Understanding the “software developer” in the other guy

Time and again, the newspapers in India run stories about the talent gap in the new recruits saying that most of them are unemployable. In my experience of being in position where I have to recruit along with leading and mentoring people, I must say, that’s unfortunately… true.

I have had a lot of young guys come to me for a job as software developers after having passed out of their college. It seems that they believe the IT industry to be a sun shine industry where the pay is good, the perks are high and you seem to get a sense of achievement when you work. Well, that’s true to some extent. However, what most job seekers don’t stop to look at is… themselves.

The first question I ask a person who comes to be for a job is why they want to become a software programmer. If the answer circulates around invention / innovation then I am happy to take them to the next step. If they answer anything else, I am not too keen anymore. Why? Because programming is all about invention and innovation. If you don’t like solving logical riddles, chances are you are not going to end up being a good programmer. In fact, you are more likely to quit or stagnate pretty soon in your career as a programmer.

You see, programming is an art of visualising what’s abstract and/or can’t be seen. It has to be perceived and understood logically. You are going to see cause and effect and it will be your job (as a developer) to figure out the process in between. Not only that, you will also need to cross-verify your hypothesis at every stage. If learning doesn’t excite you, its probably best to stay away from this field. You need to have a keen sense of observation.

People like to believe that they have it in themselves… and a lot of people probably do. However, there are easier ways of figuring that out than getting a job and spending a a few months / years.

So you may well ask, “I like programming but find it difficult to do so… what do I do?” Valid question. What can you do. There are number of complementing fields to programming that use a lot of capabilities that an adept programmer may have. For example: requirement analysis, testing and quality assurance, database designing, etc. You could try your hands at any of these in case programming isn’t cutting it for you.

A good programmer is always non-assuming. In the back of his mind, he always knows that there could be something he may have missed and therefore always alert and ready to understand.