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Why I Will Never Specialize

Posted: January 5th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: java, Programming, Uncategorized | Tags: | No Comments »

Why I Will Never Specialize

Picture of IrvinI realized a few weeks ago that I had left behind the concept of being an expert in any particular language. Not that being an expert is all bad, however the pace of change in software development makes it impractical.

For a while now my interviewing ( candidates ) has changed to reflect that belief. I frequently get into constructive arguments with my hiring managers about the types of resumes they are sending to me to screen. The problem isn’t that they aren’t qualified, the problem that I see is that they are insanely qualified. Meaning that they have for example 20 years of Java or something with no hint of other languages, or techniques. I mean how many awesome programmers have you met that had never deployed their own PHP server, or their own tomcat server. How many programmers have had no experience with shell scripting.

Actually a red flag for me is someone who has never even looked at what Microsoft has to offer. I don’t use Microsoft technologies, but I have worked for companies where I did, and I stay as informed as possible about their various languages and APIs. The reason is because I am interested in programming, not in making a bunch of money ( even though that would be nice ) or finding a cush job to lounge in. I really want to understand what is happening inside of the compiler, etc…

I mean recently I started on a foray into what I thought was the V8 JavaScript engine, which is *MEGA COOL* by the way, but I found myself looking at the assembly language commands and thinking, hmmm… I want to understand that. So I started digging in, and now I think that assembly language is cool. Boy, I’m a long way from ColdFusion.

I don’t have anything against people who specialize in one language. That is the way people hire, the reqs always are asking for 10 years experience in Java or some truck like that. I would prefer the req say, and they do when I have control of them, 10 years of programming experience, which means you could be 18 or 75, its all the same to me. The best resumes are the ones where the person has just about every language, with one at around 8 to 10 years of experience, but lots of side projects in everything from lisp to sed and awk. It is probably hurting my chances of getting ahead in my career, but that doesn’t matter, that I won’t just stick to one thing, but I really want to understand this, I want to know how it all works, and I want to have a part in making it better.

It probably means that I am a freak.