Join LinkedIn Learning Developer Instructor for an in-depth discussion in this video Ted Neward, part of Career Clinic: Developer Insights.
- My start in the industry actually started on a dare. A roommate of mine, we were looking through the school paper because I was looking for a job and I had actually been involved with programming in just kind of a off-hand basis for a number years, starting with the Apple 2 back in 1978 when I was seven. We were in college and it was probably about 1991 or what not and we were actually working on a game, the three of us, because we wanted play this really ridiculously long broad game but it required six players and it was hard getting six people into the apartment all at the same time, so we thought it's kind of a turn-based thing, if we could do this online, BBSs were a thing etc.
And so, we were working on that and as my one roommate and I were looking through the paper looking for a job, we saw one for a local company that was looking for C++ programmers and he said hey, you could go interview for that and I'm like oh, come on, they're looking for professionals, we're just playing. He's like no, come on, you should at least give it a shot. I'm like nah. He's like fine, I double dog dare you to go do this interview and I'm like oh crud because if it's a double dog dare, you kind of have to.
I mean manhood is at stake here and so, I went and I interviewed and actually was one of four finalists out of something like 30/40 applicants which was really surprising to me and that sort of flipped the bit in my head that said you could actually make a career out of this. So, at that point, the goal sort of shifted in my head from get a degree in international relations, go join the State Department maybe go into the Ambassadorial Corp, study intelligence intercepts and that sort of life over to well, I don't want to change degrees 'cause I don't want to start completely over but finish my degree and then go start interviewing with places that are looking for programmers and in many cases, particularly at the time, they didn't really care if you had a computer science degree as long as you could demonstrate that you had the skills, so we kept working on the game and I worked on a couple of side projects and so, when I graduated in '95 I actually ended up working for Mike Cohn who is one of the big Agile scrum guys in the world.
The joke is that I worked for Mike before either of us were famous. That was a nice solid year's worth of work using C++, Windows, blah, blah, blah to the point that once I had that experience on the resume, people kind of didn't even ask what my degree was in anymore and at that point, 1995 of crouse, this was when the industry was doing one of these, so if you knew how to spell C++ or Java, you were hired. So, it was a combination of the dare, just get out there and do it, give it a shot, see what happens and to a certain degree being in the right place at the right time and the industry was really starting to heat up at that point.
There were a number of obstacles going on that were in some cases industry wide, just from a standpoint that there are always challenges in the industry just from a perspective of things that we have to worry about. Today a lot of it is going to be around security, trying to make sure that the stuff that we build is secure and can resist the best attempts of people whose interests or objectives are not necessarily the most benign. Back in the 90s our concerns were a little bit different from the standpoint that we were trying to build applications that were principally desktop applications at least until the internet became a thing in the late 90s and there a lot of your engagement with the user was front and center, building a user interface that they would understand.
Figure out kind of where you want to go in terms of your career arc and then look for the technologies that kind of support that and yeah, if there's stuff that doesn't fit, if you really want to get into games, some of the cloud stuff will be useful but a lot of it won't be, so yeah, leave that in category two and just go with the stuff that will be really, really useful for developing games. Make the decision what you study a very, very conscious one but make the goal of bringing things that you don't know exist into your awareness an almost unconscious one.
You should be constantly looking for things that you didn't know existed so that now you know they exists and you can say oh, okay, cool, I'm going to put that into a list that I may go look at or I may not. The goal is not to try to eliminate everything out of that list, the goal is to selectively choose the things that are really, really important to you and then move those over and some of them you'll discover will be great and some of them you'll discover yeah, that was kind of a waste of time but that's okay because now there's a whole category of some other things related to that that you can also probably safely put to the side.