Melissa McEwen asks Who Killed the Junior Developer? over on Medium. Or as I like to call it, “Why are industries so bad at thinking about the future?” If you don’t want an industry (whether you’re talking about software or automotive or energy or…) to fall afoul of being starved of senior expertise, then you have to think about cultivating new hires, so they can build that expertise. And that means spending time training and mentoring. Will that sometimes be abused by people taking that training and then leaving? Yeah, sometimes. But so what? Where do you think your new mid-range (or senior!) developer learned their trade?
Melissa actually mentions the job hopping, and makes a good point:
I’m not sure what the industry-wide solution is. I’m not sure whether companies that lack junior devs are unbalanced or smart. The reality is that most software developers don’t stay one place very long, so maybe it doesn’t make sense to invest a lot in training someone? Or maybe the industry should ask itself why people keep hopping jobs? Maybe it’s because a lot of them suck, or for a lot of us it’s the only way to advance our salary. I can either wait for a stupid, meaningless yearly “performance review” to bump me up 1% or take my resume and interview elsewhere and get 10% or more.
It’s not just a sign that an individual company is broken, it’s a sign the entire industry is broken.
Yep. If you weren’t on a track for your entire life (going to the “right” schools, then getting the “right” internship), even getting a foot in the door in the software industry feels more like a lottery than a job hunt.
Jason Fried speaks Truth about the tech industry’s love affair with overwork over on Signal v. Noise. This has been a perennial issue in games (where terms like “crunch” and “death march” are used often), but is definitely happening in general software as well. It’s a demonstrably stupid and abusive idea with repeated studies showing it is, and yet it’s still prevalent. When an industry is attractive (like games, like the current 2.0 Dot Com gold rush), it’s easy for investors and management to adopt a “burn and churn” mentality about their workers.
Until about 7-8 months ago, I worked as a vendor for Microsoft (v-). It wasn’t a bad gig — the pay wasn’t amazing, but provided a nice opportunity to work on some interesting projects, and since I was a v-, had a certain amount of job stability (a- contractors are required to take off 100 days every year, which causes a lot of disruption in projects, but at this point has been established long enough that we’d work through it. Vendors did not have this restriction).
Apparently, Microsoft is planning to implement a required 6 month hiatus for vendors as well. I honestly don’t know if the upper management who made this decision is quite aware of just how much of the work is done by vendors. Optimistically, there is some grand plan as part of the upcoming restructuring (laying off 18,000 full time employees, plus apparently who knows how much external staff), which will allow the company to shift their culture and make this work. I’ve been known to occasionally be an idealist, but I’m not sure I can be optimistic enough to believe that.
My sincere sympathies for everyone getting laid off, and for my v- friends who will now need to navigate this new landscape.