I read an article in Fortune magazine’s online site this week titled ‘What Happens When a Startup Goes Bust’. The article focused on vendors who don’t get paid when startup fails. It gives examples of several small businesses owed various amounts of money in the wake of Bay area food delivery startup Munchery failing. And while the article is interesting in its take on vendors losing out on payments and how venture capital firms should have more accountability, it doesn’t even give a single mention to those who end up getting screwed the most when a startup fails: the employees of the startup.
Developers seem to have an irrational love/hate relationship with programming languages. We tend to love the languages we use on a regular basis. And we seem to hate languages we don’t or no longer use. I’ve come to refer to this as Developer Stockholm Syndrome.
I recently found myself in the uncomfortable position of having to look for a new job. Thanks to the ‘alleged’ poor life decisions of a certain former leadership person, the company I had poured most of the last four years into was closing its doors. We’d limped along best we could for a time after the ‘event’, but it was not to be. It was time to put it out of its misery. Those of us that had survived that long suddenly found ourselves with a need to go job hunting.
For all of us, there will times, many times, when our efforts end in failure. Sometimes, they will be small failures. And sometimes, they will be spectacular failures. Sometimes, you will be at fault. And sometimes, despite all your best efforts, someone else will be at fault. It doesn’t matter. It’s just another opportunity.
It’s a great time to be in the tech industry in general. Unemployment is down in most areas in the tech sector. You have the advantage. Use it. As with all things, times change. There were times it wasn’t good to be in tech. Those times will likely come again. But for now, you’ve got it good. If you’re not happy where you’re at right now, do something about it. Go and find a new job.
In a previous blog post, I talked about taking time to unplug in order to avoid burnout. That’s not what this is about. This is about getting in the zone. It’s about those times when you are so deep into the code that you just keep going and going. This is about those times when you get an idea and you dive headlong in and don’t come up for air for hours. Stop it. Stop it right now. Take a step back. Take a moment to breathe.
It seems one of the most basic concepts. Yet it gets completely hidden by the developer community. It doesn’t matter how many years of experience you have in a particular language. There are still things you will have to look up EVERY SINGLE DAY. I really started to think about it. Why are we ashamed to admit that publicly? A couple of reasons came to me pretty quickly: Ego and envy.
One of the biggest struggles of the development community is the mentoring, encouragement and development of entry-level and junior developers. A couple of years ago when I was adding people to my team, two of those I hired were women essentially right out of college. I found myself faced with a struggle that many dev managers and leads have faced over the years: How do I encourage, train and develop junior developers?