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Lets say you were employed by a company (not a long time ago), that suggested good money and social package. Though while you are occupying a developer position (i.e. java) you do not spend much time programming. And that's generally because the platform, which is used by this company, doesn't assume a lot of coding, only for customization, and even then there's more digging and using already made modules/functionality rather than writing one yourself. Which means you're not gonna get a lot of java development experience. And let's also assume that you're youngster in SoftDev, and you're passionate (though I hope you don't have to assume that:)) about it.

It's also important, that somehow you can find guys in that company, who are truly skilled and have good programming knowledge and great experience list.

Platform is totally closed, have never see such proprietary thing. You have no access to source, the only thing that comes in handy is decompiler.

Note: important is that it's an e-commerce thing, and you have never worked in such a business.

So, what would you do in such a situation?

EDIT: The question is: would you quit a job, for which you are paid good, but which doesn't improve your coding, abut which leads to certain experience in e-commerce?

EDIT: It's extremely hard to choose one correct answer cause I find 3 of them to be correct. So I up voted every close one. THANKS FOR GREAT ANSWERS!

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Actually maintaining code would provide you with valuable experience. –  rmx Nov 25 '10 at 16:48
Maintaining code is not writing it. Differs at least in what your brains is busy with. –  Denys S. Nov 25 '10 at 16:50
What's the question? If you're not programming enough then look for a new job, or program at home. Are you asking for advice as to whether or not you should start your own company? –  Steve Evers Nov 25 '10 at 16:53
A stress-free thought-free position is perfect if you want to attend a night school. –  Job Nov 25 '10 at 17:24
"thought-free" is not my choice, though I'm attending university. –  Denys S. Nov 25 '10 at 17:51
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6 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I'd question the value of your e-commerce experience in this place.

It seems that

  1. You have no access to source code, so you're just configuring stuff like a user
  2. You have no joy in the work
  3. You are not surrounded by experts who are sharing their knowledge
  4. You have a good salary

As I have said before, money is a short-term motivator and ultimately you should aim to be happy in your work. The list above seems to clearly state that you should be looking elsewhere.

"But, Gary! The e-commerce experience I could be gaining here!"

Phooey. If you're suitably motivated, you can pick up all you need to know about e-commerce to get your first site off the ground in less than a month. You don't need to know how to configure some (by the sound of it) bloated and cumbersome platform - you would be better of learning good design principles and how to plug in a third-party payment clearing package.

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Since you are at the start of your career, the thing you need to value the most is getting good experience. There are jobs that pay more because the job is mundane, and its a way to reduce staff turnover in that role, but these are the jobs for someone else. You should want to work with people you will learn from. they need to be more experienced than you and willing to pass on their knowledge.

Now in respect to this particular job, working out if the other, non programming expertise you gain for performing the role make you a better, more rounded person is something that only you can really judge. I would strongly advise against accepting money in lieu of experience, as it will hurt you in the long term.

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Possibly related: Mid level IT lead. I voted for the answer to quit.

Obviously it depends on what "good money" is, since salary is not entirely relative. My guess, if you are young, is that you can probably go job-searching and find someone to bring you over at the same or a better salary and into a position where you can learn more. That's because most companies base your starting salary on your salary history.

If I was in a position that was set me up very well long term — CTO of a promising company, etc. — I would not mind if I coded or not. I suppose that's personal opinion, but in that position, I would enjoy the ability to architect, make product decisions on a high level, and other things which are probably even better for experience than raw coding.

If the reason I wasn't coding was simply because the company didn't offer learning experience in some other way, then I would definitely be looking for another job that would take me in at a similar salary.

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If I'm interpreting this question correctly...

  • If you want to become an awesome programmer, you have to practice your coding. If you're not doing that at your day job, you'll need to do it outside of your day job. Since you don't have the time outside of work then in your case that means you need to find a new job.

  • If you want to start a business and assuming you've done your research and you know you need to learn the sort of soft skills that your work currently gives you, then stay. But it does mean you'll have to hire outside programmer expertise when you start your own company and you might not be able to recognise what a good programmer is.

Because as you won't have spent the time programming you might not be as qualified to be the lead CTO/programmer in your new company as you'd like to be (assuming this is a start-up and you want that hands on role). You also might struggle to recognise the top programmers out there (Birds of a Feather and all that).

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Yea, that's obvious, but unfortunately I have no chance to do it outside. –  Denys S. Nov 25 '10 at 17:07
Ah I see you've updated your question, I'll edit my answer accordingly. –  Martijn Verburg Nov 25 '10 at 17:09
Sorry, but I didn't get the programmer expertise & good programmer thought, can you clarify, please. –  Denys S. Nov 25 '10 at 17:21
updated the answer –  Martijn Verburg Nov 25 '10 at 17:37
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I think you overestimate the amount spent on coding in general. More often than not, programmers have to rather work on existing code than creating something new. Often enough, gathering the requirements, sorting them out, documenting them, discussing them with the clients takes more time than actually writing the code.

To answer your questions, if you like the job in general, stay there for a while, gather experience in the domain (and development experience in your resume), and try to find a toy project to work on, to improve your skills.

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I don't see a lot of upwotes or comments out here, besides, I don't agree with what you're stating to be most usual programmer duties (as my experience includes several companies and years). So maybe it's not only me, who should consider changing a job? :) –  Denys S. Nov 26 '10 at 13:59
den-javamaniac: I don't want to start or join a who-has-more-years contest here. If your experiences are different than mine, good for you. –  user281377 Nov 26 '10 at 14:58
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My answer is another question:

Do you really have to code less?

I am the CTO of my company. Sure, we're small, but I'm quite certain that if we had thousands of employees, I'd still spend most of my time writing code (or thinking about what to write). My position simply solidified in salary stuff that I was doing as a senior developer:

  • License compliance (Free / Open Source stuff we use)
  • Development processes
  • Interviewing / Hiring
  • Watching patent wars and avoiding land mines
  • Planning next year's products
  • Etc

Sure, I have to do some budgetary stuff, I have a few more meetings to attend, but I spend 80% of my time writing code. Sometimes it is review, mostly it is proof of concept stuff that I'd like to get (really) implemented.

The only real difference between me and the rest of the programmers that toil away here is, I have a magical hammer. I can cut a project when it looks like it's going to tank, or bring in resources that are appropriate to help it not tank. I can tell higher ups that "Yeah, no F'in way is that gonna happen" and I can make sure that people working under me get what they need.

Your next position is the position you put yourself in, unless you live somewhere that they put a gun to your head. Under no circumstances should you EVER stop doing what you love doing, especially since you worked so hard to get paid to do what you love doing.

It's not a paradox like having cake and eating it too. Circumstances aren't edible.

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I started at a small company (15 employees) where I reported to the CTO who coded 80-100% of the time. By the time we grew to 80 employees he had ended his coding days -- not because he wasn't fit for it, but because of the other demands a company of that size placed on the CTO. –  NickC Nov 25 '10 at 17:15
I can't actually see, how this answers my question (or specifically it's conditions), which are "you're youngster in SoftDev". This fact results in absence of mithril hummer. :) Though, your thought are totally correct. –  Denys S. Nov 25 '10 at 17:29
@Renesis: I see this as a question of size as well. Management is real work, too, that doesn't do itself. –  peterchen Nov 26 '10 at 14:35
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