Welcome!

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.

    Latest Stories
    Despite being the market leader, we recognized the need to transform and reinvent our business at Dynatrace, before someone else disrupted the market. Over the course of three years, we changed everything - our technology, our culture and our brand image. In this session we'll discuss how we navigated through our own innovator's dilemma, and share takeaways from our experience that you can apply to your own organization.
    Blockchain has numerous revolutionary ambitions, but technology hasn’t evolved enough to make them practical. What is the best use of blockchain technology today? How are asset owners and managers looking at blockchain to transform ownership structures? How will blockchain technology allow global investors to access new markets? What kinds of companies will take advantage of blockchain technology as a more efficient way to raise capital?
    This session describes how Professional Services organisations can deliver within Technology-as-a-Service (IaaS) constructs, in private and public enterprise cloud scenarios. See how professional services can be packaged and funded by IaaS cash flows, based upon consumption of technology services. Learn how significant, IT infrastructure transformations can be funded through OPEX spending models with multi-year As-a-Services based contracts. Understand how the automation of repeatable services c...
    Since their inception, Total Uptime has been delivering on their promise of unprecedented uptime to major brands as well as Fortune 500 corporations in the United States and around the world. Their Cloud network spans 17 countries and delivers the unique ability to seamlessly route Internet traffic from one site to the next when our customers need us to. It is built on the best SSAE 16 SOC 2 Type 2 and CSAE 3416 Datacenters and boasts an impressive line-up of Network and Transit Provider Redunda...
    ​Blockchain, also known as Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), can be used for more than just crypto currencies. This presentation discusses how blockchain and the Internet of Things (IOT) can be used for several supply chain management and logistics use cases. Real world examples that utilize the open source project Hyperledger will be discussed.
    Gym Solutions is a software as a service (SaaS) solution purpose-built to service the fitness industry, with over 1000 clients servicing over 2 million gym members across 40 countries making Perfect Gym Solutions one of the largest and fastest growing SaaS applications in the fitness industry. Their platform is a comprehensive package of modern modular products for the management of fitness clubs, sports facilities and gyms an end- to end solution, revolutionising the way that gyms are managed. ...
    Enterprises are universally struggling to understand where the new tools and methodologies of DevOps fit into their organizations, and are universally making the same mistakes. These mistakes are not unavoidable, and in fact, avoiding them gifts an organization with sustained competitive advantage, just like it did for Japanese Manufacturing Post WWII.
    Eric Taylor, a former hacker, reveals what he's learned about cybersecurity. Taylor's life as a hacker began when he was just 12 years old and playing video games at home. Russian hackers are notorious for their hacking skills, but one American says he hacked a Russian cyber gang at just 15 years old. The government eventually caught up with Taylor and he pleaded guilty to posting the personal information on the internet, among other charges. Eric Taylor, who went by the nickname Cosmo...
    There's no doubt that blockchain technology is a powerful tool for the enterprise, but bringing it mainstream has not been without challenges. As VP of Technology at 8base, Andrei is working to make developing a blockchain application accessible to anyone. With better tools, entrepreneurs and developers can work together to quickly and effectively launch applications that integrate smart contracts and blockchain technology. This will ultimately accelerate blockchain adoption on a global scale.
    As the fourth industrial revolution continues to march forward, key questions remain related to the protection of software, cloud, AI, and automation intellectual property. Recent developments in Supreme Court and lower court case law will be reviewed to explain the intricacies of what inventions are eligible for patent protection, how copyright law may be used to protect application programming interfaces (APIs), and the extent to which trademark and trade secret law may have expanded relev...
    The Blockchain Benchmark asks and answers the questions many people want to know about the state of Blockchain: What are the biggest barriers? What was your motivation to get involved? When will it mainstream? Who are the true influencers? What are its top use cases? Who will win over the next 5 years? How will the future unfold? And 20+ other valuable questions.
    Ivo Lukas is the Founder/CEO for 24Notion. 24Notion is the first integrated marketing/digital PR & lifestyle agency with special emphasis on giving back to the global communities. With a broad understanding the art of non- traditional marketing, new media, communications and social influence. 24Notion ranked #12 in Corporate Philanthropy nominated by Portland Business Journal Book of List.
    SUSE is a German-based, multinational, open-source software company that develops and sells Linux products to business customers. Founded in 1992, it was the first company to market Linux for the enterprise. Founded in 1992, SUSE is the world’s first provider of an Enterprise Linux distribution. Today, thousands of businesses worldwide rely on SUSE for their mission-critical computing and IT management needs.
    Provide an overview of the capabilities of Azure Stack allowing you or your customers to adopt truly consistent Hybrid Cloud capabilities to deliver greater productivity in your cloud world. Ultan Kinahan is on a member of the Global Black Belt team at Microsoft with a focus on Azure Stack Hybrid Cloud. Ultan has been in the Azure team since the beginning, Has held roles in Engineering, Sales and now consults with both small to medium size business and the worlds largest organizations on how to ...
    SAP is the world leader in enterprise applications in terms of software and software-related service revenue. Based on market capitalization, we are the world's third largest independent software manufacturer. Harness the power of your data and accelerate trusted outcome-driven innovation by developing intelligent and live solutions for real-time decisions and actions on a single data copy. Support next-generation transactional and analytical processing with a broad set of advanced analytics - r...