Advice to Computer Science Grads – Class of 2016

By: John Hutchins, Vice President of Client Services

First, let me provide my disclaimer – I’m not a software developer.  I’m a sales person who has moved into the ranks of management in the IT staffing world.  Although I couldn’t code myself out of a paper bag, I have participated in the careers of thousands of software developers and IT professionals during the last 18 years of my career.  I’ve watched some people thrive, some people limp along and some people fail miserably to the point of leaving the industry all together.

For what it’s worth, here are my recommendations to all the new college graduates entering the software developer ranks in 2016:

  • Chase the opportunity, not the money.

I’ve seen software developers who appear solely motivated by money.  They’re always looking around the corner for the next position that pays more.  They appear to have a minimal amount of loyalty to their employer or anyone else for that matter.  From my experience, they often burn bridges and end up both unsatisfied and unhappy.  Then I see other software developers who focus on being the best they can be within their area of expertise.  They are selfish in choosing positions based on the opportunity – will the position help them to grow?  Money is important, but it is not their sole focus and they would be willing to take a pay cut for the right opportunity – an opportunity that helps them refine a skill or add a new skill.  They build alliances, make a positive name for themselves and generally appear to be happy.  And by the way, they don’t need to chase the money, it chases them.

  • Be an altruistic team member.

I’ve seen software developers who are all about themselves.  They avoid the grunt work whenever possible, passing it off to other team members.  When they review someone else’s code, they butcher it.  When they participate in interviews, they are more focused on proving their technical prowess than on truly qualifying the candidate.  From my experience, the people around them may respect their technical abilities, but they are not well liked and don’t end up in fulfilling roles.  Then I see other software developers who volunteer for the more mundane assignments, help their teammates whenever they can and focus on the success of the project. They may get taken advantage of once in a while, but their teammates and supervisors like them.  As a result, they develop a solid network that enables them to move between teams and companies without difficulty.  Opportunity and good money almost always follow.

  • Enjoy yourself.

I’ve seen people (software developers, sales people, attorneys, etc.) who really don’t like what they’re doing.  They may make a ton of money, but they’re miserable.  They are toxic to the people around them and toxic to themselves.  Then I see people (software developers, sales people, attorneys, etc.) who enjoy their work, regardless of the fact that they don’t receive the highest pay or are required to work longer hours.  They’re happy and people like to be around them.  These are the people with whom I want to associate.  The people who lift up those around them and, by doing so, lift up themselves.

Congratulations to those graduating from college this year!  May you all prosper and be happy!

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