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#1 99zardoz  Icon User is offline

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Career advice for SQL Server/C# generalist

Posted 09 July 2017 - 04:21 AM

I guess I am asking for general career advice..thoughts/ideas welcome

I have been a developer for 20 years now. Started in IBM mainframe, then managed to get into Oracle and old "classic ASP" style web development. However, I hated the company so I took a job doing VB6 and SQL Server development at my current company where I have been for 12 years. I have managed to do quite a bit of C# development, both ASP.Net MVC and Winforms. I also get quite deeply involved with SQL Server, doing some DBA tasks such as backups,troubleshooting, query tuning etc. Sadly I also still have to spend time support/maintaining VB6 apps, and also a fair but of 3rd line app support which is more about how apps should be used in general. Its a mixed bag and I can have a period of interesting C# work, and then a period of business focussed support where I am not
really learning anything new technically. I have developed good relationships around this business, although there are some really poor
managers and customers who cannot do their job and use IT as a whipping boy to hide their incompetence.

I guess I have stuck in my current job for so long as it suits my personal circumstances. Time with my family is more important
than anything but I do have periods where I think I should move to somewhere I can learn more and develop more marketable skills
on the job instead of in my own time.

I have a short commute, good benefits and salary and can take my son to school and still get to work on time, all of which is important to me.

However, I am worried that I am not strong enough in modern technologies and have been doing a number of online courses to boost my confidence in C# Development and SQL Server admin.

I will try and ask specific questions rather than just a general gripe about my career going nowhere so:

1) Do I need to specialise more? Should I forget the C# and focus more on SQL Server DBA, or the other way around? I enjoy both
although maybe the SQL Server a shade more, but there isn't much in it. I think there are more C# jobs around, but C#. development is a very wide field...so many sub-areas as so much to learn.

2) Should I move jobs? I guess its a tradeoff between the good working conditions/benefits/work life balance and low career development in my current job, or the possibility of a better career in a new job..but if I make a bad choice it could be "out of the frying pan...into the fire".

Any new perspectives or thoughts welcome..

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Replies To: Career advice for SQL Server/C# generalist

#2 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Career advice for SQL Server/C# generalist

Posted 09 July 2017 - 08:24 AM

> However, I am worried that I am not strong enough in modern technologies and have been doing a number of online courses to boost my confidence in C#

I won't disagree that by your description it sounds like you're years out of date.
"General C#" - Any student right out of school can say that. General C# doesn't get you anyplace these days - that's 20% of a total application. Can you architect a XAML/MVVM application (WPF or Xamarin) from start to end? Frankly if you can't make good UI these days you're kinda screwed these days. That's what the people looking at you have to look at. You can show an app that is horrible under the hood, but if the UI is slick smooth and fast they are impressed and go "oh" "ah".

First pick what you want to do... Then learn what the requirements for that are. If you want to make Macintosh games is a much different skillset than Medical Database work.

> Sadly I also still have to spend time support/maintaining VB6 apps
Every day you do that, is a day you stay in 1985.

If you are going to stick to jobs that fit your current skillset that's cool. You have years in doing and are the big fish in the little pool. NOT spending 5,000 hours learning modern techniques means you have more time with your son.

If you are going to modernize your skillset then freaking leapfrog into the 21st century all the way. $3 BILLION in mobile apps last year. The world lives on-line and on their devices - nobody lives on their desktop PC anymore, except business folks. So if you want to make business software for Windows then you're looking at WPF. If you're looking at mobile decide apps look at Xamarin.
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#3 andrewsw  Icon User is offline

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Re: Career advice for SQL Server/C# generalist

Posted 10 July 2017 - 12:24 AM

If you have a good relationship with your employer have you spoken to them? I mean in a positive way, about your enthusiasm and willingness to learn, etc.. Maybe they will encourage you and perhaps sponsor you for a significant course and certification.

Of course, it remains your decision as to how, and whether, you approach them.

Quote

..or the possibility of a better career in a new job..but if I make a bad choice it could be "out of the frying pan...into the fire".

You can never know this 100%, but you can significantly reduce the chances of a bad choice with due diligence. You'll have your own impression when you meet people and walk around the office, read the employment terms, do some investigating, speak to people. (There will always remain a possibility that the shoes just won't fit, or that the person sitting behind you is an ogre!?)
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#4 99zardoz  Icon User is offline

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Re: Career advice for SQL Server/C# generalist

Posted 10 July 2017 - 12:56 PM

Thanks to your both for your replies. I think my interests are probably best served staying with my current employer but seeking to develop my skills as much as possible. A big new project is coming up and hopefully I will be involved in it, and it is likely to be .NET. I am well thought of in general and get good performance reviews so I hope I can get on board with anything involving newer tech.

I have managed to avoid having to write much VB6 code for a while, although even having to look at it is bad for my "mojo" if I want to call myself a modern software developer, I know.

If I got into mobile apps, it wouldn't really be relevant to my current work although I can see that it is an interesting and definitely
a growing field.

WPF is definitely something I should increase my knowledge of and is an area I intend to explore after I finish my current online study of Entity Framework. I have done quite a bit of .NET Winforms, but that is "old hat" now I know.

I have 20 years of working left at least and I can't assume that I will always have a safe job at my current employer so I need to keep my skills current for if and when I end up back in the market.

Thanks again. Any other thoughts are welcome. Its good to get some outside opinions and ideas on this.
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