Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.
For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.
It's simple. To make it to the top of the pay scale you must make yourself invaluable to your employer. Unfortunately, most programmers or aspiring programmers lack that critical "it" factor, the savvy that makes employers and clients stand up and take notice. This book will show you how to stand out from the pack, how to become indispensable, how to succeed as a highly paid corporate programmer.
Are you ready to improve your career? Do you have the desire to make it to the top? Would you like to know what it takes to earn elite programming status--the highest title, the best compensation, the most responsibility, authority, and respect? The answers to all these questions--and more--await you inside. Paul H. Harkins has helped programmers just like you capitalize on their talents and earn major success in corporate programming. You can even apply his time-tested principles to become a sought-after, highly paid consultant or entrepreneur. Whatever your ultimate goal, the time to start is now.
Throughout his career, Paul has contributed to the success of thousands of programmers worldwide. Today, some are even millionaires. To gain the edge all you need is a willingness to focus intensely, to develop a career plan, and to employ the techniques presented in this book. With it, you too can make it to the top!
This incredible book will teach you the skills needed to:
- Make the right decisions in your career
- Manage the interview process
- Code for success
- Focus on what's important (and avoid what isn't)
- Find and cultivate a mentor
- Start a new job with skill
- Develop a career as a programming consultant
- Know what your boss expects of you (most programmers are clueless)
- Master millions of lines of complex code (we've got the secret)
- Beat the rest when a company's technical interviewer judges programming candidates
- Avoid frequently made blunders (in technique, relationships, and attitude)
|Product dimensions:||7.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.56(d)|
Read an Excerpt
How to Become a Highly Paid Corporate Programmer
By Paul H. Harkins
MC PressCopyright © 2004 MC Press Online, LP
All rights reserved.
How Much Are You Worth?
"Right now, you're worth no more than you are currently being paid ... your information technology manager has coolly evaluated your skills, your work ethic, your competitors, your actual contribution to the company's success, considered his or her budget, and then quantified all of that into a salary."
Every programmer in every environment wants a savvy answer to that question, no matter what his or her programming language, hardware platform, or level of skill. What does it take to make it to the top? What does it take to earn elite programming status — the highest title, the best compensation, the most responsibility, authority, and respect?
You can make it to the top. I have watched — and helped — young trainee programmers capitalize on their talents to earn major success in corporate programming or go beyond programming to become software entrepreneurs. I have worked with programmers who have been caught in the corporate cubicle with apparently no way out — or up — and watched them realize more of their potential than they thought was possible. Along the way, four or five of them became millionaires. What gave them their edge was a willingness to focus intensely, to develop a career plan, and to employ the techniques I lay out in this book.
But first, the harsh truth: Right now, you're worth no more than you are currently being paid. Maybe you'd be earning somewhat more in a larger corporation in a different city. But the fact is, your information technology manager has coolly evaluated your skills, your work ethic, your competitors, your actual contribution to the company's success, considered his or her budget, and then quantified all of that into a salary. To get much more, you'll have to prove to your manager that you are significantly more valuable to him and to the IT vice-president than the programmers in the offices surrounding yours — who are also asking for a raise or more interesting assignments.
What can you do to get better? This book offers many specific details — among them, understand your company's business processes, upgrade your coding skills, become more flexible, take on the difficult projects, get more aggressive, turn yourself into a respected programming leader, adopt a can-do attitude, focus more fiercely, and make your boss and your end users look good. And, after you've become more knowledgeable, flexible, dependable, and creative — therefore much more valuable — you may have to move to a company that pays more generously to earn what you're worth.
Nice Work — and You Can Get It
The typical trainee programmer, including those without a college education or prior work experience, starts at the compensation level of typical corporate first-line managers. (The latest median annual earnings of computer programmers, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, were $53,040.) Sometimes, staff members in a company's human resources department cannot understand just why this is so, because they cannot accurately measure and evaluate the creative skills needed by programmers: Why are programmers so valuable? This book will show you why, and indicate how you can start for even more than the salary usually offered for a particular job.
And where can all this lead? The most creative, productive, knowledgeable, ambitious, and best-compensated of all corporate programmers are programmer consultants. They have moved up from being corporate employees to becoming independent programmers, whom corporations summon to resolve a programming crisis or work on projects too complex for their in-house staff. Programmer consultants (programming contractors) have refined their skills, creativity, productivity, and reputation so they can successfully tackle the hardest and riskiest programming projects. They are like the signature chefs of the cooking world. Theirs is the corporate programming job to which ambitious programmers aspire.
Everything Is Economic
Like every manager, yours has a budget. It provides the resources he needs to accomplish his primary mission, which is to complete the projects assigned to him so he looks good to his manager, that manager looks good to the next manager, and so on up the corporate line. You are simply a quite expensive part of your manager's budget. To prosper in your job, you must produce the results your manager expects.
Yes, everything is economic, if only you can see it.
My twin brother, Peter, and I — incoming freshman at Drexel Institute of Technology (now Drexel University) — were listening to welcoming speeches in the main auditorium with the freshman class, 80 percent of whom had chosen engineering. My two most vivid recollections of the orientation were that the dean of the engineering school said, "Look at the person to the right and left of you; one of you won't make it to your sophomore year." That got my attention. My brother was to the left of me, and the dean was right about the other guy.
We waited for the next speaker, anticipating a thermodynamics professor, a physics professor, or at least a statistics professor. (Drexel didn't have a single computer then; we all had slide rules strapped to our belts.) Instead, out strolled Dr. Davidson, strumming on his guitar and singing that "everything is economic." We almost laughed at this "business geek." But a mere five years later, when we interviewed for corporate jobs, we realized that Dr. Davidson had it all correct, and in perspective. All our years of intensive college classes were light weapons against the power of the business economics that determined whether there was a good job; the compensation level of that job; and how much competition there was for that job when we finally graduated.
Even in your first programming job you should be aware of the economic realities of corporate compensation; you need to develop a strategy for moving quickly up the corporate compensation ladder. Programmers who focus on advancement are uniquely well positioned in the corporation to move very rapidly up that ladder because of programming's potential dramatic impact on the company's profit and loss.
Programmers can produce significant productivity increases in virtually every aspect of their company. They often save it hundreds of thousands of dollars with a new computerized application — but occasionally they cost the company a similar amount by doing less than perfect work. Top management, stockholders, and sometimes the press quickly become aware of the direct effect programmers have on the company's bottom line; that's why programmers are so well compensated.
You've Got to Know the Territory
There are many ways you can grow in your job. But the very first thing you should do to improve your chances for job advancement is to study your company's business processes.
I've been observing corporate programmers in action for more than forty years. I've worked in billion-dollar companies in which I knew virtually every corporate computer application the company used. I call that overview the "comprehensive," or "single person's," view of a company, and I consider acquiring this overview vital to the success of every programmer. Most of the people profiled in this book have acquired this "comprehensive view" — they understand every computerized job in their company, and how it relates to the company business processes. To be a super-programmer you should learn so much about how businesses operate that you can acquire a comprehensive view of a corporation with hundreds or thousands of computer users. You can — over time, with focus and curiosity — understand virtually every important computer application, even in a large company. That broad picture of the company will give you a perspective that is invaluable to corporate management, whose jobs are becoming more and more dependent on computer-related information.
Unfortunately, as most of the experts I have interviewed for this book point out, it is rare to find programmers these days who have an adequate knowledge of how business works (or, indeed, who even believe they need to acquire that knowledge).
Gene Bonett is founder and president of Xperia, a software development and consulting firm in Allentown, Pennsylvania. As a first-generation corporate programmer, Gene has seen it all. "I spent about three months in Vietnam," he says. "When I got out of the Marines at age 24 I didn't have a clue as to what I wanted to do with my life." Then he discovered information technology and programming — and worked his way up from computer operator to owner of a software firm that employs 42 people.
So Gene has more than thirty years' worth of perspective. "I've been appalled," he booms, "that I've been unable to find anyone in the IT department at any of my fifty-five client companies who has the ability to take a customer order — whether it has been sent electronically or taken over the phone — and walk that order through every aspect of that business until the product is shipped and the invoice hits the accounts-receivable system. I have not found one yet. But thirty years ago, programmers in IT departments would have been able to do that."
That is true: Thirty years ago, when the IBM/360 (an early computer mainframe) was just starting in most companies, the people in every IT department would accompany the systems analyst to the various departments that were being automated. The IT people and the analysts would observe the work of those who were performing the business functions and learn from them about the steps they were taking to do their work. We did all that systems design for the first time, taking all the department paperwork and translating it into computerized applications.
Now, three decades later, virtually all of the basic business applications have been computerized. What's now being done is perhaps more sophisticated, but the programmers work only with little pieces of the application. Programmers focus now on what's already running in the IT department, so they don't have to go out to the users and learn new things. Consequently, they do not really understand each particular aspect of the business.
"The problem with that is that the needs of businesses change every day," Gene points out. "So programmers have to understand business applications to make changes correctly. The department stores are forcing things on apparel manufacturing that were never done before, including extensive quality and compliance issues.
"I find that in IT departments there is a lack of understanding of IT's role in the company, as well as what the company is trying to do and what information it needs to accomplish its mission.
"IT departments are often narrowly focused on technology. They play in the technical sandbox. Decisions are made that don't adequately support the company's business requirements.
"If you are a skilled IT person who doesn't routinely go out and interface with users in every department, as programmers did thirty years ago, how can you learn business applications?
"That's where individualism comes in. The individual takes the initiative to go out and sit with someone in a department and say, 'What do you do, and how do you do it?' That door is still not closed to the people in the IT department. Programmers do have the opportunity to move in and out of these departments, at least in a small company, at will."
Not only Gene, but other experts I've interviewed for this book suggest that programmers take courses in accounting and economics at night, in the continuing education department of your local college. At the very least, you should get an accounting package for your PC (like Quicken or One Write Plus) and do all your personal accounting on that.
Corporations do these things on a bigger scale, utilizing the same techniques, keeping track of the corporate "Ins" (with ADD) and "Outs" (with SUBTRACT), with the occasional MULTIPLY and DIVIDE thrown in. This simplicity applies across every corporate business function.
But you've got to be familiar with the flow of work, and how things are done at every stage.
Corporate programmers have the power and the position to think creatively about solutions that could be very valuable for their companies, and then to implement them. Just ask yourself, "Where is my company spending a lot of dollars?" and "What do I see that frustrates me and hinders me and others the most, and wastes our time?" Those have been key productivity questions for many years, and you are uniquely qualified — and in a position — to correct them, particularly if you get out of your IT office and visit the remote locations of your company. That is where the business functions critical to your company are taking place.
From Cutter to Coder, on Pure Grit
The profiles in this book trace the routes that ordinary people (some of them quite unlikely candidates) followed to become successful corporate programmers. Some of them took their first programming jobs out of desperation; some got ahead by simply having the courage to take action.
As a young IBM systems engineer, I was helping a company convert from an IBM 1440 computer to the newly announced IBM System/360 mainframe. The company still had both computers in the conversion process, as the programming languages and the data formats of the two computers were different. I was teaching the DP manager and chief programmer, Gene Fluehr, the new programming languages we would be using — IBM Assembler language and a new, "hot" programming language called RPG (Report Program Generator). He would need to learn these to replace his IBM 1440 Autocoder programming language skills.
One day Gene and I heard a knock on the computer room door. It was Sid Manas, who was a cutter in the cutting room, where stacks of fabric were cut into the patterns of parts of clothing with electric saws. Sid had been a cutter for sixteen years, even though he was afraid of cutting off his fingers with the saw. He timidly asked us a question: "Is programming hard?'" Gene and I both answered no, we thought not. Sid then asked the key question: "Will you teach me to program at night?" Gene and I looked at each other and said yes, since we were working nights anyway.
We taught Sid the "hot" RPG programming language, and without a single day of formal programming education — or a college education — Sid soon got a corporate programming job at another company, with the help of our references.
Sid took over programming responsibility for an incentive payroll application where tens of thousands of incentive payroll "coupons" were processed against operation rate masters to compute the sewing machine operators' pay. The payroll was run every Wednesday, to be paid on Friday, and it took about seven computer hours for processing on the very expensive corporate computer. That left little time for problems or recovery, or processing other key corporate applications. Sid looked at the key long-running program and quickly found a way to rewrite it so that it ran in twelve minutes instead of seven hours.
Sid had looked at the payroll programs with a new and creative perspective that none of the programmers who preceded him in developing and supporting that key application had employed. The company CFO who was in charge of IT gave Sid a raise on the spot, because he had solved a critical scheduling and recovery-time problem.
Sid became a successful programmer because he could draw on the particular qualities that are essential for high achievement in this field — the courage to try something new, the willingness to drive hard toward a goal, the kind of intelligence that spots a solution that no one else has spotted, the refusal to say "it's not my job."
And he still has all of his fingers.
If he can do it, so can you.
Excerpted from How to Become a Highly Paid Corporate Programmer by Paul H. Harkins. Copyright © 2004 MC Press Online, LP. Excerpted by permission of MC Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of ContentsSection I: Starting a Successful Programming Career
1: How Much Are You Worth?
2: A Primer for Fledgling Programmers
3: What Your Boss Really Wants From You
4: Tips From a Technical Interviewer
5: Final Interview? Ask These Questions
6: What You Won't Learn in Programming School
7: The Beauty of Borrowed Code
8: Learning from the Masters
9: Techies and Bit-Twiddlers Are Doomed
Section II: Thriving in a Competitive Environment
10: Harnessing the Brute Force of Calculation
11: Take on the Tough Jobs
12: Mission: Impossible
13: How Your Work Is Tracked
14: Boost Your Output, Lower Your Stress With Productivity Tools
15: A Blueprint for Savvy Programming
16: Master Millions of Lines of Complex Code
17: “Good Enough” Programming for the Seasoned Programmer
18: How Seasoned Programmers Stay at the Top of Their Game
19: Self-Management Tips for the Seasoned Professional
20: Spotting Opportunities, Skirting Land Mines
Section III: Mastering the Corporate Culture
21: Slipping Into a New Corporate Culture
22: Mentors and Mentees
23: How Do You Deal with the End User?
24: When You Get a Really Bad Boss
25: A Raise and a Promotion In-House
26: A Big Push Out of the House
Section IV: Beyond Programming
27: Jumping to Management
28: The Top of the Pyramid: The Programming Consultant
29: Write for Your Industry
30: Founding and Running Your Own Firm
31: Inventing Your Own Software
32: Marketing Your Product