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I'm confused with my career

Tom Duffy
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 12, 2008
Posts: 8
Hey all...

I am at a confusing point in my career. I thought I would pose my scenario here on the forums and hopefully get some pointers. Here is the deal...

I am a developer with about 15 years of experience. I have been in various development positions during that time ranging anywhere from coding in Delphi, C++, to most recently Java. During my career, I have only worked for five different companies. Two of which make up probably about 3/4 of my career. I was fortunate enough to basically start coding in Java right when Java was new in 1995 and have been coding it in ever since with small stints here in there in other languages as needed.

Now for the problem. I have been in my various jobs for so long that although I was getting great Java experience, I was not keeping up with the curve with a lot of the web technologies that emerged over the years. I was doing straight client/server work...mostly written in Java with stuff using Swing, JDBC, Oracle, etc. Mainly plain vanilla client/server Java stuff with very little web work. As a result, a year or so ago, I found myself really out of touch with basically web development as a whole since I had not worked at a company that dealt with web technologies.

So about a year or so ago, I decided that I had better bite the bullet and try to find something new. I decided to shoot for a contract that used some or all of these technologies. I figured I was going to have a difficult time landing one, but low and behold I eventually did find one! So now I am doing completely web oriented work working with stuff like Spring, AJAX, Javascript, JSP, XML, iBatis and Servlets. I have been at this contract for almost a year or so. Although I am learning TONS of new stuff, I am not primarily getting a chance to leverage my core Java experience that I have.

The problem really is that since these technologies are so foreign to me, I still do not feel comfortable with them. In a lot of ways, I feel like a newbie and like I started over since I am pretty green in a lot of these. I miss that feeling that I really KNOW what I am doing since I know the technology that I am working in so well. Up until I took this contract, I felt like I really knew what I was doing, but now, I don't!

So, basically my question is...should I feel this way? Should I find something that is more suited to my skill set and transition more slowly into web related work? Should I go back to doing what I was doing? Am I just being lame and should shut up because I am fortunate to even have a job right now?? I honestly don't know what to do.

Please help.
Sai Surya
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 08, 2006
Posts: 457

Well, on the positive side you DO have a job right now, moreover this job you are currently in, is about the stuff you don't know much. So take it as an opportunity to pick up things. I am sure it takes some time. I don't recommend changing job at this moment.

I am surprised that you have 15 years of experience why can't you try to involve in the design, architecture roles.
For your experience an archictect role should be justified.


Sai Surya, SCJP 5.0, SCWCD 5.0, IBM 833 834
http://sai-surya-talk.blogspot.com, I believe in Murphy's law.
Tom Duffy
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 12, 2008
Posts: 8
Well I have thought along those exact lines...I don't know if this makes any sense to anybody but me, but my heart is in coding. I don't want to be in endless meetings going over the budget, whether x y or z feature is in or out, our direction, etc., etc. At this point in my career, I do not want to take the management route. In my opinion, nearly all the architects that I have worked with over the years are essentially technical managers. They might be smart and talented individuals and are usually extremely proficient coders, but unless you are at a very small company, they are primarily not the ones who actually write any of the code. They essentially steer the ship technically. Although this might be appealing to me someday, I don't think I want to go there now.

Don't get me wrong. I don't want to sit in a cave and just write code all day and talk to no one. I realize that having meetings, planning, and interacting with other people from the development team as well as other teams is absolutely necessary to a project. I just prefer to spend most of my time banging out code rather than talking about it!
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18532
    
  40

The problem really is that since these technologies are so foreign to me, I still do not feel comfortable with them. In a lot of ways, I feel like a newbie and like I started over since I am pretty green in a lot of these. I miss that feeling that I really KNOW what I am doing since I know the technology that I am working in so well. Up until I took this contract, I felt like I really knew what I was doing, but now, I don't!

So, basically my question is...should I feel this way? Should I find something that is more suited to my skill set and transition more slowly into web related work? Should I go back to doing what I was doing?


I don't think that you are giving your 15 years of experience any credit. Your experience is more than the languages, and APIs that you know. It is also the development skills, debugging skills, testing skills, and even the abilty at learning skills. Trust your experience, and you'll get back into your comfort level, faster than a really green developer will.

Henry


Books: Java Threads, 3rd Edition, Jini in a Nutshell, and Java Gems (contributor)
Vijay Dharap
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 18, 2004
Posts: 32
I miss that feeling that I really KNOW what I am doing since I know the technology that I am working in so well. Up until I took this contract, I felt like I really knew what I was doing, but now, I don't!


Well, If you just keep going with all the onslaught of as-of-now new technologies to you for some more time... Pretty soon, you would again KNOW all-these-right-now-new technologies to a decent level. So... just give it a little more time :-)

As for your years of experience in core java.. it certainly comes handy in hidden ways .. in form of familiarity to concepts, familiarity to read and decipher a badly written code, isn't it?




Vijay dharap,
<a href="http://dharapvj.wordpress.com" rel="nofollow">Blog</a>
arulk pillai
Author
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 31, 2007
Posts: 3219
I have been contracting for the past 5+ years and I go through a steep learning curve for the the first 3-6 weeks in every new assignment. That is why I really like contracting. Technologies, frameworks, languages and tools come and go. Some don't even make it to the mainstream. So, select carefully what you want to learn (i.e. read & apply to experience). Also, So, invest in learning the core concepts and fundamentals. Once your core concepts are clear, learning a new language, tool or framework should be easier and is a matter of time.


So, hang in there and keep acquiring new skills. Things will fall into place with time and effort.


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