Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Zakia Bouachraoui

Related Topics: Java IoT

Java IoT: Article

Another Brick in the Wall

Do you feel that being a Java guru sets you apart?

Do you feel that being a Java guru sets you apart and makes you indispensable in your company? Or are you an entry-level person scared of being laid off given all these outsourcing trends? What are your career choices in the corporate world? Put on your headphones, turn on Pink Floyd's album The Wall, and let's talk...

Programmers earn their living by working either as employees or as temporary contractors. Often, people use the term consultant when they're referring to the employment status of a person, but this is just not right, because the word consultant means a subject expert, while the word contractor means a temporary worker and a separate legal entity, which is exactly what consultants are. There is an opinion that permanent employment provides better job security, but let's take a closer look at two former college roommates, Alex and Steve, who graduated from the same college eight years ago.

Alex was always dreaming of being an employee of a large corporation. He knew that he'd be more secure there (Momma's gonna keep baby cozy and warm) and was ready to work for such a firm for many years. He found such a job and had to start from scratch learning the rules of the corporate world: your phone conversations may be recorded, a designated person will browse your e-mails, your applications will be protected by a couple of firewalls and DMZ (Momma won't let anyone dirty get through). He had been promised a yearly training and planned to visit San Francisco while studying new Java technologies at the JavaOne conference... Sorry, but our training budget is not as good as it used to be (We don't need no education), but we have an exciting Six Sigma training coming up, which will greatly help your career, and you may even earn a green belt in a couple of years. He learned to play politics, and got used to working late hours to meet the unrealistic deadlines that were set by some incognito bad person from up above. Alex met all deadlines because bonus time was looming ahead (If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding).

Steve decided to work for himself, so he opened a one-man company and started his career as a contractor. Even though his contracts were usually long term, Steve always knew that he needed to maintain good technical skills to be prepared for the next technical interview. He was the first to learn Aspect Oriented Programming, SOA principles, and all possible Java application frameworks that have implemented the MVC design pattern. Steve was always the only person in the building who knew exactly what the garbage collector did to the young generation. He never complained if his next client was several thousand miles away from his hometown (Daddy's flown across the ocean leaving just a memory).

About three years ago, by pure coincidence, Steve got a project with the same company and division where Alex has been working all these years. He was one of hundreds vice presidents with a six-figure salary, wearing an expensive suit, Six Sigma brown belt, and matching shoes. The friends were happy to work with each other, but this did not last long. The firm decided to lay off several hundred of employees and let go of most of the contractors. Alex was too expensive for the firm and Steve's contract ended sooner than expected (All in all you were all just bricks in the wall). Alex received a decent severance package that allowed him to spend the next six months brushing up his Java skills and this kept paying the bills. Steve did not get any compensation but found a new gig pretty quickly in two months.

So what's the moral of this story?

If you're young and ambitious, spend at least some time working as a contractor. Do not be afraid to start fresh every now and then; this is what capitalism is all about. Besides, the average length of full-time employment of young programmers is also not more than two to four years. As you get older (over 50 in the U.S.), you'll experience difficulties in finding pure programmer's jobs (Hey you! Out there in the cold getting lonely, getting old, can you feel me); however, I do know a mainframe contract programmer who turns 70 this month (happy birthday, Felix!). Of course, he can't write as many “if-else” statements per minute as a college graduate, but he knows his application inside out, and the firm is not planning to get rid of him.

If you prefer full-time employment, be loyal to the company you work for. The firm's interests should take priority over your personal goals, but don't get lazy. Keep your technical skills up to date; read professional books and magazines; and visit Java online forums on a regular basis. During difficult times your employer will let you go without thinking twice: this is also what capitalism is about. Gurus will have to go because their salaries are too high, and junior developers will be replaced by an inexpensive workforce overseas. But this is okay as long as you are technically sound, have a positive attitude toward life, and accept that all in all you were all just bricks in the wall.

References

  • Pink Floyd, The Wall Album www.pinkfloyd-co.net/disco/wall/wall_album.html
  • More Stories By Yakov Fain

    Yakov Fain is a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay. He wrote a thousand blogs (http://yakovfain.com) and several books about software development. Yakov authored and co-authored such books as "Angular 2 Development with TypeScript", "Java 24-Hour Trainer", and "Enterprise Web Development". His Twitter tag is @yfain

    Comments (9) View Comments

    Share your thoughts on this story.

    Add your comment
    You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

    In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


    Most Recent Comments
    S 05/30/05 09:15:38 AM EDT

    Management is not a problem. It is still in the technical sphere. Ofcourse there are some managers or management who know absolutely nothing. In many cases, management is added responsibility. On top of doing what you already did, you have to teach some more people to do the same and divide the work among them. In reality, however, many of the managers or management are out of touch and end up accepting whatever their staff do or say and get involved in petty politics, which is a pity. It doesn't mean if you are in management, you are not 'hands-on'. If you can teach, you have to be hands-on.

    Sandeep 05/30/05 04:12:35 AM EDT

    Thanks Yakov, i am in early stage of my carrier and these tips definitely will help me (Age 23). I am working with a big Organization from last six months, but it seems that "i am trapped under the pile of the Big Org."
    Your article helped me in setting goal as u perfectly demarcated an employee and a consultant.

    Steven 05/30/05 12:07:24 AM EDT

    Thanks Yakov. I suppose this goes for any OTHER I.T. discipline. Most of my friends are consultants, and struggle with this same thing every day. I usually encourage them NOT to go into management positions, even if their companies suggest it, but to stick to their trade and "be the best at it". That means, read those books. Staying on top of technology means that your skills will always be in demand and you never have that "what did he say in the meeting, provide them with a RSS feed, what's that?" The I.T. world is getting quite competitive, and I like it!

    Michael Toback 05/13/05 04:54:36 PM EDT

    OK maybe you would have been right 10 years ago, but you left out a small detail.

    Both the corporate suit and consultant learned their trade writing code. Many US companies are oursourcing code and low-level design that new grads used to do to places like India. So how are the new generation going to learn to become senior software engineers? For the most part, companies need to figure this out, or there won't be any software engineers to hire and even the brilliant managers who kept wall street happy will be replaced by their counterparts in Mumbai since that's where ALL of the product development will be...

    Gustavo 05/13/05 10:36:21 AM EDT

    S, don't be so short minded. Besides the fact that my relation with Siemens is purely anecdoctal in this comment, what you are saying is simply false, and I have enough arguments to revoque you.
    I agree with you that no one is indispensable. It's just a matter of costs.

    S 05/13/05 09:06:04 AM EDT

    Another thing to note is:
    1. Siemens is the worst supporter of Java as it is a long-time ally of Micrososft (which has shown well-known intent in crushing competition). So don't even consider Siemens in Java discussions.
    2. If you are the company owner and the person who works for you now takes care of 75% of the company, and one day you realise, people respect him/her and focus on him/her more than you and you feel like loosing your company to that person, what will you do? YOU WILL LOOK FOR ALL THE REASONS IN THE WORLD TO LAY HIM OFF!!! :-)! Believe it or not no one is indispensable. In fact there are people who create all the problems in their work that only they can fix and they become indispensable 'cos otherwise company becomes dispensable :).

    VS 05/13/05 08:47:27 AM EDT

    Being a java guru and a guru of many more things, sets you WAY apart from the rest of the people that it creates ego issues (with less knowledgeable bosses and their less knowledgeable supporters). Lay off is company politics, does not have anything to do with experience. I have seen things like trying to concentrate people from one technology area in order for some people to wield power. It does not have anything to do with knowledge. In fact, the least knowledgeable are retained as they tend to be of "yes boss" types and will do every dog work assigned including taking sides in office gang wars.

    Jeff Highman 05/13/05 07:52:01 AM EDT

    Cute article, but you missed the obvious resolution. "I have seen the writing in the wall, dont't think I need anything at all..."

    In today's corperate culture, your always better off being an Army of One.

    Gustavo 05/13/05 07:07:10 AM EDT

    As an a nearly 50 Java Evangelist, formerly free-lance consultant and programmer, and currently belonging to a huge company like Siemens, and over everything else, as a Pink Floyd´s fan, it is simply terrific.

    IoT & Smart Cities Stories
    The current age of digital transformation means that IT organizations must adapt their toolset to cover all digital experiences, beyond just the end users’. Today’s businesses can no longer focus solely on the digital interactions they manage with employees or customers; they must now contend with non-traditional factors. Whether it's the power of brand to make or break a company, the need to monitor across all locations 24/7, or the ability to proactively resolve issues, companies must adapt to...
    We are seeing a major migration of enterprises applications to the cloud. As cloud and business use of real time applications accelerate, legacy networks are no longer able to architecturally support cloud adoption and deliver the performance and security required by highly distributed enterprises. These outdated solutions have become more costly and complicated to implement, install, manage, and maintain.SD-WAN offers unlimited capabilities for accessing the benefits of the cloud and Internet. ...
    Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
    DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that "IoT Now" was named media sponsor of CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO 2018 New York, which will take place on November 11-13, 2018 in New York City, NY. IoT Now explores the evolving opportunities and challenges facing CSPs, and it passes on some lessons learned from those who have taken the first steps in next-gen IoT services.
    Founded in 2000, Chetu Inc. is a global provider of customized software development solutions and IT staff augmentation services for software technology providers. By providing clients with unparalleled niche technology expertise and industry experience, Chetu has become the premiere long-term, back-end software development partner for start-ups, SMBs, and Fortune 500 companies. Chetu is headquartered in Plantation, Florida, with thirteen offices throughout the U.S. and abroad.
    DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICC-USA, a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. ICC is a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances to meet a wide range of ...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
    René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
    Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
    @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place November 12-13 in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd international CloudEXPO | first international DXWorldEXPO and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time t...