Languages and Books
kimball at kimballlarsen.com
Fri Jul 22 13:41:16 MDT 2005
On Jul 22, 2005, at 12:16 PM, Mister E wrote:
> However, Josh does have some good advice if you want to climb the
> corporate IT ladder.
Let me pop in here real quick to relate something - I found that I
was not one who wanted to climb any corporate anything.
I graduated from BYU with a BS in CS a few years back, and
immediately found a job at a huge (>50K employees) corporation. My
official title at the time of hiring was "Senior Systems Analyst",
and I found that I was superior in many ways to many of the other IT
staff with whom I worked, as most of them had taken (or were still
taking) the "I'll work on a degree at night for the next few years
and eventually get it" track. Most of them were Visual Basic
programmers, and struggled severely with the changing environment
moving to webservices and a java-centric approach to solving problems
(this was the trend at this particular corporation, not necessarily
Anyone here ever heard of the Peter Principle? In short, it states
that w/in any corporation, an employee will be promoted to the
highest level of his/her incompetence. What does this mean? Well,
I'll illustrate by relating what happened to me.
Since I was able to keep up with the changing face and needs of the
organization, and in fact suggest direction for the technology used,
and wind up implementing many major pieces of tools that are still in
use, I was viewed by the PHBs (Pointy Haired Bosses) as someone who
needed a promotion. I was doing a great job as a programmer, and I
was happy doing it, as that is why I busted my hiney in school to get
the degree. So, the promotion came, and within a few months of
starting there, I found myself as a team lead directing the daily
work of 3 other programmers, as well as handling my own work. This
was ok with me, as I felt all important that I had gotten a
promotion, but I quickly noticed that instead of spending the
majority of my time designing software, I was spending an increasing
amount of my time on planes or the phone. :-( Programmer Morale --.
Then, the organization shook up a bit more, and I got promoted again
to an "Information Systems and Technology Manager". I had become a
PHB myself, and had all but stopped engineering completely. During a
typical 8 hour day, I would spend 6+ hours on the phone talking to
other PHBs who were not qualified to be in the positions where they
were, as they had been promoted out of where they were really
effective as I had been as well. Programmer Morale --.
When the suck-o-meter got pegged at 10, I decided it was time to move
on. I had only been with this corporation for about 20 months or so,
and I had intended to stay with my first "real job" for at least a
few years so as to bulk up my resume, but I couldn't handle it
anymore. I dreaded waking up in the morning, as it meant I had to go
So, I brushed up my resume, put out a few feelers, and w/in 3 days
had offers for interviews. W/in 3 weeks I was hired and working at
my current job, which I love. My current company consists of 6
employees, and as the lead engineer, I am able to make or break the
company success with the technology solutions I employ. I get to set
my own schedule, make all IT related decisions, and have a whole lot
Now, why do I relate all this?
W/out my degree, I would not have had the freedom to just drop my old
job and get a new one so quickly. Many of the aforementioned IT
staff at my old job wanted desperately to leave, but could not
because they a) had no degree and b) had little or no other
experience and c) could only solve problems with Visual Basic.
So, broaden your horizons, but do so not by focusing on a particular
language, but rather on the basic paradigms that have and will always
exist w/in software engineering. The best way to find and learn
these paradigms (as has been mentioned in previous posts) is to suck
it up and go to a good school to get a CS degree.
There. I said my piece.
> I've heard of Josh prior to moving to Utah Valley and I know he's
> seen some of what I've seen, so I don't totally dismiss his
> evaluations. But I do think each individual should look at their
> path and where they want to go in order to make that educational
> path decision. Basically, hit a higher end school fer technology
> if you wish to persue mostly the corporate scene. Otherwise, if
> you wish to remain independent, then either path is fine, BUT never
> drop the self education (whether reading a book or taking a class
> here and there) despite your formal education choice.
> hope that helps a bit,
> Mister Ed
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