Home‎ > ‎

IT Career Myths Debunked

  1. Writing unmaintainable code gives you job security
    This kind of security is short lived. When the boss can't find someone else to maintain it, he'll get agitated. It'll be a thorn that eventually gets pulled out by acquiring or developing new software with a different team or employee. Nor should you underestimate the abilities of someone to refactor your code. You'll be toast before long, and you won't even leave with good references. However, if you are working at a firm that's too inept to replace you, consider how long that firm's likely to to stay solvent

  2. You should always work for a company that scores 12 on the Joel Test
    All else being equal, it's a good idea to favor companies that have source control, bug tracking and the other common-sense essentials enumerated on Joel's test, but after that it's mainly a question of culture, future, and pay. Some companies that score 12 are terrible places to work and won't survive a modest recession, while others that score only 6 or less may pay better, have a brighter future, more stability, and better people. The motivation of your coworkers has an even bigger impact than all of Spolsky's factors put together

  3. Programmers are royalty
    While the grunts in the warehouse show up at 7am and the phone reps arrive at 8:30, programmers think it's okay to waltz in at 9:12 and take over an hour for lunch because, for programmers, attendance isn't correlated with productivity. While the last part is true for good programmers, in the world of IT it's still not an excuse. You'll just have to accept that you're no better than anybody else below management. Slack off--or appear to slack off--and you'll get fired, even if you think you have job security (see point #1) or stayed up coding until 11pm. If you really value freedom of hours then you should try working for a tech startup, where your boss is likely to be working weird hours, too

  4. Everything is being outsourced to India
    Business trends come and go. Managers identify software development as another form of skilled labor that can be outsourced. Maybe in 2005 that was management truth, but now most of those jobs are coming back because a few years into this experiment has made it clear that the results weren't worth it. Two things happened: 1) the companies spent a lot of money, got a pile of crap and learned their lesson, or 2) they went out of business partly because they entered a recession with a pile of crap and insufficient local talent to fix it

  5. You can make more money in consulting / contracting
    It is true that consulting firms can both charge more and deliver less, which theoretically means more cash for you. It's also true that some gigs can be spectacular tours of new technology and exciting problems for awesome pay. And every aspiring actor who goes to Hollywood makes it big like Tom Cruise. The mundane reality is that most of the work is dull and unrewarding, is terribly prone to miscommunication that result in useless deliverables, and it's easier to fire a consultant than a full time employee. This means a great deal of turnover, both of the consulting firm's employees and the consulting firms themselves. Freelancing offers very few freedoms, too; you may be able to work when and where you like, but it's very difficult to maintain a livable income (and even just to collect on your promised income)--you'll have to work very hard to stay ahead of ruin

  6. IT means Java, C#, and nothing else
    The smaller the company, the more likely the management will be open to other technologies. The reason why they tend to insist upon dirty, diesel powered leviathans like Java is because they don't understand technology, so they look for what everybody else is doing as an indicator of safety. The bigger the firm, the more conservative it tends to be, but even in the belly of the behemoth you can find better tools in use for experimental and research projects, non-critical systems, and departments that have been given greater autonomy--like if that autonomy was given to take advantage of a new market opportunity. See if you can join the team set up to "figure out this Twitter thing"