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If I was a programmer still in college, I would...

3. December 2008 15:32 by Scott in   //  Tags: , , , , , , , , ,   //   Comments (16)

I was mentoring some kids the other day about being in college as a programmer.  Heck they could even had been kids in high school.  The ideas stated here still apply.

  • still worry about grades - Grades get you the job, but they don't keep your job.  Learn new things and relax off the grades a little.  You don't have to always get that A in class.  Unless you're going for a masters or PHD right after your bachelors, relax and have a little more fun.
  • put down the video games - There is much more to life than video games and chatting with people online you have no idea about.  The biggest thing that got me to put down a controller were the questions that "If I disappear tomorrow in the gaming world, will I be missed?  If I disappear tomorrow in the real world, will I be missed?"  There is a big line in spending a bit more personal time with your real friends compared to just some people on the other side of the world.
  • go out a few more times - I am two years out of college and I sure do miss it sometimes.  The interaction with all the people.  The not having to worry about bills and not waking up to a 9-5 job would be amazing again.  On a side note: I do think I have grown out of the parties a bit.
  • have thought of a GREAT IDEA and gone with it - It was the perfect time to focus less on college studies and more time on a great business/web 2.0 idea.  I had plenty of time where I got bored, I should have focused it towards a great idea and making it happen.  Now a day, I get home at 6pm and only have about 3 hours to work on my ideas at home.  I don't have much time left in the day to actually get my business ideas up and running.
  • join a Fraternity - It is a known fact that more than 75% of CEO's have been in a college fraternity.  It is a known fact that you get resources and jobs just through your fraternal world.  You get connections beyond your belief and you get a better social life in college.  Instead of playing those video games by your self, you could be enjoying a great time with friends that you have a close bond with.  Sure you might think of it as paying for friends, but I thought of it as networking and a social life.  I did join a Fraternity and got much more than I expected out of what I put in.  For a college job making $7.50 and hour and only working 10 hours a week, I was able to pay for my fraternity and social life.  It was a great bargain!
  • have thought of a GREAT IDEA and gone with it! - I know it is a repeat, but I fear it was one of my biggest mistakes in college.
  • have learned a real programming language - Java and C++ are no longer really used these days outside of academia.  Some people will even argue that java has become too academic.  I know Ill get some flack for this, but I consider it to be true.  Did you know that Microsoft uses 98% C# in its work environment?  I wouldn't learn PHP now seeing that Microsoft gives out its IDE and workspace extremely cheap these days to students.  Java and C++ are a good free language.  Even if you don't pick up two languanges, at least pick up one.  Learn one programming language and build something with it!
  • not let my teacher hold me back - teachers can sometimes not care too much about students.  Don't let them hold you back.  There is a BIG saying at most big universities which is hard to get away from.  "Publish or die" Teachers are required to publish at universities.  Unless they really like teaching, they are required by the university to publish or leave. They don't care much about the students. Don't let the teachers hold you back.
  • try to find a mentor - You can never have too many mentors.  I wish I would have found one to guide me along the programmers trail.
  • have run with my great idea! - I know I said it once and twice, but this is the biggest thing I look back on and think I should have done that!
  • not own a credit card - Spring break is fun for a week, but bad credit last for 7 years or more.  Don't own a credit card and repeat mistakes of others.
  • Last but not least, Be controversial! - Don't be hated, but be controversial. Make sure you get your point of view heard.

This is only a short list and I imagine there are many other things in that period of time I wish I would have done, but this list will not die and will keep growing.

These thoughts are more of advice than a memory.  You can do what you wish with them. 

  • "Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth." - Baz Luhrmann
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My Bill of Rights as a Programmer

2. April 2008 02:53 by Scott in   //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (14)

I have seen many lists of requirements programmers wish to obtain before they start the job.  I am no different for my company.  I have my own requirements before I start a new job and I wish to create a dynamic list of my rights as a programmer.

  1. Every Programmer shall have a quiet working environment.
    • This is essential in order to think.  If the employer cannot provide a quiet working environment, see Bill of Rights #2.
  2. Every Programmer shall have the right to listen to music.
    • The essential need for a quiet working environment or to be able just throw on music to down out the background noise is essential.  We as programmers work on brain power so therefore we as programmers need to concentrate.
  3. Every Programmer shall have a fast PC.
    • Developers are required to run a lot of software that requires tons of memory and speed to get the job done faster.  The Fast PC only ensures that the programmer is able to research on the Internet while developing code and upgrading the database all at the same time while keeping up on the essential work email.
  4. Every Programmer has their choice of both Keyboard and Mouse.
    • The mouse and keyboard will only allow them to develop faster and become skilled at both shortcut keys and mouse techniques.
  5. Every Programmer shall have a fast Internet connection.
    • This is the mother of them all.  The ability to research faster is required for faster development.
  6. Every Programmer shall have two or more monitors.
    • The research done on having two monitors (here, here, here and here) far outweighs the time spent on only having one.  So even before I get offered a job, one of my first questions is will I have at least two monitors?
  7. Every Programmer shall have a high back comfortable chair.
    • This is another question I ask before going any farther with interviewing.  It not only makes the developer happier, but it helps with poster and is good for the body.
  8. Every programmer shall have access to the right tools.
    • Would you rather develop in FoxPro or Visual Studio?  Would you rather develop on Dreamweaver that Visual Studio for .net Development?  Would you rather use SQL management 2000 or use SQL Management 2005?  IT is a requirement that the company be up to date on software development.
  9. Every programmer shall have the right to have admin access on the PC.
    • There is no need for a programmer to be in restrictions of IT experience because most programmers have more experience with PC's than most IT folks.
  10. Every programmer shall be allowed to attend a developers conference once a year.
    • If companies are willing to pay 60k-100k a year for programmers, they can fork over the other 2k needed for the conference.

All things listed here are the basic needs of a programmer.  They are the movers and shakers that make companies faster with both commerce and day to day operations.  Companies are expected to follow most of the these requirements.  If you are not getting the rights you deserve, ask for more or find another place to work.

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