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Java career growth held back by idiosyncratic shop

 
Dan Bradford
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I'm a very senior IBM Mainframe programmer/project lead (25+ years) that has had the opportunity over the past two years to learn webdev: Java/Spring MVC and, of course, the client side stuff (JavaScript, CSS, XHTML). I love the webdev paradigm, but due to a weird environment (a terribly "enhanced" mutation of an old version of Eclipse; a custom web/app server that is configured by files in a proprietary language) and political stuff (the Mainframe group was expected to fail in taking workload off the offshore, front end teams, but we succeeded spectacularly, and now there's a political firestorm that our department is likely to lose -- so the opportunity I've had may go away; worse: we get no assistance -- sometimes sabotage -- in learning and developing our skill set).

So, I am wondering, with only two years of webdev under my belt, am I marketable out in the rest of the world? If so, would I have to take the pay cut to be a Jr. Java programmer?

I'd like to think there'd be a fast-track for me to become a Sr. Java developer, maybe even a Sr. Java Architect someday, because of transferable skills I have from the Enterprise Mainframe world. But are there any critical technologies I should work with before making a leap? Or is it a matter of acquiring more time on the webdev side (as perversely retarded as it may be in my current place of employ)?
 
Bear Bibeault
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If your web development skills, especially those for the client-side technologies, are current I would think you have a leg up -- people with skills on both sides of the HTTP divide seem to be in demand. Though I can't necessarily speak to demand in your area.

Do not, I repeat do not, bill yourself as a Java developer. Do not even think of yourself in those terms. Kiss of death. No one wants someone who is focused on a single technology.

Java is a tool -- not a career.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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And welcome to the Ranch
 
chris webster
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At the risk of sounding cynical, I've seen too many Java-oriented "designers" and "architects" who lacked anything like your depth of experience, so don't sell yourself short. If you're keen to work in Java-land, maybe you could pursue some of the higher certifications with the aim of pushing your way into these kind of roles, where your broader experience would be both valuable and (hopefully) valued? But like Bear says, don't be too myopic about it - keep an eye out for opportunities to extend your skills beyond "Java development" and watch out for the Next Big Thing where you might be able to get in ahead of the crowd (e.g. "big data" seems the current NBT). Good luck!
 
Dan Bradford
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Thanks, everyone! Solid advice.
 
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