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Taming the Technology Tidal Wave: Practical Career Advice for IT Professionals

Jacquie Barker
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Joined: Dec 20, 2000
Posts: 201
Hello, folks! My first line of business this morning will be to answer all of the questions that have been posted elsewhere about my book ... please stay tuned!



Author of Beginning Java Objects, Beginning C# Objects, and Taming the Technology Tidal Wave
Priya dharshini
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 06, 2005
Posts: 78
Hi,
Am presently workign as a developer. Am realy confused that which career path, i should take(whether technical path or management path). Early days i thought of moving in the technical path. But now I feel I can do management role better than techie. Please advice.

Thanks & Regards,
Priyadharshini . T
Bindu Lakhanpal
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 17, 2008
Posts: 163

Hi Jacquie Barker,
There is some problem at intro.pdf file.It is not opening.
I am a fresher and am really interested to read your book to know the way to tame the technology tidal wave!
Jacquie Barker
author
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 20, 2000
Posts: 201
Priya dharshini wrote:Hi,
Am presently workign as a developer. Am realy confused that which career path, i should take(whether technical path or management path). Early days i thought of moving in the technical path. But now I feel I can do management role better than techie. Please advice.


Making the decision between a management versus technical career path is a major decision, so I am glad you are seeking advice BEFORE you do so!

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that once you move into a management career path, it's difficult to return to a technical path, for a variety of reasons that I discuss under "Tip 25: Climbing DOWN the Corporate Ladder." For one thing, you'll get pressure from friends and family to stick with a management path even if it doesn't suit you, because there is seemingly more prestige in a management role; secondly, your company will most likely want you to stay in a management track, because good managers -- especially those with a good understanding of technology basics -- are hard to come by. Finally, there's the fear that having been out of a technical track for a while makes you "stale" (a fear that isn't necessarily true, which is one of the reasons that I wrote my book in the first place!), but a fear that keeps people frozen in place nonetheless.

Some people think they can have their cake and eat it too -- namely, take on a management role but keep technically involved as well -- but as I explain under "Tip 24: Caution: Management Crossing," it's very, very difficult to do both: management responsibilities virtually always take priority over technical when crises arise. Being a manager is like being a parent: you may be having fun tossing a ball around with your children in the back yard, but if the hamburgers on the grill start to burn, it's YOUR job to attend to the grill!

Before you make any career decision that takes you away from what you are doing now -- whether that be moving into management or changing careers entirely -- make sure you understand what your day-to-day life will be like in the new role by talking to plenty of folks who are already there. The grass may look greener -- make sure it truly IS before changing pastures!

Regards,

Jacquie
Jacquie Barker
author
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Joined: Dec 20, 2000
Posts: 201
Bindu Lakhanpal wrote:Hi Jacquie Barker,
There is some problem at intro.pdf file.It is not opening.
I am a fresher and am really interested to read your book to know the way to tame the technology tidal wave!


Alas, I'm having trouble with my techtidalwave.com website.

I'll be rehosting all of my Tidal Wave material to my primary website, objectstart.com, within the week -- as soon as it is available, I'll post the new URL to this forum. Thanks for your patience in the meantime!

Cheers,

Jacquie
Jacquie Barker
author
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 20, 2000
Posts: 201
Mike Hancock wrote:Don't know if the feeling of "been there, done that" is what you had in mind, but I would certainly be interested in a strategy to address that issue. Is there a way that you know of to get over that feeling on nothing new under the sun?


First question for you, Mike, is: What led you into an IT career in the first place?

If you think back to when you first got started, and remember being excited then, make a list of what aspects of your career have made you happiest; next, consider your current role -- are there changes you can make to recapture your prior enthusiasm? A different role on your current project; a different project; different colleagues who are more fun to work with? Or, perhaps it isn't your job at all, but rather that you need to "spice things up" outside of work, perhaps with a new hobby?

As I discuss under "Tip 1: Be True to Your Heart," we spend, on average, 40 hours a week for 50 weeks each year in pursuit of our careers. If the typical IT career lasts for 40 years (ages 21 to 60), this adds up to 80,000 hours, or the equivalent of nine years' worth of our lifetimes! Life is simply too short to devote this much time to something that isn't thoroughly enjoyable.

If you've NEVER been happy as a "techie," it might be time for a career change; but, if you can remember some career "highs," and can put your finger on what made them high, you're on the right track to recapturing the joy!

Best,

Jacquie
Jacquie Barker
author
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 20, 2000
Posts: 201
Burk Hufnagel wrote:Jacquie,

Let me start by saying that I was a "technical reviewer" for a different techie career book and provided the author with feedback prior to its publication earlier this year.

Without promoting that book, I'm curious about how Taming the Technology Tidal Wave compares to other books addressing career advice for techies?

I suspect it's difficult do a comparison without using specific names, but from the reviews of your book on amazon and what I was able to read on your web site your book looks pretty interesting, so I'd really like to know. Is there a "sample chapter" or something similar available?


Thanks,
Burk


Every (career) book is hopefully distilled from a particular author's own career experiences. With "Tidal Wave," I've distilled my own personal "lessons learned" from over 30 years spent as an IT professional -- lessons that I've shared with colleagues and friends, to their benefit -- in the hope that I can help others to avoid some of the pitfalls common to IT career paths, such as:

  • Chasing after every new technology that comes along, before it is truly ready for prime time;
  • Getting stuck in an old technology because it is comfortable;
  • Underestimating how your knowledge of "X" can be applied to learning "Y" -- i.e., that just because something SEEMS dramatically different, it probably isn't.

  • Here's a glimpse at the table of contents of my book -- 30 tips to help you maintain leading-edge technical skills without becoming overwhelmed:

    1. BE TRUE TO YOUR HEART
    2. DON'T BE THE FIRST KID ON THE BLOCK WITH A NEW TOY
    3. SAME CANDY, DIFFERENT WRAPPER
    4. IT PAYS TO BE A (WEE BIT) LAZY
    5. BROTHER, CAN YOU PARADIGM? 45
    6. BEWARE OF TECHNOLOGY TAR PITS
    7. STEP OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE
    8. BE WILLING TO START AT THE BOTTOM
    9. BE GENEROUS WITH YOUR KNOWLEDGE
    10. CONSIDER BUILDING A SOLID FOUNDATION
    11. INVEST IN CORPORATE ASSETS: YOU!
    12. BUY YOURSELF A REALLY BIG BOOKSHELF
    13. TAKE TIME TO TINKER
    14. DON’T TRY TO EAT A WHOLE ELEPHANT
    15. IF IT ISN’T BROKEN, DON’T FIX IT
    16. VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME
    17. GET ‘PSYCHED’ FOR YOUR PERFORMANCE REVIEW
    18. MOVE TO A DIFFERENT SQUARE ON THE SAME CHECKERBOARD
    19. TAKING YOUR SHOW ON THE ROAD
    20. RESUME CRAFTING, PART 1: BE CREATIVE
    21. RESUME CRAFTING, PART 2: DO IT OFTEN
    22. CREATE AN ADVERTISEMENT FOR YOURSELF
    23. TO BE OR NOT TO BE … CERTIFIED, THAT IS!
    24. CAUTION: MANAGEMENT CROSSING
    25. CLIMBING DOWN THE CORPORATE LADDER
    26. TAME YOUR FEARS: CREATE AN AFFIRMATION
    27. YOU’RE MORE THAN YOUR CAREER
    28. A JOURNEY, NOT A DESTINATION
    29. FIND A MENTOR (OR TWO) TO BE YOUR GUIDE
    30. RE-READ THIS BOOK ANNUALLY

    I would encourage everyone to consult multiple sources about something as important as one's career path.

    Cheers,

    Jacquie
    Jacquie Barker
    author
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Dec 20, 2000
    Posts: 201
    Amit kull wrote:Hi,
    Steve McConnell in code complete says that your position on the tech wave matters a lot. I agree and sometimes I think that I should have started with Java a couple of years earlier. But it is always driven by outside forces. (?)
    Could you please give brief contents of the book, maybe chapter names/summaries? And by the way, why the word 'tidal'? Is the word used to say something beyond the obvious?


    Amit, it is never too late to learn a technology, so dive into Java now! That being said, make sure you thoroughly understand the object paradigm first -- my book, Beginning Java Objects by Apress, teaches both Java and objects in parallel, and was written specifically for folks who are wanting to get a proper jump-start with both.

    As I mention in "Tidal Wave" under "Tip 5: Brother, Can You Paradigm?", major changes in the way we approach things -- aka paradigm shifts -- occur very rarely, but are critically important to understand. Since my start in the IT market 30+ years ago, I've seen only a handful of paradigm shifts, as follows:

    • Modular (‘goto-less’) programming (early 70s)

    • Relational database management systems (early 80s)

    • The advent of personal computers and client-server computing (mid 80s)

    • Graphical user interfaces (late 80s)

    • Object-oriented programming (late 70s, but not really commercially popular until the early 90s)

    • The World Wide Web, and the move toward thin client computing (early 90s)

    • The use of XML to represent/exchange data (mid 90s)

    During that same period of time, I’ve seen hundreds of tools, languages, and vendor products come and go.

    Take time now to get caught up on the OO and web app paradigms -- you won't regret it!

    Cheers,

    Jacquie

    P.S. As my cover art suggests, I used "Tidal Wave" in my title because a tidal wave is huge, and overwhelming, and CAN be destructive -- unless like the fellow on my cover, you learn to surf!



    Henry Wong
    author
    Sheriff

    Joined: Sep 28, 2004
    Posts: 18101
        
      39


    Jacquie,

    It is actually very confusing seeing answers in one topic, for questions that was asked in another topic.

    If possible, can the responses be in the topics where the questions were asked?

    Thanks,
    Henry


    Books: Java Threads, 3rd Edition, Jini in a Nutshell, and Java Gems (contributor)
    Jacquie Barker
    author
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Dec 20, 2000
    Posts: 201
    Sure thing, Henry ... will do from here out.
    Burk Hufnagel
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Oct 01, 2001
    Posts: 814
        
        3
    Jacquie Barker wrote: ... Since my start in the IT market 30+ years ago, I've seen only a handful of paradigm shifts ...


    Jacquie,
    What's your take on a couple of things:
    1) There seems to be an increased interest in the creation and use of Domain Specific Languages as a way to make it easier for developers to create programs for a specific purpose.

    2) Functional Programming languages like Scala and Clojure seem to be gaining traction because they make writing concurrent programs (that work properly) much easier; which means that they are more likely to scale up properly.

    Thanks,
    Burk


    SCJP, SCJD, SCEA 5 "Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science!" Agatha Heterodyne (Girl Genius)
    Harish Kommaraju
    Greenhorn

    Joined: Nov 10, 2009
    Posts: 13
    Jacquie,

    Thanks for writing such nice book.

    After reading various responses on this post about the book, I am excited about it and got a feeling that it will surely address some of the situations which we could face
    I will certainly go through it.

    Regards,
    Harish
    arulk pillai
    Author
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: May 31, 2007
    Posts: 3216
    The tips look very motivating and useful. My favourite ones are:


    7. STEP OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE
    8. BE WILLING TO START AT THE BOTTOM
    11. INVEST IN CORPORATE ASSETS: YOU!
    22. CREATE AN ADVERTISEMENT FOR YOURSELF
    29. FIND A MENTOR (OR TWO) TO BE YOUR GUIDE
    30. RE-READ THIS BOOK ANNUALLY


    Java Interview Questions and Answers Blog | Amazon.com profile | Java Interview Books
    Burk Hufnagel
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    Joined: Oct 01, 2001
    Posts: 814
        
        3
    arulk pillai wrote:The tips look very motivating and useful.


    I think so to, though I'm wondering about number 12, BUY YOURSELF A REALLY BIG BOOKSHELF. While I love books and have several overflowing bookshelves myself, I think many people these days are going the eBook route or using services like Safari. Still, I suppose the idea is the same...
    arulk pillai
    Author
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    Joined: May 31, 2007
    Posts: 3216
    Burk Hufnagel wrote:
    arulk pillai wrote:The tips look very motivating and useful.


    I think so to, though I'm wondering about number 12, BUY YOURSELF A REALLY BIG BOOKSHELF. While I love books and have several overflowing bookshelves myself, I think many people these days are going the eBook route or using services like Safari. Still, I suppose the idea is the same...


    I am more into concise books than larger reference books. I would rather have a shared BIG BOOKSHELF at work than at home. Internet is good enough in most cases for reference. I also tend to get rid of the books that become obsolete So, a smaller bookshelf should suffice.
    Amit kull
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    Joined: Jun 05, 2008
    Posts: 46
    Hullo Jacquie,
    Thanks for the answer.
    By the way I started with java around 2005. What I meant was that I should have started java some 3 years earlier. However, point taken. It is never too late.
    Now a corrollary question:
    Another thing: one of the tips says that you should be willing to start at the bottom.
    Is it good to start at the bootom of a big thing or at the bottom of small thing. For example: If I were to suggest a new language to someone I would suggest one newer than java.
    Burk Hufnagel
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Oct 01, 2001
    Posts: 814
        
        3
    Amit kull wrote:Hullo Jacquie,
    Thanks for the answer.
    By the way I started with java around 2005. What I meant was that I should have started java some 3 years earlier. However, point taken. It is never too late.
    Now a corrollary question:
    Another thing: one of the tips says that you should be willing to start at the bottom.
    Is it good to start at the bootom of a big thing or at the bottom of small thing. For example: If I were to suggest a new language to someone I would suggest one newer than java.


    Amit,

    There's benefits to both. If you start at the bottom of a new thing, it's easier to become one of the experts people associate with that technology - which makes you more valuable. The downside is that if the technology doesn't become a big thing, being known as an expert in it isn't worth much. Starting at the bottom of a big thing is easier as there's usually more assistance in learning it (books, other people, or even user groups) but it's harder to become a known expert.

    Just my two cents,
    Burk
    Jacquie Barker
    author
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Dec 20, 2000
    Posts: 201
    arulk pillai wrote:
    Burk Hufnagel wrote:
    arulk pillai wrote:The tips look very motivating and useful.


    I think so to, though I'm wondering about number 12, BUY YOURSELF A REALLY BIG BOOKSHELF. While I love books and have several overflowing bookshelves myself, I think many people these days are going the eBook route or using services like Safari. Still, I suppose the idea is the same...


    I am more into concise books than larger reference books. I would rather have a shared BIG BOOKSHELF at work than at home. Internet is good enough in most cases for reference. I also tend to get rid of the books that become obsolete So, a smaller bookshelf should suffice.


    I agree! My book was published in 2004, when e-Books were just gaining popularity. I buy far fewer traditional books now than I used to -- online tutorials and eBooks are far more cost-effective (and better for the planet! )

    I just did a quick scan through my tips, and Tip 12 is the only one that I feel is "showing its age" at this point ... all of the other tips stand true just as solidly today as when I first commited them to print.

    (I've learned that it doesn't pay to write books that have a short shelf-life -- hence, when I wrote my first book, Beginning Java Objects, I emphasized basic principles of OOP and Java that don't change with new releases of the language. It continues to be a solid seller despite the fact that the second edition is now four years old!)
    Jacquie Barker
    author
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Dec 20, 2000
    Posts: 201
    Burk Hufnagel wrote:
    Amit kull wrote:Hullo Jacquie,
    Thanks for the answer.
    By the way I started with java around 2005. What I meant was that I should have started java some 3 years earlier. However, point taken. It is never too late.
    Now a corrollary question:
    Another thing: one of the tips says that you should be willing to start at the bottom.
    Is it good to start at the bootom of a big thing or at the bottom of small thing. For example: If I were to suggest a new language to someone I would suggest one newer than java.


    Amit,

    There's benefits to both. If you start at the bottom of a new thing, it's easier to become one of the experts people associate with that technology - which makes you more valuable. The downside is that if the technology doesn't become a big thing, being known as an expert in it isn't worth much. Starting at the bottom of a big thing is easier as there's usually more assistance in learning it (books, other people, or even user groups) but it's harder to become a known expert.

    Just my two cents,
    Burk


    Well said, Burk -- I couldn't agree more!

    I went from being a relatively late adopter of Java to a Java instructor/consultant and the author of a popular beginning Java book ... I can't say this often enough, it's never too late to learn something if you learn it well! Way too many people learn things superficially; they know the mechanics of how to use it but not the theory and principles behind it.
    Tauri Valor
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Aug 03, 2005
    Posts: 166
    To keep up with industry’s current technologies and trends, we keep trying to learn and implement new frameworks,tools,technologies etc, and changing domains.. a daunting task ! Do we ever feel accomplished at the end of our careers ?


    A Moment's insight is sometimes worth a Life's experience.
    Jacquie Barker
    author
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Dec 20, 2000
    Posts: 201
    Tauri Valor wrote:To keep up with industry’s current technologies and trends, we keep trying to learn and implement new frameworks,tools,technologies etc, and changing domains.. a daunting task ! Do we ever feel accomplished at the end of our careers ?


    Tauri, please see my response to Amit above regarding learning paradigms ... after 30+ years in an IT career, I feel quite grounded in these, and hence, am content. (Or perhaps I should say, I've achieved "nerdvana"? )

    As discussed in "Tidal Wave," I don't chase after every new technology to come along -- I pick my battles!

    Best wishes in "taming the tidal wave" in your own career!

    Cheers,

    Jacquie
    Kavita Tipnis
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    Joined: Sep 21, 2008
    Posts: 177
    Jacquie Barker wrote:
    6. BEWARE OF TECHNOLOGY TAR PITS

    I think there is no cheat sheet for looking ahead which technologies are going to go down the drain but it comes with experience and only experience,

    Burk Hufnagel
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Oct 01, 2001
    Posts: 814
        
        3
    Jacquie Barker wrote:I can't say this often enough, it's never too late to learn something if you learn it well! Way too many people learn things superficially; they know the mechanics of how to use it but not the theory and principles behind it.[/color]


    Jacquie,
    I completely agree with both statements, especially the importance of knowing the underlying theory and principles behind things. That information is the kind that you can take with you and use. It's not tied to any specific implementation. (Gosh it's hard to write in specifics about broad topics like "technology".)

    Burk
    Arun Kumar
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    Joined: Jan 21, 2005
    Posts: 129

    Hi Jacquie Barker

    I had switched to BSA role from tech lead role almost a year back and was wondering since on whether to go back, and looks like this was the book or the guide line I was looking for

    I am in Australia, Sydney Is it possible to buy the book locally , if so please let me know the distributor/book store name


    Priya dharshini
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Aug 06, 2005
    Posts: 78
    Thank you Jacquie Barker for the career advice.
    Jacquie Barker
    author
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Dec 20, 2000
    Posts: 201
    Arun Kumar wrote:Hi Jacquie Barker

    I had switched to BSA role from tech lead role almost a year back and was wondering since on whether to go back, and looks like this was the book or the guide line I was looking for

    I am in Australia, Sydney Is it possible to buy the book locally , if so please let me know the distributor/book store name


    Arun, please email me at jacquie@objectstart.com regarding purchasing my book internationally ... thanks!
     
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