Software development – would anyone recommend it as a job?

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  • Software development – would anyone recommend it as a job?
  • Yes I enjoy it. Keeps my brain working but doesn’t do much for my middle age spread.

    Very difficult career to get into later in life unless you have experience or are prepared to start at a really junior level

    You need to be able to sit and work on the same problem for hours or even days on end. If you have the attention span of a goldfish, forget it

    mrblobby
    Member

    Unfortunately considered a fairly low value skill these days, regardless of the fact that there is a huge gulf between good and not so good. Most of ours has now moved to China.

    Premier Icon FuzzyWuzzy
    Subscriber

    Yes if you get really good at it and either get into niche stuff or architecture, lots of money to be made then. If you’re just an average programmer in a commonly-used language then there’s a few hundred million people in India doing the same for £5k a year.
    Whatever you do don’t get into software testing, all the testers around me hate their jobs (mind you I hate mine at the moment and I’m in IT infrastructure not software…).

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    wot he sed.

    Like most careers, unless you have a solid background in a closely related field it’s going to mean starting at the bottom and competing with recent graduates with relevant skills.

    You’d need to prove that you had a specific skill and some sort of portfolio of work to show prospective employers.

    I have taken mature trainee developers on in a previous role but they all had good evidence of either some previous development involvement or a portfolio of personal work to show me.

    If you enjoy problem solving and puzzles then it’s a great job, imo.

    [edit]

    If you’re just an average programmer in a commonly-used language then there’s a few hundred million people in India doing the same for £5k a year.

    I couldn’t disagree more, tbh.

    All companies need ‘average’ programmers who are prepared to work on the less glamorous/technically demanding stuff. People who will turn up every day and get through a stream of work.

    I’ve met very few companies who have had a positive experience with outsourcing work to India or wherever. The vast majority find they spend more money managing the process and dealing with issues than they saved by not going ‘local’. If you have a *very* well defined piece of specific development and the infrastructure to manage remote teams successfully then it can work but it’s not how most companies work (even big ones) – they all tend to rely on having local teams of developers who can respond quickly to changes in requirement and who understand the business they are working in or for.

    I work as a graphic designer and want to get away from a screen.

    Not software development in the slightest (other than UX / UI stuff and web coding), but still stuck behind a PC.

    mudshark
    Member

    I’m in Oracle Apps development – more and more dev is being done by Indians, we have a huge group of them there. I’m a team lead which hopefully will keep me employed as need someone from the tech team on-site.

    Premier Icon stevie750
    Subscriber

    Whatever you do don’t get into software testing, all the testers around me hate their jobs

    I am a tester and don’t hate my job.I however do mainly automation work which is about as interesting as testing gets.
    It’s probably easier to get into for a career change as well.

    There is also a lot of testing work going to India as well. Go to any of the testing forums and most of the contributors are based in Hydrabad

    chvck
    Member

    I enjoy it, although the area is pretty huge so there are some development jobs I really wouldn’t enjoy. More dev may be outsourced overseas but I’ve not noticed any shortage of jobs, plenty of companies are still hiring here (I’m Oxford based so basing that on here and London, can’t speak to other areas).

    maxtorque
    Member

    There are some niche s/w jobs that can be quite fun. I’ve just finished writing embedded code for a certain hybrid supercar. The testing more fun too………. 😉

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    It can be good, it can be awful. You need to position yourself away from the off-shore body shops if you can. This means working for a small company or a startup where you get to work closely with the business and you’re responsible for a lot of stuff. However to do this successfully you have to be good and know a lot. You really need to be a pure-bred geek and take a real interest in everything.

    toby1
    Member

    It’s the path to the dream; IT Middle management, get involved 😉

    Technical testing is an option, especially if you enjoying breaking stuff just for the fun of it.

    Software development is something I believe people are either skilled at naturally or aren’t, I work with a mix of both. For reference, I wouldn’t pitch myself as a massively skilled developer, I don’t go home and code for ‘fun’ – but some people do.

    Premier Icon FuzzyWuzzy
    Subscriber

    @wwaswas – I guess the size of the company is important to, an SME with 50 people and 5 devs is unlikely to be off-shoring much as the hassle probably isn’t worth it. Whereas the company I work for has 5000 employees in India (I’d guess at least 75% in dev or testing roles), we off-shore pretty much everything routine now unless there’s requirements to keep it in the UK (government or secure stuff). I agree the quality varies a lot and I regularly hear both criticism and praise from the senior devs/architects around me but it’s definitely improving – ofc them being part of the same company helps rather than just choosing some random off-shore operation selling blocks of dev hours.

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    Most of us software developers are having mid-life crises and wanting to do anything but.

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    Maybe you’re right FuzzyWuzzy – a multinational with it’s own employees in a cheaper location for development is a different kettle of fish.

    I do know of a number of people who are looking to Eastern Europe for dev staff now – Bulgaria etc. It’s probably not that much more expensive than India but you can do a trip for a day or two to deal with stuff and there’s free movement of staff to the UK for meetings or critical phases of a project etc.

    As an aside, in Brighton the ‘tech economy’ is now worth £715million – which is pretty much level with travel and tourism as an earner for the city. So there’s plenty of money around to pay for local IT resources but I would agree that very good programmers are born, not made.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    In Cambridge you see Indians recruited to work here (as well as out sourcing). There is a acute shortage of programmers in the UK. The business park I’m on seems like an Indian Campus some times….

    dooosuk
    Member

    When I recruited a junior tester in January, most of the applicants were Indian’s on visas. I don’t think I saw one CV from a UK graduate.

    llama
    Member

    good: money, keeps your brain busy, can be on stw all day (I’m waiting for a build honest)

    bad: ever present outsourcing threat, idiotic management (see dilbert for more information)

    bazzer
    Member

    I think its a pretty hard job to get into later in life, but not impossible. If you are coming from a position where you have never even had a play at writing software it might be quite a hill to clime. If however you have done some programming as a kid or for fun and you need to learn how to do it in a more professional way you might be OK.

    However if your good (or people think your good) there is very good money to be made.

    Yeah a lot of stuff is out sourced, but a lot of the time this is done along side a UK team.

    Its is a very wide discipline though these days from Cloud Application programming to Embedded and everything in between.

    chambord
    Member

    Having a bit of a mid life crisis and wonder whether people can share experiences of the job.

    aracer – Member
    Most of us software developers are having mid-life crises and wanting to do anything but.

    hear hear, although this can be said of most IT professionals I work with.

    If you have a real interest in it then go for it, build a portfolio etc. and good luck.

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    yes, you are going to have to teach yourself and develop something decent I think to have something to show in your portfolio, as otherwise you are a bit of a risk to take on as a trainee.

    And not everyone ‘takes’ to programming – being academically smart has little to do with it in many cases – so you should try it. As there can be a large element of ‘creation’ to it it can be addictive and a good career choice.

    And it seems to be buzzword bingo on cvs more than it used to be – if you don’t have all the right acronyms then you don’t get much of a look in.

    And obviously age is a factor – we just took on a 58 year old who has been out for a couple of years with cancer/chemo and a lot of agents just wouldn’t look at him, even though he is a member of mensa and his cv is chock full of senior level stuff like pricing models, etc.

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    Most of us software developers are having mid-life crises and wanting to do anything but.

    not because of the programming though IME, it is because of all the rest of the bull, like politics, etc.

    I know several that program to varying degrees even though they are not in the industry.

    chambord
    Member

    Some interesting replies, thanks a lot. Possibly exaggerated my age in the initial post – I’m 28 so possibly not middle aged. I am having a crisis though.

    Just some background – I’m a CS graduate, currently doing a PhD but I don’t think I can continue with it (See my previous post about hating my PhD – it hasn’t improved). I don’t enjoy academia, or really even being around the department. I’m slowly going insane and losing my ability to socialise and interact with the general population.

    I’d like to develop more practical skills. Always liked coding when doing my undergrad, and would like to become a “Professional”, that is work at a decent company and learn decent practises.

    I was really just gauging whether people in the job actually like it in the long term (I’ve only ever worked on fairly small projects and for short periods of time).

    Any things I should particularly look out for in a company?

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    I would expect you’d more variety in a smaller company eg a start up, but then you’d also get less support and be expected to figure stuff out for yourself. Personally I much prefer small companies…

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    What area is the PhD in?

    If you’re a grad with a PhD and programming skills you’ll walk into a job at that age, I reckon. Your PhD might have a big impact. Maths Drs tend to be sought after for stuff like financial modelling etc.

    Biggest problem in the industry is professional standards, imo. Because most managers and customers know absolutely nothing, they can’t tell the difference between people good programmeers and bad ones. This means that you often end up having to live with stupid decisions and strategies from bosses.

    If a building architect designs a building with the door on the first floor, a leaking roof and that falls down after 5 years of no-one using it, it’d be a scandal. The same happens in IT all the time and people seem to just shrug their shoulders and get the chequebook out again.

    mogrim
    Member

    Most of us software developers are having mid-life crises and wanting to do anything but.

    I thought a mid-life crisis was standard for most people (at least with office jobs)? And involves wild dreams of changing to a completely different job?

    Mackem
    Member

    ..for a first developer job I think a small company is best. You have the chance to get your hands dirty, dealing with the actual users and dealing first hand with any bugs you may have introduced. Certainly teaches you to test properly and that users rarely actually know what it is they really want. In this sort of job you usually have to start off finding errors/fixing bugs, not as interesting as real development but it’s a good way of learning a new system and making you realise the importance of maintainable code.

    mogrim
    Member

    Any things I should particularly look out for in a company?

    At least here in Spain there’s a big difference between consulting companies and in-house development teams: in the first case you’ll be developing stuff for a different company, while in the second you develop software to be used (or sold) by the same company. There’s more variety in consulting: today you’re at one client, next month/year another. The downside is that you’re always the outsider, and you probably have to work longer hours.

    Edit: I’m talking about bigger organisations here.

    llama
    Member

    The differences between pet projects and programming ‘in the real world’ are big. You don’t get to decide what you make, and quite often you don’t get to decide how it is made. You know all those little problems where sometimes it doesn’t work correctly? Well you have to fix those. You have to be able to predict how long it’s going to take you too.

    I don’t know how much longer your PhD is, but if only a couple of years or so, I’d wait and complete if I were you.

    But apart from that:

    I’m slowly going insane and losing my ability to socialise and interact with the general population.

    Give it a bit longer and you’ll fit right in

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    f a building architect designs a building with the door on the first floor, a leaking roof and that falls down after 5 years of no-one using it, it’d be a scandal. The same happens in IT all the time and people seem to just shrug their shoulders and get the chequebook out again.

    so true 🙁

    but it is still better than IT support/operations…

    sideshow
    Member

    chambord: sounds like it would suit you well. Speaking as a PhD who has done both industry and now academic software development. You have (even if you quit the PhD) a very academic skillset not a technology oriented one. You need to find agents or directly find companies that value and will nurture your intellectual skills and capacity for learning new tech in the long term, rather than ones that seek candidates with a long stream of Java or AJAX buzzwords on their CV. You need the ones that will get you scribbling code on the whiteboard in the interview. These do exist but are in the minority. Quite a lot of them around Cambridge, though the mountain biking there isn’t up to much! It’s likely to mean a permanent role not contract work.

    Good industry software development is IMO ahead of academia and I learned a lot from it. If you enjoy both learning and getting things done then it is a very deep and satisfying world to get into. Few academics work on projects with tens of thousands up to tens of millions of lines of code. PhDs on the other hand can be trying but do be sure before you quit, I nearly quit, but have since made academia work for me and glad of it.

    Premier Icon tmb467
    Subscriber

    have a look at the ‘big data’ and cloud stuff – with a PhD background you should find it pretty easy to understand

    Cassandra rings, Hadoop, map-reduce stuff

    there will be BIG demand for these over the normal application programming skills that are floating around for not much money. Plus its a big step towards architecture and how cloud applications can be built, supported

    Premier Icon benji
    Subscriber

    Most of us software developers are having mid-life crises and wanting to do anything but.

    Sounds about right, hung my keyboard up after 9 1/2 years doing embedded software in C++ and assmebler, it was great doing the projects, but when they wanted to turn stuff to product it wasn’t so good, stuck in an office day in day out was a massive change from being offshore on oil rigs.

    Premier Icon woody74
    Subscriber

    Lots of people think software development is a great career to go into but much of this is based on history. Up until the late 90’s it was a very well paid job with lots of career development and you could earn a fortune as a contractor. Then a couple of things happened, the government encouraged lots of people to go to university and study computer studies and many firms started outsourcing to India and the like. The indians then also started sending teams over to live in the UK to carry out out both project work and ongoing support. What both of these led to was a massive increase in people looking for jobs, so salaries went down. Coupled with this computers became a standard part of business and many senior mangers saw computers and software no differently than photocopiers and air-conditioning. They therefore refused to pay the high salaries.

    So you now have the situation where large corporations mainly outsource software development to India or at least companies like IBM, HP, etc and just have small in house departments mainly dealing with implementations and running the project.

    What is still healthy is all the small development houses doing really specialist work and moving the industry and technology on. However these companies generally do not pay a fortune as they do not have the funds. There is still a massive glut of trained people so unless you can really specialise in a technology then without any specific background it could be quite hard.

    When I was a programmer I certainly enjoyed it as it was problem solving every day and you could really get your head into things. The killer was support as it got a tad depressing just fixing problems every day.

    Would I recommended it, yes but only if you are really into tech and don’t expect to earn a fortune.

    retro83
    Member

    Woody74 is bang on IMHO. 🙂

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    You need the ones that will get you scribbling code on the whiteboard in the interview. These do exist but are in the minority. Quite a lot of them around Cambridge, though the mountain biking there isn’t up to much! It’s likely to mean a permanent role not contract work.

    Yep.

    We have our candidates write / debug real code in the interview…

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    You can still earn a fortune as a contractor, you just have to know what you are doing these days, as opposed to the 90s when you didn’t.

    bazzer
    Member

    woody74 retro84

    I disagree, I think if you are good there is still good money to be made.

    I am a contractor specializing in Embedded and Linux development and I have not been out of work since I started 18 years ago.

    I am seeing the best rates I have ever had at the moment.

    Most of my clients really struggle to find decent people. Lots of people may have gone to Uni but not many of them seem to have studied Engineering !!!

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    There is still a massive glut of trained people so unless you can really specialise in a technology then without any specific background it could be quite hard.

    That just doesn’t ring true (in the SE). Having tried to hire SW programmers it was like getting blood out of a stone to even get a UK CV, we could only get Chinese / Indian CVs from agencies. So I’ve no idea where this glut is that you’re talking about…..

    SkillWill
    Member

    You know all those little problems where sometimes it doesn’t work correctly? Well you have to fix those. You have to be able to predict how long it’s going to take you too.

    Like that a lot, very accurate.

    I’ve been a software developer for over 10 years, started my own software company too and am now just going through some interviews to get back working for a large company again. Seems to be plenty of roles out there as far as I can see (finance work in London). Java or C#. Decent £££ too.

    chambord
    Member

    Lots of good replies and lots to think about.

    What area is the PhD in?

    Computer science – computer vision really.

    I don’t know how much longer your PhD is

    3 years to go..

    sideshow, it’s interesting that you point out I have an “Academic skill set”. One of the things that concerns me most is that I feel as though I’m not really gaining any skills. Working in industry, at least if I found a good employer, I would be regularly be getting feedback, training and reviews. At the moment it feels like I’m stumbling from one day to the next and not really sure if I’m learning anything correctly, or whether the things I am learning are worthwhile in the long run. I suppose this is down to my self organisation and possibly supervision so I should take some time to consider that.

    chewkw
    Member

    chambord – Member

    Some interesting replies, thanks a lot. Possibly exaggerated my age in the initial post – I’m 28 so possibly not middle aged. I am having a crisis though.

    Just some background – I’m a CS graduate, currently doing a PhD but I don’t think I can continue with it (See my previous post about hating my PhD – it hasn’t improved). I don’t enjoy academia, or really even being around the department. I’m slowly going insane and losing my ability to socialise and interact with the general population.

    I’d like to develop more practical skills. Always liked coding when doing my undergrad, and would like to become a “Professional”, that is work at a decent company and learn decent practises.

    I was really just gauging whether people in the job actually like it in the long term (I’ve only ever worked on fairly small projects and for short periods of time).

    Any things I should particularly look out for in a company?

    Once you are demotivated in doing your PhD you will suffer. If you are still in your 1st or 2nd year then get out quick before you become an old man with less opportunity to be employed.

    The only reasons you should do a PhD is either to become an academic or you enjoy doing research which may pay you peanuts (most pay peanuts). Your future job (assuming in academia) depends entirely on the funding you receive and gone are days where you are pay salary. My advice get out quick! Run!

    Coding is the most tedious and boring work in software (well, that’s what the software people told me – they hated it big time). The problem is that companies may not be ready or willing to train you (they prefer you to have the experience in coding in some form when you join them).

    But you have the advantage of being enthusiastic with coding, so if you can show them this side of you then you have the chance to get in and to be trained. You will take lots of shite thought … as you team leader will kick your arse if s/he/they need to spend too much time on you.

    Be prepare to handle the stress of coding deadline as I was once told by my software programming mates that you got to be a robot to stay awake. They ended up hiring Indians sw coders …

    In the long term for coders? You pass the job of coding to junior staff and you kick their arses for not meeting the deadline and you will hire Indian software programmers because most of your staff will leave and you are to be blamed … oh ya … good software coder(s) will hold the project ransom and you give in …

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    One of the things that concerns me most is that I feel as though I’m not really gaining any skills

    You don’t need skills in entry level dev other than to sit and write good code.

    Coding is the most tedious and boring work in software

    No, it’s not – testing is worse, and project management is worse still imo.

    Working in industry, at least if I found a good employer, I would be regularly be getting feedback, training and reviews

    LOL!

    The companies that batter you with pointless red tape aren’t the ones you want. You want the ones that rely on your innate intelligence and aptitude to sort stuff out and get it done – that kind of experience is far better than any training. Those companies are generally small ones.

    I was once told by my software programming mates that you got to be a robot to stay awake

    Only in bad companies.

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    getting blood out of a stone to even get a UK CV,

    we see that, loads of eastern european, some indian, etc.

    Coding is the most tedious and boring work in software (well, that’s what the software people told me – they hated it big time)

    they sound like the kind of losers whose jobs are ripe for outsourcing…

    Testing not so bad if you can automate it, and it’s good in that the problems are nearly always someone elses…

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    production development might almost be at it’s peak of interest for developers, with all the TDD/mocking/IoC and other testing technologies/frameworks.

    It’s a somewhat based on the fact that programmers don’t like testing much, but they like writing code, so get them to write code to test their code, often more test code than actual code.

    Plus some of the testing frameworks employ nice geeky techniques, so that is even better.

    Obviously I am not talking of that ‘dark’ side of programming involve atrocities like VB, and worse, VBA.

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