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I'm a recent college graduate and have been hired to work for a business software giant. The job by itself is great with amazing perks and a decent pay. Also there is the joy of working in core product development, building something which will be used by millions of people. However a huge problem is that we do most of our development in a proprietary language which is not used in any other product development company outside of here. The only other companies using this language are our partners and customers who would like to implement/customize the software in their business/clients' businesses.

Im afraid that working here for a length of time could make me irrelevant as a developer outside the company. While ideally one could say that software development is software development and the language does not matter, the fact is that most companies hire based on past experience, and in this context, my experience would be 0. My apprehensions are supported by the fact that that the attrition rate in this company is much less than the others, so you could find a lot of people who have not changed their job in the past 10-15 years. This is great from the company's perspective and they take a lot of pride in this. However I'm sure that most people do not leave cause they are tied up, since their skills are irrelevant outside of the company.

I really love programming and want to remain a programmer in product development rather than being a manager. What should I do to be hireable in a new company if and when I choose to leave my current job? Thanks in advance.

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closed as off topic by Jarrod Roberson, maple_shaft Jul 13 '12 at 15:35

Questions on Programmers Stack Exchange are expected to relate to software development within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

off topic career advice, especially non-specific career advice and this is not specific programming ( replace language with anything else and it would still be the same question ) as per the FAQ –  Jarrod Roberson Jul 13 '12 at 15:13
@JarrodRoberson - But the answers would be different for different professions I think. Hiring tends to be different for programmers and languages as opposed to say... welders. It just doesn't happen that one company has the monopoly on a welding technique. This question is fine by me. I suggest moonlighting gigs for the OP. –  Telastyn Jul 13 '12 at 15:24
@Telastyn you need to learn more about welding, there are different welding machines that take different techniques and the like, my wife was a welder at one time, same exact answers would apply then as to here, there is nothing specific to programmers about this question other than the way it is worded. –  Jarrod Roberson Jul 13 '12 at 15:36
@JarrodRoberson: Hmm, I don't make the rules here, so you may close the question. But in my opinion, I can't think of a better place for this question. The posting rules on this site are too restrictive and should be eased a bit in my humble opinion. Besides too many people here tend to be more interested in the policies about a problem and less about the solution itself. Reminds me of the legal system. –  aml90 Jul 13 '12 at 18:58
@aml90 there is workplace.stackexchange.com just for these types of questions. I actually flagged it for moderation to move it to that site, it just got closed instead. You can flag it yourself to be moved there and re-opened. The fact that the 2 answers you got are poor and contradictory kind of re-enforce that this is a weak question here. –  Jarrod Roberson Jul 13 '12 at 19:19

2 Answers 2

You are right to worry about this. Being part of a closed culture can be a problem if you want to move outside of it, and a programming culture that uses a proprietary language might be a closed culture.

Your job is going to provide you with a great opportunity to learn programming techniques, network, and learn all about being a professional. I would recommend reading "The New Programmer's Survival Manual" for guidance here. Lot's of great advice on being successful inside a company.

But you also need to engage with the larger programming community, so I would step out a bit. Join the local Ruby/Clojure/.net/Scala user's group, the local software craftsmanship or agile meetups, go to the meetups, listen, and meet people. I would recommend going through "Seven Languages in Seven Weeks" to find a language you can really relate to, then build some breakable toys in that language, then either join or start an open source project in that language. Being a contributor to an existing project is a good way to meet people in the community of that language.

In "Apprenticeship Patterns", they recommend finding a mentor. I concur. My mentor was assigned to me by my company, but even so he has been an invaluable resource for me. If you are concerned about being relevant outside your company, find a mentor outside your company.

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I wouldn't worry too much about it. The most important factor for finding a great job (noticed I added the word great) will be your contacts rather than your experience with a specific language.

Anyone can have experience with a specific language, but if you know someone on the inside who can recommend your work and vouch for you, you will very often get considered over someone else who might have more experience in a particular programming language.

If you really do feel you need experience in another more business mainstream language like Java or C#, start a small open source project, put it on Github and blog about it. While it won't replace work experience in the eyes of recruiters and HR, it will still be better than not having any experience and is one of the best things you can do while keeping your current job.

But mostly, you should just make sure to make a good impression by doing great work and building a strong network, even if attrition rate are low, you never know what will happen with your coworkers. You can also meet people in conventions, user groups, etc.

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