Dispassionate Programmer: Chapter 02 - Beware of sweet talkers

Dispassionate Programmer: Chapter 01 - The reunion with an old friend

Vikram: When we joined in our first company, the entire team is a group of friends. There are no office politics happening between us. We used to help each other.

Also, we used to work on the biggest client project which brings the most revenue to the company. And, we were like work horses. We used to work late nights and finish the work no matter how ridiculous the deadlines are.

Because of that, our managers were also giving a lot of liberties to us. While others have strict office timings, we used to go to the office by 11am because we worked till 1am last night.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t use to fill salary appraisal forms and tell my lead, “You know what I have been doing.” He used to smile and say “okay”.

Thinking back now, I think he was smiling look at my stupidity and ignorance for saying, “You know what I have been doing.”

Sumit: To be honest, back then you were little…

Vikram: Arrogant? I know.

As you know, we were getting very low salaries, so I found another job.

That was a product-based company. In product-based companies, the same product development continues for many years. Some people stay in the same company, understand the product very well and help the new joiners to understand the domain quickly. Also, there will be some people who stick with the same company, know about product and torture the new joiners.

As you can guess, I joined a team where one of the senior developers is such a big jerk. He was in the same project from the very beginning, and he has more knowledge than the newly joined Team Lead.

Every new joinee should call him “anna” or “sir” and always keep buttering him. If not, they are in big trouble.

I used to call him by name, and I am not someone who does buttering at work. So, he didn’t like me at all.

Whenever I ask any task related information, which he only has, he used to keep telling me that he is busy and will ping me later. But he never does.

After waiting a lot of time, I used to go to his desk directly to ask for help.

Anyone with some basic manners will at least acknowledge if someone comes to your desk waiting for talking to you. But he just saw me, pretends that he is busy and at times calls another team member in the same floor discussing where they can play cricket in the coming weekend. After waiting for 5 to 8 minutes, standing by his desk, if I interrupt him and ask for help then he simply say “I am busy” and take his coffee mug and walks away.

He is supposed to give me some information given by client to complete my task. But he gives that information just before the standup call and tells Team Lead that he already shared the info, but I haven’t completed the task.

As if this is not enough for me, there is another team member joined a couple of months before who pretends to be my friend and caused me a lot of troubles.

He comes to me and keeps complaining about that senior developer and how he is troubling the new joiners. Then he goes to that senior developer and complains about me saying I don’t know how to respect senior developers. I get to know this because one day in the cafeteria he was telling all this to the senior developer not realizing I was sitting in a nearby chair.

You know, we used to live on last month’s salary, and it is not an easy decision to resign without having a job offer. I couldn’t take that shit anymore and decided to resign. I have applied for a few jobs and an interview is scheduled for Saturday. While leaving the office on Friday evening, I told myself whether I get the job or not I am going to resign on Monday. So, I had to give my best shot to get the job.

I attended the interview. There are supposed to be 2 technical rounds and one manager round interviews. In the 1st round, they asked me the first question “Explain a web request life cycle in a struts application”.

I explained them in and out of what happens right from reading the structs-config.xml when the application boostrapped, how it is parsed and Action classes are instantiated using Reflection, validations performed using apache-commons library, etc for 20 minutes.

They are so impressed that they didn’t even ask a second question and cancelled the 2nd technical round and sent me the offer letter by Monday.

On Monday I went to the office and put down my papers.

Sumit: I think in every product-based company, there will be at least one such a jerk who enjoys others suffering. Anyway, looking at how the interview process went, I guess the next company might have been good.

Vikram: Oh, you wish. But God has different plans for me.

The interview panel members were good, but I was assigned to a different project.

The work is okayish, Team Lead and Architect are sensible people.

But the team members are, well to put it in a nice way, interesting people.

Again, there are a couple of people who keep telling me about all the bad things about the company. Every single day they keep telling me about how the skilled people are not valued there, how there is favouritism in promoting the people; how they randomly fire the people without giving any prior notice, etc.

After hearing this on a daily basis, without even me realizing, I started disliking the company. I haven’t experienced any of those problems myself, but I feel they are about to happen to me.

And those buggers keep telling me that, people like me shouldn’t waste my skills working in a company like that, and I should join a better company where skilled developers are valued.

And, that’s what I did. I quit the job and find another job in a better company.

I am stupid enough not to ask myself a question that “If the company is so bad, and they are very talented developers, why didn’t THEY leave?”

Later in other companies also I saw the same kind of people. They want to keep their positions safe by making the new developers leave by injecting bad opinion about the company until they leave.

Sumit: Hmmm, I didn’t know about all this. I used to see on LinkedIn that you changed a job and wondering why you are not staying in the same company for longer periods. So, you were going through hard times.

At least the next company is good or the same saga continued?

Vikram: Oh, the next job was amazing. After those two bad experiences I lost my self-confidence. The next job helped me to get back my confidence.

We can learn all the technologies in the world, but if you don’t get a chance to prove our knowledge, you are as good as anybody. Only when you get challenging work, you can prove your worth. Unfortunately, many developers don’t get such challenging opportunities and remain as average joe developers.

Fortunately, I got an amazing manager who trusted my skills and gave amazing opportunities where I proved my skills and I regained my confidence. Often the opportunities come in the form of impossible tasks.

Lessons Learnt:

  1. Beware of sweet talkers. Not everyone talking to you friendly is your friend.
  2. Stay away from the people who keep bad-mouthing about the company all the time.

Next: Dispassionate Programmer: Chapter 03 - Find Joy in Learning New things

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