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Re: OT: Computer Science for (a couple steps up from) Dummies

by sundialsvc4 (Abbot)
on May 29, 2019 at 00:15 UTC ( #11100678=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to OT: Computer Science for (a couple steps up from) Dummies

Sorry, I could not resist coming back from the dead for this.   (Down-votes, please.   Thank you.   Who cares.   I don’t.)

When you are looking for a new job, the most important thing to know is “what is it about ‘what you know’ that an employer actually cares about?”   Is it that you know how to code a Shell sort from scratch?   No.   Is it that you have a spectacular command of the <<Perl>> programming language?   No!

The key skill that is sought from any experienced software professional is the ability to comprehend a business requirement, in the context of an existing system regardless of what languages(!) that system may be implemented in (and, quite frankly, how f*ckin’ hideous it is ... yeah, they all are) and to develop a trustworthy solution to that business conundrum.   Then, to implement that solution and/or to lead a team to do so ... and to fulfill most of the promises that you made along the way.

Many people short-change themselves:   “I’m a web programmer.”   “I’m a mobile application (or even Android ... iOS ...) developer.”   I’m a Perl programmer.   Declining to apply for a position merely because it refers to a language that you don’t know much about or can’t stand.   (I just finished a make-over that involved nearly 6,000 PHP-4(!) files.   Ick.   But it now works splendidly, for the first time in forever, and oh-yeah does about $5 million a month.)   Fact is, software skills are extremely abstract.   The difference between one language and another is the difference between one tool of the trade and another, because that is simply what they are tools.   What matters is ... the trade, itself.   And that is the thing that takes a lifetime to learn, just like any other trade.

I have spent most of my career as a consultant, not an employee dealing with real-world legacy systems, which without exception have been:   “an unbelievable mess ... which actually works.”   (I never flinched when I encountered ColdFusion for the first and, I hope, the last time in my life ... but ... I never flinched.   That was God help them the technology that was in place, and I had a job to do.)   Employers look for people with the experience to wade into such situations and come out with solutions.   They are hard to find.   Perl, et al, is merely your wrench ... “and aye, a very good wrench it is.”   But it is not your only wrench.   Yes, if you were confronted with ColdFusion (and I am not wishing any such fate upon you ...), you could find a way to leverage your experience even there.   The technology changes the task does not.

You already have these skills in spades.   The only task is how to correctly sell it.   Don’t sell yourself short.   Don’t sell against the newbies.   You have a “value proposition” that very few other people have.   Know what it is.   It really has nothing much to do with the technology de jour.   It has everything to do with the multi-million dollar business situations that will be splendidly addressed by the software that you do (and/or lead).

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