Beginning Computer Programming

Part 9 of 20 in the Series: Learn Computer Programming Online

Beginning computer programming can be difficult.

Even after getting hired beginner computer programmers may get the short end of the stick in matters ranging from compensation, training, and exposure to high profile projects and clients, peer respect, choice of technology, pecking order, holiday time and benefits.

There are several reasons why beginner programmers find it hard to get programming jobs or harder to find good career positions even after they are hired. Here are a few:

  1. Lack of experience: Yes, lack of strong industry experience will keep aspiring beginner programmers looking for work longer than they should. And even after they are hired they may be relegated to positions with no real prospects for career advancement.
  2. Lack of negotiation skills: Negotiation skills which are usually not taught at programming classes are critical to beginning computer programming. Because beginner programmers lack the skills to negotiate a better pay, more challenging programming projects and choice of technology their career suffers as they wait for something good to happen for them.

    However the relationship between you as a beginner programmer and your employer is that of an adult-to-adult relationship. Meaning that your employer expects you to look after your own interests.

  3. Weak Job Search Skills: Beginning computer programming jobs are often chosen out of fear, lack of self-confidence and lack of market insight.

    What is a beginner programmer to do? The first offer on the table is grabbed by the desperate, tired and stressed-out beginner programmer who’s intimidated and overwhelmed by their job search.

    As a result, beginner programmers may be stuck with under-paying, unfavorable jobs for several years until their career becomes un-livable.

  4. Low self confidence: We have all been there. You are hired and given the tag junior level or entry level programmer. This tag becomes how your fellow programmers see you and therefore how you see yourself.

    Even though you may be capable of performing at the same level as other mid-level or senior level programmers in your firm. If you believe the tag beginner, entry level, junior or novice programmer, you give someone else the power to tell you what you can and cannot do.

    And you lose that fundamental ability of a human, “the ability to self-determine one’s own destiny“.

Do you see what is going on here?

Beginning computer programming can also be challenging because beginner programmers often lack the ability to pain a better picture of their abilities through their resumes, present themselves confidently at technical interviews and negotiate better salaries that are not tied to arbitrary beginner / entry level / junior programmer CAREER TAGS.

While beginning computer programming, I discovered how I could do the same jobs usually referred to senior developers. So, I peeled off the beginning computer programming tags on my career and within 6 months my salary multiplied from $28,000/yr. to $75,000/yr. which is really not bad for starters.

And I amazed when I gete emails from programmers who are paralyzed by their beginning computer programming tag. Here is a recent e-mail. Read it below and see what I mean.

Hi there,

upon reading your article about becoming a programmer I have decided to contact you.

I am working for a web-development company as a trainee.

I have worked for this company for two months now and what was once a passion of mine (web development) has now become my worst nightmare.

Although I am supposed to be a trainee i have received no training what so ever and i am expected to know everything about every language.

When i run into almost imminent problems all the director can do is send me abusive emails where swearing and personal insults are common place.

I am desperate to become a good web-developer and would do anything to become as proficient as my colleagues but this just seems like it will never be the case.

I often study outside work but when i go into the office something else is required of me (just seems like a never ending cycle of doom and gloom).

My probation is up and i will find out if i will be kept on in my role as a “trainee developer”.

This does not add to my motivation neither does my directors abusive emails.

My advice to beginner computer programmers who find their careers in a rut like this is:

  1. Focus on the value you offer. Learn how to value your work by your raw ability to perform on the job and get the work done, nothing else. Think meritocracy and give no place to the self-defeating tags of beginner, entry-level or junior that only seek to restrain your performance.
  2. Improve your skills. You are a computer programmer. What you offer is your programming skills, experience and knowledge. If anyone takes away your ability to learn and improve your programming skills, your career is as good as dead. So, find creative ways to develop your skills fast outside of your office or your career will be over before it even begins.
  3. Think like a pro. Like a professional developer, ensure your resume and technical job interviewing skills stand out.
  4. Negotiate what you want. Begin to form a healthy self-image of yourself and then negotiate like you are serious about your career. When you get the pay you want, accept the offer and do a damn good job. And if you still can’t do a good job, better learn how to
  5. Own your destiny. Begin to act like you are in a free market economy. If you can’t get along with your employer despite your best efforts, simply apply for a position with another employer. There are several reasons why you may not get along with an employer.

    Sometimes, it’s your fault and sometimes it is not. Whatever the reason, don’t give in to fear and stay with a job you hate. Get out, get moving and get hired fast!




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