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work at home option

dhanashree ghaskadbi
Greenhorn

Joined: Apr 26, 2001
Posts: 6
Friends
I am an MBA with 5 years work experience. Took a break of almost
5 years. I have started learning Java with the help of JavaRanch.
What are the skills/ softwares I need to learn along with Java?
I wish to get back to work .
Can somebody tell me whether companies allow employees to work from home ? What kind of arrangement is it?
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
If you look around this forum, you will see lots of posts on what Java technologies to learn, e.g. Swing, RMI, EJB, etc. If you know how to program, you can learn this stuff JIT-style. I give a talk to junior engineers suggesting that they learn more about the software development process. Slides from this talk, along with notes and references, can be found at http://web.mit.edu/hershey/www/Real_World_Software_Engineering_files/v3_document.htm

--Mark
hershey@vaultus.com
Annie Weaver
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 17, 2001
Posts: 50
Mark, thanks for the ref. I wish my company was half that organized! We still write code the hard way (without planning or requirements) and I need to be exposed to other approaches. Thanks!
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
As for working at home, that's unlikely. If you have a contract position it's possible. But if you an employee, especially one with little software experience, they're unlikely to let you have the level of supervision you get from home (at least, that's how I would feel). That's not to say companies aren't flexible; many may let you work one day a week from home, or 35-40 in the office, and the rest at home. But working primarily form home for a novice programmer is unlikely.
--Mark
hershey@vaultus.com
John Coxey
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 24, 2000
Posts: 503
If your company has flex time - you can do work at home.
Usually, you average 25 hours a week in the office and the rest at home. As long as the work gets done - no one really cares.
I get a heck of alot more done at home than at work. I also love to program between mid and 5AM. It's utterly dead around the place. I can get on the Internet and pull up some webcameras (train ones - even if it's still dark). And away I go.
However, I do believe the ones who are visible in the office are the ones who get promoted. But, I am not looking for a management position. I am looking to broaden my technical skill base at this point in time. So personally, I don't care what others thing about me not being in the office.
So long as I don't catch hell.
Your goal is to be in a position (techincally wise) , that if the company screws you - you screw them and go onto the next one.
Once a company realizes you have the skills - they leave you alone.
-------
What I used to do at EDS - was take a beeper and cell phone with me when I went fishing. You can see my other posts regarding fishing elsewhere on this board.
Many times I did production support while standing in the middle of a trout stream.
Of course, EDS was a 60+ hour per week job with about 40% travel between Philly and Dayton, OH. Since we provided 24*7 production support - no one cared where you fielded the phone call.
It's a pain though when the situation / system crash dictates you have to come into the office. We were a suite and tie shop and many times I came in with soaking wet waders. Also came in gym shorts at 2AM - and was stuck until noon the next day.
Got hell many many times for wearing just a t-shirt and gym shorts and tennis shoes with no socks over to the suite and tie (jackets required) cafeteria.
But, no one else would do 24*7 production support - week after week (we did not rotate). So EDS left me alone. And I got them to help pay for 1st year MS-Compuer Science program at Lehigh.
Unfortunately, after 2 years at EDS - the job relocated back to Ohio on a permanent basis.
Hope this helps. Hope you enjoyed my story.
Johnny
(jpcoxey@aol.com)


John Coxey
Evansville, Indiana, USA
Annie Weaver
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 17, 2001
Posts: 50
I worked from home for a while as a temp for a startup where the office wasn't big enough for the two of us. It was awkward because the boss was so busy, and I never knew whether to charge the time I spent waiting for him - waiting for a copy of the latest build, etc. In the end, I made up a policy of adding up all the grey time (where I wasn't working because I was waiting for something from him or some other delay not under my control) and charging him for half of it.
That was my first programmer job, and I wish I had had more oversight. Now I have two years experience (total programming, all in java) and I still have never had code reviews. So the goal of finding a mentor who has time to read your code is a good one, but it may not happen even if you work at the office.
dhanashree ghaskadbi
Greenhorn

Joined: Apr 26, 2001
Posts: 6
Thanks everybody.
Jonny your story is interesting.
Annie's experience is also informative for me.
Thank you Mark for the slides. They are very intersting and informative. I'll definetly try to work on those lines.
Can you please tell me what kind of arrangement will it be if I am in a contract position?

dhanashree ghaskadbi
Greenhorn

Joined: Apr 26, 2001
Posts: 6
Hi Mark,

I found your slides to be very good. From your slides I gather that there is a lot more to software development than just learning a language. Actually i need some advice of the sort.

I am an MBA (Finance) with 5 years work experience.After a break , I am trying to build a career in software development .
I am looking at this from a long term point of view. I would like to be on my own in future i.e. an entrepreneur of the sort and want to build the skills accordingly.
At this stage I first wish to decide on the skills I need to develop in order to attain this goal.
I wish to develop a perspective regarding Software development as such. Can you please tell me how do I go about this?

After learning programming, I can work outside home maybe for one year but then I want to operate from home after that.
Recently I read about outsourcing. Do companies outsource their work to individuals/smaller outfits provided the level of competency is there?

Can you please tell me more about this?
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by dhanashree ghaskadbi:
I am looking at this from a long term point of view. I would like to be on my own in future i.e. an entrepreneur of the sort and want to build the skills accordingly.
At this stage I first wish to decide on the skills I need to develop in order to attain this goal.
I wish to develop a perspective regarding Software development as such. Can you please tell me how do I go about this?

After learning programming, I can work outside home maybe for one year but then I want to operate from home after that.
Recently I read about outsourcing. Do companies outsource their work to individuals/smaller outfits provided the level of competency is there?

First recognize that those who run their own companies can't know everything. Usually you start with a few friends. At least one guys knows about software development. Another guys knows about finance and fund raising. Another knows about management; another about marketing; and yet another about operations, and HR, and technical support, and accounting, and... That's a lot of different skills sets. Maybe you can know 2 or even 3 areas, but you can't know them all. So decide what you want to provide. In my case, if I ever start a company, I'll provide technical leadership, and maybe HR management. I won't even touch finance and generally don't know much about operations. I'm also not good at management in general. So I'm continuing to develop my skills in those areas I've named. I'll find friends who have the missing skills and get together with them.
You should probably read up on how to start your own company, and then figure out on what areas you, personally, wish to focus. Unfortuntaely, I don't know any off the top of my head, except for software development. (Although I'm sure many exist.)

Assuming you're interested in being the guy knowledgable about software development, start by reading some of the books I list in my talk (a reference listing is given at http://web.mit.edu/hershey/www/Real_World_Software_Engineering_files/references.txt) Also go to software meetings in your area. Some may be directly useful, like design pattern reading groups. Others may be more indirect, e.g. a Linux user's group, where the focus in on Linux, but you meet, interact, and learn from other software developers. You can learn about these by looking around the web and askgin around newsgroups.
Unfortunately, the best way to learn is by doing. Reading alone won't help you. Even worse, for most of us, you only learn if you either see somethng done really well, or really badly; average doesn't stand out and so you're not likely to remember it.
I suspect one year isn't going to be enough time to really expose you to much about the software development process. You really need to see 2-3 release cycles of at least 2 different products. A release cycle can be anywhere from 2 months to 2 years, but figure that on average it will take 4-6 months per cycle.
I would recommend trying to find a small startup with a really smart technical guy (or financy guy if you want finance, or HR guy if you want to learn HR, etc). Becaue it's a startup, you get a lot of different exposure to the whole process. If there's a really smart guy, you get to learn from him. But no matter how smart he is, there will be mistakes. Specifically, you'll make mistakes (I certainly did), and those are the one's from which you'll learn the most.
As for working form home, yeah, you can be an independent contractor working off-site, but unless you have significant experience or expertise, I doubt they'd take some one with so little experience (unless your other 5 years of experience is somehow relevant).

--Mark
hershey@vaultus.com
[This message has been edited by Mark Herschberg (edited May 03, 2001).]
 
 
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