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Programmers Wanted

I have been working as a software developer for about 15 years and I’ve never once feared I would not be able to find a job. Through two recessions, one of which was the biggest economic catastrophe since the great depression, I’ve always had options. I don’t think of myself as a particularly special individual.

The first tech company I worked for (a start-up), folded when the founder’s mom pulled our funding. I had a job less than a week later. The second company I worked for was bought by a competitor. Even though I was not let go myself, my inbox and voicemail were flooded the day it was made public. I was able to leisurely browse and consider offers from all over town. Many with friends who wooed me with lunch and booze. Everyone was hiring. My co-workers who were let go all had jobs within a month. Most of the rest of the staff quit for greener pastures over the following six months. This was during the middle of the worst economic collapse in 80 years.

We need more programmers. The competition is fierce. I spend more than a bit of time for work just recruiting and I can tell you that it’s damn hard. Even when you have good salaries, good benefits, cool technology, and the right company culture, finding people is always hard. It’s not unique to Des Moines either. The same story is true all over the country from northern Virginia to Silicon Valley, if you are even a remotely talented programmer you can make very good money at a pretty low stress job where creativity is richly rewarded.

It’s not going to stop. Companies are finding they can’t just offshore their key products. The quality is just not there because good software requires good communication and that can’t happen when the developers are half a world away. Even if the quality was there we are horribly short of talented developers in India and elsewhere. Think of everything you own that has a computer in it. You phone, your car, your TV. We are painfully short of programmers and the shortage is scheduled to last for the next forever.

If you are a parent and wondering what kinds of jobs you should encourage your children to follow you would do well to expose them to software development. It’s not for everyone; but it’s also not looked at seriously by enough kids.

When I was a kid I would turn on my TI 99/4a and my only option was to program. There was nothing else. Today you have to go out and dig a little more. Still there are some great learning opportunities. Here are a few:

  • Code Academy: lets you learn to program from the safety of your browser.
  • Alice is a 3d game programming environment for kids.

P.S. When I say “kids” I don’t mean “boys”. We are even more horribly short on girls.