The passionate programmer – Review

This book is about the software engineering career, how to get through it and have fun in the process.

… We expend a lot of time working and in order to love our life, we have to love our work. 

This is a re-edition of a book called “52 Ways to Save Your Job”, now it has a completely new philosophy about how to handle work problems and a winning attitude. 

This book is about winning. No one win trying “not to suck”. 

The book’s author, Chad Fowler, makes interesting analogies with the musicians’ world and the investments to have new perspectives about how to handle your career, and if you feel (like me) that lose your career path or a reason to continue with it, this is a very recommended book. 

You need to be better, is like music, no one wants to be a musician because professionalism, is because they love it.

Fowler divides a career path into 4 main phases, choosing what are you going to do, learning it, executing it, and finally sharing with the world making the analogy of your career being a cycle of products. 

  1. Choose your market – Pick your tech. Risk and reward. 
  2. Invest in your product – Your knowledge and skills. 
  3. Execute 
  4. Market! – They should know about you. 

Part 1: Choosing your market

You’re about to make a big investment. It may be not a lot of money, but is your time –your life. 

This first part talks about which abilities and skills you should focus on. 

Proposes a study about the main technologies and programming languages that are in the market and make decisions based on it. 

Not only on the most popular ones but also make risk desitions that can give you a big reward on the future. 

This perspective is interesting because it’s a way to learn new forms of thinking and logic with very different programming languages but also it says a lot about your persona: that you like to learn. 

Also, makes focus on “be more than a programmer”, getting involved, and investigating the business you’re in. 

Part 2: Investing in your product 

Once you select which skills you’re going to focus on, it’s time to get to work and start learning and practicing. 

The book makes a remainder that is profound research, not only the surface of the languages, always have the questions in mind: how and why. 

And most importantly, get involved in the community, don’t stay alone trying to figure it out all yourself, post about your problems (with the language), be on the shoulder of the giants, and find a mentor that can help you. 

It doesn’t have to be a formal mentor; it can be even without noticing that is your mentor. 

And of course, help the others, be yourself a mentor, if you really want to learn something, try teaching it to someone else. 

Part 3: Executing

Unless you’re really lucky, you’re not getting paid to be smart. And you aren’t getting paid to be a leading expert in the latest technologies. 

In this section, the author mentions the importance of doing things, not only on whatever technology you are in but also in the work and recapitulating what and how are things done. 

Here is a good reflection about how to psychologically handle the work, it’s obvious that the companies what make with the work of the employees, but you can also take advantage of this deal, absorbing all the experience, knowledge that is there, and is not talking about training, is about the people that you can contact and chat with. 

It also invites you to think about your real worth on the company, that is not only your salary but all other things that the company expends on you. 

Part 4: Marketing… Not just for suits

If someone does something truly fantastic and nobody knows about it, in his eyes it didn’t happen. 

This section talks about getting noticed, your perception among the others and how are you’re precepted. 

You have to be present, not only in your work but also in the programmers’ community, that’s why is also important to have good writing skills, most of this communication is going to be through writing. 

Another important point is that your work will have a chance on the world, it doesn’t have to be a big one, but it has to have a visible change through your team, organization, or company, if not, you’re doing nothing. 

Part 5: Maintain your edge

The process of this book is a loop that repeats until you retire. Research, invest, execute, market, repeat. 

These final thoughts of the book talk about maintaining and reflecting on your career, seeing if something is wrong, and changing it. 

In the first step we see about the market research about technologies, but we need to constantly do this research, like in the market, technologies can just crash. 

Knowing about a standard technology our days doesn’t mean that it will be the standard forever. 

Also remains that you’re more than you work and more than a simple programmer, it’s ok to make changes in the way and learn from your errors. 

You’ve already lost your job; don’t identify yourself too closely with the job you were hired to do. 

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