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Just the other day I read a post on a blog about this very same topic. , so it got me wondering and thinking. This poster has some incredibly powerful arguments, and on most of his points I would have to agree. As one who has been in this industry a very long time, I have seen programmers come and go. Some who were extremely talented and knowledgeable were eventually pushed out to pasture by newbie programmers who claimed to know what they were doing, who talked the talk real well, and since they were new and young they would work cheaper than the older more experienced programmers, but when it came time they couldn’t cut it and were let go.

This scenario happens all too often in this industry. Granted, it happens in all industries across the board, but it seems that it's more evident in the IT world. I may feel that way because I’m in that industry so I see it often, or maybe because it's actually far more prevalent than anyone thinks. Before I go any further, let me tell you that I am in no way shape or form saying I think I’m some sort of "Super programmer", because that is not how I think of myself. Do I think I am good at what I do, what kind of programmer would I be if the answer to that question wasn’t yes? But I am by no means saying I’m superior than the next guy, I just may have more experience than he does, but it does irk me to see an extremely talented programmer lose out to a newbie simply because the newbie will work for less.

Am I being discriminatory towards new programmers, I don’t feel I am, I am simply pointing out the pink elephant in the room all too many are too willing to ignore. I, as an experienced programmer, have absolutely no problem helping a new programmer, in fact I encourage all older, experienced programmers to help the new ones, show them how things are supposed to be done, show them that things are indeed done differently in the real world than in a classroom setting. That is not what I have a problem with, what I have a problem with are those that want to become a programmer but aren’t willing to put in the work required to be a good one.

You know the ones, the ones that frequent programming forums asking for code to complete an assignment, the ones who not one time ask for help, but almost demand the solution to their problems. And this section seems to be growing by leaps and bounds, especially since outsourcing has become so prevalent in the US. I even have people who find my blog here and will email me from it asking for code to complete their assignment. I get questions, actually they border on the "demands" line, for code to do a particular process, one even asked for the complete source code for a piece of software he conned someone into hiring him to create. It is this brand of "programmers" I feel is ruining the experienced programmer, and quite possibly this industry as a whole.

Please don’t get me wrong, not all new programmers are in this class, but the section is growing daily, and those that are that way really sour most experienced programmers on the newbie in general, leaving some who are actually willing to put in the hours to make it in this industry hanging in the wind when it comes to finding a solution. This scenario is almost as destructive as the programmer who bluffed his way through college to get his degree taking a job from a programmer who truly knows what he's doing. This scenario will cause many, who might have ended up as really talented programmers, to leave the industry all together, which is bad also.

I feel it our responsibility, those of us who are seasoned experienced programmers, to offer a helping hand to those who are trying to break into our industry. But I draw the line at simply handing solutions, whether it be a single line of code, or an entire application, to those who aren’t even willing to try, who aren’t willing to put in the time and effort it takes to become a talented programmer. I know when I broke into the industry back in the late '80's the seasoned veterans weren’t too helpful at all when I was looking for assistance, and trust me I wasn’t one of those who sought handouts, so I try to make things a little more friendly for the newcomers, try to make things a little more conducive to expanding our base of talented programmers. But I refuse to add to the growing number of programmers, if that’s what you want to call them, who bluffed their way through school, who took others solutions and simply put their name on it to get good marks, and I strongly urge my fellow programmers to take the same stance.

If we don’t stop it now, one day we will be run out of our jobs by those who aren’t really qualified for the job, will be beat out of positions, or lose promotions simply because the bluffer talks a good talk, and will work for far less than we will. So, no I don’t think all new programmers are bad for business, there are a large group of new programmers who are willing to go above and beyond to learn our trade, to better themselves, and ultimately our industry. On the other hand there is a growing section who are bad for business, who get through school and life on someone else's coat tails, who made it into the industry based on the code someone else wrote, those are the ones I feel are bad for business, those are the ones we need to put a stop to.

Posted on Friday, October 26, 2007 1:25 PM General | Back to top

Comments on this post: Are newbie programmers bad for business?

# re: Are newbie programmers bad for business?
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It's a common problem and one that has been around for a while. I actually talked about this earlier this year in this post:
Left by Scott on Oct 26, 2007 5:54 PM

# re: Are newbie programmers bad for business?
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I work my but off trying to learn...
But there are people I know that don't do the work!!!
Left by Dave on Nov 01, 2007 2:19 PM

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