Welcome to Programming. Here's your tools of the trade: computer, IDE, library of books and your blog. What does the blog have to do with creating software, you ask.....let's talk.
First off, the idea for this post came from a recent article at Ruby Inside "How to Get A Job at a Top Ruby Shop". I really enjoy the site and find many good articles there. After I read it, I had a feeling that people who are trying hard (but maybe not in all the "right" places it seems) are getting left out. Because I'm currently a student and a job is important to find for me, I decided to share my opinion. Twice even. Go read it.
Here's my take on what was said in the article: Programming, especially within the Ruby community, has become more than just writing good code. It has become a game of expanding your "sphere of public influence".
Is this really what is important? I obviously understand that communication skills are important because I'm playing the game right now writing on my blog, but is the time I'm spending developing these blog ideas, writing them, and publicizing them really worth it? What else could I be doing with my time that would be more beneficial towards my progress as a highly skilled developer than writing? More importantly, where do you find the time to do it?
To do something well and get a return out of it, you must spend solid amounts of time on it. For instance, this blog: for my writing to do any good, I've got to get it in front of the faces of other people. I've got to publish it on my Facebook status, make a few well-timed tweets about it, and find some places (like the Ruby Inside site) to publicize it. I spend on average 2 hours a day reading through tweets and blogs in hopes of learning something amazing and telling people about how amazing I am. On new post days, this time goes up significantly. We'll call it ten hours because math is easier to follow that way.
So, ten hours a week of my time is spent on social media. Let's say I charge $50 bucks an hour to do a website for someone and that is how much my time is worth doing anything "professional". Therefore, it costs me $500 bucks every week to try to get my name out there and voice listened to. Let's say that I've been doing this for 4 months steadily in preparation for graduation and impressing top shops with my communication skills. That means I've spent around $8,000 on blogging and tweeting. Can I really expect to get a return of $8,000?
Did you say you spend more than 10 hours a week on social media? Oh dear....break out the calculator....
I'm going to have to stop here for now and see if I can get some comments about this last part. This is what is really interesting to me to find out before I discuss more of my thoughts. I'm going to start tweeting this and finding relevant places to talk about it and see what kind of return I get.
Two things first: I don't like this feeling as if I've come off as a "complainer" and thanks for all of the comments (on here, through twitter and in real life).
In respect to the first point: people who complain and do nothing about their issues are worthless. You're complaining because you don't like something, so it is your duty to change it. Here's what I'm doing to correct my grievances:
1) Talking to the teachers involved and explaining my concerns. This seems to be the most difficult thing to do in my position. I'm on the cusp of graduation. All I have to do is make it through 2 more months and I'm home free with this step in my education. If I manage to thoroughly piss off my professors, then I would be placing my graduation at risk. Of the classes I'm in currently, the grading is quite subjective, i.e. speeches and essays. Getting on the bad side of a professor could be a bad idea, depending on the moral characteristics the teacher has. I could either be appreciated for bringing up concerns or demoted to the ranks of asshole and create some sort of vendetta against myself. If the teacher proves to be morally weak, then the vendetta would almost possibly result in me receiving a failing or less than desired grade.
Looking from the side of the teacher, why would I listen to some 25 year old college dropout / drop-back-in? I don't know that I've proved my worth as an adviser, one capable of providing sound advice considering my past actions. This worries me greatly not only with respect to college, but with future employers. I don't hide anything and, in fact, I feel that I'm quite honest about my experiences, therefore I cannot give too much thought about it. I'd much rather enjoy working with people who are accepting of my qualities and look at what I can do today, not what I did yesterday anyways. Again this comes back to the moral characteristics of the teacher and the decision on how to handle my objections is solely in his or her hands.
2) Realizing that I'm learning something, even though it may not be how I want to do it. This is the most important part I think. In my life, there's been a number of things that happened that I didn't want to happen. I'm talking about major life changing events, specifically the death of my parents and sizable lost monies from bad investments. Going through these rather heavy events has given me the courage to accept that not everything is good but, depending on your perception, it can be of great wealth. It is your perception of these curve-balls that helps define your resilience and moral resolution. My perception of this teachers gift of irritation is to understand not to do these things. If it's a presentation I'm giving, don't read off the slides. Use the medium to communicate your ideas in a different way that may appeal to others who don't like to listen to speakers. If it's being late, understand that when I'm late, I'm preventing other people from completing their tasks for the day. Chances are that the meeting between you and me not the most important event of your week. I am making notes of these things that I'm being irritated by in a notebook and thinking about when I did the same thing and how I can correct it.
Please consider this rebuttal to my own post as advice and a journal entry for future self reference. Try to make something positive out of everything, even if its already positive. It can only get better. The one word that seems to sum up what I'm thinking?