Talking to manager about future position with little experience but new outlooks

Posted on 2012-09-20
Last Modified: 2012-09-28
Today I was presented with what could be an opportunity for me to get into software development. Well not exactly.

You see, I work for a software developer but I am more of a net admin than anything else. The company has 2 developers 2 managers and two it specialist – I am one of them. We revenue mainly from software sales, but my main roles are to maintain the networks up, work with virtual environments, operate cisco platforms, servers, storage and some dba work. Although I temporarily dropped off college to pursue my technology certifications, I still am eager to learn a few programming languages. I’m thinking .ASP , XML, JAVA , SQL, php, java, C ?

how long should it take to learn these languages and put them to work?

Anyhow, my manager mentioned to me during a meeting that we may be hiring someone in the future (not exactly anytime soon) to handle software bugs and other tasks that a developer would handled since the two developers are swamped.

Due to my lack of experience at programming, I was reluctant to step up to the plate and instead tried switching the conversation. I feel as if I can take over this task since I am a competent learner. However, I am not sure how to tell my manager that I need some time to learn new languages/protocols/technologies.

How do you guys think I should approach my manager and ask:
Can I have some time – maybe a year or between months to a year – to acquire the feel of coding and help out with the books…and eventually belong to a newly founded Quality Assurance Engineer position or at least a title change/raise along with the responsibility?

In short, how can I convince my manager that I will be worth my weight in gold in the future and a great individual for this responsibility( QA developer work) that has risen.

Question by:tobe1424

    Author Comment

    How long before i get comfortable at inheriting programmer tasks?
    LVL 21

    Accepted Solution

    I think if I were you, one place I would DEFINITELY start is with a book called Code Complete.  The book is all about how to write readable, maintainable, code.  It is not language specific.  This would at least let you know if the code you inherit is good or not.

      I just got done inheriting a mess of Delphi code.  Several areas of the code are so bad that it has been possible to see up to 3 orders of magnitude increase in speed from them.  To try to put that into perspective... one process took 3 minutes and 8 seconds to run.  It now takes 3 seconds.  Another one took an hour and a half to run and now runs in 43 milliseconds.

      There can be an art to trying to decipher what other programmers have written, it can even be difficult to decipher your own code when you come back to it.  This is another area that Code Complete can help with.

      When it comes to which language to learn first you have many choices.  What are they using at work?  What is their need?  Once you have learned a more advanced language (one that still uses pointers and heap allocation - C, C++, and Delphi to name a few), learning most other languages is down hill.

      Many developers try to choose their language based on the demand for jobs.  I think, personally, that this is somewhat self defeating.  If you choose a language that is in high demand now, following the herd as it were, then you will probably be able to find low paying employment easily enough.  If, on the other hand, you find a niche market (mine is Delphi) then you get paid twice as much for the simple fact that it is harder to find people to do the job.  At the same time, you may have to move to that niche job.  I am currently working at a place where I can save up money to fund the start of my own company.  This would not even be possible if I were following the herd.

      My personal recommendation would be to check out Delphi.  It is easy to use and as capable as anything out there.  It is incredibly fast and has the best string handling I have seen anywhere in the industry (string handling being a large part of what most programs need to do).  It is easy to do some light work at first and learn more as you go.

    Author Comment

    Thanks for your input. I am trying to grasp what is Delphi used for? I've never heard of it.. can u compare this to any other language?
    LVL 21

    Expert Comment

    Delphi is a Windows development environment.  It can do Windows applications in 32 bit or 64 bit.  It can do command line applications, windowed applications, web services, DLLs, COM objects, it can handle any communication protocols, multi-tier systems... pretty much anything you can imagine.  It currently has the ability to let you develop a program in Windows and compile to MAC, IPhone, and IPad as long as you use the FireMonkey controls.  It can do a lot with graphics, sound, any file format you care to use (some effort may be needed on your part to code to the more complex file formats).  It is based on the Object Pascal language.  The language supports objects, interfaces, inheritance (not multiple inheritance), operator overloading, anonymous methods (also known as lambda expressions), and much much more.  It is a friendlier language, by far, than C++.  It is normally compared to VB for it's ease of use, but it is much more readable than VB is too.  With it you can communicate with all of the Windows APIs.  It has language features that Java still (as of Java 8) has not caught up to.

    If you would like to check it out, go to

    Author Comment

    I will definitely check this out..but i guess my current ventures are leading me more towards the web developer side.. but i guess i would need to learn either language down the line for the sake of simply learning.

    But how should I approach my manager; or would it even be appropriate to approach management and pretty much tell them that:

     I will be a better investment in the future so please allow me  inherit some DEV tasks in the next few months and allow me to evolve into a developer of some sort - qa, java, or sql
    LVL 21

    Assisted Solution

    The new version of Delphi comes with HTML 5 builder (Delphi like tool for doing HTML 5 web pages) and they sell another tool called RAD PHP that does web based development based on the PHP language.

    When it comes right down to it, what you are really talking about is investing in yourself.  If you can see yourself still working at this same place in 10 years then it may not hurt to let their needs steer your choice.  According to a recent article I had brought to my attention, Most IT professionals have about a 3 year life expectancy at any one position, then need 1 year off due to stress.  If you are looking much further down the road than just one job then you need to pick a strategy that works best for you.  Learn one type of development that has mass jobs available so you can count on finding something (even if the pay is average), and learn a niche skill so that when the work is available you can make much more.

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