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You paddle your own career canoe. Any hobbyist turned professional knows that.
Being a developer is something I love.
I enjoy code, also known as software. How's it's designed, implemented, deployed, and supported; learning, and getting your hands dirty; these are all things which I care about.
Understand how a single component (really) works, and you are one step closer to “getting” the bigger picture.
The “bigger picture” is the end-to-end view of how your system works. Where it’s weak points, bottle necks, and pinch points are.
If something breaks, and you don’t understand how “your widget” integrates with the rest of the system, you are not much use in a priority one (emergency) situation.
Moving on …
Here’s how it started…..
Being laughed at in a job-centre in Kingston-Upon-Hull, in retro-respect was deserved, but at the time it seemed very unfair. Why was I in Hull? Why was I not in London, which has far more software developer jobs?
I met someone whilst at uni, and as soon as I finished, packed the things which mattered into a bergundy coloured Renault 5 (my first car), and headed to Yorkshire.
Finding work was easy, as long as it was data-entry, or operating a switchboard (I would like to apologise to the people, ‘who’ were put on hold for ‘an extended period of time’). I had a day-job, and used to sort post in the evening, through the night. Security guard as well.
The Royal Mail was great. They gave me steady work, whilst I interviewed for graduate jobs. I sometimes ‘fleetingly’ thought, ‘I wished I hadn’t done work-placements in Budapest, and Jamaica’. It may have helped me get a ‘proper-graduate-job’ in the UK. But the word fleetingly, means just that.
Does anyone remember “Prosects Today”. It was a university graduate job newspaper, with a variety of jobs, which I would receive, attentively read, and apply for the interesting ones. Well I got my first ‘graduate’ job from Prospects Today :O)
On the graduate job-front, the companies I “thank” most are UKERNA, and the Press Association. They gave me the opportunity to “really” start my career.
For me that career is software development. But a focal part of that is understanding customers. If you don’t understand customers, you are doing your career a dis-service.
My first job was working in a hardware shop. “No”, not computer hardware, but an ironmongery hardware shop, which also sold garden furniture, barbeques, and tupperware. I didn’t know what tupperware was (when I started working there), and remember the customers reaction….
Now if a customer comes into a shop, and the shop-assistant knows “what” they are selling, and “why” - you are far more likely to make a sale. Sounds like common-sense.
But your average sixteen year old is not likely to have that view. Retail work is “below” a large part of the population, but I don’t agree.
Whatever career you choice, please understand the views of the customer.
One day, I was in the Elephant and Castle shopping centre, and a policeman approached me. Half-an-hour-later, I was in a police station, I hadn’t been charged with anything, but was instead, an “extra” in a witness line-up. All I had to do was stand there (and make up the numbers).
Working for a start-up takes a certain type of individual. Being resourceful, and “not assuming” that specific departments exist is important. I loved working for a start-up. You learn how to prioritise, talk to the customer, and be adaptable. One thing I should have said more, was “no”.
I'm still not very good at saying "no" today.