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Ask HN: Anyone out there trying to help new devs avoid career pitfalls?
30 points by amazonavocado 11 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 12 comments
I'd like to know if an org or collective exists that helps new developers with providing the less concrete, less tangible assets that helps people from falling into career traps, the kinds of traps that make professionals comfortable where they are at and miss red flags or "wake-up calls" because they don't see them.

I'm interested in having less experienced people see those things before it takes a toll on their career, or at least find a cause where these actions are currently being taken.

Real life examples of "lost common sense" that people can help new developer avoid:

* I thought it would be okay to be unemployed a few months so long as I have savings to tide me over. Up until recently did I not know it also makes it harder to bargain for higher pay.

* Didn't change my job search strategy for a long time after graduating. For the first 7 years I was only using Craigslist for local jobs and didn't consider many bigger boards or alternative avenues (direct apply on corp websites, contact recruiters first)

* I don't really keep up with my co-workers outside of work for other things like referring them to jobs etc. so my network is rather weak for getting job leads.

Things that I did not know I want to see others help prevent these knowledge gaps and fill them, before they start their career or when they are early in their career. Especially for the self-taught people.

I'm still learning a lot myself, as I still haven't yet succeeded in re-launching my career. But I'd like to find out if there are others out there who are making efforts at preventing new developers from making the same mistakes I did. Having people in your life generally raising your awareness that there’s more out there and having drive and motivation is crucial, and I especially think the former is a bigger problem.

Some learnings from circa 6 years in startups, applicable to startups:

1. Only listen to people who have walked the walk. Many people with limited tech exp will try to advise you on how to build products/tell you what to do, don't listen to them unless they've done it successfully and it was they that did it -- not some other team they 'advised' or 'managed'.

2. Write stuff down. Promised a raise at X funding point? Write it down. Bring it up and don't let it go.

3. Avoid surrounding yourself with people who sound corporate unless you want to sound like that.

4. Be careful about hiring/working with big co folks for small companies/startups. They often bring politics etc. in and seem on average to be less creative. This is a sweeping generalization and a bit harsh, but basically if you want to be involved with startups, associate with people from startups. Build your network around that.

5. Be careful with first time founders, and see if you can get a gauge on their empathy. A good way to do this is invite them out to lunch and see how they treat the wait staff.

6. Build side projects and don't be afraid to look stupid/ask questions. That's how you get to be the best.

Good tips David. If I may ask, and I ask only cause I'm curious, how many startups have you worked for in the 6 years?

I guess I'm wondering what the mean time per startup is.

I've worked for 4 startups previously almost all very early stage. 1 was aqui-hired. It takes a lot of patience, a company might get totally nixed by black swan events like covid :)

Write a blog post and throw your advice into the internet void with everyone else's advice and life experience.

There's alot of context for advice to matter to someone. It's based on your sample size of one.

If you bargain for higher pay while unemployed, tell them you are interviewing with multiple companies. They even ask you this, but they do not explain why they do that. You might think is just chit-chat when in fact is your salary negociation.

> * I thought it would be okay to be unemployed a few months so long as I have savings to tide me over. Up until recently did I not know it also makes it harder to bargain for higher pay.

False, it shouldn't make it harder to bargain. Part of planning to be unemployed is making sure you don't need to accept the first offer once trying to go back to working.

The second part is one just says they were doing freelance or consulting work while they just worked on personal projects.

Establish your career path that you want to follow and do regular reality checks on whether your employer helps you align with your goals. Pay attention to actual actions rather than just fancy talks and promises that can be rephrased infinitely - and don't hesitate to move on if you are on the line whether that other offer would help you advance your path in a swifter way.

I do not. I think it's a pretty good idea, though.

I have learnt a lot of things the hard way in 20+ years in tech / corporate life, there are a lot of truths that can't and won't be spoken about inside a big company. I've also done some career coaching in the past few years, and I think something specific for tech / development would be pretty good for a lot of entry level people.

I guess your 3 bullet points are really just general career issues and not really tech focused (which is fine, a lot of this stuff is pretty universal and probably applies just the same to accountants), but I think maybe mixing in some more tech focused advice would be helpful. (e.g., you really need to learn some basic shell / scripting, grep, git... if you have some complicated system that is failing, you might need to remove some complexity instead of adding more, etc.).

Maybe share a link / email address?

My best idea: go to Meetups. You'll at least be able to pose your questions to actual live developers, in real-time, with followup questions (and multiple perspectives from different people). And you'll also hear general chatter that may alert you to issues you weren't even aware of.

Roger Ebert once said that when people give you career advice, they're really just retelling their own career's story -- either consciously or unconsciously telling you what to do or avoid based on only what happened specifically to them. The only real fix for that is to talk to multiple people.

I’m thinking about starting a meetup for this. Like a coders guild, where we talk about how we work and grow in the industry.

John Sonmez

The Complete Software Developer's Career Guide: How to Learn Your Next Programming Language, Ace Your Programming Interview, and Land The Coding Job Of Your Dreams


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