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Let me save you a lot of money and time; I call this The 20-something techie's lament: CIOs that don't understand why I'm leaving. (Note: this is largely a work of fiction based on my own experiences and desires, as well as the experiences of others.)

I work on your legacy applications, but you pay me new development wages, generally below what I can get elsewhere. You don't challenge me enough, so I end up watching cat videos to spend time between bursts of getting things done, because there's just not enough actual work to be done. When I come to you with problems, you talk about how you'll get some people together to look into it; I've never heard back.

When Google contacts me, they treat me like a human that wants to grow, learn, and expand beyond the walls of the company, not just inside it. I don't want to play politics. I want to build cool stuff, make money, and learn something new every day. You don't give me that, so I'm leaving.

I'd say that these kind of jobs need to provide one of the following two options:

* great pay

* great challenges

And in all honesty, I'd say that the former isn't as motivating as you'd think. I've had jobs where I make "plenty enough" money and have quit because I've not been challenged.

In fact, in one in particular I tried to make my own challenges- throwing together concepts and forwarding them to my managers, only to be shot down. Then watch our competitors do exactly what I proposed a few months later. It's demoralising and it made me realise that, as a company, we'd always be on the back foot. I'd never be proud of what I made, and "plenty enough" doesn't make up for that.

Did you ever point out that you anticipated competitors' moves to your managers, and if so, how did they react?

We were number three or four in our market (it depended) and our entire business strategy was to watch the number one player, and do what they did.

So a number of my ideas weren't actually flat out rejected, but they weren't a priority- we already had a list of features to implement. Of course, by the time we implemented those features, the number one had moved on and implemented the stuff I'd originally proposed. Such a frustrating process, and a 100% guarantee that you'll never be the number one company.

Another thing I've seen in my experience was an employer who had the policy that all new developers start off doing 6 months of support for the existing applications. Not development support, but rather answering questions from the help desk about why this program is acting this way, is this a bug or feature, etc. Then they get to start doing bugfix work on the legacy applications. In theory it sounds great, learn what the most common bugs are then fix them, but when you spend 6 months making 30k/yr to basically be a human BugZilla, your opinion of the organization tends to slide.

Makes me glad I develop as a hobby, not as a career.

At 27, I agree. I wouldn't work for pennies to be able to solve interesting problems and learn new things but I would certainly take less if it was reasonable.

It seems like at most companies, developers have a shelf-life before you are too experienced to hire or are expected to move into management. I don't know that anyone should fault people for taking full advantage of their earning potential while they can.

The most useful (and troubling) realization I've had was that there pretty much wasn't any amount of money my company could give me that wouldn't immediately be earmarked for my own startup warchest.

When your company fails to give you something interesting to work on, welp, that's how things will go down. If I wanted to make big bucks being a soulless drone I'd see who was hiring for sales or quants.

Odd - when Google contacted me their recruiters were rude.

I just threw that out there since Google is one of the big fish. Feel free to substitute for any trendy employer you wish.

I've found their recruiters to be polite, but they don't seem to do their research before contacting you. Explaining the "no, I do not want to live in London" angle to a US recruiter is also a bit tricky. :)

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