Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Teenager programmer

...programmers eventually have to go through a stupid-teenager phase. [...] I've been hearing sad but unsurprising news stories about teenagers getting stuck on big rocks, being killed falling off cliffs, or dying of exposure. [...] It's just a bad time for us. Even though teenagers are old enough to understand the warnings, they have this feeling of invincibility that gets them into trouble and often mortal peril.

The programming equivalent happens around us all the time too. Junior programmers with five to ten years of experience under their belts attempt to build giant systems and eventually find themselves stuck on the cliff waiting for a helicopter bailout, telling themselves "my next system rewrite will be better!" Or they fall off the cliff – i.e., the project gets canceled, people get laid off, maybe the company goes under.

That being said [...] you should keep in mind that "5 to 10 years of experience" on a resume does not translate to "experienced"; it means "crazy invincible-feeling teenager with a 50/50 shot at writing a pile of crap that he or she and his or her team can't handle, and they'll eventually, possibly repeatedly, try to rewrite it all." It's just how things are: programmers can't escape being teenagers at some point.

-- Steve Yegge

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