Discussion in 'Random Thoughts' started by MoatsArt, Oct 23, 2016.
You might be surprised just how fast it goes!
That begs the question, what does 25 more years at the same place get you?
Not being provocative; it's a super long time. At least to me. I've made it to 6 years with 2 different companies over the course of my career. And a bunch of smaller time periods. But then again, I'm in software, where your skillset is always in danger of becoming stale.
I do kinda wish I'd hung around Southwest longer, because (years-of-service + age-at-retirement) >= 65 gives lifetime flight benefits, and who wouldn't want that?!
I don't know if I will be at my current company for the next 25 years but I plan to stay with them for as long as I can. At this point, I could make more money elsewhere maybe but then again maybe not. I just know I have 25 more years to work before I can retire. At the least another 20 years. The only benefit I see is 'comfort'. I have had many jobs over the years, some that made me sick to my stomach each morning knowing I had to go in. I still went every day and I always worked a min. of 3 years or more at each job to build experience and show potential employers that I was willing to stick around.
Then I landed my current job and it's been great. One of the few jobs I enjoy. I work for a big company that takes care of us pretty good, I work with great people (except you Ken! You pain in the ass!) and I make good money. I'm worried about starting over somewhere else. I already have a great rep at my company and I just don't think I'm willing to do it all over again. It would have to be a big jump in pay to make me consider it.
I think I had nearly twenty jobs in the first two years of my working life, and one of those was half of that. The rest was messing around, working for a week or two when I needed to. In early 70s UK, the economy permitted that.
After that, though, my final three jobs were 16 years, 2 years, 11 years. Two niches that I fitted into, and one that didn't work out quite so well.
Yeah, I’d like to say that is the way I thought of things (manual dexterity proficiency). As a side note, being proficient in video games supposedly makes you a better candidate for a surgeon than those who don’t play video games.
In reality, I realized I kinda liked material things. I realized that a music path wouldn’t lead there.
I’m not gonna lie. 21 years after making that decision, I often wondered if it was the right choice.
I am an engineer at an Automotive OEM and do vehicle testing for engine development. Well... use to do vehicle testing. Now I make power point documents all day
But it is what it is.
OK OK, so it isn't the tool, it's what people do with it, and I was probably just being stupid, but... I actually refused to even learn Powerpoint.
What's the difference between a B.A in Business and an MBA?
An MBA is actually easier, but there's just a lot more case studies and Powerpoint.
I have actually refused to let sales people whip out their powerpoint slides and told them to talk to me about their company and product. But I've also slept through many a training session where the powerpoint was not optional.
The stupid thing, I always thought, was that they give you a copy of the slides --- bullet-point headings, when what you really want is a print out of the detail!
You prolly became very good in making these though
As a test engineer our only output is documents really, So we use timing chart snap shots and diagrams/graphs to explain our results. These are not power points that most people are use to... the polar opposite of sales style presentations.
I am dreading being forced to update to windows 10 as I have been using windows 7 for as long as I can remember. Change is the enemy
(this is a fascinating thread!)
I got out of sales in '95, just before PowerPoint turned every salesman into a ppt-wielding 'bot unpracticed at conversational give & take. Ironically, I've made most of my freelance income for past 5 years in ppt, scripting med-info programs--making ideal use of the 'Notes" view for narrations.
Anyone with 1/2 a brain uses lots of graphics & as little text as possible to avoid "PowerPoint coma."
Windows 10 SUCKS! I'm my wife's I.T. Dep't & her laptop du jour was only available w/Win10. Even the pro version is awful beyond words. Win7 Pro is vastly better (I have it on both home office machines).
I was presenting a research paper at a conference once and my ppt died on me. Well technically, the ppt opened but all my pictures came up as empty X's, so I wound up half ditching the ppt and literally talked through while I scrolled through my folders manually loading up pictures. In a way, it actually made my presentation a little more interesting as I'd scroll through a few pictures and inevitably find something to say that sorta tied them all together. I even loaded up spreadsheets so I could show graphs that way. In a weird way, that actually made me less nervous during the presentation as I was so focused on moving through my files quickly that I was sort of talking on autopilot.
So... this is not my perspective but someone else's. Someone at my workplace has been a software engineer for 19 years (inching ever closer to 20). They seem very happy. Made it to "staff" (basically meaning their place in the company has been cemented and engraved in stone) status, and they can freely choose between being a manager, or getting more hands on.
Basically the person gets a "free pass" to do whatever the hell they please.
Also, in software, I think "skillset is in danger of becoming stale" is a myth. C++ is old and long in the tooth and people still use it. Java is old and long in the tooth and people still use it. There will always be companies who need engineers who are well-versed in the fundamentals, and are really good at what they can focus on. You may look at the "trends" and see people are doing Angular this, React that, Vue there, or talking up big words like blockchain, AI, machine learning, self-driving, automation, etc...
Your job is still secured for the next 10 years, I think. Unless you don't know either Java or C++... or C#.
There's a huge divide between the hip and trendy "silicon-valley" style of software engineering and everything else (b2b, government, etc.) these days. Sometimes even within the same company, depending on what team you look at. I think this is a phenomenon driven by a core economic reason that bubbles up into almost all aspects of internal culture: "what is the company selling & to who?"
The simplest structure for a software transaction in my current industry. A client approaches us to build software with X requirements in Y time and Z budget. There's no incentive to use unproven technology-- in fact, there's the opposite: above all else, whatever thing I build had better not break...so I should use something I know and know well. The name of the game is client trust, and these guys have long memories.
The obvious contrast to this is your typical silicon valley kind of place, but I'm here to say that's (mostly) a lie. I'll use the example of a social media company near palo alto that I interned at one summer. They had a popular website built on all the latest & greatest web tech, revamped their iOS & android apps on the newest design frameworks every wwdc/IO, all the flash. But where I was sitting on the production engineering, I could see that their money-maker (advertising) was all built on old-school CRMs & a trusty C++ backbone that everything else rested on. The infrastructure team I was on was full of graybeards who thought that syntax highlighting in my text editor was newfangled and distracting. All the hype-train stuff-- the rapidly changing front-end technologies & keeping up with the joneses/arms race design paradigms-- exists to pull in the product (user or VC attention) and sell a lifestyle. You're not going to have users to advertise to if your site is worse than twitter's... they'll just go there instead.
And of course, that's not to say that there aren't real software engineers using new technologies to build new, cutting edge stuff. Take this more as a reaction vs. the recruiters who look for the latest react/vue/angular/XYZscript UX buzzwords.
(I also have my pet conspiracy theory where these SV companies look for the hottest web technologies primarily as an age filter. This lets them 1/ hire a lot of early-career devs and pay them less than a mid or senior swe; 2/ keep the average age of their company low so that the people making UIs are hip with the kids; 3/ perpetuate the "change jobs every 2-3 years" cycle that lets them spend money on lifestyle perks instead of more long-term costly benefits. Don't take me too seriously on this.)
tl;dr: Bill-P is 100% right. Master something fundamental, you'll probably be the highest paid swe at the company in a few years.
In 100% agreed. Disappoint a customer once and that's the end of the road.
@supertransformingdhruv - l like your “age filter” conspiracy theory. I am one of the greybeards developing back end integration infrastructure, so I totally get it.
Every employer uses "age filters" -- more w/larger & tech-centric companies. Companies are all about the $$: younger employees are cheaper & more attractive than older applicants.
Younger coworkers tend to be uncomfortable & sometimes resentful w/older peers who have different experience/knowledge & don't communicate in familiar & comforting ways (frequently glancing at the cellphone while talking, making less eye contact, using coded/shared forms of irony).
This is my observation based on experience--not a judgement. Generational differences seem sharper & less congenial than in past years. Different generations now seem to have less empathy for each other -- not surprising, as society has become balkanized, quick to anger, unforgiving of differences.
For the last 20+ years (mostly as freelance medical writer), I worked primarily with people <1/2 my age...lately, some <1/3 my age. 99% of my contacts are virtual, which helps. With occasional exceptions, I've learned to say less, explain less, dissent less, tho polite dissent is often critical to solving problems.
The trick when giving the presentation is to NOT just read the slides! But far too many people just read the slides…
It's not necessarily about job security. If I sought that, then yeah I wouldn't worry about updating skillset. Maybe my assertion came from the fact that I spent years as a contractor, and having "current" skills (and yes I was in the Silly Valley) was important to quickly finding a new gig when a contract ended.
I've been writing software since a high school summer job in 1980, though not continuously since then. But I've accumulated nearly 30 years of doing it as a career, and now I'm highly paid and don't worry about getting a new gig. I've worked professionally in BASIC, Pascal, C, MUMPS, C++, Java, Scala, and Clojure, and all the web stuff too. (Aside: it's kinda funny how a dialect of one of the oldest languages around—LISP, 1951—is the one that's the most joyful to work in, and is still very relevant to current technology stacks).
I like the KISS principle in software projects. You can't ever simplify something by adding layers of complexity.
I agree with Sir Tony Hoare:
“I conclude there are two ways of constructing software design: one way is to make it so simple there are obviously no deficiencies, and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies.”
― Tony Hoare
“Inside every large program is a small program struggling to get out.”
― Tony Hoare
Well, that's the problem with every software engineer in the modern age, though, I think.
People who are not well-versed in the fundamentals only know how to use the frameworks and libraries provided to them. Those who know enough about the fundamentals are also roped in because they are forced to work with the ones who don't know the fundamentals.
So in the end, you have people using/reusing frameworks because that's basically what everybody else is doing.
That's not to say that implementing something from scratch is always better, but... I think the emphasis on maintainability basically defeats itself after a while, as you put it.
A more light-weight approach from scratch is sometimes actually more maintainable. But who would want to come up to their managers and go... "I think we need to rewrite everything from scratch with the new tech stack", right?
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