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Is programmer really profession for youth only?

  Peikai Wang      2012-03-18 07:06:44      2,422    0    0

- dedicated to the new programmers just into the workplace.

One young Chinese friend asked me: is programmer meant only for less experienced youth? Should I consider transition once if I work on it until 30 years old?

While many professionals hold this opinion, this is a mistaken perception resulted from China's reporters with statistics. It is not uncommon to see many white hairs doing conscientious programmer work in Microsoft Corporation. But it seems not the case for Chinese programmers. I will explain the underlying cause for this appearance.

In fact, not only American companies like Microsoft, Oracle, Adobe, Blizzard, in China's IT giants like Kingsoft, Tencent all have very old programmer. The key lies in them doing things different with commonly perceived programmers. What they do are products, rather than projects.

For example: Microsoft hired a programmer for developing Win98. When Win98 entered the market and began earning profits, the programmer’s name was not kicked off from project list, since the product may have bug and need upgrade. All these need this programmer to maintain. So he is not considered un-related after finishing a product, but rather the company will make full use of the programmer and continue to develop newer version. As the version keeps upgrading, although aged, he will be more familiar with the product. This is some unbeatable advantage any newcomers can't compare with. And Microsoft will try to use him until he retired. (This remains the case for the development team of Kingsoft’s JianXia series product)

Another example: an outsourcing company hires a programmer to develop a telecommunication project. When the project completed, the programmer's mission is finished. At most one or two members are left for maintenance. There could be new projects coming of course, but the space for salary of a programmer to go up is limited. When a programmer aged, salary also rises to a certain level. Well, Young professionals are cheaper, more energetic, although lack of experience points, but as long as there is certain experience people leading, a staged team is formed with lower cost and fine combination to develop new project.

During financial crisis of 2008, outsourcing or project type teams were first to be laid off in big IT companies. In 2011, Tencent increased the postings of campus recruitment for development, product, and design positions despite of large-scale job cut. Generally speaking, unless a company changes its way of thinking and is determined to cut away a particular product, it will have to retain those product developers.

So, rather to say programmers are for youth only, programmers for project are.

So don’t the programmers of project type have a way out? Must they consider transition before 35? Also not necessary, if project programmers concentrate on a certain technology which is rarely mastered, they can live on this until retired. An optimum practice for this is to accumulate industrial background for certain industry, be it telecom or Bank industry etc. It doesn’t matter you switch job or doing outsourcing projects only. The key is to focus on that area. So in ten years, you have accumulated deep industry background knowledge. That will be your unbeatable advantage comparing with beginners. Nowadays many young programmers plan transition before they really know that industry and jump around wherever projects are. In the end, they still cannot settle down in an industry with enough comparable advantage.

So, the ultimate law for a programmer to survive is either developing a good product or finding a good industry by virtue of their rich experience.

However, very few programmers in China can be classified as above two types. Big companies in China are mostly project type companies. They pick up projects, execute projects, expand scale in boom times and downsize during crisis. Subsequently, the programmers either jump or being kicked around anywhere money goes. Wandering until thirty, they start considering settling down. But the life of finishing one project after another says no. That’s when they will start transition. And I believe these typical cases lead to public opinion that programmers have to transit before getting old, which is, not necessarily true.

Fresh programmers should know what to do at this point of article. Plan to be devoted to a good product or industry whilst young and you will not be worried where to go at 30th.

Note : this post is translated from CSDN, a Chinese IT website. The original post URL is http://blog.csdn.net/pkutao/article/details/7350013 and the author is pkutao



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