How To Become A Highly Paid Corporate Programmer

06 Dec 2010

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Book: How To Become A Highly Paid Corporate Programmer
Author: Paul H. Harkins
ISBN-13: 978-8184041316

Finally, I found THE BOOK for the programmers. I would call this book ‘A Programmer’s Bible’. I suggested procuring multiple copies of this book in TCS library. This book has invaluable wisdom accumulated by Paul H. Harkins over 4 decades of his corporate career in programming. Even though it has serious concepts, it reads like a collection of small stories, his experiences, the situations he encountered, his colleagues etc. You wouldn’t get bored even in a single chapter. This guy is programming from the dawn of the computers. Mainly into RPG. Most of the java/other technology developers out there can take the message out of this book’s examples and apply it to their respective streams.

This book is divided into four sections, each deals with a specific purpose. The target audience of this book is from the freshers to the veterans at the top of their career hierarchy. The best part is that every chapter has a summary at the end. If you are too busy to read a book, you could just flip through the “Bottom Line” summary at the end of each chapter.

Section 1: Starting a Successful Programming Career

This section is for the beginning programmers/freshers. Harkin advises the freshers on how to tackle the interview, what questions to ask, how to behave with the managers, how to learn and develop the coding skills, the importance of having the complete business process knowledge, using the borrowed code and the usage of productivity tools. Tightly packed wisdom, which took close to 6 years for me to learn on my own, is presented in this first section. I am glad that I knew most of the tips in this section by experience.

Section 2: Thriving in a Competitive Environment

This section is for the programmers with few years of experience like me. Many programmers I knew gets frustrated with their work after few years and they begin to slog. Harkin tells us, how to avoid that pitfall and if we are already into it, how to get out of that. Lots of practical advice on tackling a tough and high visibility projects, boosting your performance, handling stress, tips and tricks to master complex applications and business processes etc. He suggests us to keep changing the projects, spotting and utilizing the opportunities and how to stay at the top of our game. I enjoyed these chapters more, as I could relate to these texts!

Section 3: Mastering the Corporate Culture

Harkin stresses the importance of having a mentor in your organization and encourages you to mentor others too. I liked this and I am doing this often. His tips on how to get adjusted to the corporate culture of the new company, how to get along with your boss, what to do If you get a bad boss and how to get a push in your paycheck are really good. However, I do not agree with some of the concepts that he discusses in the name of corporate culture, to keep your manager happy. I find myself in trouble, time and again, just because I couldn’t do it. I would not blame anyone at the same time I don’t agree with some of the concepts discussed in this section.

Also, he stresses that a private office and a silent workplace is a must for efficient programming. I completely disagree. I cannot work in silence. Over the years in many different projects, I have observed that I perform efficiently in the noisiest place with a lot of distractions from people around me. When I am alone, I do, a quarter of my work. He should have put a disclaimer that it applies to him and may apply to others as well. Not as a mandatory one.

Section 4: Beyond programming

This section is for the programmers with an entrepreneurial bent. Mostly discusses how to become a programming consultant, pros and cons of that career and how to develop your own company and market your own software product etc. He urges the importance of writing for the industry that you are working for. I like it very much. He cited examples of people shifting from programming to corporate positions in an interesting manner.

Even though this book targets four different categories of programmers, I would suggest everyone read every chapter. Since I feel that’s a logical career path for achieving programmers unless you already planned your career path. This book has made a lasting impression on me and forced me to make some decisions in my life, which I would not have taken otherwise. I am planning to blog about the mobile development arena. Thanks a lot, Paul H. Harkins for writing this book for us.

Please buy the book from your local bookstore.

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