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Employed as a programmer - please read

 
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Hi All:
I have been studying and preparing for a career in programming for many years. Over the last four years I have updated my skills learning web development, Oracle and Java. I am about a week away from attaining my third cert in Java, the SCBCD. I have put my heart and soul into developing myself into the best programmer I can be but have yet to be employed as one.
I enjoy studying programming and the idea of doing it for a living. I have this fear that what I enjoy about programming may become a chore in a work environment. My question is, for those employed in programming, what is it like to work as a programmer? What are the plusses? What are the minuses? Is it as rewarding as I think it will be?
I understand that this may not be the right forum for this thread. If so, I have no problem if it is moved to a more appropriate one.
Thanks for your input.
 
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plus
---
- pay well for now until all the companies outsource all jobs overseas
minus
-----
- non human interaction.
- sit in tiny cubicle.
A job is just a job. Do you have bill to pay?
 
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Keith,
I'm going to move this thread in the Jobs Discussion forum. Please continue this discussion there. Thank you
 
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Is it as rewarding as I think it will be?


Nope.
 
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Originally posted by Keith Rosenfield:
My question is, for those employed in programming, what is it like to work as a programmer?


Sheer terror and loads of stress interspersed with periods of utter boredom (sometimes all 3 at once).
Overall it's fun if you're on an interesting challenging project, but can be bad if the work is repetitive or otherwise uninteresting.
If you're in a good company (meaning one where programmers are valued as more than living typewriters implementing the holy writ of the design docs created by others) you can make something of it.


What are the plusses?


Decent pay, often fun work, no hard physical labour (unless it's the periodic project moves when everyone is lugging his computers and cabinets to another room).


What are the minuses?


Occasional long stressfull hours (especially near deadlines), occasional boring or frustrating work, and right now an unsecure jobmarket (though that's getting better).
Lots of study to stay up to date which you may or may not be able to do in part on company time (study can be a good thing or bad depending on your preferences, I think it's a bit of both as it is interesting but takes away from time off).


Is it as rewarding as I think it will be?


Depends greatly on what work you'll be doing.
Seeing a product you had a major part in go life at a customer site and working to spec is hugely rewarding to me.
Seeing a project fail because of outside influences you could not control is extremely frustrating.
 
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Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:

Decent pay, often fun work, no hard physical labour (unless it's the periodic project moves when everyone is lugging his computers and cabinets to another room).


Here in the US, in some cases, there are strict union rules on this. The client that I currently work at, I am not allowed to move my computer, cabinets, boxes myself. These are union jobs. I cannot even unplug/plug-in my computer or monitor myself. If I did then sparks would fly.
 
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Kieth,
I'm surprised that you don't have a job with those credentials. Let me ask you a few questions:
Are you sending your resume to Java shops?
Is your resume clean and professional?
Are you clean and professional?
Have you ever had an interview?
Do you feel you can talk to other people and project confidence?
Are you confident in your skills?
Focusing on some of these points may increase your success rate. If you want to get some real world experience, try volunteering for a position at a company that works with Java. It'll be free (i.e. no $ coming in), but you'll gain some experience and hopefully increase your chances of gainful employment.
To answer your questions, I guess it depends on how passionate you are for programming. A job is what you make it. If you like to solve problems, and you don't mind dealing with lots of people who are suffering from various problems that programs can help them with, then it's quite rewarding. If you want to specialize on one type of coding and sit in a cube all day programming the same thing day in and day out, I'd think that you would start to grow listless. I know I would.
Anyways, good luck in your career search.
Cheers,
Jason
 
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Pluses
------
- On a good project, lots of interesting problems to solve, opportunities to learn about new technologies.
- good pay
Minuses
-------
- pay and career prospects no longer good due reduced demand (bad economy, increasing outsourcing)
- every project is a rush job, not ideal but a fact of life
- lack of appreciation by most people for your skills, hardly anyone thinks that IT (let alone programming) is sexy
Prospects
---------
Not as good as the old days as outsourcing means that big employers have cut back staffing. But programmimg is still a job that's a cut above most of the rest: much of it involves problem-solving and learning new things, most jobs are just repetitive. Now, I admit that I'm feeling bullish because I've had a good project for the past year, but I may get stuck in an awful job in two months from now. Come to think of it, that's another minus ...
 
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Originally posted by Sadanand Murthy:

Here in the US, in some cases, there are strict union rules on this. The client that I currently work at, I am not allowed to move my computer, cabinets, boxes myself. These are union jobs. I cannot even unplug/plug-in my computer or monitor myself. If I did then sparks would fly.


You must be working for one of the big three...
 
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I worked as a developer for many years. Now I manage them.
The key to any job, in any field, is your co-workers. Always work with smart, fun people. Even the most exciting technology gets old after a while. Conversely, even a mundane technology can be fun to work with--if your co-workers make it enjoyable. Besides, you will learn ore from working iwth smart people than from any books, classes, or training.
What I like about software is interesting design challenges and watching my creation come to life. What I don't enjoy is the repetitiveness. years ago, everyone would write their own loggin systems. JDK 1.4 finally had one built in (and even before you could get third party tools), but there was a lot of duplication of effort. I wrote some code to remember user preferences by storing them in a property file. I've written it 3 times on 3 different projects. I hate that.
Also, don't get wrapped up in the technology. It changes. Focus on the solution, not the technology.
I created a new thread which summaries why I've moved out of development and into management over here.
--Mark
 
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That's excellent advice from Mark. Its all about the atmosphere and how excited you are about your work and its importance to a larger goal (matters to some I guess).
But in the end, a career path is best enjoyed if you actually enjoy doing what you do. If playing with electronics is your thing, even installing car audio at circuit city might seem worth getting up every morning for.
To the original poster, remember: you are only one break away from everything you've wanted for 4 years. Just keep at it, its no point turning away after coming all this way!!
 
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What are the good points of being a programmer?
Ok let me illustrate using a few of my friends jobs as examples:
a) a teacher. deals with screaming abusive kids all day. mountains of paperwork. abusive parents. goverment bureacracry.
b) a project assistant in a gas pipeline company. answering the phone. typing up documents. filing. printing out documents to be scanned in (seriously!).
c) a doctor. works 60+ hour week. mega high stress. violent patients. unfriendly nurses. no sleep. no life.
d) a police officer. dealing with human scum. shift work. dangerous.
e) call centre advisor. brain numbing hell. soaking up abuse. shift work.
Ok now imagine my job.
- I go to work. I do something I WOULD DO AS A HOBBY if it wasn't my job. My definition of a bad day? "Oh no! my java class won't compile". Oh no, what an awful stressful situation. Seriously, I think if you like programming then doing what you like is great. However, you do have to have good colleagues and challenging work.
john
 
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Originally posted by Jamin Williams:

You must be working for one of the big three...


Actually, I thought this was common practice for major corporations. At the bank I worked at, we had the exact same situation. One time we ordered one of those plastic things you hang on a cubicle and put files and folders in. I had a screwdriver handy and was going to put it together myself. My boss saw me preparing to put it together and told me to stop. He said we had to place an order with facilities maintance to put it together. I think it wound up costing us something like $40 dollars from our budget to put together 2 of those plastic door hanging things. Each one had a grand total of 4 screws.
Jon
 
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Hi Keith,
I am used to work as programmer, elevated myself to safer harbor for three quarters already.
I would said any profession have its own quirk, you have to be a natural in the specific field to enjoy what's you doing day-in and day-out. How do you know you are natural? When everyone else take hours to solve a specific problem, you need only needed minutes. Your has to be better than the rest; otherwise, you are just jump on gun.

Hi John,
What you experience is same amount of work with less bodies to counted for. It is typical across spectrum of companies in the US since 9-11.
Regards,
MCao
 
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"- I go to work. I do something I WOULD DO AS A HOBBY if it wasn't my job. My definition of a bad day? "Oh no! my java class won't compile". Oh no, what an awful stressful situation. "--john
This is funny. I can relate .
 
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Originally posted by Matt Cao:

When everyone else take hours to solve a specific problem, you need only needed minutes.


How many employers/managers out there really care about this? Please name a few. I will sure send my resume to them
Thanks!
 
Rufus BugleWeed
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How many employers/managers out there really care about this? Please name a few. I will sure send my resume to them.


Do you feel like your employer/manager/colleague is more interested in someone who will entertain them all week? That turning out a quality product at a low cost is just a big hassle they would rather not endure?
 
Matt Cao
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Hi J. Yan,
On top of my head Dell, HP, Mercury Computer, Ceradyne
Regards,
MCao
 
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Keith,
Being a programmer I enjoy creating new applications from the ground up. Attending the steering committee meetings, requirments gathering, use case design, spec design, coding, testing, user acceptance testing. When you get on the job all of the stuff you learned in school you use. For me it keeps things interesting being able to apply the things I learned in school to my job. If you enjoy it in college you should enjoy it when you get out. If there is somthing you may not enjoy about the job is would be maintenence and testing on an application that I did not write. I hate that but it is part of the job. There is nothing like getting paid for something you enjoyed doing for free.
Workplace politics are the low point of every job. You may be passed over for a project for a lot of reasons that do not pertain to ability. You could be the best person for the project but someone else gets it because they are good friends with the department head.
 
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