A Programmer’s Dilemma

A reply to one of the confessions (#657) posted in All Pulchowk Confessions.

The dilemma

The confession goes like this:

“I am a programmer ( or so as they say ) . I try to, but I just cannot. It’s not that I am not good at anything, but my mind doesn’t work that way — a programmer’s way. It’s been more than two years since I graduated from this “”reputed”” college, and yet I question myself : ‘What have I really learnt?’ . I have been working for a software company, got no idea why they hired and most of the times, I have to struggle with everything. I get absolutely no joy with what I do. It feels like torture every second and now, it seems like it’s too late to find a new path. I really need some practical suggestions here. Fellow programmers, help me out here. What is the best thing that I can do under such circumstance?
P.S I am a guy (which feels much worse, no offense to girls, it’s just that I happen to have a large circle of friends who are brilliant at this stuff)
Don’t want to mention the batch.”

Dear Brother,

I totally understand your feelings. We (at least me) all have that mindset of not actually knowing anything. Your feeling is in sync with mine. I too am affected by bouts of “imposter syndrome”.

I know nothing about Mathematics, Physics, Optimization and such.

Within 4 years of college, we actually know nothing. But what we gain are those little bit of knowledge in an abstract way. Your feeling is genuine. For noobs like us (at least me), we have to struggle hard to grasp various concepts.

But here’s the catch.

If programming is something that powers your imagination and you are fascinated by the very notion of “creationism through coding”; yet you struggle with these stuffs, then what we ought to do is channel that interest in a more simpler way.

There are tons of stuffs to learn; yet learning all of them is not possible. Finding the right things to learn (applies to programming too) is the optimal way.

Every day, you can browse through certain topics in programming that you find interesting. Going through various subreddits, quora (and github repos) can slowly give you some “concepts”.

When I was in my early semesters (1/2nd), I was totally mindblown by some of the friends in the class not because they were as evil as Megamind:

Courtesy: Google :D

…but because they used to nail the problems provided to them. Literally, I knew nothing, yet programming was/is interesting to me. So, I took time to learn. I remember me giving up my unproductive and leisure time just for the sake of learning stuffs. This feeling of mine sums up the struggle I had been through.

So, it’s the mere willpower to be a learner.

Learn slow, learn in an optimal way. That’s how I have done “stuffs” in terms of programming

Right now, we all are in a phase where we seem to think we are unqualified to hold a job. But, within these periods we did learn some great things. Some programming terms, some problem-solving viewpoints and above all, the experience.

It’s not that you have to be a hardcore programmer. There are tons of areas like

  1. Q/A and testing
  2. Database operations
  3. Back-end
  4. Front-end
  5. Visualization
  6. Data extraction
  7. Data analysis (which I love to do).

At the end of the day

It’s the little bits of “hacks over hacks” during programming that matters. You don’t have to feel “low” for you are not the only one that goes through stackoverflow for even a simple thing. Stackoverflow is made to provide those little bits of “hacks”.

Also, don’t ever hesitate to ask questions. I have seen people being hesitant on this because they don’t want to expose their noobness.

But in the end, you can’t really learn “all of them”.

P.S: I think I’ll be, too, haunted by the same feeling after 2 years. But that’s that. I know one has to “learn the hardway”. Afterall, I don’t have enough experience to say certain things to a senior.

Cheers.. Be awesome

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