Successful Developers Are Willing to Change


Here is some of my coverage of the 2012 Silicon Valley Code Camp at Foothill College in Los Altos, California where I was reporting for Dice and Dice News.

If you’re a developer you need to make sure you’re part of the next big thing, said Peter Kellner, founder and coordinator of Silicon Valley Code Camp. Kellner has been running this event for seven years and the one constant he’s seen over all those years has been change.

Developers are trying to figure out what the next big thing is going to be, said Kellner. This year the conversation was around HTML vs. native. Now that Facebook has made the switch to native for its phone app, what does that mean? If you’re an HTML5 and CSS programmer, should you switch to native? What’s the right thing to do?

Education is critical to a developer’s life, not just with programming languages, but all aspects of their business which are heavily represented at Code Camp. Kellner mentioned they had one session with an attorney who talked about patents.

Having been in the coding game a long time and having run Code Camp for seven years, Kellner has noticed that successful developers are willing to change. They’re willing to throw out what they know and learn something else.

“Their skill is not the thing that they know, but their ability to learn the next thing,” said Kellner who admits it’s frustrating when you have to become a newbie in a new language. You get made fun of and people roll your eyes when you ask stupid questions.

If you’re not willing to pay the price to go through that you’ll be stuck working on 15-year old technology, said Kellner. You can still make a living on old technology though, he admitted, assuming you just want billable hours and be the leading expert in a technology that hasn’t been popular in a long time.

That’s not what Kellner wants to do. He loves coding and he’s willing to pay the price to be on the leading edge of the next big thing.

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2 People have left comments on this post

» Chris Westin said: { Nov 9, 2012 - 11:11:55 }

I’ve always sold my ability to be able to pick up whatever libraries, languages, or systems I need to solve the problem at hand. I learn very quickly. And I’ve demonstrated this at many jobs.

However, unfortunately, most development managers don’t seem to consider this interesting. Screening candidates seems to be a matter of going through a checklist of things they think they need right now, and if you are missing something on the checklist, you go to the bottom of the pile. Even claims of working on hack projects (or taking workshops) don’t seem to satisfy the requirement, as they want you to have already spent a few years doing whatever it is they think they need. Naturally, this leads people to keep doing the same thing, because it’s much harder to get jobs doing something new.

» Peter Kellner said: { Nov 9, 2012 - 02:11:55 }

Hi Chris,
Interesting comments. On the flip side, I was having lunch with a friend today who was saying that in Silicon Valley, managers are not interested in you if all you have is current standard technology. I guess the answer is “it depends”.