- Chad Fowler
A depressing book. A very depressing book.
If only I had read this book 20 years ago when I was first starting my ‘career’ as a developer. Things would have definitely been different. This book is a must read for anyone contemplating a career as a developer or, like me, someone who has been in the industry for a while.
The two main points that I picked up from the book are:
- Anyone who develops software for a living should try to learn a new programming language each year. Of course you aren’t going to become a guru overnight but you should have an understanding of it’s strength and weaknesses.
- You should have a mentor, someone who knows more about the development language that you work with than you.
Currently I have failed miserably on both counts.
When I left Polytechnic, with my diploma, no one would give me a job because I didn’t have any experience as a programmer. I had learnt Cobol and Pascal inside out but that just didn’t cut it in the business world. I had a couple of dead-end jobs before I found a job as a Cobol programmer. Being in the company for 8 years meant that I effectively learnt everything about the language after the first 3 years. The rest of the time was just a puzzle solving exercise really. Come to think of it I only ever wrote data extracts and reports, how did I last for so long? Towards the end of that job I bought a Dell laptop and tried to learn Microshites® Visual Basic and Access, both of which I didn’t like at all. The only mentor that I had was the part-time programmer that I replaced.
The only way out was to find a company that would train me to develop using another language. That was 4GL, which I think was a dying language then. 4GL, again only took a couple of years to master, has since become a test of patience to develop with.
I am finally learning a language that I like, i.e. doesn’t require a PeeCee and £500 worth of Visual Studio to develop with, that is Ruby and Ruby on Rails. Only time will tell if this opens any new doors for me when I’ve become proficient.