PERSPECTIVE: tools change, experience persists


2475572569_8c49a273a6Which programming language do you use to develop applications? A question usually asked by interviewees the first chance they can ask the interviewer for a software development position.

Such question, I believe, reflects immaturity and lack of vision and experience. On the other hand, an employer looking for a PHP – or any other specific language – developer lacks the knowledge and the vision as well! At best case, it implies that the employer is looking for a donkey-worker rather than a real developer!

Looking for or offering a “tool-oriented” developer position is very similar to looking for or offering a “Hammer Expert” rather than a “Carpenter”.

Programming languages, by themselves, are just tools and not solutions. Keep writing code is not really a valuable experience.  After all how long does it take to learn new programming language syntax? one week? two weeks at most?

Experience is what we are looking for.  After all, your experience, determine your market value and, in turn, your salary.  Real experience for software developers lies in enhancing problem solving techniques by getting exposed to real challenging issues. Experience lies in understanding  business issues, their technical context and constraints, deciding the most appropriate approach to solve them and finally using the “tool” to implement the solution.

That does not mean that learning a certain programming language techniques and tricks is not important. But it should not be a vital factor in the hiring/accepting decision.

Taking web development as an example, good web developers have good knowledge in front-end engineering, web security, SEO, design patterns, and web protocols . All of them are not programming language specifics.

So, you’re looking forward to have a decent career path in software development,  you have to :

  • realize that you need more than a tool – programming language – Under your belt
  • realize that you should control the tool and not the opposite
  • reject any “tool oriented” position – if you have the luxury 🙂 –
  • ask the right question “What type of development challenges  I will be facing”, to give the right impression about your career aspiration

Finally, always remember, tools change, experience persists.

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