting themselves to the company. A lot of what if questions come up in this. What if this company gets sold for xxxmil/xbil dollars in two years? Unlikely but it does come up. Putting more effort into the product leads to more money for you when the company sells.

Shifting the reason doesn't change my comment - the awesome engineers I work with aren't awesome due to a willingness to work 24/7. They're awesome because their use of time is way more effective than mine. Their output/hour is insane.

There are clearly times when one needs to stay late - a bug is broken and you're oncall, you just can't quite figure something out, etc. But nobody I work with who is driving our innovation forward is a late-nighter.

This post has been edited by xclite: 25 January 2014 - 07:14 PM

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