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Cover image for What's the worst advice you've ever received?

What's the worst advice you've ever received?

Ben Halpern
A Canadian software developer who thinks he’s funny. He/Him.
・1 min read

Discussion (130)

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kant312 profile image
Quentin Delcourt

Learn Flash, it's the future!

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functional_js profile image
Functional Javascript

Learn Silverlight, it's the future.
β€”said no one ever, except the Microsoft sales team.
:)

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codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald

The Future cost me $800 and 3 years of work.

Fun fact: I found out from an Adobe insider that they'd officially decided to discontinue Flash in 2012. Adobe sold me a license in 2013. That's what we call "a scam", boys and girls.

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scrabill profile image
Shannon Crabill

I had one flash class in college and I struggled so hard with it! I am glad that it died.

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kant312 profile image
Quentin Delcourt

In fact I think it was not so bad πŸ˜› ActionScript was a pretty good language and the Flash IDE was a good tool for quick animations. It just shouldn't have tried to take the place of HTML imho πŸ˜„

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octaneinteractive profile image
Wayne Smallman

I have to agree, Flash as a concept was good, and ActionScript was solid, but the implementation was a complete β€” but avoidable β€” shambles.

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bernardbaker profile image
Bernard Baker

Just imagine how heavy built in flash components were. I worked with a guy and we rewrote the library. Made it extremely light weight and scalable.

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octaneinteractive profile image
Wayne Smallman

That's what puzzled me β€” Flash used vector graphics, so it should have been ultra lightweight, but for the most part the heft of each file was ridiculous.

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bernardbaker profile image
Bernard Baker

A lot of it was boilerplate, bitmap skins, additional libraries, etc. When I tore into the inner workings, only certain core libraries were actually needed to render something by the flash player. Oh the days of OO AS3 🀸. We basically used vectors drawn with code.

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bernardbaker profile image
Bernard Baker

I won a global bronze Lester Wunderman award for a Flash based microsite which advertised the Ford C-Max car.

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington (he/him)

Hey now! Talented thespian Brendan Fraser's website runs on Flash... and you're telling me that it's a thing of the past?!

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bernardbaker profile image
Bernard Baker

I did flash. Would you believe it's still in use by many gambling tech companies who having switched over?

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utkarsh profile image
Utkarsh Talwar

Around 2010, when I was in high school, my best friend tried to get me to learn flash and make games in it. Even gave me some pirated tutorials. XD

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sanjayojha profile image
Sanjay Ojha

PHP is dead

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author

Yeah, any advice I've gotten with regards to a technology being dead has always proven pretty useless :P

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dimfeld profile image
Daniel Imfeld

I was surprised to find out a few months ago just how alive the PHP ecosystem is. Lots of good work being done to bring modern development and deployment paradigms to the language.

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jsn1nj4 profile image
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thefluxapex profile image
Ian Pride • Edited

The worst advice I ever received (in programming, at least) was something to the effect of "leave programming to the educated professionals; stop invading/infecting our world". It was 20 years ago when I went to a forum asking for help on something basic, yes, I was clearly a novice, and I expressed that my only interest was as a hobbyist to give them an idea of how to help me and he commenced to go on a page long rant about all the "idiots" wasting valuable data storage space and bandwidth (these were bigger issues back then). This is why I always pre apologize for wasting forum posts (if it seems like something I should know already) on the rare occasion I do need help anymore. Old habit, hard to break. The pretentiousness of experienced programmers was far worse than it is today (though we still have the Stack Overflow :().
If I had taken his advice and given up I never would have built all the utilities on my machines and on the net that make my "hobbyist" life happy. I'm addicted to anything programmatic/problem solving. Just comes naturally and makes me feel amazing. Truly helps me with lots of issues, not just in computing.

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mxldevs profile image
MxL Devs

Some people spend way too much time interfacing with a computer that they forget how to interface with other humans lol

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thefluxapex profile image
Ian Pride

I've had countless experiences like this throughout the years with these types and lots of them are frustrated they spend all the money on an education and expect everyone else to have to do the same.

I love helping people and do it regardless if I get anything out of it or not and I pay the help I've received forward any time I can.

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n4vn33t profile image
navneet

Hahaha! It's funny because I find it to be true nowadays! We need HumanDebugInterface HDI for them to do a life-boot rescue 😁.

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greenroommate profile image
Haris Secic

Although some of the devs get to be like that in my opinion, as they did a lot for something and should have an excuse SOMETIMES (hey we all get in bad mood and make misstakes), most of these behave as they are affraid that people who didn't waste their lifes reading all books ever written about it, are gonna take their jobs and the only thing they were good at will be taken away and they will be exposed that it's not so hard to do their job. I guess it's not only devs but a lot of things connected somehow to sinence or actual science. Take for instance doctors, if you eve think that there might be a different way to solve your health issues automatically tag on a forehead as conspiracy theorists. I had some bad cases with medical professionals were they made wrong calls because tests indicated something. It's like if people see them as other human beings who also makes mistakes world will end

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n4vn33t profile image
navneet

I can agree, some people can be very toxic to a community as a whole, on the other hand its great that you didn't let it get to you and kept up what you want to do.

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ddm50 profile image
Din

Who said that? Cause many "educated professionals" don't know much

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val_baca profile image
Valentin Baca

At my college internship (c. 2010), one of the senior engineers (non-software) said my CS degree would be worthless because A.I. would be writing all code in a couple of years and to put all my money in gold.

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kailyons profile image
KaiLikesLinux

That language matters in programming. Fun fact, it almost doesn't. unless it is a specific case, or a language isn't 100% able to take on the majority of a task, the language doesn't matter.

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mabla0531 profile image
Matthew Bland

B-b-b-but C++ iS bEtTeR πŸ˜‘πŸ˜‚

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mxldevs profile image
MxL Devs

"Good code doesn't need comments"

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codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald

Tell me about it.

Good code shouldn't need a code to describe what it's doing, but it certainly benefits from intent-comments ("why").

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garretharp profile image
Garret

That is good advice. I should be able to look at the function names and variables and get a good idea of what is happening without comments.

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oguzhanaknc profile image
Oğuzhan Akıncı

Writing code is like making a joke. It's bad if you need to explain.

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almenon profile image
Almenon

If a joke was used as the basis for entire industries, I'd sure as heck want a explanation.

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sebbdk profile image
Sebastian Vargr

Wait, what? why is that bad advice? :)

The idea is to make verbose code, it’s the main difference I observe in programmers relative to their experience level.

Novices tend to make messy complex code riddled with or needing comments & experienced programmers make simple/short code that uses sane naming and formatting so comments become pointless.

Correct if I’m wrong please, I feel like I would need that lesson. :D

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mxldevs profile image
MxL Devs • Edited

Good names help make it easier to understand what the code is doing compared to using variables like a and b and method names like my_func1 but it doesn't explain things like "why you wrote the code", "how it's intended to be used", etc.

Some devs might end up with this idea that as long as they write clean beautiful verbose code, comments won't be needed.

I've written a post about comments to clarify my position on comments.

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sebbdk profile image
Sebastian Vargr • Edited

I would have to disagree, intent and why' can be conveyed.
It requires extra thought tho, which is what the quote is trying to encourage.
It's not meant to be taken literally.

Take fx.


// I'm gonna assume this is the unix cat command maybe?
// I have no idea what data is.. this could be anything.
function cat(data) {...} 

// Gonna assume this returns a Cat embedded in the input
function getCat(from) {...}

// Gonna assume this generate's a new cat from the input
function generateCat(from) {...}

// My comments make sense here btw. :)
// Since i am actually commenting' on my' thoughts.
// Not what is going on in the code.

The intent is conveyed using verbs and subjects.
This communicates the message or intent shorter, usually meaning better.
The subjects i should know what is based on context and documentation.

The quote "If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter." - Someone
Fully encompasses the idea.

I'l flip through you article now, thank you for taking the time to write it. :)

// Edit, ps, worth noting, with types, the verbosity and intent here could be much improved.

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malaud profile image
Malaury

Could you explain a bit more your thought?

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n4vn33t profile image
navneet

Woah! One of the worse advices I have seen on this thread a nightmare even for junior devs/admins haha!

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arschles profile image
Aaron Schlesinger

Build it and they will come

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author

I can't even get my family to use stuff I've built unless it really truly absolutely solves their problem and it is blatantly obvious without explanation.

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darksmile92 profile image
Robin Kretzschmar

We can turn that into a great advice for founders and developers who want to bring a product to market:

If you can't even convince your own family, how are you going to convince a complete stranger?

I have to admit that I should think of that more often myself, too 😁

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arschles profile image
Aaron Schlesinger

Same here. It really puts things into perspective for me πŸ˜‚

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eidellev profile image
Lev Eidelman Nagar

You can't be a professional programmer without a degree

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stereoplegic profile image
Mike Bybee

My updated LinkedIn Education and Certifications sections:

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stereoplegic profile image
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damcosset profile image
Damien Cosset

One guy I use to work with constantly told me to choose shorter variables names, even if it was clear there were harder to understand afterwards. It would go to extreme length to cut a variable name a few characters to make it more readable. Thanks, I hate it now... I guess comprehension is subjective, but as a junior, choosing long and very clear variable names were helping me a lot. To him, it was a distraction.

And also, never learn X because Y... I'll never understand the concept behind telling someone to never learn something. There are always different perspectives, concepts, paradigms to be learned. It might click for someone in a different language or framework, so I've always got a bit sad when I was told never to learn something...

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Derek Hopper

I like to say we write code for the future reader (could be you, could be him, could be someone else). We should judge readability based on the future reader and not the person reading it today.

Using a shorter name might be more readable today, but completely unreadable in the future.

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buinauskas profile image
Evaldas

Not sure if it counts, but one of my ex managers suggested writing JS, CSS and HTML using SQL Stored Procedures to serve web pages.

Obviously we told this is a terrible idea and this monstrosity never saw a daylight.

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author

Can you tell me more about the context, like what language, framework, infrastructure, and business objectives led to this kind of thought process?

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buinauskas profile image
Evaldas

It was Microsoft stack. SQL Server, .NET.

Company has been rebuilding one of the core features - rendering statistical data in a grid. It had to render lots of different datasets dynamically with 10s of thousands of rows per page.

Frontend team at that time was struggling with the implementation and that's where the suggestion came from.

Reality being that different managers wanted their departments being feature owners and make changes themselves using tools they know. Basically SQL Server and T-SQL became a hammer and every feature or an issue started looking as a nail.

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sm0ke profile image
Sm0ke • Edited

Do not learn C++ in school .. because is old and nobody uses it.
Years after, my first job was a corporate, full-time C++ job for 5yrs.

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kailyons profile image
KaiLikesLinux

C++ is my first language, I think C++ should be mandatory in school (that teaches tech) as it is a gateway to any programming language you want.

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sm0ke profile image
Sm0ke

Fully agree with you!

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scrabill profile image
Shannon Crabill

Anything that mentions just doing something.

"Just get hired at a startup. You'll learn so much!"
"Just apply anyway!"
"Oh that's easy! You just...."

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margo_hdb profile image
Margo McCabe

Yes, a mentor once suggested that I completely remove this word from my vocabulary! (I try, but sometimes it slips)

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jsn1nj4 profile image
JSn1nj4β€β€πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’»

I've been trying to reduce my use of that word as much as possible over the last year+. It really is a verbal crutch.

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Arit Amana

"You'll never land a coding job if you don't master React" πŸ™„

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foresthoffman profile image
Forest Hoffman

Don't share your side projects or self-taught work. That doesn't sound impressive, and no one will take you seriously.


Just go in person and deliver your resume to the manager. Submitting your application online doesn't do anything.

Two of the worst and most subtly degrading things anyone has ever offered as "advice".

OH! I forgot...

Don't argue for $XX/hr you'll never get that at your first developer job.

Where $XX/hr is a perfectly reasonable starting rate based on the local market. πŸ™ƒ

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waylonwalker profile image
Waylon Walker

Stop writing code and do some real work

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jmau111 profile image
Julien Maury

I've met a lot of people who are convinced security through obscurity is a good thing. IMHO, it's a huge waste of time, and sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

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sergix profile image
Peyton McGinnis • Edited

Totally agree. It's like draping a curtain in front of a combination lock that has its code written on a sticky note, and hoping no one will look behind the curtain.

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n4vn33t profile image
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kailyons profile image
KaiLikesLinux

Tutorials give you the information for you to know the syntax. Stackoverflow everything else.

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beeman profile image
beeman 🐝

"Learn the theory before diving in deep".

While it might work for some people, I'm a big fan of learning 'on the job'. In my experience, a lot of starting developers (including me from the past) get stuck in an endless cycle of just learning, and never bring it in practice.

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codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald

I'd say "Learn the theory WHILE diving in deep." In my experience, that's the only thing that works; theory without practice is noise, practice without theory is useless.

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beeman profile image
beeman 🐝

Very well put. There is a sweet spot in the middle for and that spot is different for most of us.

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terceranexus6 profile image
Paula

"Stop writing and giving speeches, that doesn't suit a cybersecurity person. Oh and you should also forget about open source, that's just a phase". In a job interview. 🀑

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jacobmgevans profile image
Jacob Evans

Give up, it's just too hard.

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nflamel profile image
Fran C.

From a teacher I had on my second year at university:

As an engineer you need to learn to suffer or you'll never get anywhere.

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persimone profile image
Simone

I sort of got this too. Something along the lines like "You need to get really stuck, sometimes for weeks, it's part of the procces". I partly believe it, and somtimes getting a bit stuck will make you search elsewere and that does the trick. But I know that for me personally, that is not how I like to learn. It demotivates me and I check out. It also made me not dare to ask that person a question again, even when I really needed help. I am more about getting a teammate and figuring it out together. I know this because I had 10+ years experience in other fields, (also one in teaching/ learning).
For people that are just starting out.. advice like this can be just frustrating. That is to me why this comunity is so amazing! <3

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nflamel profile image
Fran C.

Oh, I know that feeling quite well. And I think that as grow professionally one of the most useful things I've learned to do is to ask for help. It doesn't even need to be someone who will know the answer, just somebody who wants to go through my train of thoughts with me and help me find any issue. Or maybe someone that I know will completely change my approach. That's also one of the reasons why I enjoy Dev. I find so many different voices, with so many different experience levels, approaches and experiences that it is enriching and I learn a lot :)

Unfortunately, that teacher meant something different. He didn't want to teach me to overcome the frustration of not succeeding. The exact part is probably lost on my translation from Spanish into English... but what he wanted was that I accepted unfair things as something unavoidable and unfixable and that those things are a core part of what being an engineer is.

So, not something on the lines of "don't be frustrated when you're stuck. Don't despair and you'll find a solution eventually" and more on the lines of "yeah, you'll have to do overtime every day, have abusive bosses, and renounce to your professional ethics. That's how life is, get over it"

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persimone profile image
Simone

Oh wow, that is even worse.. He said that is is okay if you are beeing treated unfairly?!
I mean, I do believe that maybe in the beginning of your career you should work hard, and show what you are worth. Ofcourse overtime sometimes.. sure. But you have to take care of yourself.. The balence in work and fun should be good. And also, work should be fun :)

I think teachers sometimes forget the influence they can have on a student.
And also the aother way around also that students sometimes forget that teachers are also just people.. Don't buy everything they say.

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n4vn33t profile image
navneet

Damn! He/She must have had "tough life".

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nflamel profile image
Fran C.

I guess so... luckily for me his words had a huge impact on me... exactly in the opposite direction he wanted xD

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n4vn33t profile image
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anuraghazra profile image
Anurag Hazra • Edited

"Learn how to shutdown the PC properly" from a computer store. (yeah its true) i was like... "sorry what...?"

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Samuel Blickle

Windows Mobile will completely take over the mobile market. Don't waste your time on Android/iOS. A CS professor told me that, about a year before they officially shut it down.

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Julian van den Berkmortel

"Don't aim as high as you're doing, your perspective is too idealistic"

When I stopped with my internship (social anxiety related issues that I wasn't able to properly deal with back then) and in turn dropped out of college because without an internship I couldn't finish college...

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n4vn33t profile image
navneet • Edited

Worst advise for me was quote;

β€œIf you drop out of college your life is over.”

This was told in 2016, and I am still doing fine and managed to build a few dependable friends online and a good client base to support myself, it does get lonely sometimes but freedom of not being burdened by robotic work/or bad management is far better in my opinion, and I am free to learn whatever heck I want and build uses cases to pitch to clients so it's an overall plus in my book.

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bernardbaker profile image
Bernard Baker • Edited

Mine had to be the advice for looking for a bug by a tech lead. Down into the rabbit hole I went.

This was direction on the basis that another developer couldn't have made a mistake. Which they had and admitted a week later.

Why can't people be more fourth coming. In short the Dev who introduced the bug was the Dev who fixed it.

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yonifra profile image
Jonathan Fraimorice • Edited

Not so much as advice, but basically to trust your instincts more.
Every time I challenged my instincts, I lost badly.

My first job was a gut feeling - I've been there 5.5 years, and managed to become a team lead.
Second job - Offices were crap, people were condescending, but I needed a job quickly since I just moved to a new place. Total failure (Cost - 1.5 years of my life)
Third job - Money and clean offices were blinding me, the job itself was bad and people were crappy (3 years of my life, because it was super convenient and close to my home)
Fourth job - Got it in a blink of an eye since I just wanted to leave the previous job - was terrible(!!) (1 year and I ran out of there)
Fifth job - Took my time taking this one, money was as good as 4th job, but closer home and technology-wise seemed nicer (2 years, ended in a dispute with my manager)
Sixth job - HEAVEN! It's not as close to home as previous companies, but man oh man I enjoy every second of it, people are great, pay is great, technology is awesome but most of all - I feel 100% respected, which for me now with all my years of experience I think is the most important thing. (1.5 year and it seems like it's been only a day)

So my advice to you is:
Paycheques make you happy 1-2 times a month, but respect, interest and fun makes the job 100% of the time enjoyable. GO WITH YOUR GUT!

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merri profile image
Vesa Piittinen • Edited

"Use functional programming to do it."

This came from a consultant at a time I had been working as a professional for about a year. I wasn't yet familiar with the term, but I was very confused during his explanation because the code he wrote as an example was awful from performance perspective, but he kept on going that this is the way things should be done. I had no trouble understanding the code but he treated me like I knew nothing simply because I wasn't familiar with the term "functional programming".

To clarify the advice itself isn't worst as there is a place for functional programming style, but the way it was represented was. This was kind of my first real life contact with hype programmers who use whatever is the coolest latest thing and use it blindly as their hammer for everything. They did whatever they thought was best, for example we had requested a Node app in JavaScript, we got a Node app in CoffeeScript.

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ackzell profile image
Axel MartΓ­nez

"Learn a real programming language."
Some years ago I had just told them I worked as a front end dev.

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huncyrus profile image
huncyrus

Hard work always pays off in IT and programming!

Trust your colleagues!

You don't have to reinvent the wheel!

Never use icon fonts, nobody like them and e-readers getting hurt!

You don't need to plan ahead just do it as fast as possible!

You don't need contract for this small project!

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crippler93 profile image
Luis Chavez

Write unit tests is a waste of time

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_ronini profile image
Ronnie Villarini

Accept that it's just too late for you.

This came from a pretty unfriendly person on Reddit after I went to /r/learnprogramming seeking advice on how I could make an efficient path for myself and land a job without any college. I was 25 at the time, had a 1 year old, and I was working full time at Walmart. I had started a semester of college, but it just proved to be a waste of money because I didn't really have the time to balance a full load of classes while also working and taking care of my daughter, nor did I have the patience to spend the next several years in college because I'd only be able to take a few classes at a time.

I was told that I wouldn't make it without the degree and to just accept that I'd made the choice to have kids and I should instead just focus on maybe moving up at Walmart and abandoning the idea of being a developer.

Turns out that's not true at all, and within 6 months of that conversation, I had gone from basic HTML knowledge, to landing my first dev job and doubling my salary. Less than a year after that, I had tripled my original salary after making another switch to a higher paying front end job.

I couldn't be happier, and I'm still working just as hard as I did back then to grow as a developer. (:

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stereoplegic profile image
Mike Bybee • Edited

"Use TypeScript, it makes JavaScript object oriented and you can check types."

...paging Kyle Simpson, HALP!!!

I was there for the "object oriented JavaScript" craze of the early-mid '10s, and all the predictable, totally avoidable errors caused by treating JS like [insert class-based OOP language you're comfortable with]. Now, we're just teaching junior devs to treat JS like a class-based language from the get-go (not to mention piling a ton of extra learning curve on their plates). That's gonna be fun to untangle.

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realabbas profile image
Ali Abbas

Javascript has no potential.

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incrementis profile image
Akin C.

Before I plunged into the world of software engineering / development
I worked as a snack seller.
I decided to tell my manager that I was leaving because I wanted to study.
My boss said to me:
"You are too stupid to study."

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mxldevs profile image
MxL Devs

Won't be installing random apps again based on a single referral.

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krtobias profile image
Tobias Krause

"You don't need to know how it works...be happy that it works"

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persimone profile image
Simone

oehf..

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pika1998 profile image
Prafulla Raichurkar

The worst advice I've ever received is why become something that there are so many others BE SOMETHING UNIQUE.. i feel that if you keep having this attitude you will end up in a life long search doing nothing.

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Devin Handspiker-Wade

Most of my programming course in college were done in VB.NET. Other than reading vendor documents that assume you are using a .NET language, don't think I have used it since college.

jsn1nj4 profile image
JSn1nj4β€β€πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’»

Mastery is definitely something that comes from experience. That kind of advise sounds like it could come from someone who likes shortcuts.

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Aral Roca

~10 years ago I was working in a groupal project at class, and the teacher propose us to use Dropbox to work with the same repo...🀦

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Thorsten Hirsch

OOP is the future and you need to learn the Design Patterns to be a good developer.

I'm glad those days are over.

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faisalabid profile image
Faisal Abid

Stop trying to learn different languages and platforms, and specialize...

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codr profile image
Ilya Nevolin

Get a "job"

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samuelblickle profile image
Samuel Blickle

Please tell me more about your 'magic coders powder' ...

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mabla0531 profile image
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rvakid82

ANYONE can learn to program.

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muhimen123 profile image
Muhimen

So far I am good.

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timothymehlhorn profile image
Tim Mehlhorn

"A fast loading page doesn't matter."

Was told this by a Senior Dev at marketing agency that I worked at. It is only one of the biggest factors when it comes to user's experience.

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satyaprasad profile image
satyaprasad

You Cant Switch from DBA(ITIS) to IT( Development) at all.
Once you get landed on to ITIS at first job.

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Edwin Klesman • Edited

Mobile development and app stores are a fling πŸ™ˆ

Forem Open with the Forem app