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Comment author: Viliam_Bur 24 February 2015 11:58:40AM 9 points [-]

Getting some experience and developing your skills before you start your first startup seems like a good idea.

How difficult it will be in practice, that will depend on your savings, on a support you can receive from e.g. your family, whether you will be able to make more money than you need to survive so you can save some, and whether you will be able to learn new things in your free time.

In my experience, it works like this: When you get a new job, at the beginning you learn a lot. After a few months it gets repetitive, and after a year you mostly do the old stuff over and over again. You probably get more work, but it is the same type of work. Only rarely (in my experience) is there an opportunity to move within the company. If there is a new project, the company will usually hire new people for the new project, and you stay with the stuff you were hired for. It may gradually become more easy, but you will not progress. (If you are strategic, it may be good to keep doing the easy work for the safe income, and learn new stuff in your free time. Or maybe even during your work time, if no one is watching you.)

After more years, you will become responsible for maintenance of all systems you have ever touched while working in the company. You will have to remember thousand little details about these systems, which is mostly an untransferable knowledge that has zero value outside of the current job. Just because you have more work now, it does not mean that your salary will necessarily increase. When you are at such dead end, if you want to optimize for skills, you should change jobs.

(Meanwhile, there are new younger programmers coming from universities. All the new stuff that you would like to know but have no time to learn, they have learned at school.)

Here comes the question of risk aversion, and how good is your safety net; how much would you lose if you quit this job, but can't find a new one soon enough. In theory, you should find the new job first, then quit the old one. In practice, it may be difficult to do job interviews, to prepare for them, and to study new technologies, while having a full-time job. Also, the new job may fail for unpredictable reasons, or may turn out to be very different from what they told you at the interview.

Poor people can easily get stuck at a job they hate, that is exhausting and pays relatively little. Because of the small pay, they do not have safety net. Because the job takes all their energy, they do not have the energy and time to learn new stuff and do job interviews. If the job requires them to learn stuff that has zero market value, the longer they stay, the harder it will be for them to get another job. -- In theory, programmers should not be that poor. In practice, sometimes your expenses grow faster than your income; e.g. at the moment you move away from your parents. (Or when you want to start a family, and suddenly there are three people supposed to live from one income for a few months; and later it becomes one and half person per income.) Or some unexpected expense happens.

The work that is available right now may not require the skill you want to develop now. Maybe you choose an exotic skill that no one needs. Maybe all companies that need people with some skill insist on employing only people who already have a few years of experience with that skill. Some skills you may have to develop at your free time, at least to the level where you are able to make a working prototype.

Here is some advice, but it may strongly depend on specific country and area of specialization:

  • After a year, unless you are still learning something new (something that has a value outside your current company), quit the job. Or maybe, right before you quit, ask the company whether you could become a lead developer of at least a small team: that would look impressive on your CV, and would teach you skills you will later need for your startup.

  • Try to keep a safety net; enough money to survive for six months, preferably a year. Then you will have more freedom changing jobs. When doing something expensive, such as buying a new appartment or starting a family, try to arrange it so that some financial reserve remains, instead of spending all you currently have. Always imagine that tomorrow your job could become insufferable, and you would have to leave to preserve your sanity.

  • Avoid overtime. Your sleep and free time are critical for your health and professional development. Spend some free time learning new stuff. Learning something new at home, making a prototype and bringing it to the interview, may allow you to get a job with a new technology that wasn't available to you at university and at previous jobs. Spend some free time with your friends, meeting new people, networking. Networking is great for getting new ideas, motivation, and even good jobs.

Comment author: JoachimSchipper 27 February 2015 01:57:51PM 1 point [-]

Although I've heard the advice to leave after a year, my experience has been different - after three years, I'm still learning a lot and I'm beginning to tackle the really hard problems. Basically, I find myself agreeing with Yossi Kreinin's reply to Patrick McKenzie's advice, at least so far. (Both links are very much worth reading.)

Of course, you do need to push for interesting assignments and space to learn. Also, be sure to pick a company that actually does something interesting in the first place - I work on embedded crypto devices for the government market, in a company that's young enough that there's still plenty of flexibility.

Comment author: MarkusRamikin 01 February 2015 07:24:14AM 1 point [-]

Joker Oath? remind me?

Comment author: JoachimSchipper 01 February 2015 03:51:17PM *  4 points [-]
  • Batman is a murderer no less than the Joker, for all the lives the Joker took that Batman could've saved by killing him. ch. 85
  • "It's not fair to the innocent bystanders to play at being Batman if you can't actually protect everyone under that code." ch. 91
  • Harry had no intention of saying it out loud, of course, but now that he'd failed decisively to prevent any deaths during his quest, he had no further intention of being restrained by the law or even the code of Batman.ch. 97.
Comment author: JoachimSchipper 16 January 2015 08:31:01PM 2 points [-]

Thanks, Nancy, for putting in this effort.

Comment author: alicey 08 January 2015 09:41:33AM 3 points [-]

I'm more okay with it being because my work is valuable: http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-harsh-truths-that-will-make-you-better-person/

Comment author: JoachimSchipper 11 January 2015 01:07:28PM 0 points [-]

Some people do need to see that link, but note that it, too, is rather dangerous.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 08 November 2014 01:14:41AM 17 points [-]

I think that simple location is a massive friction and not fully accounted for. Look at how much commuting saps happiness. Look at how unwilling people are to relocate (above and beyond the costs of doing so). Look at how little companies recruit outside their immediate area.

Comment author: JoachimSchipper 08 November 2014 02:14:26PM 9 points [-]

And, of course, encouraging homeownership makes this worse. Good thing that most of the Western world hasn't made that an explicit policy goal for the past decade...

Comment author: James_Ernest 28 October 2014 09:57:42AM 16 points [-]

Was anybody else disappointed that the Sex Role Inventory wasn't nearly as raunchy as the name suggested?

Comment author: JoachimSchipper 05 November 2014 08:50:01PM 2 points [-]

I was pretty happy about that, actually.

Comment author: ChrisHallquist 25 October 2014 03:54:55AM 9 points [-]

Duplicate comment, probably should be deleted.

Comment author: JoachimSchipper 05 November 2014 08:48:10PM 0 points [-]

I assume that TheAncientGeek has actually submitted the survey; in that case, their comment is "proof" that they deserve karma.

Comment author: JoachimSchipper 05 November 2014 08:07:18PM 22 points [-]

I, too, took the survey. (And promptly forgot to claim my karma; oh well.)

Comment author: undermind 30 October 2014 05:25:05AM *  2 points [-]

Sure, it was snarky, but I thought it was funny.

It's a decent criticism of a decent chunk of LW, such that I don't have a great response to it. Check your accuracy at a meta-level to determine when to lie to yourself? That seems to be how this technique is used, but it feels like an unsatisfactory response.

Comment author: JoachimSchipper 30 October 2014 06:27:05AM 2 points [-]

I didn't exactly disagree with the content, right?

Part of the problem is just that writing something good about epistemic rationality is really hard, even if you stick to the 101 level - and, well, I don't really care about 101 anymore. But I have plenty of sympathy for those writing more practical posts.

In response to Power and difficulty
Comment author: geniuslevel20 26 October 2014 03:11:57AM 3 points [-]

As instrumental rationalists, this is the territory we want to be in. We want to beat the market rate for turning effort into influence.

Would someone be so kind as to direct me to a forum for epistemic rationalists?

[Who wants to talk to folks about important matters when they declare their willingness to deceive even themselves if it gets them what they want?]

Comment author: JoachimSchipper 27 October 2014 05:55:41AM *  1 point [-]

This is not nice - could you try to find a more pleasant way to say this?

Also, LW does do epistemic rationality - but it's easier to say something useful and new about practical matters, so there are more posts of that kind.

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