« All Episodes

Two Common Questions from Early Career Developers

Published 7/13/2016

In today's episode, we'll talk about two common questions from early-career developers.

Today's episode is sponsored by WooCommerce! WooCommerce is customizable eCommerce built on WordPress, and is powering 30% of all online stores. Use the code "developertea" to get 25% off at WooCommerce.com now!

And lastly...

Please take a moment and subscribe and review the show! Click here to review Developer Tea in iTunes.

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone and welcome to Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and in today's episode I'm going to be answering some commonly asked questions for early stage developer careers. Today's episode is brought to you by Wu Commerce. That's our sponsor for the day. Wu Commerce is customizable e-commerce built on top of WordPress. We will talk more about what Wu Commerce has to offer to developer T-listeners later on in today's episode. But first I want to jump straight into these two questions that I see all the time. You know I go on different various forums, Reddit is a pretty popular one on Twitter, coming into my inbox from people that I know tons of places that these questions are coming from. And these are two questions that I hear pretty much every single week from developers who are starting out early in their careers. Whether it's an internship or a first job, these are two questions that I hear. And I want to address them because I think it's incredibly important for early stage Developer To know the answers to these questions how they should act in these situations. Now these aren't the questions that you may be expecting. You might be expecting the question about what language should I learn. We aren't going to cover that today. We also aren't going to cover what should I build. We've talked about some of those things in the past. We will talk about those things again in the future. But today we're talking about two totally different things, even though those are also really common questions from early career stages what we're talking about here, early career stage developers. So I want to jump straight into this first question. And that is my manager is doing something that I don't like. That's the basis for this question. My manager is doing something that rubs me the wrong way. So an example of this. I saw recently someone asked this question, my manager is a conspiracy theorist. And they're talking about these conspiracy theories all the time at work around me. And the one time I spoke up, my manager didn't like that all that much. They said that I must like to lecture people. There are many versions of this same question. My manager is doing something that I don't like. Now let me be very clear about this question. I'm not talking about situations where your manager is actively abusing you in some way, whether they're lying to their superiors about your performance or harassing you in some way. That's not the type of thing that we're talking about here. We're talking about incompatibilities between you and your manager. Maybe your manager sees everything as if it needs to be done very quickly. Or maybe your manager is unrealistic about how long it takes to do something. Or maybe you wish that your manager was more actively involved with you at your job. Maybe you want a little bit more guidance from them and they aren't offering it. Hopefully I have hit on something that you have experienced in your career. If you're an experienced developer who has been in the job market for quite a while, if you've been hired by many different managers, if you worked under a lot of different people, then you know that this isn't the last time that these early career developers are going to experience something that rubs them the wrong way. So the question is how do you deal with it? How do you deal with it? What should I do? I have two simple answers to this specific question and then we'll go to the next question after a quick sponsor break. The first answer for a manager who's doing something that rubs you in a slightly wrong way is to understand that everybody is different. I know that sounds like a cookie cutter answer, but everybody is different. And therefore, this is the important part. Everybody has different motivations. In other words, people don't often do something for absolutely no reason. There's often a reason driving what a person chooses to do with their time with their energy. So if you can understand the reason your manager is doing something that you don't like, then maybe you can start to understand how to either number one, shift their behavior in some way. Or even better, number two, grow your empathy for that person. In the case of a conspiracy theorist, for example, you might be able to dissect that situation and understand that that person is maybe fearful or maybe they actually do have some insights that you haven't really thought about. Maybe they can open your mind up a little bit. Now I am not a conspiracy theorist, so hopefully you aren't getting that from this episode. But the idea here is to not necessarily look at your manager as just someone who plays a role in your life, but to understand that you are also a person playing a role in their life. Sometimes the best thing that you can do is listen quietly. I recently heard a fantastic quote that was attributed to Plato. He said, the wise man speaks when he has something to say. The fool speaks because he has to say something. So it is very often the wise decision to simply say nothing. So that's the first part of the answer. Everyone is different and therefore everyone has different motivations. The second part of the answer to the question, how do I deal with people who are rubbing me the wrong way, particularly if it's my boss, is to remember that everyone has something that others disagree with. Every person you meet, there is something that you believe that they do not believe. But respect and relationships are not built on top of the concept that we align on every single belief. They're not built on top of the idea that you are going to act in a way that I like every single day, every moment of every day. Great relationships are built on top of the fact that I respect you, even though you are different than me. I respect particular things about you and I know that I can learn from you, even though I may not agree with everything you have to say. Now this may sound elementary, but this is a huge, huge concept that becomes difficult practically speaking to apply on a day-to-day basis because the feelings of annoyance and the feelings of frustration and incompatibility, those feelings are difficult to see past. But your responsibility as a great developer, no matter what stage of your career, is to learn to respect people even in your differences. And remember that humility is key. You always have something to learn. If you disagree with someone else, it is quite possible that you are the one that's wrong. So in the case that your manager is bothering you, remember all of these things. Remember that you still have so much to learn. Regardless of what stage of your career you're in, but especially early in your career, you have so much that you can learn both from your manager and from the situation, from the difficulty of the situation. I said in a previous episode recently that every time you come up to an obstacle, that is an opportunity to learn. This is another opportunity because this is an obstacle in the way that you think, in the way that your day is going, when you deal with someone who bothers you, who frustrates you, who rubs you the wrong way, that is an opportunity for you to learn. We're going to take a quick sponsor break and then we're going to come back and talk about the second question for early career developers. Today's episode is sponsored by WooCommerce.com. WooCommerce is customizable e-commerce built on WordPress. They launched in 2011 and then they were required by automatic last year and it's developed and supported by a fully distributed and global team. They power over 30% of all online stores. That's a huge number of online stores. It is the world's most popular e-commerce platform. It's built on top of WordPress and its open source, fully customizable and it's unlike any out of the box solutions because you can build a unique store to suit your specific business needs. There's no limits. That's the idea behind open source. WooCommerce supports selling pretty much anything you can imagine. Physical products, digital downloads, subscriptions, memberships, service and accommodation bookings. It even does ticketing. It integrates with major payment gateways and e-commerce service providers like PayPal, Stripe, the Postal Service, United States Postal Service and Royal Mail as well as hundreds of local services. It's free to set up with no monthly fees and there is a guided install for setup with WooCommerce you own your data forever. Now if you use the code Developer Teaat checkout, you get 25% off on WooCommerce.com. That's the code Developer Tea, no spaces, head over to WooCommerce.com and of course that link and that special code can be found in the show notes at spec.fm. Thank you so much for sponsoring the show, WooCommerce. In today's episode we're talking about questions that I've received many, many times from early career developers. These questions come in different specific formats but they follow the same general cadence. The first one was my manager is doing something that I don't like. I don't get along with my manager for some reason and of course we clarified that that doesn't include situations where your manager is being abusive to you or otherwise harassing you. Question number two is kind of a tricky one. The question goes like this. The work that I'm doing in my job or the work that I'm doing in my internship isn't what I thought I would be doing or even better. The work that I'm doing in my job or in my internship isn't the kind of work that I want to be doing. This question comes along all the time especially from interns because you expect to do one thing going into an internship and you end up doing something different. You expect to be doing full stack development but then when you get into your internship you start doing front end bug fixes or only CSS. For me when I went to my first internship I thought I was going to be a designer. I had only created my first website for example to show off the design work I had done. I quickly learned from my internship coordinator that I was actually going to be a front end developer intern. I didn't know the difference between these two things. One sounded a lot like the other. I thought I was going to be working primarily with design. Back then I thought that meant creating websites and Photoshop. That's what I thought I was going to be doing in my internship and I couldn't have been more wrong. In fact there were only a few instances where I did anything design related at all and most of that was just cutting up PSDs. That's how long ago my internship was. So I've got some general thoughts about this question. I don't have any specific typed out notes for this one but I do have some general thoughts. My first thought is that your job in the future is not going to be predictable. You're going to go into a job with a job title thinking that you're going to be doing one thing. If your company that you're working for is sufficiently small, in other words if you aren't working for a major corporation, one of the big tech corporations like Google or something like that. Then your title as a developer means that you do a lot of different things with code. There's going to be some people who disagree with this idea. If you go and work for a large company like Google by the way, you may have a very specific project that takes a significant portion of your energy for the foreseeable future. That's why I'm saying that there's a big difference between these larger tech giants that hire people for more specific jobs and the smaller companies like agency work for example that hire people for more general knowledge. At Whiteboard we hire developers and you work on different stuff every single day. So when you are in your early stage of your career, if you're in an internship or if you are just freshly hired for your first job, treat that position like you would any other job. In other words, you don't get hired to do what you want to do. You get hired because the employer has things for you to do. In other words, when you get hired, you are not setting the terms. You and your employer agree on certain terms and then you begin working for your employer. Now, if your terms lay out very specifically, you know, the exact technology that you're going to be working with, which is extremely uncommon, by the way. But if the terms lay that out and they say that, you know, if we change the technology that this person is using, then this contract is null and void or something like that. Which again, this is very uncommon to see that kind of thing. Typically you're going to see that in contract positions where a contract is coming in and they have to be hired for a very specific type of work. But if you're at an internship or if you are a full-time employee, then one of your fundamental skills is flexibility. If you are inflexible, if you decide that you don't want to do whatever it is that your employer is asking you to do, then prepare to be fired. Now, that's a harsh reality. But if you go into an internship thinking that the internship is crafted only for you, then you're missing the point of the economics of a hiring decision. A company hires a person to be valuable to that company. Now, a company may invest in their employees in their long-term career trajectory and it certainly is not off limits for you to go and talk to your manager about the types of work that you want to do. In fact, I've had that happen at Whiteboard multiple times and typically we are happy to work with those employees to help move them, shift them around into things that they enjoy doing. A happy employee is going to work much better than an unhappy employee. But in every single case where that worked out well for the worker and for us as the employer in every single case, that worker proved that they would do the work necessary to be a good worker, regardless of what that work is. In other words, if you are an intern and someone asks you to take out the trash and you respond by saying that's not in your job description, then your career path is going to be a long and bumpy road. The best advice I can give you, especially if you are early in your career, but this goes for everyone. People who are late in their careers, they know this is true anyway. The best advice I can give you is to excel at whatever is in front of you to do. Be excellent at everything you put your hands to. And if you think that you can't be excellent at taking the trash out, trust me, there are ways to fail at just about everything. The gap between good enough and excellent is relatively small. It doesn't take a lot to become excellent. It takes effort. It takes attention to detail. It takes caring and actually investing in what you are doing. If you aren't doing those things, then once again, your career path is not going to be as happy of a road as it could be. So if you feel like you're doing something that is outside of your normal job description, outside of what you thought you were going to be doing, that is a legitimate concern. I don't want to downplay the concern because there are things that you should be aware of when you're going into a job. Did they lie to you? Did they try to tell you that you were going to be able to do something that now they're just pulling the rug out from under your feet? Or are they actually shifting because of a business reason? And you need to talk to your manager about that. Say, hey, I know that I was intended to do this kind of work. I am happy to do this other kind of work that you're asking me to do if that is the best use of my resources and my time for the company. The relational equity that you will build by simply saying those kinds of words to your manager, the relational equity will be far more valuable than any experience you could gain in a couple of months worth of time. I hope that this episode has been inspiring and I hope that I've answered some questions, maybe some concerns for those of you who are in this stage of your career. You are not alone in your questions and if you want to ask me a specific question, please reach out to me directly. You can reach me at Developer Tea at gmail.com. You can also join me on the spec Slack community by going to spec.fm slash slack that is free to everyone who listens to a spec show and all of the spec hosts are actually in that slack community. So go and check it out. Spec.fm slash slack. Thank you again to today's sponsor, WuCommerce, to get 25% off the world's most popular e-commerce platform, go to WuCommerce.com today and use the code Developer Tea at checkout. WuCommerce is e-commerce built on top of WordPress. So go and check it out WuCommerce. Of course, that link and all other relevant links from today's episode can be found in the show notes at spec.fm. Thanks so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea and until next time, enjoy your tea.