Review: The Complete Software Developer\’s Career Guide

This book was a mixed bag. It was worth listening to, but it drove me bonkers at times, primarily with its unprofessionalism.

I read some reviews early on that said things like, \”Useless, only has common sense advice.\” Um, if that were true, that\’s hardly a major offense. But it\’s also ridiculous. There were plenty of non-traditional/unpopular ideas in the book.

The parts of this book that I found most helpful were on getting into software development or transitioning into it from a related position. I\’m a test engineer, and it seems that many in my position want to make this change. This book reinforced that all the more. My perception has long been that testers are second-class to software engineers. I think this makes sense, but it\’s not particularly cool when you\’re a tester. That said, it was nice that the book made it clear that this can be a good route into software development, and gave some helpful ideas for getting there that I will doubtless revisit.

The book recommendations seem solid.

The advice about a blog seems…tenuous. On the one hand, I already had this blog and have blogged off and on for years. I am probably the type to continue with that and try to make something of it. On the other, I don\’t think every programmer should be (and in many respects, I don\’t think Sonmez thought that either.

One big issue I had with the book was the motivational speaker aspects. I get the impression that John was transitioning to this life during the book, and it came out strongly more in some sections than in other. It kind of had an atheist irritating-parts-of-Dave Ramsey feel to it to me. I don\’t know much about Tony Robbins, but my guess is that he\’s much like this. It grates on my soul. I really don\’t like it. Much of it has the feel like it really doesn\’t matter what you do as long as you have this weird sort of self-confidence/reliance that many will take to mean you\’re a jerk. It seemed very out of place in a career guide for software engineers. Sure, many engineers I\’ve worked with could probably benefit from understanding negotiation, getting along with people, and having more confidence. But coming across as a bad used car salesman would be counterproductive. And yes, I think many will rightly think you\’re just being a jerk.

The biggest issue I had was related to the previous, but probably a little different. What\’s with throwing the f-word around like an adolescent schoolboy? Does it make you feel tough to talk like Mom\’s not around? Grow up. Be professional. It felt very out-of-place, unbecoming, distracting, and unnecessary.

Finally, I wasn\’t into the \”added value\” comments from John in the audio version were pretty useless. I listen to audio books rather than podcasts in part because I don\’t like bothering with unedited chitchat. Adding in a bunch of filler was largely unhelpful. Editors exist for a reason. Use them.

All of that said, I really would recommend this book for an aspiring software engineer/developer. It was worth listening to, even with its warts.

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