Does Switching Jobs Make You a Worse Programmer?

Today I was doing some personal research for my new role in my company team and while I was looking for some topic about productivity and team management I found quite interesting this comment from Slashdot.org.

I decided to quote it directly to not cause confusion so you can directly read it as it is and get your own conclusion.

For me, it’s clear, it doesn’t make you a worse programmer, you just simply need some time to perfectly fit in the new team, you’ll learn new tools, concepts, languages and you’ll adapt to the way of working, after that your experience will help to improve those aspects. However take in consideration the big amount of time and energy you’ll need to keep up in the new team, in the new company. Because looking for a new job / starting in a new job, is a job itself.

Slashdot reader theodp shares some thoughts from Virginia-based cloud architect Forrest Brazeal, who believes that switching jobs or teams makes you — at least temporarily — a worse programmer:“When you do take a new job,” Brazeal writes, “everybody else will know things you don’t know. You’ll expend an enormous amount of time and mental energy just trying to keep up. This is usually called ‘the learning curve’. The unstated assumption is that you must add new knowledge on top of the existing base of knowledge you brought from your previous job in order to succeed in the new environment.

“But that’s not really what’s happening. After all, some of your new coworkers have never worked at any other company. You have way more experience than they do. Why are they more effective than you right now? Because, for the moment, your old experience doesn’t matter. You don’t just need to add knowledge; you need to replace a wide body of experiences that became irrelevant when you turned in your notice at the old job. To put it another way: if you visualize your entire career arc as one giant learning curve, the places where you change jobs are marked by switchbacks.”

He concludes, “I’m not saying you shouldn’t switch jobs. Just remember that you can’t expect to be the same person in the new cubicle. Your value is only partly based on your own knowledge and ingenuity. It’s also wrapped up in the connections you’ve made inside your team: your ability to help others, their shared understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, and who knows what else. You will have to figure out new paths of communication in the new organization, build new backlogs of code references pertaining to your new projects, and find new mentors who can help you continue to grow. You will have to become a different programmer.

“There is no guarantee you will be a better one.”
This seems counter-intuitive to me — but what do Slashdot’s readers think? Does switching jobs make you a worse programmer?

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