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Starting Over?

 
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I studied computer science at university and graduated in 2008. After this I got a job as a software developer and have worked at the same company for about 8 years now.
The job was not exactly what I was looking for mainly because they were using a proprietary 4GL language and db that I had never heard of, but all other jobs seemed to want X number of years that I did not have.
The language they use is not very well known and there are very few companies that actually use it in my city, perhaps even country. Not only that but I know very little of the language since my job only requires me to use a tiny subset of it.
Quite frankly it feels like I have done the same thing every day for the past 8 years and haven’t grown as a developer or learnt anything new in all this time.

I have recently finished writing my cv with the intention to start looking for another job. If I were to look for ones using a different /modern language, for example either Java or C#, do you think I will need to take a pay cut and start at an entry or junior level position?
Just to clarify I would class myself as a beginner with Java and C#, having only used them at university and when I’ve tried to teach myself outside of work. I also don’t have any knowledge of frameworks or tools that most jobs seem to also require.

Thanks
 
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John Dodo wrote:I studied computer science at university and graduated in 2008. After this I got a job as a software developer and have worked at the same company for about 8 years now.
The job was not exactly what I was looking for mainly because they were using a proprietary 4GL language and db that I had never heard of, but all other jobs seemed to want X number of years that I did not have.
The language they use is not very well known and there are very few companies that actually use it in my city, perhaps even country. Not only that but I know very little of the language since my job only requires me to use a tiny subset of it.
Quite frankly it feels like I have done the same thing every day for the past 8 years and haven’t grown as a developer or learnt anything new in all this time.

I have recently finished writing my cv with the intention to start looking for another job. If I were to look for ones using a different /modern language, for example either Java or C#, do you think I will need to take a pay cut and start at an entry or junior level position?
Just to clarify I would class myself as a beginner with Java and C#, having only used them at university and when I’ve tried to teach myself outside of work. I also don’t have any knowledge of frameworks or tools that most jobs seem to also require.

Thanks



You might try to get some clients on your own and build your background that way. The job market is really tough right now. Lots of outsourcing and anything to save a buck (for the companies).

I've found that working for larger companies usually means ...

1. Management by attendance - you have to be on-stie 100% of the time.

2. Cube farms with little collaboration.

3. Lots of politics.

4. Daily "scrums" - mostly for managers.

IOW, coding at companies is not really what I thought it would/could be. For me, working at the larger companies is a big flat zero.

Community colleges don't offer any courses that really help working professionals like Spring framework, or Hibernate, or anything beyond "Java I" and "Java II". If you want to get into those frameworks, some would argue to watch You-Tube videos, but for my money (assuming I had a paying client or upcoming project), I would opt for a one-week class somewhere. That route is expensive, but in most cases had really helped me get up to speed the fastest.

The bottom line is to think about what you would really like to be doing.

Also, check out Lynda.com. That's the best video stuff I've found. Their course on Regular Expressions is incredible.

Rambling here a bit, but I HOPE THIS HELPS.

- mike


 
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Mike London wrote:I've found that working for larger companies usually means ...

1. Management by attendance - you have to be on-stie 100% of the time.

2. Cube farms with little collaboration.

3. Lots of politics.

4. Daily "scrums" - mostly for managers.


Cynical Mike!

John: To offer another perspective - some large companies are like Mike described. Others are not.  
  • Attendance - My manager telecommutes 2-3 days a week. Some people telecommute almost full time. I haven't seen my manager in over a week for the matter. I telecommuted the two days he was in the office last week. I know of at least two moderators here that telecommute virtually full time and work for large companies.
  • Cube farms - Large companies range for pair programming to sit in your cube and don't talk to anyone. Going to user groups, there's actually a tendency for "everyone works at a table without walls". Large companies are picking up that trend for better or worse.
  • Politics - yeah. A good manager will insulate you from it though
  • "Scrums" - yeah. A lot of big companies do "scrum" incorrectly. A properly done Scrum is not for the manager's benefit. I know ours isn't. it's valuable to us whether the manager happens to attend or not.
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    Mike London
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    Cynical? Maybe.

    20 years doing contract Java development can do that to you. I've seen very few companies that do much right. Lots of turnover, etc.

    My basic point was to figure out what the OP wanted to do and to focus on that.

    HOPE THIS HELPS.

    -mike
     
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    But in the process you painted an overly-pessimistic view that I do not feel is helpful or actually representative of the job market.

    As Jeanne pointed out: companies are as varied as people; some do things well, others not so much. Many are in the middle.
     
    Mike London
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    Bear Bibeault wrote:But in the process you painted an overly-pessimistic view that I do not feel is helpful or actually representative of the job market.

    As Jeanne pointed out: companies are as varied as people; some do things well, others not so much. Many are in the middle.



    I was only describing what I've seen -- my own real experiences.

    I'm sure there are places that do things well. I never said there weren't, Bear. Jeeez.

    It's clear that others have different experiences.

    I guess a lot depends on the type of work, the location of the companies, and related issues.

    - mike
     
    John Dodo
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    Thanks for the responses.

    I have always wanted to get into contracting, however if I am completely honest I'm afraid to do it

    It seems that over the years I have become overly cautious and I no longer take any risks, which is probably why I'm in my current position. It also doesn't help that my skill set is severely lacking so it could potentially take me a while to get up to speed.

    Perhaps I need to spend the next few weeks/months relearning how to be a software developer again instead of looking for an entry level position and taking a large pay cut.

    Although it's not Lynda I did actually sign up to Pluralsight this morning. I got a free 3-month subscription through Microsoft, but if it's any good I will continue the subscription.

    Ideally I would like to get out of my current situation asap. This would probably mean getting another permanent job where I would be using either C# or Java. I would, however, eventually like to start contracting as it is something that interests me. I just feel that I need to be good at what I do before I look into it.
     
    Mike London
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    John,

    What I did was to read Marty Hall's excellent Core Servlets & JSP book as a way to kick start my learning back in 2003 or thereabouts.

    Then, I started creating some web apps (Servlets, not surprisingly) but also a front-end that I marketed to a client that had a small business.

    It wasn't a lot of money, but I got great experience. As you can read from my postings above, I much prefer small companies. The money isn't usually quite as good, but it's a lot more fun. At least for me.

    I've also done lots of REST web services. They're not difficult either. There's an excellent O'Reily book on those. The nice thing about REST services is you can connect to them from many applications. I even have a FileMaker application that connects to a service I wrote (on an Internet Web Server). Hey, this is fun! I learned most of this stuff by experimentation and playing around.

    Honestly, the "ranch" here is about the most awesome place for help when you get stuck. Amazing folks here.

    If web stuff sounds good to you, consider getting a domain name and also maybe rent a server (or VPS, as they're known) from a web hosting company. Then, you're off to the race where you can put real stuff on too. A VPS, as opposed to a dedicated server, is not a lot of money (some start at about $40/mo.). Again, I did this as part of the learning experience toward something I was interested in. I've had a server for 15 years now. If you can find some clients to host their web sites, the server will pay for itself!

    -------

    Your ideas are fine too. It can take a while to figure it all out.

    Hope this helps.

    Best of luck.

    - mike
     
    Jeanne Boyarsky
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    Mike,
    Any reason to prefer renting a server over using AWS hosting or the like? I'd imagine that is less than $40/month since there wouldn't be much traffic while experimenting.
     
    Mike London
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    Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:Mike,
    Any reason to prefer renting a server over using AWS hosting or the like? I'd imagine that is less than $40/month since there wouldn't be much traffic while experimenting.



    Back when I started with my VPS (actually it was only a "shared server" then), AWS didn't exist. So, it's mostly familiarity.

    Plus, I have production sites on that VPS, which are client paid. I can't use the "free" AWS set up for that. My "experimentation" on the server (really, more deployment) is only after rigorous local testing.

    Also, with a Linux VPS, you get nice tools like Web Host Manager and such which make creating new sites a few clicks. Perhaps AWS is the same? Not sure.

    Creating a Tomcat-enabled web app is another few clicks. Handling DNS? All nicely presented.

    Sadly, I read that CentOS/WHM/cPanel will not be supporting Tomcat in version 6.3 as I recall, which is baffling. If that's true, I'm not sure what I'd do at that point.

    - mike
     
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