Before I start, one thing. This is going to be a rant node. I have to vent, and this is the best place.

My aunt recently closed down her successful tailoring shop in Downtown Chicago. I just found out. My first question is: Why? From other relatives I've heard 'she wants to earn more money'. Okay, I say. What will she do? Then I hear the thing I dread hearing the most, right up there with 'I'm Pregnant': 'I'm going to become a programmer.'

This is when my head starts to hurt and I have to work very, very hard to avoid going off on her (my aunt). I say 'that's great and I wish you the best of luck' and shift the conversation to something else, like her daughter (see Horrorscopes).

What I should do is sit her down for an honest reality check. It would go something like this: What OS will you program for? What language will you program in? Do you want to work with the internet? Do you know how to turn on a computer? Can you even type? Can you learn all this? Do you have the will?

And then, of course if you do do those, well... Can you get a job? Can you make decent money? Do you realize that programming doesn't have regular hours? Do you realize that whoever you'll work for will ride your ass for all you're worth until you are a shallow, sleepless, caffinated wreck of who you were? Can you stay up past 11pm in your age?

People like this really piss me off. Everyone thinks it's so goddamn easy to work with computers in any, and every, way. I hate to break it to you, but if can't open MS-DOS out of Win9x without formating your HDD, then you will NOT make a good programmer. The closest you will ever get to successful programing is if you get lucky and I ask you to bring me coffee.

Now start sewing!
I beg to differ. I've been a professional computer programmer for over ten years now, and hacking out programs in my spare time for ten years before that, and it still amazes me that people are prepared to pay me huge amounts of money for what is basically a very simple job. Coding at its simplest level, whereby someone else has done the analysis and derived the required algorithms is little more than a logic exercise (so I need to loop fifty times, performing this operation if a certain condition is met, and another if not -- now translate this statement into the programming language of your choice).

What on earth does knowing which OS or which language she'll be using have to do with making a decision to change jobs? For the vast majority of people that question doesn't even make sense. Let her find out if she enjoys programming or has a natural talent for it. If she's happy to do point 'n' click stuff with Visual Basic then fine, good, she's doing something worthwhile. (Actually I do VB programmers a disservice here as versions 5 and 6 of the language are extremely powerful tools). And let's face it, with the rise of Asian sweatshops churning out Nike and Adidas sports clothing, tailoring as a western world profession is probably in terminal decline.

The other myth I have to shatter is that all programmers are geeks. Whilst the converse is almost always true, there are many programmers who work regular 9-5 hours, don't subsist on a diet of pizza and Coke, may never have even heard of Neal Stephenson and will quite happily go home to their wife and kids after putting in a day's work. There is a very important distinction to be made between programming/programmers & hacking/hackers. I say good luck to your aunt and I hope she finds herself in a fulfilling new vocation.

I'd have to agree iain here. I am responsible for hiring new Java developers at my company. Myself and one other person do the high-level design and architecture of the software, and then code the larger components leaving the smaller sections to junior programmers. Lately I'm hiring people who have a minimal set of skills because I just need the monkey work done, like textual parsing algorithms and what not. And given a chance, most of these unexperienced recruits end up enjoying what they do and learning to overcome their crappy entry-level position. Leave the hardcore programming to the seniors and the easy stuff to the juniors. 'Nuff said :-)

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.