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Did I just make a career limiting move?

Hi,

I've been a software developer for about 12 years, doing a lot of product development.

My company that I have been with for the past 5 years went bankrupt (ibank software... kaboom).

Anyway, I sort of panicked and took a job with a very large software company (the job fell into my lap).

The job is actually not doing product development, but creating automation tools for very very large scale tests.

I did retain my 'software engineer' title and got a really nice salary package.

But I'm very anxious that this might be a black mark on my resume and I'll have a hard time finding a product development job later on.  In fact I'm so anxious about it I'm considering resigning even though it is only my 2nd week there.  It is keeping me up at night.  I fear I will lose my edge.

Should I stick it out for 6 mos-1 year (and maybe learn something new) and then try to find a job more inline with what I'd like to be doing?    Or should I get out now and try to find something while jobless?

Thanks.
Delicious Irony Send private email
Thursday, May 07, 2009
 
 
i personally think that after 12 years of product development, 1 year or 2 of automation tools dev is near to nothing...
Victor the Python Artist Send private email
Thursday, May 07, 2009
 
 
On the contrary, I think it is a good move.  I'd be more inclined to hire someone who has some different experiences - especially with automated testing
Tim J Send private email
Thursday, May 07, 2009
 
 
There's no reason you can't keep your eyes open for better opportunities while sticking with the job you have.  I think bailing after 2 weeks would be worse for your career than staying.

You can always finesse this on your resume and speak about the new position in terms of how you're familiar with the "complete software development life cycle".
Jason Send private email
Thursday, May 07, 2009
 
 
I think quitting after only 2 weeks will be a career limiting move. Who would want to spend the time to hire someone who may only be around for 2 weeks?

You may resign, and find yourself out of work for 6 months or a year .. now THAT would be a career limiting move.

Just be thankful you have a good job in a tech-related area during this recession, do a good job for your employer. If you're worried about falling behind in development, do some weekend projects.
Larry Watanabe Send private email
Thursday, May 07, 2009
 
 
Stick with it, look for something else, and like the other people have said -- learn the stuff. Sooner or later you'll end up on a project where people want someone who can automate the test system as well as dev the main software.

Really good engineers tend to have rounded careers and have seen different industries and roles. Even you never again write test software, you'll still have an appreciation for what the guys doing it do and that'll make you a better team player when you work with them in the future.

Don't quit and walk out with nothing to go to. Not in this climate. At least give this gig a go.

Who knows, you might like it and end up having a whole new nicely paid career in test automation. It is damn hard to find people who are good at it when you need them, and they're worth a lot of money if you can.
Katie Lucas Send private email
Friday, May 08, 2009
 
 
Do you enjoy your new job? You only mentioned fear but not that you don't like it. If you do like it there's no reason for immediate resignation. Stay with it for a while to see how it goes. Even if you don't like it don't just quit without having anything else in line.
darkt Send private email
Friday, May 08, 2009
 
 
+1 TimJ

It could make you look like a very well rounded candidate for more senior posts.

However, plan to stay there a year, maybe two at most.
Arethuza Send private email
Friday, May 08, 2009
 
 
very few companies are that picky and make silly choices like based on stuff like this. People need jobs in a bad economy. I would recommend sticking with something stable until the economy picks up and don't take risks.

when you go for your next job, don't go "well I just did silly little automation code". Sell it as adding to your portfolio. Learn the ancient art of BS.

most companies are more interested in "can you do the job we need to hire someone to do".
Contractor Send private email
Friday, May 08, 2009
 
 
Stop thinking like a sheep in heard : "Did i make the expected move? Will the market like me if i do this? etc.". Do what feels right for YOU and don't try to please every resume scanner /HR drone in the world. If you like the job stick with it, everything else will sort out by itself.
AZ Send private email
Friday, May 08, 2009
 
 
"The job is actually not doing product development, but creating automation tools for very very large scale tests."

A product manager that knows a bit of testing and can even write a few?

Trying to figure out the downside of that one... ?
KC Send private email
Friday, May 08, 2009
 
 
Test Automation is a niche.  If you know how to exploit that niche, you can actually make a (little) more $$ than general web development. (For example, I dunno, google "Matthew Heusser", maybe?)

Now, if you want to move into management, there will be less testing management jobs that dev management, and they typically pay a little less.

Even if you want to do general development, a year as an SDET won't kill you.  I'd suggest doing a year and then doing an internal transfer to dev, which will be easier than getting a dev job.  If you can make bug fixes and otherwise touch production code, that's even better.

Finally, there's more to life than salary.  What's your goal?

++ to the people who ask "...but do you like it?"
Matthew Heusser Send private email
Friday, May 08, 2009
 
 
Thank you for the advice.

I should add, that being at this place *feels* wrong too and I don't think I'm going to like the work.  Maybe it is culture shock coming into a big company.

I keep asking myself over and over why did I take this job.  I also worry "will I do a good job?", having this much distaste for what my tasks will be.

I figured if I quit now I wouldn't have to put this place on my resume at all.

I like product development, particularly financial software.  I just don't think I can get into this.
Delicious Irony Send private email
Friday, May 08, 2009
 
 
The economy is slow.
you  need a job.

There is no shame in that. Nothing wrong with looking for another job for something better either. You owe your employer nothing.
Contractor Send private email
Friday, May 08, 2009
 
 
This time it's different.  There's almost no move you can make that will limit your career right now except getting drunk before lunch and watching TV.  You lost a job, you got a job, you can find another, there is no job hopper stigma anymore.
Sassy Send private email
Friday, May 08, 2009
 
 
Big companies are their own beast.  Everything moves slower there.  But at least it's a software house, and not something where software is only incidental.

About the best thing working at a big company is that you become better at multitasking, because you're always waiting on someone else to do something. 

When you get blocked by their amazing amount of overhead, you task switch to work on a different project until you're able to resume work.  And multitasking is a key management skill to have.
Xampl Send private email
Friday, May 08, 2009
 
 
while I appreciate being "well rounded" that can be detrimental. I don't think a year (or maybe 2) will hurt. However, I wouldn't do longer. If you do change your mind, then change it within the first 3 months. I can appreciate someone taking a job and then realizing it was a mistake.
Patrick From An IBank Send private email
Friday, May 08, 2009
 
 
I'm confused... He's writing test automation tools, not tests themselves. Therefore he's still a developer, isn't he?
Bill Lumberg Send private email
Friday, May 08, 2009
 
 
Bill, I was almost about to say the same thing.

It would be like turning down a job automating the supply-chain at McDonalds because "he doesn't want to make hamburgers" :)

Of course, test automation may mean that he is developing in scripting languages and tools vs. C++/C#/Java/VB development ... but that would be turning down a job because of the language or domain of application ... now some developers may be like that "I only want to develop xbox games in C++" but most of us aren't that picky.
Larry Watanabe Send private email
Saturday, May 09, 2009
 
 
Actually, I'm much more in favor of people who actually, like, do testing (+ create frameworks when needed) than those who /only/ create frameworks.

I've seen to many frameworks created by people who had no intention of being the customer of the framework.  UGH.  Yeah, I want to hand-roll my test cases in XML.  Riight.
Matthew Heusser Send private email
Saturday, May 09, 2009
 
 
"When you get blocked by their amazing amount of overhead, you task switch to work on a different project until you're able to resume work.  And multitasking is a key management skill to have."

Of course, there is the not so uncommon situation of not being a different project there to switch to. Then you have to be creative and invent one (or more) yourself, which is not a bad thing. The really bad thing is when your PHB "invents" one for you...
darkt Send private email
Monday, May 11, 2009
 
 
Working in big organizations with big process can be interesting. I remember my boss paid me the compliment, tongue in cheek, of saying "Larry has become very skilled at creating projects. And on his next job, he can say that he has created a million dollar project, because that's what it cost the company."

My boss knew exactly what was going on, but he also knew that I (and the other managers in the group) were sincere about attacking real problems in the company and coming up with solutions. Since projects above a certain size would come under scrutiny, large projects were divided up into incremental smaller projects, and billed to "shared" or "production support" activity which would not require the complex project approval process for new projects. There were other skills as well -- getting support of people in other groups, so you could offload work to them as a "task" (e.g. making full use of the database, graphics, and human interface groups) effectively doubling the size of your team.

You can learn something in almost every work environment, in many different positions - as long as you are having fun, being productive, and learning something, and getting paid enough to keep you content, there is no need to change jobs just out of fear of how others will perceive your work in the future.  No job is going to be perfect, and part of a workplace skill is how to find a way to merge your individual skills/personality into a corporate/work culture in a way that meets your needs and the company needs.
Larry Watanabe Send private email
Monday, May 11, 2009
 
 
Dude,  unless your boss is a total ass,  or the company does spamming or malware or some illegal or sleazy crap, do not quit without another job lined up.      WTF are you thinking?
currently employed Send private email
Saturday, May 16, 2009
 
 

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