Why you won't make it as a Software Developer

...or will you?

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38 Replies - 1919 Views - Last Post: 02 November 2007 - 02:45 AM

#1 Programmist  Icon User is offline

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Why you won't make it as a Software Developer

Posted 24 October 2007 - 03:37 AM

A member of my team was let go yesterday. He was a college grad and had been there just over a year. The reason? After a year he still was still a "junior developer." I was hired after him and he would often come to me for help on things that he ought to have known. I didn't mind helping him. In fact, I didn't know he was having that much trouble because I was busy with my own work. Looking back, I can see now what his main problem was. He hadn't yet learned how to help (to think for) himself; to be a problem solver. Too many people had just given him the answers when he asked for help, rather than point him in the right direction and letting him work it out for himself. We may think we're helping others when we give them what they ask for, but the truth is, if they never go through the problem-solving steps and experience the, sometimes-agonizing and hair-pulling, steps of figuring something out, then they will likely never make it as a software developer. Learning to solve problems by yourself is one of the most important requirements of being a developer. And it takes practice. I don't give a rat's a$$ if you are an XYZ++ expert with multiple certifications and mug that says "World's Greatest Coder." Unless you can do the job with minimal intervention (or learn to) then you are useless to many employers. Teamwork is great to a certain extent and, yes, there is expected to be a learning curve when you start anywhere. But if your team members are carrying your dead weight for too long, you'll eventually get dropped. This is what I'm constantly harping on about in the Java forum. I know people probably think I'm an a$$ or some grumpy old bastard. But the truth is, the reason I say the things I say is because...

1. I don't like seeing people get fired
2. The world does not need mediocre software developers

And I'm not old. :)

I liked my former coworker. He was a nice guy and I was sorry to see him go. I've been on that end of the stick (dot-bomb mass lay-offs of 2001 anyone?) and I know it sucks. If I didn't give a crap, I wouldn't bother griping and I might just hand out answers or just not bother. But I'm speaking from years of experience when I tell you that the people who make it are the ones who have learned to help themselves. I know you are proud of your "mad skillz." And I'm sure we're all very impressed that you can quickly solve someone's homework problems. But you are not helping them. What you're helping to do is create another expendable code monkey who may soon find any job they manage to land exported to Derkaderkastan.

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#2 1lacca  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why you won't make it as a Software Developer

Posted 24 October 2007 - 04:03 AM

Second!
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#3 maggie_noodles  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why you won't make it as a Software Developer

Posted 24 October 2007 - 04:05 AM

I too have a co-worker who has been here a month earlier than I did. He still isn't fired yet but the recent improvements proves his worth. I have been given a raise and he hasn't. That's with the same reason you've been in though am not a software developer, the same situation applies.

I've been fired before so yes, it kinda hurts to see someone accepting the same fate.
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#4 Realm Keeper  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why you won't make it as a Software Developer

Posted 24 October 2007 - 04:52 AM

yeah, im at university... and you can see those people comin thru...
they come to me because i am now 'recognised' as bein able to solve any problem at least basically in my head on the spot.
you get those who, like i once did, prefer to learn from code being given to them and then analysing it to figure what does what and be able to us eparts of it for different solutions, and you get those who want the code to never have to look at again, problem solved.
I f they ask me for code, i think to myself whether they will read it or use it, and based on that give them a guiding push, or let them see how i would do it.
For example, in a recent assignment one guy would read snippets of my code, use them, and then wonder why they did not work 'as is' with his sections of code involving HIS variable names and such. another fella would read my snippets, interrogate me on what almost every line did, and go away and try to ignore how i did things and use the ideas to form his own code.

Anyway, what i am saying is that yeah, good and sh!te coders can be seen from very early on, from a guidance perspective...
then again, some people are naturally suited to problem solving and thinkn in another 'language' besides maths or english, and others cannot comprehend a new, illegible form of doin tasks
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#5 aceofspades686  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why you won't make it as a Software Developer

Posted 24 October 2007 - 05:04 AM

View PostRealm Keeper, on 24 Oct, 2007 - 07:52 AM, said:

yeah, im at university... and you can see those people comin thru...
they come to me because i am now 'recognised' as bein able to solve any problem at least basically in my head on the spot.
you get those who, like i once did, prefer to learn from code being given to them and then analysing it to figure what does what and be able to us eparts of it for different solutions, and you get those who want the code to never have to look at again, problem solved.
I f they ask me for code, i think to myself whether they will read it or use it, and based on that give them a guiding push, or let them see how i would do it.
For example, in a recent assignment one guy would read snippets of my code, use them, and then wonder why they did not work 'as is' with his sections of code involving HIS variable names and such. another fella would read my snippets, interrogate me on what almost every line did, and go away and try to ignore how i did things and use the ideas to form his own code.

Anyway, what i am saying is that yeah, good and sh!te coders can be seen from very early on, from a guidance perspective...
then again, some people are naturally suited to problem solving and thinkn in another 'language' besides maths or english, and others cannot comprehend a new, illegible form of doin tasks


I second this, it's much the same way for me in school right now.

My biggest pet peeve is when these people like the first person you mentioned, will try to pay me to do their work for them. That's when I stop and ask myself why they're in a programming curriculum if they don't intend to learn how to program. Those types of people I tend to dismiss with a "guiding push" as you put it, and if they ask me how I would do it I simply say, "Honestly, if I showed you, it would confuse you more." It may seem slightly arrogant, but usually not far from the truth, as typically the assignments they're doing I would probably create a class to repeat it in one step multiple times rather than code it "behind" the form (this is primarily first semester programmers I refer to who haven't been introduced to OOP, let alone understand how its used).

This post has been edited by aceofspades686: 24 October 2007 - 05:05 AM

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#6 Amadeus  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why you won't make it as a Software Developer

Posted 24 October 2007 - 05:13 AM

Ooohhh...eerie parallels! :)

http://www.dreaminco...p;showentry=509
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#7 Programmist  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why you won't make it as a Software Developer

Posted 24 October 2007 - 07:52 AM

View PostAmadeus, on 24 Oct, 2007 - 05:13 AM, said:

Ooohhh...eerie parallels! :)

http://www.dreaminco...p;showentry=509


What's even erier is that I actually wrote that yesterday and the guy was let go on Monday...the 22...when his blog entry was written - possibly the very same hour. Everybody say "oooooooh." ;)

Seriously though - he does have some good points. I may have to read through the responses to his blog entry and join the conversation because I've wrestled with this dilemma for quite some time now. One the one hand, I want to help (actually help, not spoon feed), but on the other hand I don't want to mess with Chris' income stream.

edit: My last comment wasn't very clear. I basically meant that I want to help, but if DIC went to a strict, "no giving out solutions" approach, we might lose traffic (and therefore ad income) from people looking for easy answers. That's all I was saying.

This post has been edited by Programmist: 24 October 2007 - 09:35 AM

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#8 Amadeus  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why you won't make it as a Software Developer

Posted 24 October 2007 - 09:45 AM

I do agree with some of the points both you and Martyr2 have made. that is precisely the reason that I always begin by asking the user questions in a thread, so that they learn to think and problem solve for themselves. Of course, that can sometimes be thwarted by the poster after me providing the code.

I've been programming a long time. I could easily provide working source code for the questions asked on the site, but specifically choose not to. I want the user to get there with guidance. I'll help them tweak their code, even help them get started, but generally do not provide full source without effort.

It's hard to control what others do on the site, however, nor do I have any desire to do so. I do what I think is best, but that's not what everyone thinks is best.

Like Martyr2, you have some great arguments.
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#9 skyhawk133  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why you won't make it as a Software Developer

Posted 24 October 2007 - 09:54 AM

Quote

I've been programming a long time. I could easily provide working source code for the questions asked on the site, but specifically choose not to. I want the user to get there with guidance. I'll help them tweak their code, even help them get started, but generally do not provide full source without effort.

It's hard to control what others do on the site, however, nor do I have any desire to do so. I do what I think is best, but that's not what everyone thinks is best.


This is my vision for the site, a little push in the right direction, but not giving out working programs as it teaches nothing.

I'm pretty quick to let new members who hand out code know it's against the rules.

How you approach the "don't give them the solution" rule is entirely up to you though, if you want to link to articles, or just pseudo code, they are all helpful... it's really up to the OP at that point to put that information to good use.

They say the difference between programmers, and senior programmers is being resourceful.
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#10 Amadeus  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why you won't make it as a Software Developer

Posted 24 October 2007 - 09:56 AM

Who says that? ;)
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#11 skyhawk133  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why you won't make it as a Software Developer

Posted 24 October 2007 - 09:57 AM

I think I read it on Joel Spolsky's blog.
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#12 Amadeus  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why you won't make it as a Software Developer

Posted 24 October 2007 - 10:00 AM

Nuts...I was expecting a 'your momma' type of comment.
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#13 1lacca  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why you won't make it as a Software Developer

Posted 24 October 2007 - 10:20 AM

Yeah, my momma always tells me this :)
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#14 supersloth  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why you won't make it as a Software Developer

Posted 24 October 2007 - 10:39 AM

i was really expecting chris to talk about the member of our team at work (non-dic work) who still can't figure out for loops or if statements a year and a half after being hired. suddenly i am disappointed.
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#15 Programmist  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why you won't make it as a Software Developer

Posted 24 October 2007 - 11:32 AM

I'm certainly not looking to control anyone. However, I would like to persuade those that give it up to easily to give the requester a chance to try before handing out an answer. It's not always new posters who do this either. I've seen people with more posts that me (I'm a quality over quantity kind of guy ;)) do doing it. In fact, it happened just a couple of days ago and I commented in that post (though I can't remember which one it was at the moment). The OP said, "I don't think I could have figured that out." or something to that effect, which to me signified a big failure. If someone gets help and still has no idea how they would have gotten there on their own then they learned nothing. Well, actually, they did learn something. They learned to ask for help before trying too hard. Not everyone agrees with my approach. It seems harsh and is more time consuming. Heck, I barely have time for sleep these days, so I understand the time crunch. But I'd rather give no answer (or a reference) than a bad answer. That's just my opinion, obviously. I'm not certified teacher or anything. Who knows. Maybe I'd suck as a teacher. :)

BTW, Amadeus...Yo mamma. ;)

This post has been edited by Programmist: 24 October 2007 - 11:34 AM

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