Paul Blackwell

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since Mar 13, 2014
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Recent posts by Paul Blackwell

So - several months on and I thought it would be useful to update this post for people in a similar situation and maybe interesting for those who contributed:

In the end I did find another opportunity at a small company, and I'm pleased to report the first couple of months in my new job have been SO much better. Even after a couple of weeks I felt I had contributed so much to the business and that this was being valued.

However while I was looking at some other opportunities before the switch, in this case I was approached by a company director and the role seemed a really good fit for me and for them. I guess I was very lucky to be in the right place at the right time, and I do feel this change has done a lot for my career especially after finding out so many people are leaving my previous employer that I had those bad experiences with.

Obviously I'm still in the 'honeymoon' period of this new job, but there have been no alarm bells whatsoever this time which is a good sign. The impact of feeling productive, respected and valued, as well as not being taken advantage of should not be underestimated. Ultimately I think I prefer smaller companies, but above all I think the most important thing I've learned is that there are good times and bad times in all jobs and that your current job does not define you as a person. Life and indeed your career is so much bigger than the intricate details of things you are working on at the time. Also knowing what you can and can't achieve and what you can and can't change comes with experience and the better I get at evaluating that, the less likely I seem to get too stressed out about it all.
7 years ago
OK, I should continue by saying I in no way think I am hugely experienced or have all the answers. However, each time I have left a company - I have had them tell me I've done some really good work for them and I owe them nothing because I've paid back the investment they've made in me. So far each move has been a small progression in my career, to the point where I'm now at a stage where in terms of the responsibility I have - I'm quite happy. This last company I moved to because I felt it was a great long term opportunity - I have been here a year and a half now and I never intended to be this disillusioned with it so early on. Also - I'm in my late 20s and while I've only been professionally programming for 3 years, I have a CS degree and dabbled with code since I was a little kid. So while I don't know everything I'm no 'grasshopper' either (in terms of software and life in general).

Maybe setting the scene would help a little: Before I joined I had no idea this company had a policy of making regular lay offs at least every couple of years. The 'pep-talk' my manager gave me when I joined the company equated to something like - 'We're making cuts soon so I'm taking a risk with you and you better perform'... not exactly a great welcome is it? And I joined at a time when morale within the company was probably at an all-time low. Given these factors this job has been the toughest I've had so far - not in terms of difficult or hard work, but definitely in terms of a hostile atmosphere.

Despite this, until recently, we had a great team within the company, fostering an atmosphere of collaboration. But now as I say, my fellow team members with whom I have a great rapport are starting to leave.

I get what the last two posters have said - I should really stick it out for a while and not become a habitual 'quitter', which is what I'm currently doing. But I can't say that if a good opportunity presented itself I would turn it down on the basis that I should 'see how things turn out' here. Additionally regarding seniority of job titles and challenging the VPs - I think I have every right to do it (in exceptional circumstances where somebody more senior is making a clearly awful decision) even if it might not be great for my career. I'd rather stand up for what I believe in than 'suck it up' and have things implode without airing my (and my coworkers) concerns.

Thanks for all your views though - I'm glad to have a mixture of opinions which is starting to help me sort out things in my head. I'm certainly not going to make any rash decisions.
7 years ago

Ulf Dittmer wrote:
Are other developers in your team feeling similarly about these issues? If they do, then the team lead or manager should be rather interested to hear about these, as they lower productivity.

Yes, in fact one has already left the company as a result after raising many issues with our manager and I'm sure others like me are considering leaving too. I can't blame a specific aspect of the company or individual managers wholly for this, but everything comes together creating an atmosphere that makes it very hard to find the motivation, feeling like you're not as productive as you could be.

Maybe I have a defeatist attitude but I started this year thinking I should just not worry so much about things and coast along, but it is starting to get to me that I feel my job could be so much more than it is.

Like you say, maybe contracting/remote isn't for me either. Another option would be to go back to working for smaller companies, but I know they can have their problems too. I have wondered about a complete career change, but having come this far, acquiring lots of skills it seems like a waste.
7 years ago

Having been at different companies I've definitely seen there is an adjustment period to being trusted by management, but I do think my current manager trusts me now.

I do my best to improve and suggest things but lately I've become pretty despondent about it because its such a battle to convince anyone of the benefit of anything new. I've had minor successes but its a slow process (maybe because I now work for quite a big company?)

I realise there is more to development than coding, and I know I'll never spend 100% of my time doing it. But designing, implementing and seeing the results of my code working 'in the wild' is what I really enjoy about the job. What I don't like having to worry about is interpreting vague requirements, refining poorly thought out ideas/designs, lengthy investigations which involve trying to get information from people at the HQ which is in another country etc. I know my strongest skills lie in being an 'implementer', but I increasingly seem to get less chance to just do that and more administrative tasks and code tweaks.

At least as you say, these problems are common so I can't be the only one facing this. I have definitely thought about contracting as well as remote working as a possible solution.
7 years ago
I've been a Java software developer for over three years now and in that time I've worked at 3 different companies. Not meaning to be big-headed, but I am a very capable developer and most recently had a large proportion of input into a project which should continue to generate profit for the company for years to come.

However I feel very disillusioned with the software industry. Here are just some of the issues I've come across:
- Wildly altering scope
- Awful decisions about requirements from VPs that don't have a clue - turning would-be innovative projects into disasters waiting to happen
- Way too much noise and bureaucracy meaning I spend less and less time coding (way less than 50%)
- No desire to allow employees to truly innovate or develop their careers (many companies pay 'lip service' to this only)
- Micromanagement of the 'important'/visible things to make sure managers in question 'look good'
- Managers who continually put themselves before their team members
- Disillusioned experienced developers that baby-sit legacy products and no desire to help/mentor new developers... which could be me in a few years if I stay...

Basically I'm fed up with the way things are done in my current employer. However I get a fairly good salary and I could probably just coast along here for years, not learning much new or progressing.

I know this sounds whiny - comparative to some I have a great job. But I don't know where its heading: I've been advised I may prefer remote working and started applying for remote positions. Ultimately I want to become a respected senior developer that has to deal with a minimum of non-sense - I have no problem mentoring less experienced staff or taking on more responsibility - I already do this beyond my job description anyway. I'm also trying to start my own business with a friend, but this is a long hard road and wont happen overnight.

At times I've felt like quitting my job before I even have an alternate plan for the future, I guess we all have those moments of frustration?

Can anyone offer any advice or encouragement, or indeed discouragement from my current path... I'm willing to consider *anything* really?
7 years ago