Take the 2-minute tour ×
Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I graduated not too long ago with a degree in computer science. I've been working for a software company for a couple of months, but the work that I'm doing doesn't seem to fall into any defined category (at least the categories that exist in my mind - developer, tester, project manager). My job will occasionally require me to do a bug fix in Java (5%), but the majority of it seems to consist of either querying a client's database and adding/editing/deleting information (60%), or troubleshooting and then giving the response, "You forgot to do such and such before you submitted the form, and that's why you got an error" (35%).

My worry is that down the road if I try and apply to some other company for a more senior developer/tester/PM position, they'll look at my work experience and say, "You seemed to have dealt more with database management / technical support than the actual software development cycle".

Is this a valid concern on my part?

EDIT

Since the consensus seems to be that it's low-end/support, I have another question.

I've been here a relatively short amount of time, and I've had offers for interviews at a couple of other companies (residual contacts from posting my resume online) where I would be doing development (which is what I'd prefer to be doing). I took this position because they were the first to make an offer (the pay is pretty decent) and I'm hoping to go to graduate school in the next year or so, so I wanted to start saving money. Would it be worth it to pursue these other interview offers (who are going off my resume of me coming straight from university), and just act like these last couple of months didn't happen (resume wise).

share|improve this question
3  
Yep, you are in support, not in development –  Marjan Venema Sep 19 '11 at 6:11
    
I could see this being considered maintenance , but it is a bit of a stretch. It does sound like the project is pretty mature though if you spend so little time coding. Perhaps you could ask for a bit more challenge with a less stable project? –  Morgan Herlocker Sep 19 '11 at 14:03
    
@Marjan Do people in development take work experience in support seriously? Even though I'm not in development, our group still operates within the development cycle timeline as far as bug fixes go. –  Ryan Sep 19 '11 at 16:20
1  
Tough call without more information. But, I'd say it is much better than doing something entirely unrelated. Bug fixing can be a large part of a developer's work. So if you take your support role a bit further than providing standard answers to common problems, you can make your time in support count that much more. Analyzing problem reports, getting more information from the client, reproducing a bug and analyzing what exactly causes it ("from the outside" and/or reading the code as well) are all skills that transfer to development. –  Marjan Venema Sep 19 '11 at 18:12

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

What you are currently doing does sound rather "low end". But on the other hand, you've only been doing this for a couple of months, and couple of months is too short a period to be of concern to a recruiter. Besides, this kind of work is valuable experience for dealing with clients / users, and that will help later in your career.

(If you are still doing this kind of work after a couple of years ... then that would be worrying.)

I'd suggest:

  • Don't run for the door! (That will look bad on your CV.)

  • See if things improve over the next few months. Two months is too short a timeframe to make the judgement that things won't get better.

  • If after a few months you still seem to be "stuck", have a quiet word to your boss. (It might be a good plan to have some ideas about how to fix the problem ... depending on what your boss is like.)

  • Look for opportunities to develop tools / make the system more useable to reduce the effort you are spending in the 60% + 35%. For instance, improved diagnostics / better forms design (maybe) could reduce the number of times that users get stuck.

share|improve this answer
2  
+1 for the suggestion of developing tools. Builds your skills and your CV, keeps you from getting bored. –  Scott Wilson Sep 18 '11 at 22:59
    
It's hard to explain, but the way the company is structured/compartmentalized combined with my job responsibilities would make the bottom two points somewhat hard / not possible to accomplish. –  Ryan Sep 19 '11 at 13:12
    
@Ryan: It's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission. In this case when you have some downtime, make a tool, spread it around when it is useful enough to gain experience points. If there is any daft office political issues about you making a tool that increases productivity, then that's the time that you should look for new work that would appreciate that skill. –  Spoike Sep 19 '11 at 14:12

Yes, it is a valid concern though I'd second Scott's answer about taking this up with your supervisor after you've been there 3 months, which tends to be a probationary period in the few places I've worked.

I've been here a relatively short amount of time, and I've had offers for interviews at a couple of other companies (residual contacts from posting my resume online) where I would be doing development (which is what I'd prefer to be doing). I took this position because they were the first to make an offer (the pay is pretty decent) and I'm hoping to go to graduate school in the next year or so, so I wanted to start saving money. Would it be worth it to pursue these other interview offers (who are going off my resume of me coming straight from university), and just act like these last couple of months didn't happen (resume wise).

When you had the interviews for your current position, did they say it would be mostly support? I'd be careful about thinking the grass is much greener on the other side where those other companies may be willing to say anything to get you in the door and then you discover that it could actually be worse than where you are now.

share|improve this answer

Is all industry experience equal (for the most part)?

No, they're not all equal. Generally speaking, companies look for candidates with similar industry experience/knowledge. At least recruiters do. But more importantly, good companies will look past experience for passionate and smart individuals.

Is this a valid concern on my part?

Absolutely. You should be looking for opportunities to grow as a developer with hopefully a variety of experiences from testing, support, developer, etc. I don't think it hurts at all to try these different problem solving roles. It gives you a good perspective on how a software development team functions as a whole.

From your description, your current work sounds rather beginner or newbie, which isn't necessarily bad, as you are a recent graduate. Check out my answer to:

My recommendation, is to learn the business, and find ways to get assigned to projects you find interesting at work. Don't worry too much about how you start out. The important thing is to keep learning and pursue good opportunities, whether that's at your current company or your next.

share|improve this answer

After you've been there at least 90 days (or better 6 months), I'd recommend you discuss your development path with your supervisor. Tell him you're keen to accomplish more and give him ideas for assignments he can give you. Part of becoming a successful developer is learning how to manage up.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.