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debate on computer programming careers

Why a career in computer programming sucks, and a rebuttal.

In a followup posting of Half Sigma's, someone wrote a response that resonated with me, especially the part about a lack of people with a middle-ground attitude towards the profession.



Nov. 29th, 2007 10:40 am (UTC)
I think the problem of deciding what is the right continuing education is a universal one. Good managers could guide their employees to what is most useful for them. In my managerial days, I found that I more often needed to guide my staff towards improving their communications skills, despite their inclination to focus on their technical skills.

I'll argue tat the boss not understanding the issue or not believing the programmer is a matter of a bad manager, not a manager who is not a programmer. One of the fundamentals of management is listening to what your folks tell you. And, yes, I know this is a frequent problem. I'd guess that less than 20% of bosses are anywhere near competent at this.

By the way, it gets even more complicated in environments where you have multiple bosses. The person who handles things like my time sheet and my performance reports and so on has very little to do with what I do day to day. My customer is my "real" boss. Now, he does fill out a "report card" annually, but that is designed to review the company, not me personally. Since I'm the only person from my company who works there regularly, however, it amounts to the same thing. Fortunately, my corporate boss cares mostly about how well I'm keping my customer happy, but that isn't a given.

As for finding what suits one well, I agree it's hard to tell. My best take on it is to think about what aspects of the job you do or don't like. Every job has a certain amount of pain in the ass routine and that sort of routine has to be something you can at least tolerate. Reviewing pages of budget documents is not my favorite chore, but it has to get done and I can take some satisfaction in finding something buried deep within that we need to respond to.

My impression is that most of the people I know who are unhappy at work are unhappy because of people issues, not because of the actual nature of their work. I can think of exceptions, though. I have a colleague who has an M.D. and went back to school to study engineering because he felt, during his residency, that most of what doctors do is not really helpful to their patients. I briefly dated a guy who, a year after law school, felt he was continually being asked to do sleazy things and was contemplating a change.

And, frankly, a lot of people are willing to sacrifice career satisfaction for money, but that's another subject.

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