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I'll be starting work for the first time in the IT Industry on the 18th of this month. I'll be working mostly with Microsoft technologies such as C#.NET and MS Dynamic CRM.

I spent the last year working with C++. Developing small applications to automate taks and organize my notes. During this time I have developed a good basic understanding of the language.

My question is how do you guys stay in touch with a programming language that you love when you need to use something else at the office?

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do a side project –  ratchet freak Jun 9 '12 at 13:43
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What do you do in your new job? You might find the new technologies just as interesting as C++. –  user1249 Jun 9 '12 at 14:50

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

If you're passionate about programming, you will be doing side projects, unless you are among the lucky few with a job that gives them ultimate programming satisfaction and enough room to develop their skills further (which, btw., doesn't necessarily mean that your job is bad, just that it's not a wet dream come true).

So, side projects, tinkering, open source contributions, and who knows, maybe you'll be allowed to apply your skills on a low-impact project at work some time.

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Just so long as you don't plan to have a life, get married, have kids, take them to baseball practice and ballet lessons. Wait, what am I saying? We're techies here... –  Matthew Flynn Jun 9 '12 at 14:41
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@MatthewFlynn: I have a life, a wife, and kids, and still manage to do side projects. –  tdammers Jun 9 '12 at 15:57
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People with lives, spouses, kids and so on manage to (for example) watch TV just fine. If you really enjoy programming, you could just spend equivalent time on your side project instead. –  Tikhon Jelvis Jun 10 '12 at 10:43
    
The problem I have is that I want to stay strong on C++, but it's rarely the language that makes sense for quick home side projects. At least my python is getting better. –  Steven Burnap Jun 12 '12 at 22:31

I consider the other answers valid and good advice, which is why I'll only raise a point not included in them.

I'd say yours is a nonexistent problem. You don't really need to remember every quirk of C++ to enjoy casual coding in it, and if you need to use C++ on something that requires more work, you'll be up to speed in no time.

To be programmer means to learn constantly and we, humans, don't have unlimited memory (supposedly), so you'll forget stuff all the time. It doesn't really matter that much. The important thing behind a language is the paradigms it teaches and, if it does, the coding style it conveys. And this is something you don't really forget.

Of course, this doesn't mean you should not try to learn at your own; read books, write side projects, watch podcasts, read blogs, ask/answer question here, etc.

So, stop worrying and start loving the job.

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I'll go off scale here... How about giving up the language you used to love and finding something to love about C#.NET and MS Dynamic CRM? Or hold out for a better job using C++.

I think it is the natural tendency of most developers is to try to be competent in a very broad range of technologies but if you look around, the best career move (at least financially) is usually finding a very deep and narrow niche.

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+1 for learning to love what you do. –  Matthew Flynn Jun 9 '12 at 15:53

Read, read, read. There's always something new going on in a programming language with a healthy community of users. You just have to look.

As others have mentioned, side projects are a great. They allow you to stretch out and take your time, because you set the schedule. My suggestion to read, read, read doesn't necessarily mean to read tutorials and the like only. Read code as well. There's a plethora of open source code written in C++. Pick one that seems appealing and read to understand how it works.

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