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Try if you like but, you can’t escape the inevitable developer rites of passage
The mistakes and learning are all part of the game
“Okay, you have written your first program. Everything from now on is copy and paste.” Professor Tomlinson said this to our Intro Computer Science class.
Years later I still think about that statement. In part it was said in jest but also too timeless.
Developers are like any other occupation. They have their rites of passage. From minor to major you will encounter the following.
Working at the local pizza joint doesn’t prepare you for your first job. There is a lot more at stake. For starters, you are paid more. Unless your pizza joint pays really well!
The expectations are different as well. You are expected to be able to do more. There is a different learning curve.
My first job as a developer opened my eyes. I learned some good things and bad. There were many challenges.
I thought I was well prepared. I thought I had tested the application. Well, that was my assumption.
Then splat like a bug hitting a windshield. All of those thoughts changed. Reality can be hard on us!
Did you know that organizations run well until someone messes up PAYROLL? I learned that one. Loud and clear.
I didn’t test payroll adequately. My testing lessons could fill a book. That one was my first time getting burned on that.
First All Nighter
Thursday afternoon my manager gathers the team together. “We need to stand up a new service for TPS.”
I look around at our team. Then respond, “Okay that shouldn’t be too hard. The last time it took us about three weeks.”
My manager looks at us and smiles. “They need it done by Monday.”
We were able to work through the night. Then most of the weekend. We met the deadline.
We also learned a lot. Rushing something into production can lead to many mistakes. Doing it with little to no sleep makes it even worse.
First Production Outage
When you are responsible for keeping the production system up, nothing can strike more fear than, “Production is down.”
You will wake up at night in a cold sweat hearing that phrase. It makes you go to great lengths to never hear it again.
Nothing motivates a developer to test things like it. For me, it came from a database mishap. I dropped a database table in production.
Wow! I never knew I could recreate a table from backup so fast! That one still stings years later.
When a project is late someone always offers, “We could add more developers.” Then I cringe. They are ignorant of Brook's Law.
Fred Brooks stated, “Adding human resources to a late software project makes it later”. It seems perpetually tested.
Intuitively we think adding more people should increase the speed. The missing consideration is communication. Fred points out the communication overhead.
Professors are Wrong
Did you just start this with a quote from your professor? Yes, I did. Unlike a well-written episode of Seinfeld, I didn’t plan it this way.
Your college professors mean well. However, they can say some things that don’t happen in the tech world.
For instance, “You will need to comment on your code extensively.” That hardly ever happens. As Robert “Uncle Bob” Martin says in Clean Code, “Explain yourself in the code.”
Be careful who you listen to. That includes me. Make sure to consider the source. Does this person know what they are talking about?
In summary, developers have career rites of passage too. From your first developer job, you will learn a great bit.
Then you get to deploy to production. If it doesn’t go wonderful you can take notes and learn.
There will be extended hours at times and production outages. Sometimes these go together.
All in all, it is a rewarding career path. The learning never stops. Enjoy each up and down.