The Passionate Programmer: Creating a Remarkable Career in Software Development
This book tells the story of Chad Fowler (no relation to Martin Fowler). Fowler got himself into a software development slump and was able to turn it around and rejuvinate his passion for his career. Much of the book revolves around how to keep oneself engaged with one’s work and how to determine when it’s time to shake things up.
I read this book in Summer 2012 and did a mediocre write-up on my old blog, so I’ve decided to quickly redo the write-up from scratch using my new format.
What Fowler talks about in his book is exactly what I was afraid of when looking for a job last fall: getting stuck. It’s easy to do: many employers are looking for employees who are willing to work on projects throughout their entire lifespan, which may be 12 months, 5 years or in some cases the lifespan of the company.
Personal story time. I was offered a job at an Indianapolis company with many long-term projects. One of my interviewers had been working on his current project for 5 years, and was trying desparately to get out of it. However, based on his seniority and domain knowledge of the project, he was told it would be at least another 6 months before he could move on. The developer was miserable working his current job and had no exit routes available to him, which scared me quite a bit.
Fowler’s methods don’t describe how to avoid this situation. They describe how to keep yourself happy by learning new technology and branching away from your “domain knowledge” while still remaining the go-to guy on your current project. Showing an interest in doing things outside of your current project should show an employer that you’re capable of more, and that you’re more than willing to do something new.
Fowler also talks about moving jobs if you’re unhappy, noting that the new world of software development doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles that it used to. Although I agree that you should try to find a new job if you’re unhappy, it’s not always as easy to pack up your things and move as the author makes it seem.
The coolest parts of the book were the personal stories of several high-tech big-wigs. The silliest parts were the ‘Act On It’ sections. The ‘Act On It’ sections described how to implement some of the methods detailed in the book, but they often seemed obvious and unnecessary to me.
Who Would Like This
This book can offer a lot to someone who wants to revitalize their career after getting in a rut. It may also be able to serve as a guide to preventing yourself from getting in a rut. As a recent college grad with many of my dreams still alive, I only found a moderate amount of honey in this beehive. An interesting read, but maybe not entirely relevant to fresh faces.